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How Red Carnation Hotels Used Audience Sharing to Improve SEM Engagement

By Gordon McFadyen | June 29th, 2018

Milestone Hotel London

Red Carnation Hotels are a collection of 17 award-winning, family owned and run, boutique hotels located in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland and the USA. Headquartered in London, the collection enjoys considerable success in the city’s competitive luxury market, with the top 3 ranked London hotels on TripAdvisor being Red Carnation properties.

However, their reputation extends far beyond London; all of their hotels are landmarks of history and tradition, renowned for exquisite fine dining, leading spas and sumptuous surroundings.

80 DAYS have supported Red Carnation Hotels with their digital marketing since 2011, working closely with the team to continually evolve their strategy. Maintaining strong brand exposure and driving new awareness is an ongoing challenge, as Google note; “today, the challenge and opportunity for marketers is to use data to break through the clutter, connecting with new and existing customers”.

The Challenge Ahead

Red Carnation Hotels have 6 properties based in London that had struggled to effectively target London location based keywords such as “hotels in London” due to the high CPC’s (Cost Per Click) and competitiveness of the auction for such terms. Current campaigns that target London based terms to all users, tend to have a low CTR (Click Through Rate) due to high CPC’s and lower positions as a result, and can potentially drive irrelevant traffic to the website due to the broad nature of the keyword.

However, through the use of sharing audience lists across sister hotels, combined with new target and bid search campaigns, 80 DAYS improved the CTR of London based keywords for The Milestone Hotel by engaging with audiences already aware of the Red Carnation Hotels brand from visiting the Egerton House Hotel and 41 Hotel websites (sister hotels), improving engagement metrics due to brand affinity.

The Milestone Hotel

The Milestone Hotel & Residences is a 5 star boutique hotel and serviced residence’s right in the heart of Kensington, London. This elegant historic hotel is perfectly located opposite Kensington Palace and Gardens, and close to the Royal Albert Hall. The hotel was voted by TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards as the second best hotel in the UK, in 2018. The hotel is one of 3 five star Red Carnation Hotels in London, with Egerton House and 41 Hotel making up the 3.

The hotel team were keen to become more effective in the auction for London based keywords, by improving CTR for London location keywords. This had proved difficult from the existing campaign approach, targeting all users. As a result, 80 DAYS devised a new approach, making use of audience list sharing to improve engagement.

The Milestone Hotel – Campaign Approach

80 DAYS opted in Red Carnation Hotels for audience list sharing, allowing audiences from each hotels individual AdWords account to be shared with sister hotel accounts. This would allow one 5 star hotel to target visitors of other 5 star Red Carnation hotels, essentially targeting users with similar characteristics and online behaviour to the hotel’s current target market.

From the 1st-24th April 2018, 80 DAYS setup target & bid campaigns for The Milestone Hotel, solely targeting previous website visitors of Egerton House and 41 Hotel, The Milestone’s 5 star sister hotels in London. The aim was to target broad London location keywords, whilst targeting an audience we understood, with the aim to improve CTR from the exact same campaign that targets all users. Through the use of ad copy, we ensured users were aware The Milestone Hotel was a Red Carnation property, to make use of the brand affinity and familiarity the user will have gained from visiting The Egerton House and 41 Hotel websites.

We also made use of IF Functions to ensure our ad copy was tailored to meet the specific needs of a specific audience. For example, through the use of IF Functions we displayed an offer related advert to visitors of the 41 Hotel and Egerton Hotel offers pages, ensuring offer led users were met with offers based ad copy, further refining our targeting.

Outcome

In order to assess the uplift in CTR, we benchmarked our new campaign targeting London location keywords, but only serving ads to Egerton and 41 hotel website visitors, against a campaign that targeted all users but targeted exactly the same keywords. Below are the results for the campaign targeting all users:

Campaign Targeting All Users

Avg CPC Average Position CTR
 £         4.24 1.7 0.29%

The hotel achieved an average position of 1.7, with a CTR of 0.29% and an average CPC of £4.24. The CPC is relatively high for such competitive keywords i.e. “hotels in London” so our strategy was to build campaigns for The Milestone Hotel targeting the exact same keywords, but only serving ads to previous website visitors of Egerton House and 41 Hotel, In the hope targeting an audience with similar characteristics would improve CTR and essentially get more for our budget. Below are the results:

Target + Bid Campaign Targeting Sister Hotel Visitors Only

Avg CPC Average Position CTR
 £         5.55 2.2 2.20%

The target & bid campaign targeting website visitors of The Egerton House and 41 Hotel achieved a weaker position than the campaign targeting all users, however there was a 1.91% uplift in CTR, despite the position being weaker and the exact same keywords were targeted.

Summary

Traditionally, CTR tends to be higher for an ad that occupies higher positions (i.e. 1), and descends in position 2, 3 and so on. How has the target + bid campaign achieved a significantly higher click through rate than the campaign targeting all users, despite being in a lower position and targeting the exact same keywords?

As stated by Google, “audience targeting allows you to be more accurate when choosing who sees your ads”. By targeting an audience who already had a level of brand affinity and awareness of the Red Carnation Hotel brand due to visiting sister websites, we were able to achieve a better CTR whilst targeting identical keywords. This highlights the importance of using audience data to improve efficiencies within campaigns. Marketing budgets can be more effectively spent if we use audiences to actively engage with users we understand and whom characteristics mirror that of the hotels target market.

Through the use of audiences, The Milestone Hotel was able to target London location keywords whilst driving relevant traffic to the website, by targeting a group of users that shared similar characteristics to their target market as they had showed affinity with sister properties and the Red Carnation Hotels brand, helping to improve the CTR.


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