Most people don’t book a room on their first visit to a hotel website. It can take repeated visits for that to happen. Social media retargeting is about capitalizing on those encounters to drive conversions. It lets you connect with past visitors to your website by advertising to them on social channels such as Facebook and Instagram.
Social media is the perfect place to stay in touch with customers due to its usage—globally, people spend an average of 135 minutes on social media every day. As travelers increasingly use Facebook and Instagram early in the travel journey, social media retargeting also lets you influence decisions at the earliest stage.
The following article explains how this form of advertising works, with a series of invaluable recommendations and tips.
How does social media retargeting work?
Social media retargeting involves dropping a cookie onto the browser of anyone who visits your website. This cookie then tracks how they interact on your site and the wider web, and then retargets them with an ad on social media based on their online behavior.
This approach lets you create customized ads that are most likely to tempt users back to your website and convert. Let’s look at an example of how this works.
A typical traveler scenario
A customer visits your hotel website and looks at your Gallery, Amenities and Room page, then checks availability for a 3-night stay the following month.
An hour later, they visit Facebook and see a tailored ad with an offer based on the room and dates they were looking at. The following day, they visit YouTube and see the same ad, and the same ad appears when they check their Instagram feed. They click the ad, revisit your website and make their booking.
While this is a relatively simplified scenario, it shows how social retargeting can keep your hotel top of mind as potential guests interact online, reminding them to come back and book direct on your website.
Why social media retargeting should be part of your strategy
As the example above illustrates, social media retargeting is a great way to keep you connected with customers in the places they visit frequently. At Travel Tripper, many of our clients have seen great results with Facebook retargeting ads. As a recent example, a property of ours in NYC saw a ROAS of 66:1 in April of this year. This was based on 28-day click and 1-day view-through attribution.
Social media retargeting vs. regular display ad retargeting
Display ads on the Google Display Network are a great way to reach your audience, but Facebook ads generally produce a higher ROAS.
This is partly due to Facebook’s targeting capabilities. Since Facebook has such a vast amount of data on its users, advertisers have the ability to drill down to their ideal target audience and tailor their messaging accordingly. Serving ads that are highly qualified leads to more conversions at a lower cost per acquisition.
In addition, a person needs to carry out a specific search request on Google to see your ads. Whereas on social media, your ads appear even when they’re not thinking about your hotel. Social media also invites a more leisurely form of browsing. Users are generally in an inquisitive, explorative state of mind, and this receptivity can be helpful when you’re trying to inspire them with promotional content.
All this being said, we recommend a cross-channel approach to maximize visibility.
Which social platform is most effective?
When it comes to hotel ad retargeting, we think Facebook retargeting is the best social platform. At Travel Tripper, we’re currently testing out Facebook dynamic ads for travel, which makes it even easier for us to reach potential travelers and increase bookings for our hotels.
As Facebook continues to expand its range of travel-related tools, it’s becoming a go-to resource for travel planning, making it an increasingly attractive platform for hotel marketers. We also have ads running on Instagram (which is a placement offered by Facebook).
LinkedIn can be beneficial too, depending on your audience. As a primarily B2B space, it’s most effective for hotels looking to attract business travelers and promote their meeting and event spaces. That said, the CPCs on LinkedIn can be very high and we still think the best ROAS is likely going to come from Facebook.
Retargeting at the top of the funnel
In addition to Facebook retargeting, here at Travel Tripper we’ve started testing out prospecting campaigns on Facebook. This enables hotels to promote their brand to users at the very top of the funnel. These users might be first-time visitors to your website who are just discovering your brand and after more information.
Targeting users at this stage requires a nuanced approach. As an example, if a person landed on your hotel website’s Location page and then left the site, you’d likely have more success if your retargeting ad attempted to inspire them with destination-based content (rather than only selling to them with an aggressive offer-led ad).
So a boutique hotel by the coast might feature an enticing image of their beachside restaurant. A city in the heart of New York could feature an image of the NYC skyline from their rooftop bar. These kind of ads can still include room rates, but the emphasis should be more about firing the imagination based on a highlight a customer has shown interest in.
As this person revisits your site and their buying intent builds, you can then ramp things up with a targeted offer that entices them to book direct.
Keep things fresh with sequential retargeting
An advert that repeats the same content every day can quickly become stale. To compete for attention in a content-packed social feed, it can pay to rotate your messages using something called sequential retargeting.
Rather than targeting users based on their online behavior, sequential retargeting involves segmenting your audience based on when they last visited your site. So the message they see on day two after visiting your site is different to day three. In this way, you keep your message fresh and your audience engaged.
Social media retargeting: tips for success
Social media retargeting should be part of every hotel’s marketing mix. From our own experience, retargeting on Facebook can lead to an especially impressive ROAS thanks to the ability to segment your audience and target them with the right message at the right time.
Overall, this strategy offers a highly effective way to reconnect with users who have visited your site. Based on their previous interaction with your property, you can build brand exposure, maintain visibility throughout the travel journey, and lead them back to your site when they’re ready to book.
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