Stay in Touch with Your Guests at No Cost – Simple Email Marketing Technique for Hotels in Sri Lanka

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Are you aware of the 80:20 rule in marketing?

20% of the business comes through 80% of new customers and 80% of the business comes through 20% of existing customers.

Most of the hotels in Sri Lanka spend their time and money in acquiring new guests while giving less importance to the existing guests. There is a perfect way to answer a frequently asked question “how to increase my hotel bookings at a low cost”. The answer is through a well strategized retention strategy. Getting leads from your existing customers is always easier than convincing unknown new guests. Their repetitive visits may not cost you much as a new guest’s visit costs.

In simple terms the ultimate objective of any hotel is to sustain a great occupancy rate to remain profitable in the business. It is evident that most of the hotels and resorts in Sri Lanka try to get guests through online bookings, heavy adverting, online travel agents, networking and personal contacts. All these are costly and sometimes the return on investment (ROI) would be lower compared to the return.

Now we shall move into discovering a retention tool which will be helpful to get more leads from your existing guests and allow you to keep in touch with them.

 

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13 Tips for Small Medium Entrepreneurs to Build Their Online Presence

Compared to the last decade, even 5 years back, the dominance of internet nowadays is immense. It is always important to make sure that your online presence is felt adequately. Especially when you are either in a service or a product sector where people search online for your brand and more details about you, it is important to have an online presence.

Using suitable keywords to optimize your website might take some time. However there are some other ways through which you can make sure that people who search for you do not move to your competitors because they couldn’t find anything during their search about you.  To do these things you don’t need to depend on your agency and there is no need to get frightened by their exorbitant quotations. You can do it by yourself.

1-    Create social media profiles and update them regularly. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, and Flickr are some of the sites you can use. Link the accounts together online. Example: If you publish a video on YouTube, and if you connect your social media profiles together it automatically updates on Facebook and Twitter as well.

2-    Always maintain the right balance when building content for the social media profiles. Also a consistent pattern should be maintained and your visitors, fans, guests etc should be able to link the content in any possible way. It may be by consistent usage of the brand logo, a theme music, theme colour, brand message, the core value of your brand etc.

3-    YouTube is the best interactive social media platform in terms of video presence. Use Aimoto free online video creation tools to update your video channel.

4-    Create a blog in wordpress for your brand. Generally wordpress blogs are search engine friendly. Start a blog with the name of your brand. Example: If your brand is “xx” create“xx.wordpress.com”. Update it regularly with relevant blog posts to your brand with keywords that people normally use to search for either your brand or such related brands. Within a week you will see your blog coming up in the search engine results for your brand related keywords.

5-    Use Google map and add your location. This is very useful especially for targeted keywords. The map will derive your business details and shows your map / details in the first result page.

6-    Find famous local directories and submit your business information with a detailed description. This helps to get your page listed in the search results within a few weeks, for your company name and other particular keyword searches.

7-    Use review sites and request your customers to write reviews about your brand / service / company etc. For instance if your business is a hotel you can create your pages in Tripadvisor, Holidaycheck, Lonely Planet, virtualtouristetc and add your hotel in all OTA agencies. Your page will be up for brand keywords very swiftly. In addition positive reviews would definitely win you leads.

8-    Try to get some free publicity through PR campaigns. Identify your local news partners and talk to them regarding this. Each week try to grab a free space in papers for your business publicity. If you can speak well you can get a space from the papers. The printed version will go online as well, which shows your post up for branded and related keywords.

9-    Use tags when posting / updating you social media profiles. Use proper keywords as tags when updating your social media profile. These tags will be shown in wordpress, Google listing.

10.Create your venue in Foursquare, ask all your employees to check-in when they come to the office. Keep active by uploading photos and videos to the forsquare page. In a few days your foursquare page will be up in the search results.

11.Submit your facebook page to socialbaker and relevant sites. It automatically updates the status with new fans coming in. Make sure you build some fans to your fan page.

12.Create your business profile linkedin and update it with relevant information. Request your employees to update their linkedin profiles with their current designation and job role.

13.Rather than creating a php / html site create a wordpress platform site for your company. These sites are search engine friendly and the number of pages crawled will be high and your pages will come on top for branded keywords.

If you implement the above tips you will see a gradual increase in the online presence of your company and brand. In order to do these, you don’t need to go to web masters or specialized agencies.

Twitter strategy for Sri Lankan firms

Twitter is a popular social media tool but it is not  in Sri Lanka. Like Facebook it is difficult for the Sri Lankan organizations to target their end customers using Twitter. Because the percentage of Sri Lankan in Twitter is less than 0.49% compared to overall Twitter population. It is not suitable for FMCG companies like Nestle, Unilever,  Abans Singer and ODEL are not suitable  but in my point Twitter is a perfect tool for the hospitality industry Sri Lanka. Specially organizations involved in marketing targeting UK and US customers. I suggest that Sri Lankan hotels can use Twitter as an effective online marketing tool. Now let us see how these organizations can start off with Twitter

Step one – Try to determine to whom you are going to connect with?

It is important to know about your target audience. If a hotel in Sri Lanka is getting larger US visitors then it is ideal to have a research on Twitter about the target audience charactierics and behavior. Study the customers in Twitter first.

Step Two – Think about your goal. The firm should have a clear picture on the outcome they are willing to get. It is important rather than considering just followers you should be able to get retweets and web site visits. That is the major outcome you have to consider. It is not only about how many connections you have, but also it is all about the spread of your marketing message, tweets, traffic and the network effect.

Step Three – Then you have to think where does the Twitter fits in the overall online marketing strategy? Is it important to understand in the organizational context, whether to use it as a customer service tool (http://twitter.com/DellOutlet) , Brand monitoring tool, sales tool and promotional tool or else to use it as a communication tool.

Simply organization can connect with customers , prospects , media , employees and other stakeholders. If a Sri Lankan company wish to do so, I think  connecting with employees, media is not possible but they can connect with customers if they are located in US or UK. Twitter is a perfect engagement tool too. http://mashable.com/2009/01/21/best-twitter-brands/

Step Four – It is very important to undergo with first three steps before start using the tactics.

– Firstly the Twitter page should be designed and optimized. A theme needs to be added according to the business and the target audience. The best example is http://twitter.com/MarriottIntl In Sri Lanka  http://twitter.com/AitkenHotels This is the Aitkenspence Hotels Twitter page, but I see this can be further modified with description and design.  The below are some tactics can be used

–          Determine a target profile in mind, research and follow them. Eg- If a Sri Lankan hotel wants to attract US tourists then it is important to search for them in Twitter and follow.

–          Connect the Twitter account in all other social media networks such as YouTube, Facebook fan page and Blog.

–          Write top content on your blog and then tweet it in your twitter profile.

–          Run up polls ask questions and find ways to engage with the followers.

–          The business should actually place their twitter grip all over their web site address is posted.

–          Produce a Twitter list of a sector of the target audience. Each segment should contain one list.

–          Use #FollowFridays or #FF to recognize people that retweet the brand’s Twitter content the most.

Step Five – It is very important to measure what you do. The following are some of the KPI you can use to monitor your Twitter performance.

  • Number of Tweets.
  • Total number of retweets and the potential network effect.
  • New targeted Twitter users that are followed.
  • New Followers
  • Direct web traffic from the URL mentioned in the Twitter page.
  • Mention in the others tweets about the brand.
  • How many lists the brand Twitter account is included in
  • Twitter users add your brand to their list.
  • Active discussion about your brand.
  • Connections (follow, retweet, @message, DM) with targeted Twitter users

Use the following tools to measure and get insights for your analysis:

  • search.twitter.com
  • SM2, Radian6
  • Web analytics
  • bit.ly
  • cotweet.com, hootsuite.com, tweetdeck.com

But keep in mind if you are using Twitter as a perfect online marketing tool. you should do it properly. Small mistake might backfire you. Careful when doing it, allocate separate and well trained resources. But if you do this properly it will definitely bring a greater outcome for your organization. Lets tweet and get the business up..

Hot Online Marketing Trends 2010

I have already predicted hot marketing trends for the year 2010. But relatively I observed these days offline marketing activities are combined with online. Offline marketers are trying to get the most from their online strategies as well. According to the blogs and web sites and also based on my current knowledge following online marketing trends are predictable this year.

1-      Segmentation becomes the important online strategy to deliver personalized communication to the customer. Likewise in offline marketing, segmenting the customers and sending them relevant marketing messages are going to be the key task for online marketers. Using the behavioral data online marketers need to find profitable and meaningful segments to convey the message which suit them best. This year online marketers will spend their three-quarter time for this and construct the online marketing activity more meaningful.

As a part of the segmentation strategy, email marketing is predicted to be the major outcome of it. Companies which solely work online keep on investing more on email marketing and through effective segmentation offer a very proper and personalized communication to the customers.  The only threat is, with the current economic problems how customers are going to respond to the email marketing of the firms. For this customers opinion should be obtained about the email frequency.

2-      Search marketing will continue to evolve and become stronger in the behavior of online customers. Consumer information search phase is closely associated to the search marketing. Apart from the search engines other social sites such as YouTube, Twitter, will also become more influential. This automatically boost the effort of search engine optimization , but it is also projected since customers look for more relevant results search engines may also change their logarithms and strategies in this year. We have to wait and see for this.

3-      Tracking is likely to be the online soldier to defend your strategies and tactics. Online tracking of purchase behavior, search engine behaviors are also going to play major roles in an organization’s activities.  Use of Google analytics site tracking is the other key to measure the success.

4-      Social media is always emerging as an important strategy for the business. The buzz online is the main source of reputation for the firms operate online and offline. The negative word of mouth online will drop over 40% sales and spread more negative buzz about the firm. The effective handling of social media will also be an important strategy for firms in 2010.

5-      Development of holistic digital portfolios will be the next trend in the year 2010. Earlier firms randomly did their digital marketing activities without uniqueness. But the important fact is, it is obligatory to combine everything as one strategy and build uniqueness among those. They are web site, Facebook page, blog, Twitter etc.

6-      Consideration of Bing predicted to grow. Normally online firms formulate their strategy keeping Google in mind. Now the creative discovery from Bing stimulates online marketers to think about it in their online marketing mix. The battle between Google and Bing, is the important factor online marketers need to consider.

7-       Mobile web market is the new point companies need to look at. Now with the rapid increase in mobile penetration globally, customers want to keep their mobile phones as their purchasing wallet. Now it is time for online marketers to make use the mobile strategy and integrate with web applications.

8-      Online customers think more about savings when they make a purchase. As a part of online strategy marketers need to convey messages about online coupons and savings concept. Since now online customers are price sensitive and they always look for better deal to buy online.

9-      Real time search from Google will be the other new study area for online marketers. The concept behind this is, getting relevant and fresh results for the searches. Click here to learn more

10-   Fewer registrations for web sites. Because of larger number of players in the competitive online market place, people find it difficult to remember their password and other information. So Facebook Connect and Open ID becoming popular where people use to register or sign-up for sites with one username and password

These are the trends to influence the online marketing strategies in the year 2010. Still Google remains the market leader place, the domination grows further. But still the hacking of Google China can give an impact on its strategies. Let’s wait and see

The 11 immutable laws of internet branding

The marketing success of online firms are totally depends on how they do their online branding. Not only offline branding you can find laws for online branding as well. They are
1 – The law of either /or
The internet can be a business of a medium but not both
2 – The law of interactivity
Without it,your web site and your brand will go no where.
3 – The law of common name
The kiss of death for an internet brand is a common name
4 – The law of the proper name
Your name stands alone on the internet, so you’d better have a good one.
5 – The law of singularity
At all costs you should avoid being second in your category.
6 – The law of advertising
Advertising off the net will be a lot bigger than advertising on the net.
7- The law of globalism
The internet will demolish all barriers, all boundaries, all boarders.
8- The law of time
Just do it, you have o be first, you have to be focused.
9 – The law of vanity
The biggest mistake of all is believing you can do anything.
10 – The law of divergence
Everyone talks about convergence, while just the opposite is happening.
11 – The law of transformation
The internet revolution will transform all aspect of lives.

Marketing Blog Directory

Online Video Marketing in 2009

I can see an online trend these days. Online video marketing showing a good trend. If you are thinking about video marketing online in year 2009 do the following. It will really work. Make sure you create videos with the following guidelines.

1- Do not present just pictures

2- Make an human connection or interaction

3- It better to record videos in 3D view because it attracts the viwers.

4- Do not include much text- keep it simple

5- make it short and sweet.

Go through my earlier post on YouTube video marketing. You can also get some guidance.

If your video is ready try doing the following steps. It will work well and you can see your video results in search engines after few hours specially in Google. These amazing steps were taken from webtvwire.com.

  • Submit to social video bookmarking sites.
    Digg.com, Video Bomb, Flurl, StumbleVideo – all these sites have the potential to send a lot of viewers if enough people vote for your video. But make sure you are not spamming.
  • Email blogs that talk about your videos topic.
    If your video is about an Apple Mac then email Apple Mac blogs, if your video is about making pizza then email recipe blogs.

  • Submit to regular social bookmarking sites
    Don’t forget the regular social bookmarking sites like Delicious, Reddit, BlinkList etc. These sites will link to videos and if enough people vote for it you can get a lot of visitors

  • Submit your video (or a teaser video) to the busiest video sharing sites
    YouTube is busier, but so is Daily Motion, MetaCafe, and many others. Check out a huge list of video sharing sites here. If it’s a teaser video or you want people to visit your website write your website in the description and also show it within the video. If you can submit

  • Post your video in relevant discussion boards and forums.
    Read their rules first and don’t spam. Make sure what you post is relevant to the forum and choose the busiest forums to post in.

  • Tag and describe your videos
    It is important to put the keywords that describe your video in the associated tags and description so search engines know what your video is about.

  • Send out a press release
    If your video is especially news worthy you may want to send out an online Press Release.

  • Make videos regularly and create your own website and MySpace
    A one-off video may get popular but if you make videos regularly and place them on your own website AND MySpace you can build up a large following.

  • Get help from your friends
    Get your friends to help by adding you to their MySpace, bookmarking your video on social bookmarking sites, adding your video as a favorite on YouTube, posting about your video on their site etc.

  • Choose the right thumbnail
    When ever you decide to watch a video it is heavily influenced by the thumbnail (the little picture of the video clip) that you see first. If you can choose the thumbnail do so and make it sharp, clear, eye catching and relevant to your video.

  • A catchy title
    A catchy title is just as important as a catchy thumbnail to encourage people to click that link to watch your video.

  • File Sharing
    This is often forgotten but if you are giving away your video for free why not distribute a copy for free over file sharing networks. Depending on the niche of your video this can work well. Don’t forget to include the name of your website in your video.

For more great video marketing idea visit a post on techcrunch