Monday, 21 November 2011

Hotel Internet Marketing Tip – Getting Started with Google Analytics

When I first got introduced to Google Analytics (thanks Keitha!), I was like a kid in a candy store. Here was this free tool that allowed me to know exactly where my website traffic was coming from, what online marketing campaigns were working and which were not, which zip codes were generating the most traffic etc. A treasure trove of information!
Getting introduced to this tool is what got me hooked on internet marketing. But let’s back up a bit. What is Google Analytics and why do I care as a hotel/business owner or general manager?
Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google that gives you deep insight into how your website is performing. You can sign up for an account here so long as you have a Google Account (does not have to be a gmail account).
Setting up an account is extremely easy. The only aspect of it that is a little “technical” is adding some javascript code to your website. This code is automatically generated by Google Analytics when you are setting up the account so all you have to do is copy and paste this code onto every page that you want to track immediately before the closing </head> tag. If you are like me and your HTML knowledge is limited to one chapter in one university IT course 10 years ago, then you can have your webmaster do this for you. If they charge you for this make sure they charge you for no more than 15 minutes of their time as this is about how long it takes.
If you want a step by step guide on how to set up Google Analytics on your website, this article is really helpful.
That’s it! Within 24 hours or less your Google Analytics account should be activated and you will start to get extremely useful, detailed information on your website visitors including:
1. Traffic Sources – how do potential customers get to your site? Is it through search engines, referrals from other websites or through a bookmark (direct traffic). This is a great way to find out which online marketing campaigns are actually working.
2. Visitors – demographic information on your visitors, detailed down to the city. These reports also provide information on how engaged website visitors are (how much time did they spend on your site, how many pages did they visit), which web browsers they were using, even the speed of their internet connection.
3. Conversions – if you have a booking engine on your website this is absolutely critical. Where do your bookings come from? What country/region/city? Through which referral sites or search engines? Google Analytics can help you determine this in most cases. If you don’t have a booking engine on your website, Google Analytics can still help your track important site visitor activities (conversions) that you consider important such as signing up for your newsletter, filling out an inquiry form or watching a promotional video.
One article cannot possibly capture the full potential of Google Analytics and its importance to hoteliers but I hope that this helps you to get the ball rolling. Using this tool is an important first step in fine-tuning your marketing strategy both on and offline.

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