Mid-funnel: campaigns to power it and convert into bookings
Hotel industry marketers tend to dedicate more time and resources to the top of the sales funnel, and often overlook its middle, or MOFU, which is arguably its most important part. The middle is a complex section of the marketing funnel: as it involves many different priorities, it is easy to overlook any nurturing and qualifying leads that would otherwise encourage potential client engagement up until the booking stage.
But before we dive into recommendations to increase conversions, let’s clarify a few terms and explain some of its key concepts.
What is a sales and marketing funnel?
In simple words, “a funnel is the set of steps a visitor goes through before they reach convert into customers.”Think of it as a tool for visualizing where your prospective guests are in the process of making a reservation at your property – imagine a funnel representation, wide at the top and getting narrower towards the bottom as prospects move down to be turned into sales and repeat customers.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to divide the funnel into four main phases: awareness and interest, consideration, purchase, and retention. The difference in the number of people in these four phases is what gives the funnel its shape, as the amount of people in your funnel will naturally decrease the closer your hotel gets to a sale. Two mistakes business owners often make are trying to convert a prospect into a sale straight away and expecting to convert everybody who is aware of their property into a paying customer.
What is the mid-funnel? Why is it important?
The middle of the funnel is the area where we find prospects who are aware of your brand and may have spent some time reading your content while perusing your website but aren’t yet in a position to buy. This is known as the “consideration” phase, and our main objective here is simple – turn awareness into interest.
While every stage of the sales funnel is important, the middle is too often neglected by hotel marketers. One can find plenty of hotels investing heavily to improve the top of the funnel by, for example, purchasing social media advertising, as well as the bottom, by offering discount vouchers or packaged deals.
The key intention in the middle of the funnel is to persuade, and that is a difficult thing to do. Here is where you start making a case for what your hotel offers and where you can start to connect the dots between your prospect’s requirements and your property’s benefits – or how it solves your audience’s problems. The tricky part of this equation is guiding your audience from awareness to conversion, that is, through the buyer’s journey.
Why is content marketing the answer?
Marketers believe that content marketing can add the most value during this consideration stage by using targeted blogs, case studies, and whitepapers to nurture prospects. Content marketing targets those who are already aware of your brand since as an authority in your market segment, your property and services deserve their attention and would be a valuable investment. The goal here is to provide material that will help them evaluate your brand and develop an affinity for it over your competitors.
Mid-funnel content marketing should:
- Nurture leads, getting them closer to an eventual booking.
- Educate current and potential guests on the factors that differentiate your property.
- Inspire an emotional connection with guests to establish brand loyalty and create brand advocates.
Mid-funnel content is aimed at people already in your CRM system. It should be persuasive, educational and targeted. It delivers the right message to the right people at the right time, and it requires the expertise of the content writer to intentionally craft material that speaks to the needs of those closer to making a reservation. Content is perfect for funnel optimization! Some examples you could explore with your marketing manager are landing pages, case studies, high-value blog posts, newsletters, e-books, fact sheets and whitepapers.
Some of the most effective conversion funnel optimization campaigns include:
Competitor comparison campaigns: Their aim is to position your hotel ahead of the competition by providing one-to-one feature/amenity comparison. They are a great mid-funnel tactic, with the key to their success being how your research highlights the real differences between your services and your competition and sharing any findings on your websites, e-mail newsletters, social media posts, etc.
Social proof retargeting campaigns: Retargeting allows you to reach people that have shown some interest in your hotel, since only 2% of prospects convert when they first find your brand. While they might not be 100% ready to book yet, they are more qualified than other leads because they have shown enough interest in your property. One powerful driver of conversion is social proof. Most people trust the opinion of your past guests as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. This type of campaign leverages this element of human psychology and trust by association.
Self-qualifying campaigns: Potential guests are often happy to share more information about themselves, especially if it is framed in a way that benefits them. That is where this type of campaigns comes in. The idea is to get some indication from the visitor that signals their current stage in the buying cycle. Armed with this information, your marketing team will be better equipped to serve the right nurturing campaign. Examples here include calculators, assessments and quizzes.
By paying some attention to your sales funnel and improving your mid-funnel marketing campaigns, your hotel will not only increase conversions, but will likely improve guests’ experiences, which will eventually lead to a much more loyal customer base.