I’m going to let you all in a little bit of a secret.
No, it won’t send your website traffic through the roof. No, it won’t book 50 weeks for you. No, it’s not a magic free listing site. But, it can help stretch your digital advertising spend and let you take advantage of a good marketing opportunity many are overlooking.
It’s Bing Ads.
Yes, Bing Ads are still a viable option for your vacation rental business. In this post, I’ll walk through you a live account that is using Bing Ads to great benefit and impact in their rental business. I’ll also share the “why” behind Bing Ads and why they’re a good option for your business.
Why Bing Ads For Vacation Rentals?
We all know Google is king in the world of search engine marketing. For some industries, Google has an offensive amount of marketshare and dominance. But, despite their overarching control, there is a little slot left open for the second and third tier search engines. Currently, the next engine up is Bing. Bing is of course the search engine that’s run and owned my Microsoft. As a result, it’s often used by users who prefer Windows that don’t change their default search engine or browser (check your Google Analytics to see if this applies to you). If your search engine share in Google Analytics is at least 10% Bing, I’ll say that pursuing Bing Ads is a viable option for your rental bookings.
After Bing in terms of raw marketshare is Yahoo. Because of the Bing/Yahoo relationship, you’re actually getting two birds with one stone: Yahoo uses Bing to fulfill the majority of their search engine ad inventory. With a minimal time investment, you can actually capture 20% more of your overall search impression share by advertising on both Bing and Yahoo with a single ad setup.
Because Bing has increased their ad size (particularly with the travel and accommodations vertical) during late 2015, Bing Ads seem to have a slightly higher click-through-rate compared to similar positioned ads in Google AdWords. Based on the accounts I manage, it can range anywhere from a 2% increase up to a 5% increase. When you’re looking to increase your quality score, these click-through-rate boosts can help drive a lot more traffic to your website and help you drive down your cost-per-click.
Big Brands Use Bing Ads, But Local Competitors Don’t
When I’m researching a client’s target keyword and market, I rarely find cases where I do not see any Bing Ads running. Instead, I’m often confronted with ads from larger brands and websites (Tripping.com, VRBO, Booking.com and others). Due to the fact that these large advertisers have mega-huge budgets, they’re often showing at the top: but that doesn’t mean it’s all bad for your ads. Compared to Google, I have better luck outbidding the big brands in Bing Ads and usurping their top-slots. During the ad creation process, check out the estimated top-line bid and edge that up 10-15% during your account creation: you’ll be surprised that you can show up ahead of big brands quicker.
Although I often see the big websites using Bing Ads, it’s rare that more than a few of your local competitors are using Bing Ads for driving traffic too. This lets you stand out and show off among the competing ads as you can make your copy very specific and full of local insights and knowledge, leading to more clicks.
Cost-Per-Clicks Are Cheaper
On average, expect to pay less per click on Bing’s advertising network. While I cannot universally say an exact amount less you’ll pay, it’s ranged from 10% to 40% less than a click on the same keyword for the accounts I’ve managed. Put in a simple way, you don’t need as high of a budget nor do you invest as much for each visit when using Bing Ads. With a lower volume of searches overall compared to Google, you’ll save at both ends: lower search volume per week and a lower cost per click.
Bing Has A Travel-Centric User Base
Last for my reasons of why Bing Ads are good for vacation rental marketers and companies is the travel-centric nature of many Bing users. Due to their relationship with travel giant Kayak, many Bing users are familiar with using Bing Ads to book their travel experiences. As a result, you may enjoy higher conversion rates when inquiries come from Bing Ads compared to Google AdWords.
Nitty Gritty: Setting Up Bing Ads For Success
Okay, hopefully you’re willing to give Bing Ads a test for your rental business. Next up is to actually get going with Bing Ads. Now, in my opinion, at the time of this post, Bing Ads workflow for setting up ads and running them is not nearly as polished as Google AdWords. With a smaller user base, that may be expected, but it’s worth noting that the same steps in Google to take a little less time.
Starting your first campaign is still pretty easy.
Note: it’s worth bringing up Bing’s Import Tool (which is pretty darn solid) as an alternative to setting up your campaigns from scratch. If you have a high performing campaign in Google, it may be worth just importing it into Bing.
Step 1: Create Your Account
Sign up here and get started by creating your account.
Step 2: Create A New Campaign
If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll want to get a solid campaign up and going. Well performing pay-per-click campaigns have the following characteristics:
- Focus on one topic per campaign. Example: Myrtle Beach house rentals
- Break out your sub-topics and keywords per ad group. Example: Myrtle Beach oceanfront house rentals
- Awareness of your keyword match types like [exact] “phrase match” and broad match. Most of the time, I start with phrase match keywords in Bing.
- Small, focused keyword groups. My standard ad group typically has from 5-15 keywords in it. Any larger and you risk losing relevancy or ability to tightly control ad text.
Step 3: Research Great Keywords
If you’ve spent some time on your SEO efforts already, then it’s worth revisiting your keyword list. I prefer to research my keywords in a few different places to get a good feel for what’s going to work best to start. I start with Google’s Keyword Planner to get my research started. After I have a good keyword list saved in a Excel sheet, I work forward using my favorite tool for catching long-tail keyword searches: KeywordTool.io. After this, just to make sure I have covered all of my options for a good keyword list, I will do a final search in Semrush to make sure that all of keywords I want to capture are in my list.
Step 4: Extensions, Extensions, Extensions
Critical to your success: extensions! Ad extensions allow for you to gain more ad real estate. On the Bing Ads platform, vacation rental companies can use the following options:
- Sitelinks – the simplest extension, sitelinks are simple text links that show up under your ads. Set these links to your most popular pages on your website like rental search pages, FAQ pages, area information pages and a contact page.
- Location – next up is the location extension, which shows the searcher you’re actually located in the area they’re looking to rent! I highly recommend setting up the location extension so you can show to your guest that you are a local vacation rental company.
- Call/phone – if you get a lot of inquiries over phone, adding the call extension is a no-brainer.
- Enhanced sitelinks – an expansion of the sitelinks extension above, enhanced sitelinks are simply a short description of each landing page you use for sitelinks. I recommend setting these up as soon as you can as they can boost the click-through-rate of your ad significantly.
- (Beta) Image – a new feature that is still in limited testing/beta are image extensions. As travel marketers, we’d be silly to not take advantage of showing off photos of your destination and getting your guests excited from the first click.
Step 5: Evaluation & Adjustments
After you’ve got the ads up and running, now you’ve got to check their progress. Personally, I check ads when first starting an account at least once every two days. After the account is more established, once a week works best. Different elements that I check during the first few days are mainly centered around phrase match keywords and adding any negative keywords needed. Make sure to check your search terms report a lot to make sure that you’re not showing for any keywords that are not good traffic keywords.
Final Thoughts & Words Of Wisdom
Making paid work for your business takes a little while – don’t rush into any digital paid campaigns expecting to hit your ideal ROI numbers in a week or month. Give your ads at least 45-90 days to run (making smart adjustments along the way) before truly evaluating their long-term success. Lastly, if you need help, drop me a message here and I’ll see if I can help you.