You’ve seen everyone talk about them: Facebook ads. You’ve heard rumors of 10-cent cost per clicks, and mega-cheap conversions and thought that you should try them out, right? But, almost all of the advice you’ve read centers around generic Facebook ads and how it works for webinars, information products businesses or e-commerce web shops.
In the world of vacation rental and travel marketing, it’s a mix of many different Facebook ad styles and techniques to get great results. Below are a handful of my best vacation rental Facebook ad strategies that’ll drive more bookings and inquiries to your inbox with minimal ad spend.
Here are three fairly straightforward and basic Facebook ad tactics that you can start using today to start to boost your conversions.
Now, before digging in too much, I want to be clear the best strategies for Facebook ads for vacation rental owners and managers. When starting a Facebook ad campaign, you’ll want to know your goals upfront. For the purposes of this post and ad style targeting, I am assuming the following:
- You have your own website (no, VRBO/Homeaway listings won’t do)
- There is a decent amount of traffic coming to that website (30+ uniques a day minimum)
- You can add tracking scripts to the website
- Lastly, you have a budget of at least $100 to dedicate to a few tests & will experiment
Retargeting is the first one up because it’s typically the easiest to setup and yields great returns in terms of traffic back to the website. Most people don’t convert the first time they view your website, so gently reminding them with retargeting ads is a great way to bring traffic back to the website.
Email List Targeting
Next up, email list targeting is the next-best and highest impact Facebook ad targeting option. Instead of targeting people who’ve just been to your website recently, you can target anyone who’s inquired recently via VRBO/Homeaway/Flipkey as long as you’ve got their email. It’s a fantastic subtle way to bring people back to the fold who are still planning their vacation but perhaps forgot about the interaction they’ve had with you.
Look-A-Like Audience Targeting
Next up, using your current page fans, lookalike audience targeting can yield some good quality traffic. Now, keep in mind that lookalike audience targeting is intended to bring new customers, and will almost always have higher cost-per-lead dollar amounts. This doesn’t mean that it’s a poor investment to use lookalike ads, but keep in mind that reaching totally new customers who’ve never heard of your rental can be more expensive.
After you’ve nailed down the basic ad strategies, you’ll probably want to move into the intermediate tactics. For most vacation rental managers, they’re looking for ads that will bring new fans and potential guests into the fold for a reasonable cost.
Again, just like our lookalike audience example, this means that we’ll likely see a bit higher cost per lead to gain clicks to your website. However, for page like targeting ads, I’ve found that demographic targeting like this can actually yield a much lower cost per like than many other ad formats.
Interest Based Targeting
Here, we’re targeting based on the potential guest and their explicitly expressed interests named in Facebook. If you have a aspirational travel destination, then working with interest targeting can work very well. The screenshots below are examples from a client in Hawaii, a very aspirational destination.
Typically, people may plan to go to Hawaii for months or even years before actually traveling and are rarely close to the island. Therefore, people who’ve expressed an interest in traveling to Hawaii are far more likely to click on a targeted Facebook ad and start planning or pre-planning their trip far before booking. If you’re dealing with a drive-to market (like Myrtle Beach, South Carolina for example), interest based targeting can be hit or miss.
Time Bound Retargeting
This is one of the more impactful strategies for markets that are strongly repeat business based. If you have guests who often travel at the same time of year and to the same areas, you can see good results from time bound retargeting. It works like this:
- Export guests who’ve booked during a 45-60 day window the prior year
- Upload their emails into a Facebook custom audience
- Send them a promotional email (make sure to exclude from any other email campaigns too)
- Start time bound ads encouraging a repeat visit to your destination
With the combined efforts of email marketing and Facebook ads, you’ll be flooding your guests awareness levels with your vacation rental accommodations. Combining these strategies together helps boost bookings and inquiries as it directly ties in a few factors (time of booking, destination, specials) into a well-placed marketing blitz.
Next up, similar to the auto generated lookalike targeting, you can create your own demographic models with Facebook’s ad targeting options. Instead of relying on Facebook’s algorithms for success, you can create your own demographic models and use these for ad targeting.
Last up, I wanted to dedicate a small section to the true complexity and power of Facebook ads. While most of the above options are for simple one dimensional targeting, the amazing power of Facebook ads can be leveraged when layering all of the targeting options together.
Customer Modeling Targeting
If you truly know your exact customer model or persona, then re-creating that in Facebook ads is very possible. Let’s say, for example, you were working on a target for a drive-to market in Florida. It may include the following targeting options:
- Stay at home Moms
- 30-45 years old
- Is interested in traveling
- Goes on family vacations
Of course, this is just an example, but the targeting options here allowed me to create a semi-targeted audience of 98,000 potential guests that could be used to drive traffic to your website.
Given how many thousands of targeting options are in Facebook, you could spend years targeting different combinations of similar targeting options to ones above and not even scratch the surface.
Post Conversion Targeting
This one, while not always driving the most business, can be great for soft benefits like generating more reviews or getting more testimonials.
Take your converted guests from a certain month, upload their emails into Facebook’s custom audience targeting and show ads encouraging them to leave you feedback on Google+ or sign your digital guestbook. While most people get a decent amount of responses on surveys and feedback forms, smaller property managers can sometimes struggle to generate a lot of reviews just based on a smaller data set to pull from. With creative options like Facebook ad targeting your guests after their stay, you can create brand-loyal guests that’ll want to stay for life.
Also, in addition to guests who’ve recently stayed with your company, it’s also possible to target website users who’ve recently filled out a contact form. You can create a website custom audience of everyone who’s been to your website’s thanks or confirm page, then offer them a free (no email needed) PDF or travel guide with headline copy mentioning you can’t wait to help them find the perfect getaway.
Even if it takes only a few hours to for you to respond to their email inquiry, it’s possible to have your Facebook ads serving to your potential guest before they even hear back from you: how’s that for brand awareness?
Travel Blogger Targeting
Not just a tactic for generating guests directly, another clever use of Facebook ads is for press and coverage in popular travel blogs and magazines. With Facebook’s ad targeting options for job titles, you can target travel bloggers with a simple interests targeting option. According to Facebook, there are well over 38,000 self-proclaimed travel bloggers using Facebook. Narrowing this down with location options will yield a small list that’s very targeted with the right ad offer.
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