NB: This is an article from Koddi
It’s cliche to say, but mobile has been and continues to be one of the areas where we see the most growth. Not long ago, mobile made up such a small portion of metasearch volume that it would often be neglected without any significant impacts on the overall campaign. Today, it’s not uncommon for mobile eligible impressions to be equal to desktop. With the amount of volume on the line it’s important to pay attention.
At Koddi, we’re lucky to have the most granular set of metasearch market data in the world. Below is a view of recent opportunities for mobile traffic compared to the previous year. Overall traffic continues to grow, but mobile is closing the gap on desktop. Last year, mobile traffic was 41% lower than desktop. This year, it’s only 25% lower than desktop, though both traffic sources are still growing:
Simply put, this means that mobile is growing at a faster rate than desktop metasearch traffic. It’s where the most new opportunity is for many advertisers. Many of our brands have seen mobile traffic grow by multiples this year. Some of our brands are even seeing more bookings come through mobile than desktop!
Mobile Experiences on Hotel Ads
We’ve analyzed the mobile metasearch experience for most of the major advertisers in this space. In almost all cases, there were large areas for improvement for mobile performance. One of the most persistent issues that we come across is that the mobile checkout process mimics the desktop checkout process, which often has too many inputs and steps to effectively convert mobile users.
Winning on Mobile
Having a strong landing page is critical to lead users down the conversion path. It’s just not enough to make a desktop page responsive to mobile devices. Here are some tips to make the most of your landing page.
- Date Selection
Make date selection clear and easy to modify on the landing page. Users often change their dates when clicking through from metasearch channels. We’ve consistently seen that 45%-50% of users come from Google Hotel Ads without modifying the default date, and almost all of these users will need to be able to easily adjust. Often, we find that sites that don’t have easy and exposed date inputs drive larger numbers of changed or cancelled reservations. Emphasizing date selection can increase conversion rate and decrease customer support costs!
- Hotel Detail vs. Search Page
Metasearch campaigns typically give advertisers the option of landing users in different parts of the hotel selection and booking experience. Test sending mobile users to hotel detail pages vs. a search result page, or even deeper into the process. It’s common to see suppliers send to hotel detail pages, while almost all OTAs send to search result pages to support cross shopping.
- Room Bundles
Ensure room bundle information is passed to the landing page. If a user selects a specific room bundle in the research process, you don’t want them to have to reselect this on the landing page. Consider reducing number of room bundles to only most common; it’s unlikely to help a mobile user by showing them 65+ room options.
Make sure the currency and language on the landing page matches the user’s country. This is a major opportunity for many large advertisers. When previewing ads for other markets, be sure to connect through a local proxy so that you are guaranteed the same experience as prospective guests. Many large sites do multiple layers of language, currency, and geo detection that can create a false positive on test bookings, so it’s always best to have someone in market validate the experience in its entirety.
- Call to Action
Ensuring a clear call to action shows to all new users in a prominent way can help guide users further down the path. International sites often have competing calls to action between cookie policies, membership signups, login prompts, promotions, and loyalty app marketing. A low funnel user is likely more hindered by all these additional messages than helped.
While there is certainly value in collecting a lot of information about your customer and their stay, long checkout processes negatively impact the conversion rate. Using Koddi research data, we have rebuilt two generic mobile booking experiences. Our testing shows up to an 85% higher conversion rate on short mobile conversion paths vs. long ones.
The first is much closer to what we typically see in the space, but the advertisers that see the highest mobile conversion rates and ROIs use some variation of the second, shorter mobile booking experience showing below.
- Reduce Number of Form Fields
Sites with the highest mobile conversion rates collect only the essential pieces of information needed to secure a booking. We typically see personal details and credit card fields down to a bare minimum.
- HTML5 Input Fields
HTML5 input fields tell a smartphone which keyboard to use. This will ensure a user gets the “@” symbol on the keyboard when entering their email, the phone keyboard when entering numbers, etc. The small improvements to each field input can add up over the entire experience, reducing the number of users that drop off and decide to hold on their booking or book through another channel.
- Adapting Content
When responsive sites just scale to fit the same desktop content on a mobile page, one may end up with legal copy and other non-essential pieces of content making it very long. The best mobile pages are adaptive and remove all unnecessary content / clutter.
- Collecting More Data Post-Booking
Another successful pattern that we see in optimized mobile experiences is that an advertiser will collect important but optional information after the booking is secured and update the reservation instead of collecting in in the booking process. Common examples of this are special requests, loyalty signups (and sometimes even loyalty sign ins,) and survey related details, like whether a guest is traveling for travel or leisure.
Shortening and optimizing the booking path to specific devices encourages higher conversion rates, which is one of the most scalable ways to increase the volume through metasearch channels.
Click to Call and Phone Tracking
Click to Call (CTC) is a newer feature in many metasearch campaigns, allowing an advertiser to pay a CPC and give users a “Call Now” button, connecting them directly to their reservations call center.
CTC is not new as a concept, but still is an untapped feature for most advertisers. A step further – one we believe is critical to maximizing mobile performance – is making sure you have full visibility into conversions that mobile metasearch traffic is driving through the phone. Adding granular call tracking is a must to future-proof your campaign. This would allow you to setup mobile click to call on Google (something few advertisers are taking advantage of today.)
Along with enabling mobile click to call, it can give you insight into call performance from your meta landing pages. All of the extra booking data can be fed into a platform like Koddi to layer reporting and activate informed bid strategies. Our research shows that 10-30% of the total bookings through metasearch campaigns are driven through calls to call centers or to the hotel directly and often go untracked.
What to Do Right Now
The easiest first step is to compare your site to the averages shared above. How many fields does your mobile experience have vs. the average of 12.5? How many pages are in your experience vs. the the standard 3 or 4? Are you using best practices like HTML5 input fields, ensuring a smooth experience across devices?
We see many brands just accept their lower conversion rate, assuming that a low conversion rate in mobile is unavoidable. Closing the gap between mobile and desktop conversion rates can drive hundreds of millions of dollars in gross booking revenue, so this could be a very expensive assumption to make. Winning in mobile metasearch means questioning this assumption and taking steps to constantly improve the booking experience.