The Wicklow Escape Case Study
The Wicklow Escape is a beautiful lodge nestled in the Wicklow mountains. Previously opened as a wellness retreat called ‘The Elbowroom Escape’, it was rebranded and opened as the high-end destination dining venue it is today. They offer unique two and three-day experiences for those who appreciate good food. The experience includes an all-inclusive stay with delicious local produce cooked by one of Ireland’s leading chefs. Our objective was to increase brand awareness and bring more bookings into the business using paid ads across Google and Facebook platforms.
Like most hotels many bookings are lost to online travel agencies such as booking.com and Expedia. As these booking websites typically work with every hotel in the area, they can offer all properties in one place with an extensive selection of options depending on the clients’ requirements.
These sites are trusted by millions of bookers and are unfortunately perceived as having lower rates than those on the hotel’s official website. In addition, they invest millions each year in paid search advertising, making it extremely difficult for a stand-alone property to compete with.
This was a relatively new business, so we would need first to build brand awareness before we would see an increase in bookings. The Wicklow Escape is a high-end experience, so we would need to get the luxury message across by targeting the correct audience with specific wording. Another challenge we faced was that they had never run online pay-per-click advertising before, this meant we had no previous ad performance to review and would be starting the learning process from scratch.
First, we set up Facebook campaigns to increase brand awareness, it was important that we had strict targeting so we were only showing our ads to those we identified as being their ideal audience.
We also paid close attention to the imagery and messaging we used to ensure we got the message of a ‘luxury experience’ across. We started off with a campaign to introduce the brand and its unique selling points using a carousel of images. As awareness grew and the brand was becoming more known, we were able to create remarketing ads to target those who had started the booking process but had not yet completed it. We also tested ads with customer reviews to increase trust which worked very well.
We set up both brand and generic campaigns. A brand campaign targets keywords that contain the property’s name, and for this account we also used keywords relating to its previous name – The Elbowroom Escape. For the generic campaigns, we carried out keyword research and selected popular terms that related to people’s searches for trips to Ireland, and Wicklow in particular. It was essential to keep a close eye on the search terms coming in for the generic campaigns for two reasons:
Firstly, we needed to ensure our ads were not showing up for irrelevant searches that would not convert, therefore wasting our budget. We built out an extensive negative keyword list before setting the campaigns live, so we added any new search terms we did not want to show up for as we went along. Secondly, we would sometimes find relevant keywords that we had not originally included were converting, so we added these to our keyword list to bid on. In addition to this, we also tested out different bid strategies on our generic campaigns. In the end, we found that a maximise conversions bid strategy worked very well for one of our campaigns, rather than the usual manual strategy we had been using.
Comparing data from our Google campaigns over a six-month period, we saw the following results:
115% increase in conversions
278.13% increase in revenue
47.19% decrease in cost per conversion
233.05% increase in return on ad spend
13.54% increase in spend
These results were achieved through 6 months of learning and optimising the ads, with only a small increase in budget. Budget is an important factor for ads to reach their full potential, we found the optimal spend for this client which gave them great results, alongside testing and extensive research beforehand.
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