When content doesn't convert: How to fix a low performing message

Triptease Targeted Messages are designed to offer thousands of options for messaging your potential customers. From targeting by location, likelihood to book, webpage, check-in date, booking date, referral website, new vs returning visitor, party size or the length of their stay, the possibilities for sending a super-personalized message to specific website visitors is endless. And that’s before we’ve even started discussing the range of message types and design options available…

But with so much choice at your fingertips it can be tricky to pinpoint exactly what makes some messages work while others don’t, or how to improve the performance of messages that aren’t doing so well.

That’s why we’ve asked our Direct Booking Coach, Moriah Olschansky, to offer some expert tips - not just on how to get a successful message set up, but on how to improve the performance of a message that’s not doing so well. So, over to Moriah…


Get set up for success from the start

The first thing to ask yourself is what is the goal of your message? Try and quantify if possible, and determine a time frame for when you would like to see these results.

Is the purpose of your message to drive immediate conversion on your booking engine, or is it to simply highlight a hotel benefit during the booking journey? Overall, messages that don’t have a clear sense of urgency or some encouragement to book will see a lower click-through and conversion rate - but that doesn’t mean that the message isn’t still serving a purpose and improving the booking journey.

The second thing to remember is that, depending on the amount of direct traffic your website gets, it may take longer to see results for a very specific Targeted Message, compared to a more general, ‘non-targeted’ one. Make sure to keep this in mind and think about your overall website traffic when creating new content.

But what if you’ve created a message that has a specific, quantifiable goal to drive conversion rate and it’s just not hitting the numbers? What now?

Potential problem: My content is getting low impressions

View of Triptease Message Manager with only 25 impressions, 1 click and no conversions

1. Is your message over-targeted?

If you’re finding that your message is getting lower than expected impressions, take a minute to assess your audience targeting in comparison with your conversion goal. Sometimes we can get a bit over excited by all the ways to segment a message, and end up with something like this:

View of Triptease Message Builder with Booking date, Length of stay and Location targeting in place

Tip: Try limiting your messages to just one targeting criteria to start with. That way you can see how many guests respond well to your content, and build in more specific targeting as you learn and iterate.

Example: If your goal is simply to improve the conversion rate of your most high value guests, and targeting guests who are searching for a Length of stay that is more than three days achieves that, adding on Booking date and Location too will only limit you in terms of impression visibility and performance analysis. So keep it simple when you’re starting out, learn what works and build complexity - if you need it - from there.

2. Are you excluding URLs?

If your URL specifications are clashing with your Audience targeting specifications, you may be facing an issue. This is a relatively common problem if you’re using booking engine targeting specifications but you’ve excluded your booking engine URL. Unless your booking engine has a link back to your website that your guests can easily click, then any messaging using our Booking engine search range of targeting options is unlikely to fire outside of your booking engine. So if you’ve excluded the booking engine URL for a message, you are likely severely limiting its visibility.

View of Triptease Message Builder with booking engine URL exclusion set up

Tip: Try deleting the URL targeting if you have it. Unless you have a very specific reason as to why a message cannot be on your booking engine, let the message do its job and convince guests to book.

3. Is your message overlapping with a previously created message?

If you’ve got a proactive marketing team, you may well find that you already have quite a lot of messages set up in your Message Manager. If that’s the case you might find that a message you’ve created has overlapping targeting with a pre-existing message. At Triptease we’re careful not to overwhelm website visitors with too many messages, so certain targeting specifications overrule others, meaning that there can sometimes be instances where a message simply won’t appear.

Tip: Check the targeting on other messages you have live! If there’s overlap in targeting, your message may take lower priority than other messages and therefore see less traffic. Make sure to check our FAQ to understand targeting prioritization.


Potential problem: My message has a click-through rate that is ‘poor’ or ‘ok’. How do I improve it?

View of Triptease Message Manager with a poor performing message highlighted

1. How are you presenting the offer to your visitors?

Again, with so many design options available to create a beautiful, branded website message there can sometimes be a danger that the clarity of your message could be lost. Here are some tips to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Tip: Make sure the offer is clear and quantified, ideally in the header. If you’re offering a discount to book direct, don’t say ‘Book here for the best rate’. Instead try ‘Save X% or $X when you book now’. That way potential customers can instantly see exactly how much they could save when they book direct.

Another example would be if you offer added value perks such as free parking, drinks or breakfast. Say what the actual monetary value of that free perk is for your customer. Try and include the value amount in the copy of the message.

Tip: Make sure the call-to-action is clear, and gives your customer a reason to investigate the offer. For example, rather than ‘Book Online’ for your button text, try ‘Reveal Offer’. This second option is much more enticing - your customer will want to know what will be discovered by clicking the button.

Tip: Highlight in the body copy of your message that the offer is for official website bookers only. Give the guests a reason to book direct on your website, rather than anywhere else.

Tip: Keep body text to a minimum - no more than a few short lines. People are a little bit lazy when they're scanning a website. They’re looking for specific words or phrases, and they don’t want to read too much. Make it easy for your guests to quickly read your messages and understand what you are offering.


2. Is your offer exclusive to bookings made on the official website?

OTAs are data giants, and that's made them conversion experts. They’ve tested what works and offer exclusive extras like free cancellation, 10% discounts, free perks and room upgrades to bookers who sign up for their loyalty programs - which then keeps them coming back!

Tip: Think from the perspective of a consumer - when you are shopping hotels for a vacation, what would make you book on the direct website? Make sure that your guests are getting a little something extra if they book direct with you, and that they know about it.

3. Is your ‘Call to action’ button helping to convert?

So, your direct booking benefit or special offer is super enticing, but something is stopping customers from clicking through… Could it be your ‘Call to action’ button?

Tip: Try testing out different wording in your call to action. You can do this easily using our variant testing feature. This allows you to instantly duplicate a second version of your message so that you can test different text like ‘Book Now’ vs ‘See My Savings’ or ‘Reveal Offer’. One of these options may yield completely different results depending on what your guests respond best to. You can access the variant testing feature directly in the Message Builder, but it’s worth noting that if you want to variant test an existing message you’ll need to pause it, duplicate it, and then create your variant from the duplicated message. You can’t add a variant test to a message that is already live.


Potential problem: My message has a click-to-conversion rate that is ‘poor’ or ‘ok’

View of Triptease Message Manager highlighting a message with no conversions

What happens if your message is clearly working as intended - your website visitors are clicking on it - but you’re not seeing the number of conversions that you decided you wanted to hit when you set it up? Here’s what to check for:

1. How does the offer appear to a guest once they click through from the message?

If your message has a good click through rate, but low conversions like the example above, it’s likely the guest is not seeing the offer they expected. Some things to check:

  • Is the offer still valid? You may have old campaigns still live which are linked to a promo code that is no longer active - meaning the user clicks through and finds no offer.

  • If the offer involves a discount, make sure that the discount information is very obvious on your website. Don’t make the guest search for the offer at the bottom of the page - it should be right there at the top!

Below is a great example of how the offer should look after clicking through your message: the original search page with all open rate plans looks like this, with the lowest rate being Prepaid:

View of a hotel booking engine showing their Prepaid Rate

However, the hotel then presents a Full Screen Exit Message which offers an additional discount by booking on the official website. After the user clicks it, they go to this page which offers a cheaper rate, and a clear rate type name:

View of a hotel booking engine with their Book direct and save offer visible

  • Is the offer consistently available? Check to make sure there aren’t too many blackouts, otherwise people will often click through and find no difference in price or benefits. If you absolutely have to limit your offer using blackout dates, make sure your corresponding Targeted Message is also only set up to appear on the search dates that it applies. You can see how to do this in the example below:

View of Triptease Message Builder showing check-in date targeting with limited dates

  • Don’t over-promise: One rate plan for each promo code. Let’s say you have discounts up to 30% off depending on the search dates or length of stay - you’ll need to create separate messages that are specific to those criteria. We often see cases where the number of days that the highest discount is available are limited, so the guests will click through to find only 5% or 10% off, which was not what they thought they would be getting. For example, rather than offering ‘up to 30% off’ depending on the length of stay, create one message which is 10% off for one night, another for 20% off for two nights, and another for 30% for three nights. That way there are no surprises for the guest when they click through from your message

  • If the offer is not a discount, are you sure it’s an enticing enough incentive? Let’s say you are offering a value add or a special package. If you're finding the offer is interesting enough for customers to click through, but they are not converting, it might not be quite enticing enough. Think about whether a better or different offer might appeal more to that particular type of guest.


How to keep improving: Testing and analysis!

Test, test, test! Use ‘incognito mode’ or ‘private browsing’ to check your messages and see how they work without adding impressions. While you do this, think about how you would view this message as a guest in different stages of the booking journey. If you can, have someone else in the hotel (who isn’t familiar with the rate codes and booking engine) check how your message and promos appear on different pages and for a variety of search dates. The content and offers should always be simpler and more obvious than you might think they need to be!

Finally, when you are ready to try a new message, pause the current one and create a completely new one - that way you can compare the performance of the old and new quickly and easily in the Message Manager.

I’d love to hear your feedback on how these tips and solutions worked for you. Or if you’re still having an issue with the performance of your message get in touch and let’s take a look at them together!

About The Author

Moriah is a Direct Booking Coach at Triptease.

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