Conversions surge for real estate rental and sales
Doug Brindley may not be a genie, but he does make dreams come true. Every day, the president of Brindley Beach connects dreamers from all over the world with more than 600 properties on the Outer Banks — a heavenly 200-mile stretch of narrow peninsulas and barrier islands off the North Carolina coast. Some seek the vacation of a lifetime, others a residence for purchase — and, with help from Brindley Beach, those dreams play out among fabulous sunsets, wild mustangs and some of the best saltwater fishing in the world.
“Come on down to the Outer Banks and have a great vacation,” urges the affable Brindley, who fell in love with the beach in the ‘60s, worked as an area lifeguard in the ‘70s, and now owns and operates the 32-year-old company alongside his wife, Joan.
But even as the area has remained the same, times have changed. Nowadays, Brindley Beach must overcome daily challenges presented by deep-pocketed rivals, a rapidly evolving technological landscape, and consumers armed with unprecedented research. As a result, Brindley has wisely been fine-tuning his marketing strategy with one foot in the past but his eye on the future.
“Back in the '80s, our ‘search engine’ was a catalog,” he says of his early days in the industry. “But our business evolved when the internet came along — and suddenly we have the opportunity to reach so much further.”
The Bing Network brings in the highest booking values out of all our marketing strategies.
— Zofia Poltorak, marketing consultant at Visual Data Systems for Brindley Beach account
As helpful as technological advances may be, they can also bring headaches. “There's a whole lot of information in the consumer's hands now that was not there before. Dealing with all of that availability, information and comparison capabilities has made business somewhat more difficult,” Brindley explains, adding that the playing field has been equaled for all. “Now, people are educated about pricing and availability, and competitors all have the ability to market on the internet and acquire guests.”
As a result, Brindley is thankful for his lengthy partnership with Visual Data Systems (VDS). An online marketing company specializing in the vacation rental community, VDS helps Brindley keep pace with the rapidly evolving industry.
“We've had a 20-plus-year relationship with Doug Brindley,” explains Robert Gray, president of the Maryland-based company that got its start building websites for Outer Banks realty agents. “Doug works in one of the most competitive markets in the United States. He has always been on the cutting edge of marketing, and he is very aggressive and willing to see what works and what doesn’t.”
With such an approach, VDS and Brindley Beach navigate marketing weather every bit as treacherous as the real-life extremes of the Outer Banks area. “Doug is one of those owners that will try a suggestion if you provide a solid reason for it. If it works, we’ll keep going. If it doesn't, no worries, we’ll find something better and greater next time,” explains Henry Sery, director of online marketing at VDS. “He wants to be the first to market, whenever possible, regarding the vacation experience, technologies, websites, marketing, anything.”
Several years ago, Brindley Beach set its sights on certain business goals. First, the company realized that not only did website traffic need to be substantially increased, but it also needed to be qualified traffic; second, conversions and online revenue both needed to be increased. On both fronts, the answer soon became clear.
Knowing their longtime client so well, the marketing experts at VDS knew that Brindley’s forward-thinking ways would be open to their recommendations. “Bing Ads is something that we added on to Brindley Beach that worked out tremendously,” says Zofia Poltorak, VDS marketing consultant on the account. “Not only has it brought in a great deal of revenue, but it has also brought in a lot of exposure.”
Nicole O’Keeffe, lead analytics specialist at VDS, agrees. “Bings Ads provides site sessions that average four minutes longer than our overall site session duration,” she says. “The users also have a higher e-commerce conversion rate than users from other paid ad sources.”
Data provided to Bing Ads by Brindley Beach
With approximately 500 check-ins per weekend, Brindley has plenty to keep him busy. That’s why his favorite Bing Ads tools are those that allow VDS to track his company’s data and results — and pitch him on fast-response solutions to keep his business growing.
“Unfortunately, I'm not savvy on diving deep into the analytics, so I depend on Visual Data Systems and their great staff to bring these to me weekly in our meetings,” Brindley explains. “Then we go over the results and compare it to the past, so we can make decisions on where to place dollars that are working the best — and, inevitably, working best is Bing Ads.”
Some of the most valued Bing Ads features include the Google Import tool and ad extensions. “When it came time to start with Bing Ads, the Google Import tool was very helpful,” O’Keeffe says. “Ad extensions enhanced how our ads are viewed visually, as well as their functionality.”
Sitelink Extensions, additional links included in ads that take customers to specific webpages, were also a game-changer. “For the first time, we were able to provide a user more than one option for beginning their vacation rental search,” O’Keeffe explains. “Call Extensions have also been helpful because not all vacationers prefer to book online directly. Instead, we can offer a user the opportunity to speak with one of our reservationists directly.”
As a result of such moves, Brindley Beach has been able to tap into the high-value audience that the Bing Network delivers and that the travel industry covets. Quickly, the results spoke for themselves:
With Brindley Beach now capturing more affluent and likely to purchase customers on the Bing Network, the company has added confidence that its message is being delivered to a receptive audience. “The Bing Network brings in the highest booking values out of all our marketing strategies,” adds Poltorak. “We're seeing higher priced reservations come through the Bing Network rather than our other sources.”
When it came time to start with Bing Ads, the Google Import tool was very helpful … Ad extensions enhanced how our ads are viewed visually, as well as their functionality.
— Nicole O’Keeffe, lead analytics specialist at Visual Data Systems for Brindley Beach account
On a similar track, Visual Data Systems takes great pride in its new mobile app that presents an innovative way to plan, review and invite others on a dream vacation.
“We have a vacation planning tool that we're rolling out for Brindley Beach,” explains Poltorak. “People can log in, map out their entire vacation, and then invite their friends and family members to join in. They can all look at houses, share them with other people and rank them by their favorite to least favorite.”
Brindley’s technology-first mindset is not only the root of such innovation, it is also the reason why he envisions a bright future in paid search.
“I think Bing Ads is getting the job done extremely well, so of course we'll be using that as one of our great marketing tools,” he explains. “As we all evolve toward how we search, I know they’ll be there. Bing Ads probably has two dozen items in the pipeline right now that none of us know about yet. I look forward to seeing them, using them and continuing to find areas that give us the best results.”
View or save this infographic recap to see how Bing Ads customer, Brindley Beach, uses Sitelink Extensions and Call Extensions to target an affluent and ready-to-purchase audience.