Marketing is quickly becoming a larger part of a golf course operator’s role. However, managing your marketing efforts, on top of day-to-day operations at the course, can be overwhelming to say the least. While there is no perfect solution that will automate everything, there are quite a few tools that can help reduce the amount of time you spend marketing your golf course and improve the overall effectiveness of your efforts.
The 4 types of tools mentioned in this article revolve around the importance of social media, search engines, and visual content of this day and age. These tools are used by small businesses with small marketing budgets, all the way up to large enterprises. Golf course operators have enough to handle already, so why not let a few tools do the heavy lifting for you?
Social Media Management Software
Most social media management tools make it easier for golf course operators to manage all social media platforms from one application. We realize that every golf course has different needs regarding social media, but luckily, there are many different tools to choose from, each with their own benefits.
Here at 121, we use Hootsuite to manage not only our own social media accounts, but also our customer’s. Hootsuite enables us to post and interact with customers on all social media accounts in just a few minutes a day, rather than having to login to multiple platforms. Hootsuite, as well as other social media tools, also offer other great features, such as mention tracking, post scheduling, and content suggestions. Let’s talk about each of those.
People can be talking about your business on social media, without you knowing about it. That’s were mention tracking kicks in. Sprout Social has one of the best mention tracking features available. Mention tracking allows you monitor when people are talking about your business on Facebook, Twitter, etc. This helps you find new opportunities to engage with customers. If the mention has a negative connotation, mention tracking can help you identify and possibly resolve the issue. This is great for recovering a customer that may have had a bad experience at your golf facility.
While social media management tools differ in many ways, this functionality is virtually identical between all of them. Post scheduling allows you to plan your social media calendar for the week and automatically have content posted to each platform. This is extremely helpful for operators that struggle to find time throughout the week to post.
Another benefit to social media tools, is that some of them help you find content to post. It can be hard to find articles or current events to post, especially in the off-season. Content suggestions will show you an extensive list of articles, videos, and other pieces of interesting content that are specific to your industry. This helps speed up to process of finding things to post every day and keeps you up to date on the latest in the golf world.
List of Social Media Management Tools
Many of these listed have free options, however the paid versions are typically much more robust with features. Keep in mind that the time you’ll save with these tools may be worth a small investment. All paid versions have free trials and we suggest taking advantage of them. These are just the few that we have experience with, however, there are many, many others out there to choose from.
Hootsuite – Free, with premium options
Sprout Social - $99/month
Buffer – Free, with premium options
Sendible - $59/month
Everypost – Free version available, but need $9.99 to manage multiple channels
Website Analytics Tools
When you hear “website analytics” you probably think of Google Analytics. That is because Google Analytics is, by far, the world’s most popular website analytics tool and for good reason. It’s comprehensive and free! Google Analytics is capable of SO much more than what 99% of its users give it credit for. While a basic Google Analytics installation will give you a lot of data, sometimes that data cannot answer the questions most golf course operators are asking, such as “How much revenue is my website bringing in” and “Are website visitors converting into customers”. However, with a more advanced implementation of Google Analytics, these questions (and much more) can be answered. If your golf facility is looking for an even deeper understanding on how well your website performs and the ROI of your digital marketing efforts, Google Analytics, as well as other premium analytics tools, can help you do this. 1-2-1 Marketing specializes in advanced analytics implementations and includes this as part of the service you receive with our Digital Marketing Package.
Another great tool that can be used to find flaws with your website is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Simply entering in your website’s URL into this tool will provide insight as to how well your website performs on mobile devices and areas that could use improvement. Speed and layout on mobile devices are crucial, because over 60% of a golf course’s website traffic is on a smartphone or tablet these days. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test gives you a thorough analysis of your website’s mobile functionality and is also 100% free!
Google Analytics: https://www.google.com/analytics
Digital Advertising Tools
We work with a long list of golf courses to help them attract more players to their facility. One way we do that is through different digital advertising platforms. While TV, print, and radio ads have long been used by golf facilities, digital advertisements are quickly gaining popularity among GMs. That is because digital advertisements are much more targeted, relevant, and measurable than traditional adverts. Not to mention, their CHEAPER! Below are a few advertising tools that operators should consider.
Google AdWords is one of the most versatile and effective advertising platforms there is. It can be a great tool for booking more tee times, generating membership leads, and booking events & outings. A well-managed AdWords account can bring in thousands of dollars in additional revenue to a golf course. It’s incredible targeting abilities make its ads hyper-relevant to users, which helps boost conversion rates and reduce customer acquisition costs.
AdWords ads can appear on Google Search, Google Maps, Shopping, and Display networks. Between all of Google AdWord’s networks, those using it can reach over 90% of internet users worldwide. Hundreds if not thousands of people in your area use Google to look for golf courses. To the benefit of golf courses, AdWords enables you show ads to users searching for golf courses, that are located within a specified area. These ads have proven to yield up to 3200% ROI in tee time revenue for some of our public golf courses.
Google AdWords: https://adwords.google.com
Facebook has a long list of tools and capabilities that they offer local businesses, ranging from incredibly simplistic to painstakingly complex. Some of which you could easily do yourself. Others require a bit of experience with Facebook Ads in order to avoid wasting marketing dollars.
Most of you are probably familiar with Facebook’s Boosted Posts. These only take a couple clicks to implement and can achieve surprising results. Boosting a post can give it the push it needs to connect with thousands of local, potential customers.
On the other hand, Facebook has one of the most extensive lists of targeting parameters, which can also give it a steep learning curve. With some campaigns, you can target users based on gender, proximity, wealth, relationship status, job description, interests, behavior, and much more. While this gives you great control, it can also make your head spin a little.
For example, if your golf course offers wedding venue packages, you could target Facebook users that have gotten engaged within the last 6 months, live within a 20-mile radius of your facility, and have an income between $50,000 and $75,000. You could get as granular as you’d like. This helps Facebook Ads work well for generating leads and promoting events. That being said, we’ve tested Facebook ads for selling greens fees many, many times with lackluster results. Stick to Google AdWords and SEO for that.
Facebook Ads: https://www.facebook.com/business/products/ads
Graphic Creation Software
A big hurdle for many golf course operators is creating graphics for emails, Facebook posts, and other marketing purposes. The days of creating marketing materials in a Word document using Clipart should be over. Luckily, there are quite a few inexpensive/free options out there that you can use to help make beautiful pieces of marketing creative that you can use for just about anything.
Although we have professional designers in-house that use professional graphic software, we still use Canva regularly for its quick and easy layout. Canva is a web-based design tool that can be used to create artwork for just about anything. The best part is, you don’t need to be a design genius to use it! Canva provides pre-made templates and designs that you can tweak for your intents and purposes. this helps create professional looking pieces of artwork in just a few minutes. Canva is free to use, with some premium options that you can choose to use for extra flare. Most paid features are only a couple dollars at the most.
Give Canva a try: https://www.canva.com/
If you’re not comfortable with professional-level design software like Adobe Creative Cloud, but want more control than what Canva can give you, PicMonkey is your go-to. It’s still a very easy user experience that rivals Canva, but offers more robust image editing functionality that more savvy operators will appreciate. PicMonkey also offers some very nice templates that you can choose from and use for inspiration, but they don’t have as many options as Canva. PicMonkey does offer a free trial and starts at only $3.99/month. That’s a small price to pay for better looking graphics.
More Effective Marketing in Less Time
All of these tools should help reduce the amount of time you spend on marketing, while producing better results. Whether you’re looking to engage more with Facebook users or look more professional with your marketing assets, there is a tool that will help you limit that amount of time it takes be successful. While technology might be a burden at times, it has also made marketing more accessible than ever before. Try taking advantage of one of these tools to make your marketing efforts that much easier.