Sykes Cottages Boost Booking Conversion Rates by 10.9% with Lunio

May 15th, 2024

Sykes Cottages, a leading holiday cottage rental agency, implemented Lunio to tackle spikes in bot traffic during peak booking periods, and minimise spam lead submissions. Over the course of 12 months, they significantly reduced invalid traffic rates across key acquisition channels, leading to an uplift in both conversion rate and lead quality.

Key Stats 

  • 10.9% increase in conversion rate 
  • 14.9% decrease in bounce rate 
  • £704k saved by blocking clicks from invalid sources

Sykes Cottages is the UK’s leading independent holiday cottage rental agency, with over 30 year’s experience in the industry. They represent more than 22,500 holiday homes across the UK, Ireland, and New Zealand – from cosy cottages to larger properties sleeping 20 or more.

Sykes operates both B2C and B2B paid media campaigns, serving two different kinds of customers. On the B2C side, Sykes drives bookings from holidaymakers searching for their perfect getaway accommodation. And on the B2B side, they advertise to holiday home owners who want a hassle-free way to fill up their rental calendar with bookings, by having their property listed on Sykes website.  

Paul Oates, Head of Performance Media, is responsible for ensuring Sykes digital ad budget is used to drive both property bookings and leads from property owners as efficiently as possible.

In his previous role, Paul had implemented Lunio and was impressed with the results. He had seen first-hand evidence of how reducing levels of invalid traffic (IVT) helped to improve conversion rates over time. So when he joined Sykes in January 2023, he saw huge potential in tackling IVT, especially given the scale of the business. 

Why Sykes Chose Lunio 

Paul and his team went through a procurement process, with Lunio being compared against another invalid traffic prevention solution for an initial trial period. Lunio was selected based on easier usability, more helpful data-driven insights, and higher-quality support. 

From day one, the support we’ve had from Lunio has been absolutely first class. And because it’s so easy to use, it was much quicker to get our teams up to speed and actively using the platform on a regular basis. It’s often tricky to drive high adoption and use rates with more complex tools. But Lunio’s straightforward setup and intuitive dashboard helped build a strong business case that it was the right solution for Sykes.

Paul Oates

Head of Performance Media, Sykes Cottages

Eliminating Source of Wasted Ad Spend 

Invalid traffic rates coming from Google Ads were reduced significantly within the first four months, falling 43%, from an average of 5.1% to 2.9%. This uplift in traffic quality led Sykes to expand Lunio to other key acquisition channels in July 2023, including Bing, Meta, and TikTok. 

The benefits of having greater visibility and insights into traffic sources quickly became clear. Notably, Paul and his team noticed a lot of paid traffic was coming from their head office IP, showing current employees were clicking on ads.

We’ve got nearly 2,000 members of staff in the UK. And Lunio gave us evidence that this activity was wasting a meaningful amount of ad spend. Blocking clicks coming from employees almost covered the entire cost of our Lunio contract in itself. And the implications of this mean we’re feeding better quality data into marketing targeting algorithms. We’re no longer wasting ad spend by going after employees mistakenly identified as highly-engaged customers.

Paul Oates

Head of Performance Media, Sykes Cottages

The B2B arm of business saw an outsized benefit from having Lunio in place. Property owners are able to apply for holiday let mortgages through Sykes website via financial services partners they work with. And this inevitably results in a higher level of fraudulent bot activity.

“Lunio acts as an extra barrier protecting us from bad actors, which has led to a significant increase in lead quality” said Paul.

The Results 

Comparing paid search data from October 2023 to March 2024 YoY, the downstream benefits of blocking invalid traffic are reflected in improvements across Sykes key performance metrics. With Lunio supporting them as they continued to optimise their ads, targeting, and campaigns they saw:

  • 10.9% increase in conversion rate 
  • 14.9% decrease in bounce rate 
  • 11.3% increase in average session duration 
  • More than 82,000 IPs automatically excluded 
  • £704k saved by blocking clicks from invalid sources 

The long-term impact of Lunio is all about data quality. As ad platforms move towards an increasingly automated ‘black box’ model, where we can’t see customer information as clearly, Lunio ensures we’re not feeding targeting algorithms junk data. All the noise created by invalid and fraudulent traffic is filtered out, and only users with genuine purchase intent are included in audience segments we’re using to drive performance forward.

Paul Oates

Head of Performance Media, Sykes Cottages

The overall increase in paid media efficiency has helped Sykes deliver better results across both the B2C and B2B arms of the business. And the roll out of multiplatform protection to cover all of Sykes key acquisition channels has given them valuable insight into the risk profile associated with each platform at any given time. 

“Occasionally we’ll see traffic spikes in our analytics that look like bot activity, and we want to find out whether it has come from paid channels. The Lunio dashboard makes it really easy to quickly assess the health of each channel, to either diagnose where the problem is coming from, or rule out paid media as the source of the spike”  said Paul.

After a successful first year, Paul and the paid media team at Sykes are now set to scale investment on important growth channels such as TikTok, confident in the knowledge that their increased spend is effectively protected against zero-value clicks. 

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