Our first in this series is Search Powering Your Marketing Mix where we will show how search marketing can provide behavioral information on who is searching for lodging, restaurant, attraction and activity information in and around your destination, which messages resonate with them and what factors entice them to become visitors/customers.
Armed with this knowledge, destination and regional marketers can create effective messaging to drive consumer actions through all aspects of the marketing mix, both online and traditional channels.
In this webinar you will learn:
1. How Search & Social Intelligence Research can define your target audience(s) and provide knowledge needed to create an effective overall marketing campaign.
2. How to leverage this information across your online and traditional marketing mix.
Mike: Good morning, thanks Tyson. Good morning to some and good afternoon to others. Thanks for joining us for the first of our three destination marketing webinars, search powering your marketing mix.
I’m Mike Rosenberg Vice President of New Business and Strategy at EngineWworks. We’re a full service digital marketing agency focused on the travel and hospitality industry. So my goal today is to show you how to use search marketing research really to drive all of your marketing efforts. This session promises to provide a strategy backbone that can be implemented by all destinations of all sizes, to enhance your marketing efforts, from research to strategy and planning. This hopefully informative and actionable presentation is going to provide a road map. And we’ll have some case studies along the way as well.
As a reminder as I mentioned it is the first of three. The next two specifically focusing in on social media and can it deliver to your bottom line where we’ll address how to go about tracking your social media efforts to see if all the work is paying off. That will be our April presentation, and then in May we’ll go even more interactive than we are today and have live SEO assessments. We’ll take a couple of quote-unquote ”pre-seededed assessments” from ahead of time, and then we’ll take a few that are also live from the attendees during the webinar. So if that’s something that you’re interested in, definitely reach out and let me know if you want to be one of those pre-seeded ones.
So let’s get going, search powering and your marketing mix, knowledge is power. So really the impetus of this presentation is that for a long time, really since the beginning of advertising and marketing. Companies have spent a lot of money, a lot of time on the creation of their marketing mix. And traditionally this has been a topped down strategy. You know, messages were created to tout the attributes or the benefits of a company’s products or services. Or in this case, a destination’s, attractions or features, or the cities within it. Follow that by integration of that messaging into each channel of the marketing mix. Then do some conventional marketing research to see if it was effective. Kind of going into the old adage of if fifty percent of my marketing works, I just don’t know which fifty percent.
Well unfortunately this process often failed to hit the mark. The in-depth research and analysis of consumer action coupled with what we now have is, instantaneous or at least close to instantaneous ROI tracking and measurement, can help us use that knowledge gained through some of these search marketing, and all my marketing tools as a foundation to actually create a marketing mix. So, what we would like to look at here is not just viewing search marketing or even online marketing as, a channel within the mix, but, rather we can feed that traditionally created messaging that we feed into the marketing mix. But rather using that to extract knowledge to create that overall marketing campaign.
Kind of a road map of what we’re going to cover, the four main points today are going to be: research and analysis, how customers seek out destinations, how we can discover the best targeting and messaging and then, how to integrate all of it into your various media channels. You know, through this process we can really extract some precise behavioral information pertaining to exactly who’s searching for a specific destinations information on those, what it is that their looking for, which messages resonate with them, and what factors entice them to become visitors, or customers. And all through this you can create targeting and messaging to really drive that consumer action, both on and offline. So one thing to note here is, I would definitely use the bullets, not a list, one, two, three, four. We’ll really weave through these four pieces throughout the entire presentation. And as I mentioned we’ll use some examples along the way as well, some case studies.
So what does this look like? Well successful digital marketing focuses first on three areas for success. You’ve got your content, so what content does your customer desire? And that’s really going to be the second half of this presentation, focusing on content and where that lies. The other two pieces that we’ll look at is search and social. Search really addresses what content you should be focused on. And then social’s going to ensure that that content is hitting its mark and it’s created in the right context and of course is the right places that we’re sharing that content, and putting it out there.
So , really to know where to begin with these three, we have to see how people actually act and function online, which, again, is kind of the opposite of what has been done in the past, where we kind of throw something up and hope that it sticks.
So to start with the search side of it, really the foundation of search is keyword research. The foundation of search marketing is finding out the right keywords to go after. So going through this search intelligence is keyword research which is one of the first steps to coming up with this digital plan for success.
So the first thing you have to do, which many of you probably already have, is you go and through and you kind of have that seed list. You either select and mine your site or go off the list you currently have or do a big brainstorm with marketing and other folks that understand the purpose of your online presence. For us, this process is very integrated with the clients we’re working with to find the goals of engagement. Where are we trying to focus on? Take a look at the current list we’re going after. Maybe take a look at mining from your site or your competitors’ sites. And then doing a lot of research and expanding this list, and finding all the different variations that you could go after, expanding it, and then coming back down and selecting it and putting it into buckets of information.
When we’re doing this, there’s three main things you want to look at. Now of course there’s the popularity, that’s volume, that’s one way where you can say “OK, does it make it sense? Are people actually searching this way?”
The second one is that relevancy; you know you have to balance those. It may seem very, very relevant, but if people aren’t searching that way and this is something we will talk about in a few slides about how to determine how people are searching, they may not search the way you search because they are from a different part of the country or something like that. Going through and extracting the top performing search terms, is going to help you gain this valuable behavior, data and targeting. So making sure that there’s actually volume there, that it’s relevant and then it’s in the right competitive landscape.
As a destination, your destination plus hotel or even hotel in general may seem very relevant and I’m sure there’s a ton of search volume and popularity but it might not be in the right competitive space. So you really have to balance, those three pieces are key to starting to hone in on what you should be going after.
And the other thing is it’s not only what people are searching for, but what’s actually converting now. Assuming that analytics are in place now, that’s a great place to dive into and see what’s driving traffic now and we’ll focus on that in a case study as well or we’ll get some really good insight, as well.
During this process you also want to kind of take a step back and find what a conversion is, with the resorts or something like that, a conversion tends to be very easy to define. It’s a reservation, it’s a booking, it’s someone coming to the resort and booking a trip. With the DMO, sometimes it’s a little bit harder, there’s several. What’s the job of the destination marketing organization, it’s to get people there probably or some folks have booking engines. If you have one, is that the best place for someone to book? Often times your partners are going to have booking engines that are more user-friendly or easier to use. So is it an exposure piece or traffic to the site or a visitor guide request? Of course all of that’s going to go into what you’re going to focus on and where you should be.
I like to put up this visual representation to give a very simple view of what we’re trying to do, when we’re talking about volume versus competitiveness versus relevancy. On the top of this, you’ve got lots of volume; on the bottom you have a lot less volume and probably a much higher conversion rate, so really balancing where you need to be on that is pretty crucial to success.
Another big piece of it is going to be competitive intelligence or competitive analysis and when we’re looking at that on the search side, specifically, you have two main types of competitors and this will go across social and as we get into content, as well. You have what you identify as your direct competitors, that’s the destination down the highway or the folks you are competing for that vacation dollar for and what not. So seeing where they are in the search engines and what they’re doing in social media and what their plans are can be very intuitive to come up with this plan. The other type of competitor that we always like to look at is we call landscape competitors, whether that’s search landscape or social landscape. Those are the folks who are in searches, showing up whether they’re your direct competitors or not, or they may be partners. Trip Advisor is one that comes out off the top of my head for a destination that often comes up for the search terms that we want to go after. Or maybe your members, or your partners who are the hotels in the area or resorts in the area, those folks. What are they doing? Why are they there? What’s been successful for them?
A tactic at this level is inbound links. That really helps rankings. Where are the inbound links coming from? Is that an opportunity for you to go out and form a partnership with those folks? Or go after those same links? What are they doing in social media?
For your marketing insight, you’re probably going to want to look closely at those direct competitors, those organizations, and get some insight on what they’re doing. I would say go sign up for their newsletters and see what you get. Request a brochure, go through their booking process. Dive into your competition, especially the ones who are doing well, to see what’s going on there.
It’s a pretty straight forward process, but what it’s going to do, when you do it the right way, is you’re going to end up with clusters of information. Buckets of information based on your attractions within your destination, or the types of people who visit your location or who want to come and do things in your area. You’ll have those and you’ll also start seeing trends that other folks aren’t seeing that you can take advantage of.
We’re going to jump into our first set of case studies. As you can see, we’re talking about pop, soda, and Coke. As I mentioned a couple of slides ago, where folks are in the country or the type of information they’re looking for, really has a lot to show with how they search and how they consume information. Tyson Braun who was an account strategist with us is going to touch on that as well as go through a case study for a client he worked with, a CVB in Ohio, Warren County. So, I’m going to go ahead and introduce Tyson, and have him go over this slide and have him talk through the case study.
Tyson: Thanks Mike. Everyone has an answer to the following question. What do you call America’s most popular drink? The one made from carbonated water, syrup, and artificial flavor? This chart breaks down each county in the United States, by the term the majority of residents use when referring to that drink. The deeper colors signify a large majority. I’m from Chicago, so I only drink pop. I don’t think in terms of soda, and I would never expect someone to hand me a Sprite after I asked for a Coke. In the yellow counties people are saying soda, and in the red everything is a Coke.
We all think our title is right, but being right is not what matters in search marketing. The right term is what is used by your target audience, and you should focus your search marketing campaign all around those terms. By knowing whether to use–for example we have a lot of CVBs here–whether to use event venues, or meeting rooms, spa hotels or luxury resorts, or family fun instead of things to do with kids, it can make all the difference in reaching your online goals.
That is a fun example of variance in the words people use. The example here is one of my favorite clients, the CVB for Warren County Ohio. Warren County is pretty average in size and population. Less than a quarter of a million people live there but there is a lot to do in Warren County and many people visit each year. Their biggest attraction is a huge theme park called King’s Island. It’s the home of the largest wooden roller coaster.
King’s Island is so popular, that most people when they come to Warren County are looking for information on, or related to, the park. There are hundreds of searches for terms like “Kings Island vacation packages” or “Kings Island meeting rooms”. Once we realized this, we changed our strategy to focus on these terms. From this we are able to exceed these client’s goals very quickly. Had we focused on what our clients assumed people searched, we probably would have ended up targeting terms like “Warren County accommodations”, or “Warren County special event venues” because that is the way we talk on the marketing side familiar with what the CVB has to offer. If we did that, I don’t think we would have reached our clients goals as quickly as we did, if at all.
Another thing that we learned is that many people look for things to do near Cincinnati, which makes sense since people visit the city for many reasons. Since Warren County fits the description of being near Cincinnati we target those people and compel them to check out Warren County. For example, we give them lists of things to do: lists for couples, families, and antique hunters. This really targets them to exactly what they’re trying to find. We get a lot of visitors to our website with this approach.
And lastly for Warren County, we learned that people visiting the area tended to engage in social media quite a bit. They tweet, they check in, they share pictures and they blog about it all after they get home. Our team reads all of this content, and we continue to gain insights into how our people talk and it’s easier to understand what they are trying to find. Yeah, that’s Warren County. Mike?
Mike: Thanks Tyson. You know, I think the biggest take-aways, from those two examples is that the volume piece on, are people searching for events? Are they searching for venues? You know, and one of things we found in Warren County and, I am sure everyone on the presentation has done their own research, and, now one of the things that we found with them that’s interesting is that you cut short best practices, your SEO your best practices and we had best practices for DMOs which for title tags.
Best practice for destinations is that you list your destination first, followed by whatever it is that makes you stand out for the content of that page, you know what that is, that’s sort of the formula. One sort of tidbit here is, depending on who you are, you can break best practices. So for Warren County for example, one of things that we found is that they did not fit in that, because there’s several Warren Counties around. People aren’t going to be necessarily searching for Warren County. So, they are searching for the attractions that are there, the King’s Island and places like that. Definitely look at best practices and it’s a good guideline, but when you are sort of getting into the tactics and the inertia of it all, make sure always go back to what you know and what makes sense to you.
Well, we’ll touch on another case study before getting onto the second part of the presentation. This one has to do with a destination down in Georgia, that’s actually been our client for quite some time. Really, when they came to us, all of their marketing and all of their messaging was really around gardens and butterflies and that’s what they are. There are beautiful gardens, lots of folks want to go there and there’s lot of messaging involved with that. But as we got into the research piece of it, as you can see on the left, the gardens and butterflies and nature kind of key words, which is what they were targeting, had some volume but as we expanded their research, obviously this is a precise look at this, there is a lot of volume for things like golf and weddings and conferences and, event type things, venues. And, once we were able to discover that not only there was four times the volume here for looking at this set, but once we implemented that, we also had about three times the conversion rate.That’s the type of information that people are looking for.
And, once we were able to do that online, ensure that information inserted to show the impact online, then that starts to go into every piece of the marketing that they’re doing and this is just to serve as a basic example of what their messaging, looked like, before this insight into information and then sort of evolving into, really focusing on, those three themes or those three clusters of information that rather were driving the bulk reservations and the bulk of their bookings. And, this didn’t only go through their search or even only just online, they started adding this into every part of their marketing, in their email, in their print, in their outdoor and in regional television. So you can really weave it throughout your whole campaign.
As I go down that road, I also kind of come back a little bit yes weave it into your social media which they did as well, as you can see their top tweet there talking about the golf course and that’s kind of another presentation on what sort of information should be shared via social media. I’m glad this screen shot had something about golf, since that was in there and that’s the type of information people want from Callaway, you know, “What’s the stimpmeter on the greens running? Is there a frost delay?” That kind of information: “What’s the weather like?”
Another note to talk about is the volume garden and butterfly folks had, which wasn’t nearly as large as the wedding and golf type folks. But, those are your core audience. So, no matter what you do, you’ve got to make sure and stick with them, I think this was some good insight and actually, again kind of preview for the next presentation. One of the terms that actually Tyson coined that I really like is your social media folks are like your marketing army and especially those enthusiasts. So, make sure you are still covering them, you know, we talked about, kind of, content demand and content balance, here shortly, but making sure that you are covering those enthusiasts is very important, as well.
So, I always like to provide takeaways of tools that will help you get this information. At a minimum Google Adwords is a keyword research tool. There are quite a few others out there, whichever one that you like, whether it is keyword tracker, keyword discovery. There are a bunch of paid tools out there. Google Adwords is a great place to start. Google itself, Google Instant will give you a lot of guidance to sort of start this process or hold in on it. With Google Adwords you are going to get some idea on the competitiveness of the keyword, you are going to get an idea on the volume, as well as some seasonality information. You can also get insights. Google Wonder Wheel is another one. So if you are trying to branch out you can get this list big before you bring it back.
A couple of social media research tools, you know there is Facebook, and Twitter searches, as well as sites like Technorati. And then if you have the budget and the want and the need you can go to some of the listening software tools like the Radian 6, on the expensive side, or the Raven tools or something like that, on the less expensive side. We kind of talked about the search dataset side and pointed out a few tools for the social intelligence and listening side.
Once you have those two pieces and add those together, really now what you are moving into is the content marketing game. So, if you cannot tie all these efforts together, that’s online, offline, social, basically you are not going to be able to do as well. And really what it comes down to is the quality of the content and discovering where that demand is.
So, as we review that, the search and social data is going to identify the customer vernacular. It is going to help you understand the meaning of the increase that is coming in and prioritize that content based on the demand that search and social intelligence is going to tell us, help us package it up for consumption and plan for the future.
And really what that does is that takes us into wide content and social form, just some statistics and sort of random content statistics. Basically what this is saying is that there is a lot of it there. You know, there is a lot of it produced every single day. And the big reason for that is that it is easy to do. You know, the barrier for entry is really low, it is getting lower every day. Web 2.0 or whatever we are calling it these days, it has been around for a while and it’s that user generated content that is so easy to produce whether it is in social media or you can setup a blog in minutes and start contributing.
While that is wonderful, of course there are some drawbacks. the pros of this is that low barrier to entry. It is very cost effective. It is easy to do. The speedy distribution, you can get out there fast. It is trackable and lots of people want to consume it.
Now the cons, really, there is lots of noise. There is a lot and a lot and a lot. We looked at the last line, instead of the content being out there, it is not all targeted, the quality is not necessarily always there. You know the amount that is being created, that noise, it is hard to focus specifically to that information. Most of this content is being put out is never been found, much less consumed. What is the point in that? So that is where we are having a strategy and really doing the research and seeing where the demand is, is key.
So, what do people want? Why is it out there? Well, the public, your consumers, the folks that you are going after, what do they want in content? Well, they want to get their questions answered. They want to be able to document their experiences. And of course they want to share. Social media, right, they want to build relationships and expand that knowledge base, learn something, figure out where they should go and what they should do. As marketers, what do we need to do? Well, , with content, , we need to build value. We need to build our brand and then ultimately it comes to we want to be able to convert something, we need to be able to put an ROI on it.
So, we search what we are trying to do, well, we want noteworthy content that produces links that helps our rankings and helps get people to our site and is visible so it can be indexed. You know with our user experience, well, we want actionable, something that induces that desire to action. Content that is useful and usable. And then it is content strategy, as of course it is that quality piece, that useful and usable. And they are all important but what it really comes down to is what is relevant. Does the content meet the demand of connecting the public interests with the answers to questions that they have? That is the kind of stuff that is going to rise to the top and be visible and noteworthy. I think for a long time, I’m sure everybody’s heard the term “content is king.” You may have heard content is king but relevant content rules and that’s really where obviously things are moving now. You can’t just put it out there. It’s got to be meeting that demand.
So it’s a lot of stuff. I think the next question is where do you start? Again now we’ve got a graphic that has a lot of things on it. We’ve covered the first three of these really in the first half of this presentation. I think the other point I want to make also is unfortunately all that old research that you did that I started the presentation talking about, it definitely is valuable. We don’t believe that it’s not useful; it certainly is. The first step is going through all of that information and making sure that we understand what’s there.
Unfortunately for everybody is it’s another layer. We’re putting another level of social and search intelligence and competitive intelligence on top of it. The nice part about it is typically it’s a lot easier to get.
We’re not talking about a focus group where we have to get a bunch of people together in a room and feed them and give them swag and look through the one way mirror. I never know if it’s one way or two way but the one way mirror to see what their reactions are.
Focus groups are a lot easier when you have inherent focus groups online like Facebook and Twitter, and Google. It’s looking there and it’s much more real time. But again we want to look at what those search and social content demand looks like in that competitive analysis, intelligence, what’s your competition doing. Of course we’re going to look tactfully what they’re doing, which we touched on a little bit but more importantly what’s their approach as we get into this content demand question. What are they doing to answer that question or maybe more importantly what aren’t they doing? Where’s the opportunity for you to dominate?
Of course you have to audit everything. One of the most valuable assets that you have as an organization is that earned and owned media that you have. We’re certainly not saying that you want to drop your offline and your mass media advertising because that’s what’s going to be creating this demand that we’re picking up and that it’s earned and owned. There certainly is that demand that’s already out there for your destinations and we need to make sure that we’re capturing that piece first, or if not capturing it first at least capturing it at the same time as the demand that we’re trying to create.
I like the analogy of it’s like a shoe store that puts all of its marketing efforts into getting people to drive over to their location for the sale or the special offer or whatever it is. They’re missing the guy who’s got a hole in his shoe walking down the street because you can’t find him because they’re not meeting that demand that’s already there. We’re here; make sure that you capture that that’s already out there. The person who’s in the store who’s getting ignored because the salesperson is on the phone trying to get that next customer in the door.
Once we do those audits from here we have to create that strategy based on the opportunity that we’re seeing through auditing our website; through our social media or analytics audits. Seeing where the opportunity is so seeing where you can put your money. That’s one of the things we hear all the time, “We can do all of these things but what’s going to be most effective? What’s going to have the impact the first, the fastest? Where can we be most efficient?” Going through this process is really what’s going to help you do that.
Again, it’s all about understanding that content demand and planning around it, auditing. What are you currently have? What don’t you have? What types of content do your customers want? What do they demand? And analyzing that. Where are they already? Where are they consuming it? What’s missing? How do you fill that gap? Where are you out of balance? And then from there you can look at improving results.
Content can have an impact on the results of other things. Of course, we talked about more search traffic. Being relevant and creating links and driving that content to the top of search pages. There’s increased consumption. People are knowing about your destination and want to travel there. The potential for it to become viral. Then of course eventually there’s conversions. Then the question is where are those conversions taking place and making sure that you have a better chance of being found and being relevant.
Let’s dive into another couple of case studies to illustrate this. This is a good example. We started with a deep dive into search demand with Arizona, Everything Arizona, trying to take into account what is it that’s really driving what people want to know about this destination. Really what we found here was the number one demanded information was around the Grand Canyon by far. You know follow that by Sedona and then some of the cities, Phoenix, Tucson, etc. and then of course activities associated with these attractions and these cities. Things like information about hiking in the Grand Canyon or where to eat in Sedona. That’s a simplistic look at it but once we went through that whole process the next step was to audit their current content. Basically as we audited everything we found that it was definitely out of balance with the demand. When we mapped out to rearrange the current content based on that demand that we saw, we saw that they lacked sufficient information in a bunch of areas. Specifically when it was time to create new content or when the plan to create new content came in, let’s focus that content on the Grand Canyon for the first round. Based on the research, round two let’s focus on Grand Canyon again. Maybe even round three and then we go to Sedona and kind of move from there. So get that demand in balance with what you currently have.
Another thing is that we found during this process was, not surprisingly, and we touched on this with Callaway Gardens a little bit, was there’s a ton of interest in pictures. I’m sure everybody’s heard how image search Google is huge in its own in addition to text result searches. We found there’s a lot of interest in pictures. So how do you sort of solve that when they didn’t have a ton of content of inventory of pictures? Well, that’s where you start creating photo contests to get that content. You can create a ton of content that customers demand by doing that. User generated content is great.
Another client of ours, Asia Trans-Pacific Journeys, which is a travel and tour operator, they did a very, very good job of identifying that people want to consume photos of these destinations and of course when they’re making their decisions to go to India or to go to Asia, what is it that we want to do is we want to see images of it. So again, let’s do photo contests. And they’ve been able to create a ton of content that they have the rights to use based on entering in the contest and them being granted those rights by the users who produced them and beautiful imagery that rivals National Geographic in scope and having these contests.
That brings up again something that we’ll focus on in the next webinar of then what do you do with this? You know, how does this, what do you do with this social media content? Does it reside on Flicker or should it be on your website or do you have it live in Facebook? It kind of gets you into this content repository and monetize it. Really where should this stuff live, which is another thing that you should be thinking about, especially as you’re pulling in content to your website from other places. What’s the place that it actually lives and where is it re-purposed and how do you do that?
Back to Arizona, once we took this information that we had about what people were looking for; they want imagery, they want things to do in these locations; we took a look at for example what they were doing in their online banner campaigns. They had some really great looking, emotional, kind of emotional feel flash and video ads. They looked really great. I think it was a guy who is kind of in a relaxing state, sort of a Zen state sitting cross-legged you kind of getting at that emotional feel but it was performing very, very badly. Nobody clicked on it basically. With them conversion was you had to click on the ad and then downloading or requesting more information or a visitor’s guide. Once we looked at that and looked at our research, we found that it looked cool but it wasn’t connecting with the information that people wanted. People wanted information about mountain biking in the Grand Canyon or camping in Sedona. So we made some much more basic, simple ads with a lot of images that we saw people wanted. From there we saw the metrics shoot through the roof. I think they were getting your typical standard .02% click through rate kind of thing with the fancy ads and we saw that 4x and then really the value here is we saw that conversion, that visitors guide information at 30% which is huge. It gives you an idea of, that you’re giving people what they’re looking for.
Really the evidence was that it wasn’t just about search. It wasn’t just about online. It was about everything. That’s definitely evidenced by how they changed their marketing mix and many of you have probably seen the reports where they’ve moved a huge portion of their budget online from 15-20% in the past and now 30-40%. I’m sure a lot of folks have seen that Montreal, that example, where they went 100% online. Again that’s based on what statistics are telling you and where you can be most effective with your dollars and with your marketing budgets.
So we’ll go from one extreme to the other. We’ll go from a huge DMO in the state of Arizona to a much smaller scale. This one gives us some good insight into a couple of these avenues that we’re talking about.
This is the city of Bothell, and for folks who don’t know it’s basically a suburb of Seattle. As we began this engagement with this client, search and social intelligence really played a key role, starting on a very basic, kind of obvious level. When we did the research we found that there’s a lot more search volume for terms like Seattle area hotels or cheap hotels near Seattle than there are for hotels in Bothell. Very obvious but it seems that there is a lot more volume there. We’re casting a much wider net.
Knowing that we had to develop a paid search campaign to focus on these terms. We didn’t think or we knew that the time and resource assets we’d need to rank organically for a term like Seattle area hotels wasn’t worth the time, energy, effort or dollars we’d need to invest in doing that. We can certainly have a very focused paid search campaign and create landing pages, of course indexable, landing pages for if we can get some of that organic traffic or if we want to focus on that in the future. Creating specific pages for Seattle area hotels that didn’t exist in the past so we have somewhere to send folks when we’re trying to capture that. Maybe that budget traveler who doesn’t mind being outside of the core of the city to save a few dollars.
Another key finding that we found when we were doing the initial research for this was even though at the time they didn’t really have much content around wine for this destination, it was driving visits to the site. It was driving conversions to the website that really didn’t have much content around it. A big reason for that was technically there aren’t any wineries in Bothell. The city of Bothell doesn’t have any wineries. Now Chateau Ste. Michelle along with many others are right outside of Bothell in a neighboring community of Woodinville. So people were getting there because it was near wine country. Bothell didn’t have any wineries and Woodinville didn’t really have any hotels. Bothell has hotels so seeing that insight led us to, “Okay, we really need to beef up the content that we have about wine and focusing about wine on the website.” So as you can see from that screen shot, we had a whole section. Not a lot of sections; top level navigation; one of those is wine. This is a screen shot from the home page. You see imagery around wine there as well because it drives a lot of consumers. It drives a lot of conversions for them.
Then other thing that this did was not only did it add a section to the website on wine but really drove a very, very offline grassroots traditional marketing activity which was creation of an event, an actual physical event in the community based around wine. We saw how much success we were having online with wine type terms getting folks in the community. The research helped us create these specific events the city was hosting to bring folks in. It started small with an event that was 300 people which was only promoted online and through word of mouth and in the wineries themselves. That event sold out within the first day actually. It had so much success that they did it again six months later and tripled the ticket price and tripled the number of tickets available which sold out fast as well and ended up coming full circle and having the largest record numbers to their website in traffic and also the largest number of folks going to their booking engine which was a big conversion to them – getting folks into the booking engine. Here we can see how online really comes full circle and drives some offline advertising.
We’re going to wrap up with a final case study based on, size wise, one that’s in the middle.
Hopefully there’s a few weeks left in the ski season and I know that this image has kind of got me itching to get up one last time. Another great example of a DMO who’s utilizing this online marketing to drive the strategy is Jackson Hole.
A couple of months ago in January they let us know that they were starting to see these inquiries for summer booking travel to the area. With them, like many DMO’s they’re certainly more than an information bureau. They act as a travel agency as well so getting those folks in to start booking is key. They came to us and mentioned things like wildlife tours which are very popular in the area. Really they were unclear on how many folks were actually taking these kinds of activities; how many people were talking about them in the search engines. Is it actually resonating? Are people trying to get to us through this information?
So to get to the bottom of this, and this is trying to give some tactical take-aways, we utilize historical paid search data. Basically we analyzed search query reports to see what key words were capturing that traffic. Not just the ones that we were bidding on but ones that were actually converting. Then you take that and we mapped that out to site engagement in Google Analytics really to figure out what keywords resulted in valuable visits to the site. Once we had that information we were able to get a nice picture, not only about the types of words people were using to research the summer related topics for them, but also see what engagement resulted from those. What were they consuming once they got on the site with those visits? And then determine whether that keyword drove a valuable, a likely to convert traffic. Then that forms the viable SEO target and the strategy for the SEO side as we’re moving into the summer season.
Basically this strategy gave us a chance to get a preview of site interaction down to the demand, the keyword level and then structure the SEO campaign accordingly and see if there’s any gaps in our content. The alternative to this would have been to make a guess. Here’s what we think is going to happen based on the search queries and based on traffic estimates and what’s happened in the past. Then spend those resources and time trying to affect those rankings and create that content based on guessing as opposed to getting a little bit more insight into what’s actually going on.
To wrap up and to share some take-aways from the process: perform search based keyword research. What you say, what your customers say, what your brand is, what your competitors brands are, what your destinations are, and what people think about those or the attractions that you have.
Use social to understand the -inquiry context. The sentiment, the type, the location of those conversations around those key words, and then make sure to categorize and compare your keywords with the relevant demand that you’re seeing. Audit the current content against that categorized demand.
Recap of a couple of the tools that we talked about. Your free, pretty basic tools which go a long way — Google Adwords, Technorati is a great resource for social media, Twitter is a great resource. Google Analytics, or whatever your analytics tool is, whether it’s free or you’re paying for it; there’s a lot of great insight in there. Then of course there are ones you can pay for. Again, whatever keyword research tool, either proprietary or paid for, a second level that you want to use, again there’s those listening tools whether they’re from the expensive encompassing site Radian6 or Spiral 16 but there’s lots of them out there. Again, we’ll give more examples of tools in our next presentation which is in May about social media and “can it deliver to your bottom line?”
Before we take questions we’ll just note that we’ll send out an email after this as well with our link to this. We’re recording the presentation so if you want to have it as a record or share it, certainly feel free to do so. If you do have questions please go ahead and ask them via the chat questions box and then Tyson I think you were going to go ahead and take those and moderate them for us. Please do ask away. I think I’ll go back to a good looking slide as we’re on hold here.
Why did you go beyond the title of search powering your marketing mix and really go into content and social? Really it’s mostly like any other entity, and you’ll see this into the next webinar, is EngineWorks is really a search marketing agency and that’s been our primary focus but we’re evolving and actually we’ve become an entity called ethology and search marketing is certainly a major component of what we do. Research and intelligence is really what’s going to drive the buses as we move forward. More on that to come but you’ll see in the next webinar that we’ll either be ethology or be co-branded in it but we wanted to present this as search. Even over the last few weeks as this presentation has been scheduled and come to fruition everything’s evolving. It moves beyond just search.
It looks like that is about all of the questions that we have. I appreciate everyone’s time coming on and again feel free to reach out to me directly with questions. We’ll send an email out that has this information on it and links where you can find the presentation. Feel free to reach out to me at Twitter or direct at firstname.lastname@example.org and thanks for the time.