Hacking Conversions, DMO-Style

December 10, 2015

This is a team willing to take risks that reap strong rewards for their destination. They always look for what’s next to push them to the edge of innovation.  

After all this is the destination who brought us the Manafin, “the perfect April Fool’s Day prank for the age of the hashtag”. The Manafin—a mentally manufactured dolphin/manatee has a reputation “for its playful personality and a penchant for exceptionally clear water”. Downing and team went so far as to purchase manaphin.com, complete with links to Visit St. Pete/Clearwater’s website. It a great prank that drove strong visibility coverage for the destination.

So no surprise that in an industry-first digital marketing partnership, VSPC collaborated with Sojern, Destination Analysts, and Miles to combine a website survey. The survey combined Google analytics, and data-driven digital marketing to actively participate and influence in real-time the decision-making and travel planning process.

This data-driven project showed us that in many cases, potential travelers’ intent on vacationing in St. Pete/Clearwater — just need a little push. Finding out the best way to get that “push” was one of the core goals as we extended beyond advertising. We drilled down the main trends behind why people head to St. Petersburg/Clearwater in the first place.

How it all came together:  

  • Qualaroo integrated Sojern’s SmartTargeting technology into its software in preparation for displaying surveys to VSPC website visitors.

  • Destination Analysts curated a Qualaroo survey and displayed it to VSPC website visitors.

  • Sojern’s SmartTargeting technology processed survey responses. Sojern delivered ads to respondents, which aligned with their survey answers.

  • Sojern segmented survey responses and analyzed and compared travelers’ behaviors and actions based on their differentiating factors.

  • Miles Marketing Destinations leveraged Google Analytics to analyze user experience and behavior while visiting VSPC’s website at different stages of the travel life cycle.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 5.16.57 PM

What We Learned about VSPC’s Online Audience:

VSPC Commands Engagement. Survey respondents are a highly engaged audience as evidenced by an overall click-through-rate of 1.9% and action rate of 3.8% compared to 0.3% and .78% respectively for other VSPC campaign placements.

Opportunity to Sway the Undecided Abound. Users who indicated on the survey that they were evaluating multiple destinations were 4x more likely to come to the VSPC website from display ads than those who had already decided.                            

Planners Will Be Planners. On average, respondents retargeted with custom messaging booked their travel further in advance, with 57% of confirms booked more than nine days in advance.

In Retargeting, Party Size Makes a Difference. Respondents retargeted with custom messaging had a higher average travel party size, with 43% 2+ travelers.Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.59.20 PM

Innovative Partnerships Can Yield Exceptional Results

VSPC’s David Downing remarked, it’s not common for separate entities to collaborate and share data like this. But this collaboration provided our client with the ability to target potential visitors with pinpoint accuracy. This is what made this experiment worthwhile for Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.

Our collaborative effort was a first in digital marketing history. Leveraging each partner’s’ unique tools achieved smarter analytics. In essence, we closed the conversion loop by integrating data from multiple sources in a new way. And, we’re very proud of it.

If this sounds appealing to you, and you happen to be a DMO leader, shoot me a note, visit our tourism solutions page or browse through our repository of case studies.  

 


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About Richard Black

Richard Black is Sojern's General Manager of Tourism. With more than 20 years of experience in sales, prior to Sojern, Richard was director of advertising sales for TripAdvisor, where he quadrupled sales and expanded the team's international footprint. He's based in the greater Boston area.

Richard Black About the author

Richard Black is Sojern's General Manager of Tourism. With more than 20 years of experience in sales, prior to Sojern, Richard was director of advertising sales for TripAdvisor, where he quadrupled sales and expanded the team's international footprint. He's based in the greater Boston area.