How Sojern and Strategic America Drove a Half Million in Travel Spend to Iowa City
Iowa City seeks to stand out in a competitive destination market.
Iowa City has a lot going for it. As the third city to be named a UNESCO City of Literature, it’s home to the University of Iowa, which pioneered the teaching of creative writing at the university level. The University of Iowa attracts football and wrestling fans by the thousands. Hiking, biking and kayaking encourages the explorers. A bustling food scene and a plethora of cultural activities means the Iowa City area has enough to keep anyone happy. But, it isn’t often top of mind for people seeking a getaway.
“It’s a challenge,” says Carrie Thomson, Media Director at Strategic America, Think Iowa City’s innovative media agency. “Des Moines is only a couple hours away from Iowa City, Chicago and Kansas City are each four hours away. So, there are a few metropolitan areas around and people are spoiled for choice. We want people to ‘think’ Iowa City.”
Strategic America partnered with Sojern in July 2017 to run a digital marketing campaign for Think Iowa City, utilizing display, video and native formats. Sojern targeted two separate but key audiences — regional and in-state visitors, and out-of-state football fans. “The University of Iowa is a Big 10 school,” explains Thomson. “So, we wanted to focus on people coming from out of town for a game.” Sojern targeted people in or near Big 10 universities or those with rival football university teams. Geos included Central Pennsylvania, Dallas, Chicago, Wyoming, Columbus, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis.
With engaging display, video, and native formats, Sojern ensured a full funnel approach. Video and native assets are effective at building brand awareness and inspiring those in the early phases of travel dreaming and planning. Classic display marketing, with rich, inspiring imagery and messaging, keeps the Iowa City area top of mind as travelers narrowed travel preferences and begin booking.
During the three-month campaign, Sojern drove 1,297 total confirmed travelers, and a half million dollars in estimated travel spend to Iowa City. The 1,297 trips included 509 hotel bookings and 1,463 flight confirmations from outside the state. This also included 436 from those key football markets.
The formats proved to be exactly what was required to make travelers more aware of the vast cultural, sporting and entertainment options the Iowa City area has to offer. In fact, Sojern inspired over 19,000 visits to Think Iowa City targeted webpages. The native format, in particular, achieved a click-through rate (CTR) of 0.99%. In fact, the native CTR performed nearly 10X better than that of standard rich media.
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