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Tourism Red Deer Launches New On Line Strategy

Tourism Red Deer has launched a new online strategy for www.TourismRedDeer.com

Visitors are continually shifting their travel planning and purchasing behaviours as alternative distribution channels are introduced to the market. The internet has evolved to be the primary tourism planning and purchasing tool to engage potential visitors. The continual advancement and introduction of new technology demands that we invest our marketing dollars differently to meet the needs of our consumer.

Tourism Red Deer’s 2012 E-Strategies will integrate all campaigns, programs and brand messaging with online components; achieved through search marketing, content and website integration or social media tie-ins, to create comprehensive and highly effective results.

Objectives and expectations

    o Increase traffic to website by 40% annually 

    o Increase following on FaceBook or other social media by 40%- 80%
 
    o Build consumer e newsletter database by 100%
 
    o Package and promotional sales – based on industry participation on TourismRedDeer.com

To meet this challenge, we had to reevaluate not only financial investments into traditional publications, guides and services but reassign human resources to these functions. The new Tourism Red Deer consumer website will be the hub for all of of our online marketing activity and our major marketing investment in 2012. The new website was required to fulfill the expectations of a variety of stakeholders – consumers, tourism businesses, staff, and stakeholders. The new site needed to be flexible enough to allow for quick changes, additions and edits. The good news is that technology allows us to track and measure the effectiveness of our messaging, providing us with instant feedback.

“In Red Deer we are exploring ways of doing business differently,” says Liz Taylor, Executive Director, Tourism Red Deer. “Given the competitive nature of today’s marketplace, and the ever-increasing variety of communications platforms and competitors continually entering our consumer’s mindspace, it is imperative that Tourism Red Deer’s interactive vehicles work where and when people want them to.”

“TourismRedDeer.com will become a powerful agent of persuasion designed to inspire curiosity, provide knowledge and solve problems for consumers, as well as integrate all relevant social media tools” stated Trevor Tessier of SBX Media, who designed and manages the online programs for Tourism Red Deer.

“We’ve built a user friendly website that positions and sells the products and services while providing a tangible value for the industry. We will learn from our online marketing efforts to increase the effectiveness of efforts across all marketing channels. This includes multi-channel coordination, testing and analytics analysis."

The site was designed to:

    o Focus on the experiences that Red Deer offers using story telling techniques that engage the consumers. Content display, packaging and visitor information is in an organized fashion – following industry best practices and user experience guidelines. The site integrates rich media elements 

    o Position our partner products and packages and make it easy for consumers to purchase their products

    o Allow for a variety of calls to action and data capture opportunities for database development

    o Include social elements that allow for collaboration, consumer communication and content sharing

    o Easy content and navigation updates – including an easy to update blog, industry participation

    o Provide areas for industry to communicate with us, download research and post job opportunities

    o Provide areas for meeting planners, event organizers and media to access the tools they require to consider Red Deer.

Content Development: An active and successful online strategy requires the creation of quality content. This content will be the focal point of the new site and will drive the social media plan. The content plan includes written pieces, images and videos.

The goals of our content creation strategy include:

    o Updating and increasing the effectiveness of current content as required

    o Create engaging content for use on site and in social profiles

    o Utilizing content optimization practices to improve the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via organic search

    o Assisting our paid campaigns through the creation of engaging landing pages

Mobile Site: With the increased move by consumers to mobile platforms such as tablets and iPad and the impending release of new-generation smart phones such as the iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy, Tourism Red Deer needed to be considering “smart-phone compatible” platforms, and/or applications that help them discover what Red Deer and Area has to offer.

Social Marketing: “Creating community and engagement around a brand is an important aspect of online marketing.” Tessier explains. “The development of brand ambassadors helps your content spread to those individuals that you want to target. Our social media strategy aims to share and discuss our content with a targeted tourism audience.”

We are building and engaging a social community which supports Red Deer and Area "fans" as ambassadors to enhance the reach and position of our product and experience opportunities.

Social media strategy:

    o Generate publicity through social media, online communities and community websites

    o Ensure our content is placed in front of those individuals most likely to make tourism related buying decisions

    o Create an open online dialog around the Red Deer region

    o Integrate operators into Tourism Red Deer social profiles and assist in nurturing conversations between these operators and consumers

    o Look for opportunities in social media for partnership development and cross promotion

E - Blasts: Utilizing a database of “permission marketing” consumer contacts, a series of e-newsletters will work in conjunction with the web strategy goals. We will create and work with 3rd party newsletters to deploy newsletters to target markets with industry partners on a continuous schedule throughout the year. There are currently 3 e-blasts planned that industry can participate in – delivering their packages and special offers to consumers. 4 additional e-blasts will be developed by the Destination Marketing Committee to further generate consumer awareness and interest in Red Deer as a destination.

Early Results: Tourism Red Deer.com was launched in November and results have been very positive
November – Visitation for November surpassed 2010 by 17% (additional 622 visits)
December - Visitation for December up by 107% from December 2010

Significant data:

    o Pages per visit have reached an all time high at around 4.14 per visit (typically 1.5), the bounce rate has dropped significantly to 44% (typically between 60 and 80%) and time on site is at an all time high of around 2:31. This suggests that:

        o Content and site architecture is more compelling for users to view more/additional information or read more on the website

        o Content and site architecture is leading people to the information they were looking for (less people are “giving up” while looking for content and believe that the landing page they are on will lead to the information they are looking for)

About Tourism Red Deer - Red Deer and the surrounding region is a hub for tourism, culture, entertainment, heritage, and business for central Alberta. Located midway between Calgary and Edmonton, along the Highway 2 corridor, Red Deer's central location makes it an ideal venue for meetings and leisure travel. Tourism Red Deer provides the overall coordination of tourism and event promotion and development for The City and County of Red Deer, responsible for growing the tourism and hospitality economy.

About SBX Media - SBX Media is an e-marketing agency located in Edmonton, Alberta. Our company focuses on the development and execution of online marketing strategies. Formed in 2009, our agency is privileged to be supported by clients in various industries seeking to learn, develop and implement marketing and communications strategies on the web. Our areas of expertise include social media marketing, online advertising and search optimization. We also place a strong emphasis on the constant education and training of our clients. We feel that it is very important that our clients learn more about what we do and why we do it, along with how our services may benefit their organizations.

Author: Tourism Red Deer

Published: February 01, 2012