Is Content Marketing Worth It? A Look at Southern Idaho Tourism

Posted Oct 10, 2016 & filed under Work, Statistics

When we started our agency, content marketing wasn’t really part of the plan — in fact, we’re not sure the term had been invented yet. But as our agency has grown, so have our practices. These days, we’re positively evangelical about content marketing and the power it has to build relationships and boost business.

Every piece of content marketing works symbiotically with the rest to create one specific thing: Action. Blog content feeds social media, which drives users back to the website, which keeps them engaged with calls to action, which spurs a free download or newsletter signup — and all of that, if done correctly, builds awareness and spurs purchases.

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When we won the Southern Idaho Tourism account back in January 2016, we saw huge opportunities for growth — not just in the number of tourists coming to the region, but in the people interested in coming to the region. Southern Idaho Tourism is an example of how smart content marketing can breathe life into a brand, drive interest, and turn clicks into revenue.

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Southern Idaho is home to three of the state’s four national park properties. It’s full of affordable opportunities for fun: relaxing stand-up paddleboarding, unbelievable whitewater, heart-pounding BASE jumping, family friendly skiing, insane mountain biking, world-class rock climbing, and adventure sports that you simply won’t find anywhere else in the state — or even the country.

So why, then, did it seem to be overlooked by vacationers from other parts of the state? Why wasn’t it a go-to destination for travelers from Oregon or Washington or Utah who wanted family-friendly adventure? These questions stymied Southern Idaho Tourism, the organization charged with attracting visitors to the region.

We set about solving several key problems:

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Problem: A 20th Century Contact List.

When we took over this account, Southern Idaho Tourism had a very hands-on, old-school way of handling information requests. A user would visit the Southern Idaho Tourism website, click on a button for more information, fill out an address request form, and the Executive Director would then snail mail the user a postcard with tourism contact information. It wasn’t the most efficient way to convert interest into attendance, and it used a lot of resources (including printing and postage costs).

Our Solution: Real-Time, Custom Information.

For content marketers, a solid email database is pure gold. We took the opportunity to turn every click into a contact by creating an easy-to-use form on VisitSouthIdaho.com. Now, when users request visitor information, they’re prompted to enter their contact information and check the activities they’re most interested in (camping, history, family fun, skiing, etc.). That prompts an email with information tailored to the user’s specific interests, such as trip itineraries and relevant blog posts. Website visitors get actionable information, and Southern Idaho Tourism generates a warm lead.

We continue to use those leads, too: We’ve developed a vibrant email newsletter list and send monthly missives full of trip ideas, adventures, and timely opportunities. We pull quite a bit of the content from our blog — more about that in just a minute — and our open-rate percentage is one that most organizations only dream of.

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Problem: There’s So Much To Do — But Who Knows About It?

Southern Idaho is bursting with recreation opportunities, but Southern Idaho Tourism’s web page didn’t always bring that diversity to life. The website needed more of everything: photos, content, recreation ideas, and hidden gems.

Our Solution: A Website Redesign That Works.

We partnered with one of Idaho’s top outdoors writers to develop and curate blog content about Southern Idaho’s four seasons and what to do during them. Regularly scheduled content and photos not only boost engagement, they also help with SEO, driving more traffic to VisitSouthIdaho.com. Once an article is posted, we mine it regularly — we link back to it in email newsletters, we include it in social media, we feature it on the website.

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Problem: An Anemic Social Presence.

These days, even your grandmother has a Facebook page. But it’s not enough for organizations to just be online — they have to both be engaged and drive engagement. Southern Idaho Tourism’s social media presence was a bit too static for our liking; we wanted to create a social presence as dynamic as the region.

Our Solution: Content + Enthusiasm.

We’ve completely transformed Southern Idaho Tourism’s social media presence by being enthusiastic, responsive, and by highlighting great content about the region — no matter where it comes from. For Facebook and Twitter, we pull from our own blog posts, from magazine and newspaper articles, and from information shared by Visit South Idaho’s followers. But above all, we have been consistent: We post 5-7 times a week because we want to make sure our social media presence is robust and, most importantly, part of our followers’ lives.

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Problem: A Website Without a Lot of Action.

The previous version of VisitSouthIdaho.com had basic information about the region, but not a lot of incentive to do anything with that information. We needed to spur users’ interest and prompt them to take action.

Solution: Calls To Action.

Every section of the website has been transformed into actionable information. Want to learn more about the region around Shoshone? Our Adventure Map will populate that area with suggestions about places to stay and things to do. Have a day to spend in Southern Idaho but aren’t sure what to do with it? Our downloadable Travel Itineraries offers point-by-point guides to the area’s points of interest. Interested in general information or don’t know where to start? With one click, you can download Southern Idaho Tourism’s free, full-color Travel Guide.

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Numbers Don’t Lie:
Southern Idaho Tourism Stats

Still not sure content marketing is worth the effort? Check out these statistics about what content marketing has done for Southern Idaho Tourism in less than a year.

  • In November 2016, room bookings were up over 36.63% — the highest percentage of growth recorded in the region to date.
  • For the year, room bookings to date in the region are up over 19.5% year to date.
  • We've collected over 9,184 contacts in our database since we launched the new website in March. We have gathering geographic data, travel interests, and other intelligence gathered for future campaigns and promotions.
  • Social media channels are outperforming expectations.
    • Facebook Likes are up over 25%, Engagement is going well with an average reach of 47,532 people per month, and average of 4,431 Post Engagements per month.
    • In September 2016, Twitter profile visits averaged 352 with 12.2K Tweet Impressions (Impressions were a dismal at 1,320 in December 2015).
  • Southern Idaho Tourism’s email clickthrough rate was 15.8% at the height of the summer travel season — 9.29% higher than the travel industry standard.

Want to learn more about content marketing?

Contact paul@carewco.net to discuss how this may help generate more leads for your organization.