When considering the measurement of digital advertising for Destination Marketing Organizations, the first question a DMO should answer is why it’s important. There are several reasons. The internet is the primary source for travel information. According to a Google Travel Study, 78% of leisure travelers and 80% of business travelers report that the web is the number one resource used when planning a trip. 72% of people still prefer to receive information via email more than any other medium, according to TravelSherpa. Then, there is also the consideration of time spent online. According to a Nielsen Report, the average American adult spends more than 11 hours per day on electronic gadgets. DMOs need to promote marketing messages in the space where prospective travelers are most likely to take action.
Other important reasons to consider digital advertising as an important channel for DMOs include cost effectiveness, wider exposure and longer lasting results. In comparison to a traditional media buy, social media, search engine and email marketing campaigns can be implemented and reach more visitors at an attractive cost per impression. Digital campaigns can also be more targeted with lifestyle and psychographics. Online content also has the potential to reach more people since it is not limited to airing on a certain channel at a certain time of day like a TV campaign, limited by drivers in a certain area like an outdoor or radio campaign, or a certain number of subscribers for a print campaign. Content that lives on a website and is indexed by search engines has the potential to live on long past the paid campaign. If the landing page from a digital campaign receives significant results, the marketing message can reach potential visitors months or even years past the initial campaign due to Google’s algorithm which ranks the relevancy and historical significance of the page.
There are a few primary channels that should be included in a basic digital campaign:
- Website – At minimum, any campaign should be linked to the DMO’s primary website or a campaign landing page. AND this content MUST be mobile optimized!
- Facebook – Facebook provides robust targeting and noticeable results from organic content, as well as paid advertising.
- Search Engine – Organic and paid search engine referrals traffic is a high source of traffic for a DMO.
- Email – For leisure and business travel, email is an effective, cost-efficient method of digital direct marketing that routinely generates results.
Lastly, make sure your advertising partner is measuring the basics – website visits, page views, impressions, clicks and click through rate (CTR). These are all important metrics of a digital campaign. Then, look at Google Analytics and measure referral sources. Google Analytics makes it easy to integrate code with online forms if there is a call to action which can track conversions. Signing up to win, signing up for future updates, taking advantage of a special offer or clicking through to a high priority web page from a campaign are all conversions that can be tracked through analytics.
After you’ve addressed the question of why, focus on what channels the provider has included in the campaign and what metrics are being used to measure the effectiveness of the marketing campaign. Here are 5 questions to ask your digital provider that might help:
- What do you measure? As mentioned above, visits, page views, impressions, clicks and click through rates are all important metrics in a digital campaign. A more in-depth measurement metric is the conversion rate.
- How often do you measure? Typically monthly reports are adequate for most digital campaigns and work well for website statistics, social media, banner ad or pay per click campaigns. Search engine pay per click campaigns can be evaluated bi-monthly in order to refine keywords and ad copy to boost the quality score.
- How do you compare results (month over month, year over year, etc.)? An effective way to compare results is based on benchmark statistics.
- Will you compare industry averages? For most digital advertising, there are industry averages by channel and sometimes by industry type. Comparing retail to travel statistics for an open rate or click through rate, for example, is not always apples to apples.
- Will you make recommendations based on results? Too often a provider is reporting analytics but do not help interpret the data. That’s where a savvy advertising agency can really be helpful in recommending campaign actions based on analytics.