ROI-driven digital marketing for destination websites

Destination website marketing Destination websites should apply results-driven practices to their marketing strategy online. Measuring ROI or CPA can help make an destination organization more effective –attracting customers, influencers, partners, visibility and building revenue.

The Internet has changed the way customers interact with the travel, entertainment and tourism industry. Online marketing can be hugely beneficial or even critical for parks, museums, destination spaces, hotels, cities, etc. Many organizations still only approach marketing from the perspective of direct or transactional marketing–ignoring much of the customer lifecycle that offers numerous opportunities.

Planning for measurement

  • Conversion tracking. Identify the point of end conversion.
  • Determine Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics of campaign success
  • Define the customer lifecycle unique to your organization
  • Install analytic tools capable of measuring KPIs, general web and social metrics and conversion
  • Define channels relevant to your organization

Don’t just measure the last touch for attribution

Tracking costs to determine CPA/ROI is critical to have an accurate picture of where to invest in the future. If an organization only measures the last touch, then ROI is not accurately measured. Many destination organizations will drop campaigns because of a perceived lack of value because “visitors are not converting.” It is critical to track the full lifecycle. Many visitors may begin the relationship with PPC but convert weeks latter with a social media post (for example / or vice versa).

Below is an example of three (potential) key stages of a conversion process. Here we are measuring the conversion from subscribers to leads and from leads to customers. Below is a goal measurement chart focusing on leads from a website campaign.

Conversion marketing chart

Relationship metrics: from subscriber to conversion

  • Engaged visitor: meaningful website behaviors, visitors from target regions, target personas visitors, social media engagement, repeat visitors, etc
  • Subscriber: A user that likes your content and wants to receive more. Consider a hotel that posts content on scuba diving, visitors may be interested in receiving more of such helpful or entertaining content and is ready to provide an email address. Capturing contacts in the casual browsing phase makes for a fantastic KPI (marketing: key performance indicator)
  • Lead: A contact that provides contact information to learn more about booking, rates, deals, packages, amenities, tours, events, etc.
  • Subscriber to lead conversion rate
  • Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate
  • Up-sell opportunities for existing customers. Trying to gain repeat customers can be far cheaper than winning new ones. Also, repeat customers may make better brand advocates and recommend the brand to a friend.
  • Partnership opportunities: Joint deals or offers with other organizations or destinations can boost sales for both partners. Consider cross-sell opportunities or packages with other organizations.

Potential channels for acquisition

  • Social media
  • Search
  • Social referrals (friend networks to website / blog)
  • PPC (Paid search) + remarketing
  • Display advertising
  • TV
  • Travel advisors or recommendation sites
  • Yelp or local review websites
  • Directories
  • Mobile apps
  • Websites (referral links, recommendations, email to a friend)
  • Radio
  • References on third-party publications, blogs and websites
  • Direct to content or content sharing platforms
  • Partner channels
  • Real-world (including QR codes or hashtags from public signage)
  • Partners: Commercial, non-profit, Government

Social media metrics

The first step in using social media for a destination brand is to determine which social media channels are key to the success in selling the product, service or experience. Within these channels, what behaviors are worth monitoring and defining as a measurement of success.

Defining Social Media Metrics

  • Facebook posts, comments and likes (usins Facebook Insights or other measurement tools in combination)
  • # of shares or love received (Pinterest)
  • Instagram metrics
    • most liked photos ever
    • hashtag cloud
    • follower growth charts
  • # of Post views and Post feedback (posts to social channels like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and beyond)
  • Average interaction per post
  • Number of new fans in relation to fans prior to campaign
  • # of broadcasted messages via Twitter
  • # of RT’s (retweets)
  • # of @replies
  • Contest entries
  • Hashtag trending and reach (on Twitter)



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Ironpaper is a results-driven digital marketing agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.