How Research and Data Shape Your Message


It’s not unusual to find a tourism organization, or any company really, that hasn’t paid enough attention to consumer research. And West Virginia’s Division of Tourism hadn’t focused on this in over ten years. The tourism department wanted to know more information about the type of traveler that was visiting West Virginia and the return on investment from their advertising campaigns. First, they conducted surveys of people who had visited West Virginia in the past year to determine their perception of the state and awareness of previous advertising exposure. Second, they started tracking mobile devices currently in West Virginia and whether those same devices had been served tourism ads for that city.

The survey results showed major distinctions in the type of tourists that were visiting West Virginia. This allowed the tourism department along with their agency, Digital Relativity, to create targeted messaging to different audience segments. For example, people from Ohio wanted more family-focused activities while people from Washington DC were interested in outdoor activities and couples getaways. By adjusting the messaging to specific audiences, a targeted email campaign had a 62% conversion rate based on signups and requests for travel guides. A hyper-targeted email campaign, combined with mobile and search ads, is a powerful and integrated solution that reaches responsive audiences online. Because hyper-targeted advertising is so efficient, less money is wasted, and campaigns are more effective.

Combined with the mobile tracking data, West Virginia was able to determine that they generate $7 for every $1 spent on tourism marketing. This led to state lawmakers tripling its 2016-17 budget to $6.5 million.

“What’s most important is we’re not throwing away money,” said Amy Goodwin, West Virginia’s commissioner of tourism and deputy secretary of commerce, “especially as a state you are beholden to the people who pay taxes.”


This post is based on an article by Ad Age