Here’s a little secret about digital marketing: It’s not that hard to increase traffic to a website.
What’s hard is increasing meaningful traffic to a site: the type of visitors who are potential customers, who stay longer than 10 seconds, who view multiple pages instead of driving your bounce rate skyward.
Not long ago, Squarely Digital tackled this problem for our client Julian Tours. The Alexandria, Va. company is a tour operator specializing in curriculum-based school trips on the East Coast — most often Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, Colonial Williamsburg or Gettysburg.
From August 2019 through January 2020, Julian Tours has added 14.3 qualified prospects per month to its email list thanks to this campaign
Julian Tours’ ideal clients are teachers and school administrators who organize class trips and have high standards for them. They need the trip to have a serious educational component and may hear complaints from parents or colleagues if it falls short.
We launched a campaign in late 2016 that aimed at attracting those educators. The goal was more than pageviews from teachers; we wanted the educators to fill out a form with their name, school and email address so we could market directly to them in future campaigns.
Let’s skip right to the results: It worked. And it’s still working.
From January 2017 through January 2020, Julian Tours has added qualified 427 educators (377 teachers and 50 administrators) to its email list thanks to this campaign — that’s 11.9 per month. That list continues to grow every week, and it has grown more quickly recently. From August 2019 through January 2020, the e-book was downloaded by 14.3 qualified leads per month.
Here’s what we did and why it was successful:
In September 2016, the Smithsonian opened a new museum on the National Mall in D.C. — the National Museum of African American History & Culture.
The National Museum of African American History & Culture.
That fall, we produced a series of blog posts about the museum, concentrating on the questions a teacher who was considering taking her students to the museum might ask:
Once the series was complete, we added photos, small infographics and a museum map and created an ebook. We offered the ebook as a free download on Julian Tours’ website. The only requirement was the user had to fill out a form.
In addition to the basics (name, email address, school), the form asks users whether they are a teacher or a school administrator. It also asks if they organize trips, and if so, what are the biggest challenges they face?
It may sound like a lot to ask — but users have filled out the form and downloaded the ebook at a steady clip since January of 2017.
1. We Were Timely
By publishing just after the museum opened, we gained two advantages: We capitalized on high interest in a new Smithsonian, and we got the inside track on search-engine optimization. Almost all the leads the ebook has produced came from organic search traffic.
2. We Answered the Right Questions
Over the years, Julian Tours has learned which questions trip organizers are likely to ask before embarking on a tour. We learned from our client, and applied that knowledge in planning an ebook that covered the key concerns educators have.
For instance, we covered reserving tickets (it wasn’t easy to get in in the museum’s first nine months), where to eat, how to get around and which floors and exhibits might appeal most to kids.
And we made sure users knew that’s what they would be getting before they submitted the form.
3. We Made Sure the Content Matched the Prospect
The ideal Julian Tours client wants to take their class on a great trip. And they want to make sure there’s educational value. And that it’s fun.
In short, this is a demanding customer persona.
To meet this prospect’s need (or perhaps its self image), we offer a lengthy ebook — “a detailed guide for educators,” as the landing page promises.
In other situations, a breezy infographic might work. But for this customer segment, we wanted to project seriousness and rigor. It has worked.