The rise of social media has changed the way travelers research destinations, and Visit California—a non-profit organization with a mission to keep California top-of-mind as a premier travel destination—is looking to boost its Facebook advertising to get closer to potential travelers.
Visit California’s marketing programs contribute to the state’s tourism economy which surpassed $122.5 billion in visitor spending in 2015. However, Visit California still had ground to cover in order to sell the state as a destination to travelers in cities abroad.
The challenge for HYFN? Define and execute an efficient social media strategy to increase qualified website traffic at the cusp of the summer season, with the ultimate goal of converting website visitors into real visitors.
In spring of 2016, HYFN set out to attract summer vacationers from the Americas, Australia, Europe, and Asia to Visit California’s website. Our mission? Reach the core audience at each stage of the funnel to achieve the greatest quantity of conversions. We set up four different Facebook campaigns with separate objectives: brand awareness, video engagement, fan acquisition, and increased website traffic. We wanted to make it easy for international travelers to discover Visit California and therefore ran these ads in seven languages to match the international and multilingual nature of the target.
To find and attract potential travelers, we used static images, video units in link ads, and page like ads directed at people who like the activities California is famous for, such as entertainment and outdoors. Facebook Audience Insights—a tool designed to help marketers learn the geography, demographics and purchase behavior of target audiences—helped us turn Visit California’s top page likes and interests into targeting groups. We launched the campaign in the second-half of April when people in most countries typically start their summer vacation planning. For creative executions, MeringCarson created inspiring and motivational content centered around people dreaming big in California.
After these potential travelers visited the Visit California website, they were retargeted with fresh Facebook ads. Custom audiences from Visit California’s website was a powerful way for us to reach people on Facebook, as it helped us reach customers who’d already shown interest and re-engage them. With lookalike audiences, we built a new and relevant audience with traits and interests similar to the people who visited the website, while excluding California residents.
Visit California and MeringCarson were thrilled at the full transparency provided to them with HYFN’s proprietary tool HYFN8. They were able to see campaign reports in real-time, allowing for a full-scale collaboration and partnership.
Consistent expansion with new ad products and tactics led to an increase in engagement while decreasing the campaign costs substantially. For example, when we introduced a new Facebook video unit where the CTA button would appear during the video, and not at the end, our click through rate went up by a staggering 2600% while the cost decreased by 97%.
With the winning combination of multiple campaign types to drive users down the funnel and story-like videos, Visit California achieved over 1.2 million website clicks and over 10 million video views.
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