Tourism Australia CMO: Data is about gaining efficiency in marketing

Chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson talks about data, social and the balance of paid, owned and earned media in the latest AANA Marketing Dividends episode

Using data in marketing is all about gaining efficiency and relevancy, Tourism Australia’s CMO, Lisa Ronson, says.

Speaking on the latest edition of the AANA Marketing Dividends program on Sky News Business TV, Ronson said the tourism promotional body is tapping data insights to define and control what messages it’s sending to consumers, resulting in a more efficient and targeted message.

To help, Tourism Australia has established data sharing agreements with Virgin Australia and Qantas.

“It’s about getting the right message to the right customer at the right time,” Ronson said. “Through data and data sharing deals, we can understand who has booked a trip to Australia and who hasn’t. Those two variables illustrate two very different points in the purchase funnel.

“If you have booked a trip to Australia, we won’t bother serving our ‘Come to Australia’ messages. Instead, we’ll start serving information like ‘here’s the experiences that you can do when you’re in Australia’ or capital city type messaging.”

The efforts appear to be working. In the last year, 8.1 million visitors came to Australia, a rise of 11 per cent year-on-year.

Ronson noted Australia reported $98.6 billion in tourism expenditure in the last year, an increase of 7.5 per cent year-on-year. This figure is forecast by Tourism Australia to reach at least $155bn annually by 2020, and she predicted it could exceed this target by up to $10bn.

“Our role as a tourism body is to make sure we generate tourism spend that contributes back to the Australian economy,” she said. “It’s very much about expenditure and we unashamedly focus on a high yield, in-bound traveller.”

Content and social media are core components of Tourism Australia’s go-to-market, and Ronson noted more than 3000 piece of content are being generated a day to promote Australia to international visitors. One of these was by Symbio Wildlife Park, which has had 150 million points of engagement thanks to sharing content on Tourism Australia’s various platforms.

“The park’s visitation increased 60 per cent as a direct result of what we’ve done,” she said. “We know we get great engagement and it leads to the bottom line.”

When it comes to managing the split between paid, owned and earned media, Ronson said there’s no silver bullet. The key is ensuring those things are connected.

“We focus on our own channel, with some of the more basic content like itineraries, trip planners, weather information, visa information,” she explained. “We also looked to our earned channels, and advocacy is a really important factor in choosing an international destination.

“We then use paid media to inspire consumers, then they come to our owned channels to connect those dots together and plan their holiday. So they have to be linked.”

Of course attribution is a key issue for marketers, and Ronson said Tourism Australia struggles to achieve 100 per cent attribution modelling because it’s not selling products or services directly.

“We look at a number of different data points, ultimately numbers like spend and visitation but before we get to that, we look at lead indicators such as website traffic,” she said. “When we launched our aquatic and coastal campaign in New York in January last year, we had record visitation and engagement on our site the next day, which gave us a clear indicator that the campaign was resonating with target customers. Through the funnel, we look at things like Google Analytics to see how Australia is tracking in Google search terms, then through to visitation and expenditure numbers.”

Lisa Ronson was listed as one of Australia’s top 50 innovative CMOs in our 2016 CMO50 list. Read more about Tourism Australia’s marketing strategy and how Ronson is leading the way as CMO here.


Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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