Visit Sunshine Coast sees engagement lift with martech overhaul

Regional tourism body employs new marketing automation stack and segmentation approach to personalise content to consumers

Visit Sunshine Coast says it’s continuing to gain insights around audiences interests to personalise content and digital experiences after deploying a marketing automation platform and strategy this year.  

The regional tourism organisation previously used simplified, standalone systems in place to orchestrate marketing and engagement activities, resulting in data siloes and a lack of omni-channel sophistication and personalisation. The team was also unable to understand how people were interacting with its advertising, digital assets and communications.    

Faced with the COVID-19 global pandemic and an abrupt halt to tourism across the Sunshine Coast thanks to state border closures, the organisation took the opportunity rethink existing operating models and invest in fresh technology. The name of the game was attracting, engaging and delivering personalised experiences.  

As Visit Sunshine Coast (VSC) industry and membership development manager, Andrew Fairbairn, pointed out, COVID-19 also accelerated the urgency for the tourism organisation to identify and understand who the audience is, where they are and what they’re interested in. The ability to segment and personalise experiences for different audiences across different channels could enable VSC to target the ‘road-to-market’ such as couples, retirees or young families travelling from Brisbane for a weekend trip or for the school holiday break.  

To do this, VSC has rolled out Adobe Marketo Engage, integrating its customer records with the platform and going live in July 2020. The organisation also tasked Adobe with spearheading its digital experience project to enhance multi-marketing channel marketing experiences and improve integration across email, addressable media social and Web channels.  

Three core proponents were vital: Planning end-to-end omni-channel campaigns; engaging with the right people with the right message at the right time; and measuring return on investment (ROI) and business outcomes. Alongside this, it was important for the internal marketing function to take on the solution to innovate, drive change and results without a reliance on technical or IT resources.  

By investing in digital marketing technologies, Visit Sunshine Coast has been able to better engage with our audience by providing relevant, useful content to help them plan their Sunshine Coast escape, enhancing the visitor experience,” Fairbairn told CMO.  

Finding the right experience

Initial use cases were based on simple email batch marketing before progressing onto segmenting the database and employing marketing automation. Segmentation is increasingly being based on demographics, interests and place of origin through to how consumers are interacting with advertising and digital channels.  

From the first few campaigns run in October, VSC is seeing ROI around channel funnel acquisition and segmentation. “VSC has continued to segment our database into various demographics, touchpoints and attributes. We want to continue learning our audiences’ interests and be able to personalise our content to those segments,” Fairbairn said.  

By better understanding the customer and devising next best actions –identifying romantic hotels to couples, targeting families with children-friendly tours or activities and promoting conferences to travelling workers – VSC can better engage consumers, leading to better commercial outcomes.  

Web personalisation is now in VSC’s sights and it’s now working to adopt marketing automation platforms across all business units as well as other websites.    

“While we will continue to personalise our emails based on audience segmentation, we also want to integrate better personalisation into our website experience,” Fairbairn said. “This will be achieved through our marketing automation software and also future digital experience platforms that work together to provide better search results and more personalised content. For example, if someone visits our website and is browsing a region with beaches, we could provide them with more personalised content for that region, showing them the accommodation available in the area, deals or activities to experience during their stay.”  

Specific results so far include a 20 per cent increase in email open rates, as well as an increase in subscriber growth and campaign engagement.

We would like to continue to grow our engaged audience, sending relevant, personalised content. For us, engaging with the right people, with the right message at the right time is key,” Fairbairn added.  

Adobe managing director A/NZ, Suzanne Steele, said VSC’s success and the outcomes of the project required a digital mindset.  

“At a time when COVID-19 brought the entire travel industry to a standstill, Visit Sunshine Coast drove the project forward to adopt better ways to engage customers, upskill its people and future-proof its martech stack,” she commented. “Now as the borders reopen, the offerings are in place to deliver engaging, personalised experiences for all Australians at a critical time for the tourism region.”  

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