With the first year of our website under our belts, in 2018 we began hitting our stride. It was determined that we would continue to highlight several destinations in the Central U.S. This region seems to be underserved, as it relates to tourism attention, and we know from experience that it holds plenty for vacation travelers. Des Moines’s position as the capital city of Iowa made it a prime target for a focused media blitz.
Honing Our Style
As with most bloggers, it took us a while to create a repeatable pattern for our visits. It was determined that we wanted to showcase the downtown sectors of the cities we visit. These urban areas have seen a recent revitalization focus, which is bringing an influx of locally-owned businesses back in the storefronts. Our Des Moines itinerary was developed to highlight how walkable the downtown of this Iowa city can be for visitors. Once again, we made arrangements through Catch Des Moines, the local CVB, who finalized our plans before our arrival.
Heavy on Research
During back and forth discussions with our contact at Catch Des Moines, we reviewed and revised our itinerary to incorporate some of the mainstay tourism spots. While we understand the importance of adding these, we also wanted to show some less frequented locations. Black Cat Ice Cream was fairly new to the scene and offered an opportunity to highlight a locally owned business. When the staff member at the CVB noted that they were unaware of this place, we knew that our research had been successful.
From the inception of our blog, it was determined that we would have a continuous flow of informative articles. This pattern includes new releases every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. To keep a fresh flow of work, when traveling, requires lots of planning. Our goal is to visit about a dozen cities per year, which is what we need to fuel the 156 articles we produce annually. A 2 1/2 day visit to Des Moines would yield 12 articles, which we would release at a rate of one per week.
Before our arrival, we create intrigue through the use of our social media channels. This continues during our visits with the use of our ‘Stories’ on Instagram and Facebook. In 2018, we added the use of video introductions that remind our audience of our location. Social media is also an important part of getting our message out to our audience. Combining these sources with our mailing list allows us to reach readers in all 50 states and over 130 countries.
By The Numbers
After our visit, we were able to add a dozen articles to our website. By releasing them at a rate of one per week, this kept Des Moines in front of our audience for about three months. With this destination being close to our hometown, it made the articles popular with Midwest readers. Let’s look at the numbers:
- Produced 9 articles about individual local downtown businesses
- Created 3 overview articles that highlighted multiple stops in each article (Shown below)
- Shared 182 photographs and 3 videos
- Coverage of two local events
- Over 5250 unique readers
- Average viewer session per article of 2:51*
*To compare, according to research conducted by NNGroup, “users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds”. (resource)
We live by the philosophy that if you aren’t growing, you are dying. By the start of 2018, we had a readership of just over 70,000. By the beginning of 2019, we had grown to over 125,000 readers worldwide. With our website just celebrating its second year, we were pleased with this improvement. As we reviewed our demographic numbers, we were happy to see that they had remained fairly stable from the case study we had performed the previous year. This showed us that our approach was resonating with the audience that we were looking to target.
On the social media front, we were experiencing similar results. We had focused our early efforts directly on our website. Facebook was our primary social feed, but our preference had been to concentrate on building a mailing list. After the first year, we determined it was time to add more social feeds to our portfolio. Within one year, we found that our three main social sites allowed us the opportunity to showcase destination ideas with over 43,000 followers.
Taking the time to review the results of a campaign helps us to see the value that we are providing to the destinations we visit. It also reminds us of the readers that rely on us for guidance on potential sites to visit during their vacation trips. We realize how valuable this is to our audience, which is what makes all of the research and follow-up time worthwhile. We would love the opportunity to discuss a potential visit to your city. Feel free to drop us a note, as a way to connect.