When the UK’s top beach resort asked us to deliver the digital arm of their 2018 and 2019 destination campaigns, we were delighted to extend an enthusiasm for our coastline to the north west.
Blackpool needs little introduction as a mainstream tourist destination. Set alongside sandy beaches the popular UK resort is famous for its iconic attractions, including the Blackpool Tower and Pleasure Beach.
The Blackpool Has It All campaign is a collaborative effort to increase long and short stay visitation and revenue to the resort. The annual campaign has been running since 2015 and there are increasing stakeholders who invest in the campaign, including Merlin Entertainments, Pleasure Beach and Blackpool Council.
Blackpool Has It All had seen promising results overall, but wanted to improve and grow the digital marketing year on year. The objectives were to improve targeted ad deployment and website traffic. The key commercial goal was to grow purchases of the Blackpool Resort Pass, as this allows 7-day access to the resorts top attractions and therefore encourages longer stay visits.
The digital campaign was focused on two key target audiences of families with school-aged children and young couples across the UK.
The content was wide-ranging, with all of Blackpool’s events, attractions and selling points available for use in ads. As part of a wider campaign, the digital activity had to align to the core messages and creative.
We were tasked to plan, execute and optimise a digital solution, taking a multi-channel and targeted digital approach.
In order to deliver to the objectives we devised a complex campaign plan that was focused on three key areas.
The first was on timings to maximise spend in key periods, the second was around targeting to ensure we used channels where we could effectively deploy ads to target core audiences, and finally personalisation ensured we delivered compelling ads to relevant audiences.
To inform timings, we analysed data from the website and other sources to get a lay down of when users were considering a visit and when they were most likely to book. We also undertook a research piece to analyse the time gap between booking the visit to visiting the resort, with consideration of seasonality and school holidays. This helped us understand when best to deploy ads for awareness and after what period a booking focused message is better used. The outcome was a dual phase plan that related to specific audiences throughout the campaign period.
At this stage we were able to define the best channels to balance awareness and direct response requirements. We took an agnostic approach to channel selection, choosing platforms based on historical performance and digital insight. The result was a channel mix that included Google Search, Facebook Ads, YouTube and Display.
The final step was to create a flexible ad plan that combined best practise on digital, with alignment to the wider campaign creative and incorporated a balanced mix of attractions and events messages. Through structured ad testing we were able to refine and improve ad performance on an ongoing basis, taking a personalised approach to copy and creative for the core audiences and their locations.
Throughout the campaign we were proactive and data-led to continually optimise campaigns to meet the objectives. We also performed deeper campaign reviews at routine intervals, including at the end of each year, to sense check strategy from our results and use insight from the wider campaign team when it was available.
We are pleased to report growth from digital activity for both years we have worked on the campaign. In 2018, there was a 93% increase in website sessions from paid media and 60% increase in online Resort Pass sales. Our 2019 digital campaign continued the year on year growth, delivering 60% more sessions with less media budget deployed and 20% more online sales year on year.
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