Best practice from Mabox.
Tourism Ireland, the organisation responsible for marketing Ireland overseas as a holiday destination, engaged award-winning marketing consultancy, Mabox, at the start of 2008 to devise a personalised direct marketing campaign to inspire new business customers from the UK and around the world to choose Ireland and Northern Ireland for their conferences, meetings and events.
A goal was also to influence previous customers and persuade them to return. The campaign needed to communicate the beauty and magic of Ireland as a conference destination, evoking Ireland’s sense of hospitality.
Ireland has no problem attracting tourists. It stunning scenery and hospitality is famed; just this year it was voted the World’s Friendliest Tourist 2008’ by Lonely Planet. Ireland and Northern Ireland are however, not so well known to businesses.
With low-cost flight operators opening up routes to European destinations, Tourism Ireland operates in a highly competitive conference market.
The campaign needed to educate conference planners about what Ireland can offer, to win new and repeat business. Mabox devised a personalised and interactive fairy story based around Irish landmarks and destinations.
The objectives of the campaign were to boost the business tourism in Ireland and Northern Ireland so they become the number one of choices for event
buyers and conference organisers in 2008.
The direct marketing campaign needed to be personalised so it reflected the image of a warm and ‘magical
Ireland,’ famed for its folklore, history and heritage.
The two-part direct marketing campaign was launched in January 2008 to target conference decision makers who were planning their budget spend for 2008.
Using data sourced from Tourism Ireland and cleaned by Mabox, over 1000 senior buyers who had previously visited Ireland, received a hiqh-quality and completely personalised bound book which included a compelling story.
The fairy tale took them on a magical journey around Ireland, reminding them of its beautiful destinations, as a reward for their past loyalty. The beautifully illustrated book contained personalised details carefully woven throughout the story including the reader’s name, company details and address.
The event buyers, who were the new potential customers, received a direct mail piece directing them to micro site story.irelandinspires.com, where they were able to create their own fairy stories by logging in their details.
They also had the option of emailing the link to friends and colleagues, creating a viral campaign. A secondary mailer was also sent out, giving a taste of the story, without the personalised data. Recipients were encouraged to visit a dedicated microsite thedreamvenue.com
Some 4% of recipients emailed their thanks, which included glowing testimonials and promises of future business. The compliments focused on the originality of the idea; the novelty of the personalised element and the timing of the piece which hit conference organisers’ desks precisely when they were beginning to plan ahead for events and conferences in 2008.
One wrote, ‘What a beautiful book you have sent me! It is incredibly clever, and fascinating to read. I can’t believe how it is personalised all the way through. Many thanks for the gift – such an original idea.”
Another said, ‘I don't often feel compelled to write, working in events we get lots of marketing items that turn up on our desks, usbs, torches, calendars! This morning a personalised book from Tourism Ireland arrived. I wanted to say it is absolutely fantastic, I love it; brilliant marketing. It will keep Ireland in the forefront of my mind for future events.’
The microsite allowed recipients to enter their details to view an online version of their personalised story. The average time on the site was over a minute, with an average of five pages per visitor viewed – the story itself only took up four pages.
In January and February, the site’s bounce rate was less than 15%, which meant that over 85% of visitors entered their details to read the story. Over 88% of visits were unique users. The fact that five pages per visit were viewed showed that the direct mailer was compelling and that its original story-driven approach engaged the reader’s full attention.
When analysing Google trends for the number of people searching for Ireland in January, it revealed an increase at the time of the launch.
Business Tourism Executive at Tourism Ireland, Kate Crossman, said, “Mabox has created a highly creative and innovative direct marketing campaign that
manages to combine a fun and novel approach to customers, whilst being incredibly informative about conference locations and venues.
"It has used data incredibly effectively and we know from looking at the website statistics, analytics and our own enquiries that the personalised approach worked and
engaged decision makers."
She added, "The fairy tale element reflected our warm brand image and we are confident that it will help us attract new business customers to
Ireland and entice others to come back again this year.”
The campaign is achieving Tourism Ireland’s business goals of attracting new and existing customers to Ireland. Using the story-driven approach, Mabox was able to lead readers on a journey which showcased all the fantastic venues in Ireland, without customers feeling they were being ‘sold to’.
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