Visit KC

A tourism organization embraces automation to keep subscribers engaged

15%

increase in email open rates

25%

rise in click-through rates

28%

jump in opt-in rates for secondary email newsletters

Visit KC is a nonprofit organization that’s on a mission to inspire people from across The USA to experience everything that Kansas City has to offer. By providing marketing and sales support, the organization promotes both convention and leisure tourism — which plays a major role in driving economic growth.

Challenges

Visit KC knew that making a good first impression with its audience was paramount. But when using its previous marketing platform, the team was struggling with one of their most important campaigns: the welcome email series. While they wanted new subscribers to receive the first welcome email right away, it wasn’t delivered until several hours after users opted in to receive communications.

“There was no embedded form to plug into the website — so we had to create a feed to bring subscribers from our website to the email series,” explains Lee Prutsman, Marketing Manager at Visit KC. “The process wasn’t streamlined, which meant that instead of instant gratification, subscribers were getting an inefficient experience.”

That wasn’t the only obstacle. Visit KC found the process for setting up and editing emails in Salesforce Marketing Cloud to be cumbersome. Additionally, with a list that had grown to some 80,000 geographically diverse subscribers, the team needed to deliver more personalized, relevant content. “We wanted to segment our audience based on where they lived and craft compelling language that hit home with them — but it just wasn’t easy to execute,” Lee adds.

Solution

In January 2020, Visit KC selected dotdigital as its marketing automation provider. As Lee explains, one of the first things that blew the team away was how efficient dotdigital was in migrating subscribers over to the new platform.

“They were very methodical with their approach,” he says. “They created a ramp-up series and gave us all of this background on both how and why they were doing it. It was all aimed at making our deliverability seamless.”

After a fast onboarding, Visit KC began using dotdigital’s drag-and-drop email builder. “Our team was wowed by the solution,” recounts Lee. “It didn’t require any technical knowledge, and dotdigital ensured that all emails were responsive, regardless of the browser or device.”

Visit KC embedded forms on its website for the welcome series, which enabled subscribers to receive the first welcome email as soon as they signed up for the publications. The team also automated their emails, which provided a hands-off approach to ensuring that Visit KC was top of mind with subscribers, while giving the team the time they needed to focus on achieving their strategic goals.

Finally, Visit KC developed a preference center form that allowed contacts to easily manage their marketing preferences and subscriptions. “That not only provided a more transparent way for them to know what type of content they would receive, but it also gave us the chance to cross-promote our secondary email newsletters,” Lee says.

Results

Visit KC is thrilled with the outcome of the partnership with dotdigital. By embedding dotdigital’s email signup forms and streamlining the flow of subscriber data, the team has been able to automate their welcome series and deliver more timely content. As a result, they’ve already seen a boost in engagement: open rates have increased by 15% and click-through rates have jumped by 25%.

In addition to streamlining the welcome series, Visit KC has been able to capture customers’ marketing preferences and increase opt-in rates for other e-newsletters. Before the move to a preference center, secondary newsletters saw average open rates and click-through-rates of 16.67% and 3.75%, respectively. After transitioning, the averages for open rates and click-through-rates rose to 21.24% and 4.6%. “It was a strong increase in engagement,” notes Lee, “which can be attributed to the explicit approach of subscribers directly opting in to receive those publications rather than unknowingly receiving newsletters based on their interests.”

By harnessing the power of segmentation, Visit KC is engaging their subscribers more effectively and creating stronger relationships through personalized content.

“A local of Kansas City likely wants to know about more reactive events, like what’s going on this weekend,” Lee says. “But for out-of-town visitors, we often need to talk through the lens of a 30-day timeframe and provide trip ideas or large-scale events happening in the city. Now, we can segment those audiences and use language differently to inspire them.”

Looking Ahead

In the months to come, Visit KC plans to integrate dotdigital’s pop-over signup forms on their website. Since the team offers a variety of publications that cover diverse topics, their goal is to create an opt-in field for a specific email newsletter that triggers after a user has spent a certain amount of time on a page. For instance, if an individual is looking at the events page, they could target them with a pop-over for a weekly newsletter that shares events happening in Kansas City.

“It’s a powerful way to extend their journey past our website and onto another channel that will be more relevant, controlled, and consistent,” says Lee. Good news for a company that’s in the business of successful journeys.

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