Corpus Christi is a beautiful, easy-going beach town along the Texas coastline. If you’ve never been, you probably don’t know about the miles of clear, drivable beaches, the number of oceanfront historical sites and landmarks still standing, that Texas A&M Corpus Christi sits on its own island in the Bay, or that the Texas State Aquarium and the USS Lexington are some of the state’s premiere tourist attractions. However, if you have been, then you likely know about these Corpus Christi highlights, and probably have a few recommendations of your own for places to visit off the beaten path.
Corpus Christi is the type of place where people know each other’s names, and wearing a watch is an unfamiliar site. People from here are proud to call it home and equally proud to realize Corpus Christi is still a secret for many throughout the state and the country. It’s the perfect blend of Island Beaches and Metropolitan Life.
As a tourism destination, Corpus Christi has the beach, scenery and ocean activities, but what else is there to get folks to pack up the car or get on a plane and to spend a few days in the city? The answer is simple — it’s an established community with events and seasonal attractions that provide the “beaches +” vacation that budget travelers want – it’s not solely a summertime getaway, it’s a place with unique attractions, eateries, shops and events that give it its own personality. We just needed to figure out how to let those travelers know about it.
It started with a new assessment of current marketing resources and Corpus Christi’s brand and digital presence. We found opportunities to deliver content in new channels that previously were unavailable to visitors. We built a content marketing plan and set out short- and long-term tactical objectives.
The first thing to do was create a new, user-friendly online event calendar. Our task was straightforward: create an updated look and feel for the Corpus Christi Convention & Visitor’s Bureau events calendar on the current website.
We designed, developed and deployed a powerful Calendar application that lived on a subdomain of the main site, with it’s own subdomain tracking installed for better web traffic insights and analysis,events.visitcorpuschristitx.org. The application was built on WordPress CMS and utilized the built-in features and functionality of the CMS to make back-end management easy and user-friendly.
We made it completely responsive to allow elegant scaling from desktop to tablet to phone devices.
Features of the new online event calendar included:
Easy to use events manager in admin dashboard enabling non-technical users to easily add, modify or delete eventsRecurring eventsPowerful categorization and tagging abiltiesMonth, week, day and agenda viewsSearch Engine Optimized event detail pagesMouse-over details for each eventUser groups other than admin can be permitted to manage events
The next step was to determine the best way to promote and market these events and the entire travel experience to Corpus Christi through a dedicated content marketing program.
Generate elevated awareness through increased inbound referrals, organic search and publicityIncrease on-site (website and social platforms) engagement through interesting and entertaining content paired with special deals and offers. Boost time on websites, pages per visit, repeat visitation and sharingConvert more traffic to goals including booking engines, redemption of deals, subscription to email marketing and social fan/followers/friends
Knowing the audience, and Corpus Christi, as a foundation, we developed a strategic annual content marketing plan, which was cornered by a regimented editorial calendar, which placed heavy focus on events, adding story spice in where we could to make sure the content was engaging and well received.
To sweeten the pot for most travelers, we know it‘s important to create simple, understandable packages and deals, which we would anchor most content upon. To do that well, we knew it would be necessary to motivate, interface and coordinate with stakeholders on a regular basis. So, we play a part we play with many of our tourism clients: liaison, politician, and magnet. Sometimes all three at once.
Lastly, we believe it is multi-dimensionally valuable to develop “owned media assets”, entertaining and educational content that lives solely within the confines of the Corpus Christi brand, so a new subdomain (and related Google Analytics tracking) was created,http://blog.visitcorpuschristitx.org/.
We began by crafting an annual content marketing program which would focused on three seasons: spring/summer, fall, and winter low, which would then be cross-referenced with unique audience segments, beginning with a detailed view of geography.
From there, we developed a series of engaging stories around Corpus Christi’s myriad events and activities. This content is designed to education and entertain consumers, with an ultimate goal of endearing them to the destination.
Once the content is created, we began executing our plan to distribute and promote the stories, leveraging a “just right” mix of traditional and digital advertising.
We engaged third-parties to boost inbound traffic, and ensured they led to well optimized content, which is a key to search positioning.
One thing we know for certain is that people respond well to special offers, so we laced most of our content efforts with a unique “hook”, encouraging travel behavior.
Finally, we planned to utilize public relations in direct flight markets, regional drive markets, and national/international leisure travel publications to really drive the final strategic nail.
The calendar and subsequent content marketing campaign enjoyed both enormous short-term and long-term success.
The event calendar now receives more than 3,000 visitors per month, with almost 80% of traffic coming from outside of Corpus Christi proper.
The content marketing campaign contributed to a 20% increase in site visitors – from 161,000 to 193,000 – over the same period the previous year. Additionally, the campaign provided greater engagement numbers through the website and social media including, an increase in likes, shares, comments on Facebook, retweets, website referrals and click-thrus.
Combined, these two efforts, in just under four months, contributed directly to the bottom-line, giving Corpus Christi CVB a lift of over 8% in RevPAR (Revenue per available room) with associated positive gains in hotel occupancy over the same period the year before.