Internet Marketing Case Study
Student Travel Marketing
To oversimplify, Educational Discovery Tours is a student travel agency. Every year, EDT is responsible for sending thousands of students on educational and performing arts tours worldwide. It is a massive undertaking in a competitive market, and one the company doesn’t take lightly. Sending our kids to far away places for the experience of a lifetime requires expertise and a commitment to safety that is unique the the travel industry.
We are proud that Educational Discovery Tours chose us to help them extend their reach online. This Internet marketing case study provides an introduction to Educational Discovery Tours, their goals and how we went about achieving them.
Background and digital marketing history
As is often the case, we met Educational Discovery Tours through another agency that had been struggling to meet the company’s growth objectives. Their strategy was to rely on PPC to drive traffic to third-party landing pages–an online marketing tactic that has to be meticulously planned and executed to be effective. In this case, the results didn’t come close to covering the costs, so change was inevitable.
Educational Discovery Tours was already a very successful company, and had worked with several online marketing agencies. Not one of those digital marketing companies had delivered as promised, so skepticism ran high throughout our early conversations. The only advantages we had at the time were 1) we had just finished designing and developing EDT’s new website, and 2) we weren’t one of the past agencies that made empty promises. So, despite a lack of confidence in digital marketing in general, we got the contract.
Assess the competitive landscape
We excel at marketing companies that are taking on nationally entrenched rivals. In many ways, that describes EDT. It’s a solid, successful company run by incredibly smart people. For the business to grow, they have to seize market share from competitors posting hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales.
As we assessed each of the major competitors, along with quite a few smaller ones, it became obvious that organic search rankings would be the primary success factor. We had already addressed conversions during the design of the website, so this was going to be a major SEO effort that would likely go on for quite a while.
We knew we would need enough early SEO wins to bolster EDT’s confidence, and keep us in the game long enough to make marketing gains leading to increased bookings.
Website Planning & SEO:
Develop website around SEO strategy
Everything about the website design had to be structured to achieve top search engine rankings. At the same time, student travel websites have to be as exciting visually as any other travel website. We made it our mission to design the best website in the industry.
Strategically, SEO shouldn’t be that hard. In fact, often it isn’t, but for competitive industries and national rankings, it can be frustratingly slow. In this case, EDT’s competitors are big and tough. The good news is there aren’t as many major competitors as there are in many of the other markets we serve. That meant we could focus on onsite SEO with a good chance of scoring early gains.
We agonize over backlinks, but our initial effort was mostly onsite. That’s not usually the case for national rankings against major competitors. But, the student travel market is a lot narrower than travel in general, so our onsite strategy made sense.
Conversion Rate Optimization & Campaign Management
As a client, Educational Discovery Tours is very engaged in their own success. They take an active interest and participate in their online marketing campaigns. This is essential. Often, we can achieve top search engine rankings (local SEO included) without any input from the client. However, we are Internet marketing experts, not student group travel experts. EDT’s goal is to generate leads. Content needs to speak directly to the motivations of their website visitors.
- We have regular (monthly at minimum) marketing and strategy meetings where we set goals and establish action plans. We focus specifically on traffic and conversion metrics, rankings, leads generated and other measurable objectives.
- Education. We work to help EDT understand the organic search landscape as much as we do. At the same time, they help us better understand their market and related consumer groups.
- Editorial planning. Our onsite SEO tactics have been incredibly successful, so broadening content through blogging and focused landing pages is an ongoing effort.
Through constant communication and working together in achieving the measurable goals, Educational Discovery Tours competes at the national level, in a market made up of much larger competitors.
CRM & Lead Generation
Educational Discovery Tours has a fairly sophisticated pipeline, so customer related activity is well managed and documented. To gain insight into the needs of EDT account professionals, we interfaced with department heads. With that, we have discovered additional opportunities and set new goals to support them.
As an online marketing firm, it would be easy for us to hang our hats on our success with SEO. In truth, however, high rankings are pointless without a correlating increase in leads and sales.
In the beginning, Email marketing took a back seat to organic search because of the high-touch nature of EDT’s work processes. Having achieved top 10 rankings for nearly every target keyword and phrase, we’ve been able to shift energy into conversions and lifetime value. Email marketing is a significant part of that.