With paid advertising becoming more competitive and expensive, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) can turn to organic traffic for a marketing boost. In this video, Ashley Baer, marketing manager and content creator at Explore Butte County, shares how the DMO used visual stories to increase its visibility on Google, enhance its website content, and help local partners engage with visitors.
Northern California’s Butte County, located north of Sacramento, is a destination with a lot to offer: abundant outdoor recreation, wineries and vineyards, Gold Rush history, museums, and an array of other cultural attractions. As domestic and leisure travel ramped up when restrictions were lifted last year, the destination marketing organization (DMO) for the area, Explore Butte County, wanted to share all of its offerings and leverage the resources available to travelers in an engaging way.
In August 2021, Marketing Manager Ashley Baer found a solution: Explore Butte County partnered with CrowdRiff to use its Localhood solution to create stunning visual stories which could be shared and embedded digitally.
Localhood leverages Google Web Story technology, a new channel for short-form visual content that Google is heavily investing in, to make the web more visual and engaging. CrowdRiff built Localhood to create Localhood Stories — Google Web Stories designed specifically for destinations.
Web Stories generate organic traffic and look appealing on the first page of Google search results. This is a major boon to marketers as traditional digital channels like paid search are becoming more competitive and expensive. The death of third-party cookies, iOS privacy updates, growing usage of ad blockers, and higher advertising costs on social platforms like Facebook and TikTok present new challenges for marketing departments. With Localhood, Baer found a strong option to provide a powerful, affordable boost to her digital marketing efforts.
In this video, she explains how the solution has helped Explore Butte County increase its visibility on Google, enhance its website content and cross-pollination with Visit California, and help local partners better tell their stories.
Increase Visibility on Google
Creating content for social channels can be a great way to engage potential travelers, but success often depends on who is already following your DMO on those platforms. Localhood Stories allow users to expand their reach to travelers who use Google — a far greater number than any one account’s social followers.
To ensure that their Stories would perform well on Google, Explore Butte County’s team took the time to understand the search engine optimization (SEO) opportunity of Stories and implement best practices. This included putting keywords in the text incorporated in each Story so Google can crawl it, using a mix of high-quality imagery and video, and linking to pages on ExploreButteCounty.com and partners’ websites to boost back-links.
These strategies have allowed Butte County to expand the reach of its online content. Within nine months of partnering with Localhood, Explore Butte County created more than 100 content pieces that received more than 10 million Google network impressions and 175,000 total Story views.
“In that same period, traffic from Localhood Stories has represented 3.5 percent of all our website traffic, with some months seeing as much as 10 percent of total users referred by Localhood,” said Baer. “That equals thousands of additional, high-quality website users — with some of the lowest bounce rates, highest number of pages per session, and above-average time on-site.”
The benefits of Google exposure are many, with the more prominent being the additional visibility and discoverability of content that draws organic, trustworthy traffic, and its affordability and superior return-on-investment compared to paid traffic. Its greater reach allowed Explore Butte County to build enhanced brand awareness rapidly.
Enhance Website Content and Cross-Promote
Localhood Stories help create a more engaging and mobile-friendly website as they are part of a DMO’s owned media. Baer’s team uses Localhood Stories to enrich the content on ExploreButteCounty.com, with Galleries and single Stories embedded across the site. These Stories are easy to embed in the website, with no coding required. Visitors can explore each or scroll through to get highlights and enjoy visuals.
Additionally, Butte County leverages Localhood to work with Visit California to cross-promote each other’s content. The county’s Stories have been featured on VisitCalifornia.com, giving Explore Butte County access to the state DMO’s larger audience. The county can also tap into content from its state partner to enhance its own marketing efforts.
Help Local Partners Better Tell Their Stories
Localhood can be a powerful tool for building community relationships, as each Story comes with an embed code that can be shared with local associations, chambers of commerce, and businesses. Those community partners can then use the content to enhance their own outreach at no cost while further expanding the reach and visibility of the DMO.
With so many other benefits to this marketing tool, the fact that it can help local organizations enhance their marketing as well seems like icing on the cake. But that kind of synergy is a part of what makes Localhood so effective at generating engagement and excitement for destinations. Baer and Explore Butte County are certainly embracing this new method of creating a marketing ecosystem that can benefit the entire region.
Visit Localhood to learn more about how your destination can collaborate with your partners and content creators to share authentic stories that inspire travelers.