VisitKingston.ca Builds Winning Digital Program
Kingston tourists, hotels, restaurants and tourism operators depend on Kingston Accommodation Partners (KAP) website, VisitKingston.ca, to keep tourists informed and engaged.
Alphabet Creative bid on re-building VisitKingston.ca from scratch. To put their winning bid over the top, they enlisted long-time partner Search Warrant for strategic SEO and PPC guidance. “Tourism Kingston has become a strong asset for our destination marketing and even a resource for our community locally looking to stay connected to events happening in the city,” says Megan Knott, Executive Director of Tourism Kingston and Kingston Accommodation Partners (KAP). “I’ve been really pleased with the results of both our organic and paid search strategies and looking forward to seeing even greater results for our destination and partners as we continue to work with Search Warrant and Alphabet Creative.”
A Historic Partnership and A History of Success
Alphabet Creative has been winning the job of strategic marketing communications for KAP for over 9 years. In 2016, they won the rare opportunity to completely rebuild the VisitKingston.ca website. “It’s been pretty invaluable,” says Cathy Kirkpatrick, Partner at Alphabet Creative, “we were given the ability to bake in SEO intelligence right from the get-go and we got to write all the content from scratch with all the knowledge of how consumers are searching as it relates to say, weekend getaways specifically for the Ontario market.”
Proof lies in performance. Organic search traffic has grown every year since and 2019 continues the trend.
“One key reason we like working with Search Warrant is that they are subject matter experts in the dynamics by which Google creates all us digital marketers. As Google changes the algorithm, we know about it and we’re able to respond quickly to whatever adaptation is required on the site or in other channels,” says Kirkpatrick.
Alphabet and Search Warrant complemented SEO with targeted PPC campaigns. Paid search advertising is the number one source of leads for KAP partners and tourism related businesses across Kingston. “One of the tricky parts with KAP is that we’re promoting Kingston as a destination, but also promoting our partners,” says Hannah Bock, Digital Marketing Specialist at Alphabet Creative, “and we don’t want to get into a situation where we’re bidding on keywords against our partners, and driving up the price for everyone. The Search Warrant team has done an excellent job of being clear and keeping us informed, so we can all work together rather than against one another.”
A Long-term Partnership
Search Warrant doesn’t believe in set it and forget it. “Although each client is different, for KAP we start with their goals and budget and translate them into tactics and a monthly search strategy,” says Marc Rand, VP of Customer Success at Search Warrant. “But search is always changing, and as results come in, we apply our learnings to our strategy moving forward, so it’s important to stay in constant communication with the client.”
The Search Warrant team works to maintain clients over the long term. “One of the benefits of working longer term with someone like Search Warrant is that they have historical perspective and intelligence in terms of what works and has performed well in the past,” says Kirkpatrick. “They’re just also more intimate with the content and the destination itself. They know key assets like the Kingston penitentiary and 1000 Island cruises. They understand the product offering from a consumer perspective.”
Getting Better with Age
At their annual strategic meeting in 2019, Alphabet Creative and Search Warrant decided to refine their search tactics, including launching new PPC campaigns and doubling down on SEO through new content pages for VisitKingston.ca. As always, the SEO strategy is a longer-term play while the PPC campaigns produce results right away.
“After an in-depth analysis we decided to approach the PPC advertising differently with a major focus on monthly events that were happening in Kingston. And because of that we were able to improve the conversion rate by 23% and the CTR by 34%,” says Sean Rucko, Digital Marketing Manager at Search Warrant.
Re-building and optimizing VisitKingston.ca over the years with SEO in mind has paid off with organic search making up 35% of all traffic, up from 5% in 2014.
“Organic search has become an increasingly important tactic,” says Bock. “It’s getting a little bit more expensive every year to be buying space, especially on social media. It’s just a saturation issue. So, using SEO is a really great way to mitigate that and to ensure we’re still getting plenty of search traffic.”
“There is a lot of search volume out there and we’re capturing it thanks to Search Warrant,” says Kirkpatrick. “There’s a lot of data and insight we gain from our search strategy that we then apply to other marketing activities. So, it’s really a win-win situation. And the Search Warrant team is professional and smart. They are subject matter experts and are really fun to work with.”
Alphabet and Search Warrant deliver marketing communications for their client Tourism Kingston, from social media to VisitKingston.ca to outdoor, print and search advertising.
Client: Tourism Kingston and KAP
Audience: Visitors to Kingston
- Re-build Tourism Kingston website ensuring all pages are search engine optimized (SEO)
- Implement pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns without competing with KAP partners
- Curate and report on PPC and SEO performance
- Refine SEO to increase organic traffic
- Optimize PPC campaigns to increase conversion rates, while driving down cost per lead
- Significant growth year over year in web traffic, including multiple 3x years
- Organic traffic increased from 5% in 2014 to 35% of overall traffic in 2019
- PPC campaign conversion rate has increased 21%, click through rate (CTR) has improved 487% and cost per conversion is down by 49% since 2017
- 2019 PPC campaign resulted in 23% increase in conversion rate, 34% increase in CTR, a reduction of cost per click of 14% and cost per conversion of 31%