What’s more fun than a day spent with family riding world-class roller coasters? Adding a full-scale Halloween theme to the mix with costumes, corn mazes, hayrides, and pumpkin patches. Holiday World introduced Happy Halloween Weekends in an attempt to boost its shoulder season attendance.
Working with our client, we developed a positioning and marketing strategy. To further our reach, we expanded media markets to include all of southern and central Indiana. And demographically, we took advantage of changing school schedules by targeting families that live in school districts that observe a balanced school calendar. The results were as happy as the event’s name itself, with attendance up more than 20% over four years.
Testing a Discount Strategy
While those results were good, we still felt that there was room for growth. Our media, analytics, and creative teams got together and proposed adding discount conversion messaging as a test for this short campaign to entice new visitors to purchase tickets.
We generally assumed a discount would increase sales, but we also needed to find out if the audience had enough awareness of Happy Halloween Weekends to act on a “save $ now” call-to-action leading directly to the cart, or if they still needed to be coaxed into the funnel with a “learn more” call-to-action leading to the event information page. So we developed two sets of ads to find out and ran them exclusively in paid search, display, and retargeting.
How did it turn out?
Turns out our previous awareness groundwork—not to mention the experience Holiday World provides in the park—had done their part to pave the way for a “save now” call-to-action:
Learn More vs. Save Now
- Conversion-focused (save now) ads were 48% more effective at converting impressions into clicks
- Visitors sent to the shopping cart were 95% more likely to convert than those sent to the event page
- The discount shortened the life cycle between click and conversion: days to conversion from the last SEM ad click was reduced by 65%
Overall Campaign Performance
- The likelihood of purchase after clicking (conversion) increased by 659% YEAR OVER YEAR
- Cost per conversion decreased by 81%
- The client’s return on ad spend went up a whopping 1150%
- The discount offer generated enough sales to more than make up for the lower ticket price
Businesses must be cautious not to overuse discounting, but this example illustrates that it can be an effective strategy to create a sense of urgency, motivate immediate action, and generate trial/purchases. Williams Randall has the analytical expertise to dig as deep into the numbers as it takes to track whether the media and creative is actually working. In this case, the numbers speak for themselves.