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How Visit Ridgeland Realigned Personalization in a Time of Recovery

Picture of the author, Ali Nichols
By Ali Nichols
M10 5, 2020

As we enjoy the last days of summer and eagerly look towards fall, we’re excited to share a success story featuring our friends at Visit Ridgeland, Mississippi. We hope that their experience in effortlessly updating their messaging to speak directly to their different markets as they move through the recovery process is encouraging as we continue to navigate this time together.

The team at Visit Ridgeland started 2020 off with exciting goals for website growth and optimization.  Known for their shopping and dining experiences, as well as their numerous trails off of the Natchez Trace Parkway, Visit Ridgeland’s personalization strategy focused on promoting local events and outdoor activities. Prior to the onset of the coronavirus, the team believed most tourists sought the same informative content on the website and provided a degree of uniformity in their site messaging. The team was forced to quickly change priorities as Covid-19 became a devastating reality. 

Like many DMOs, the Ridgeland team saw a dramatic drop in their website traffic in March, with their In State visitors making up a larger percentage of their traffic.  With these traffic changes and decreased paid advertising, the ability to engage with the remaining visitors on-site became critically important.  As stay-at-home orders went into effect, the team launched several content pieces for their Homepage Hero focusing on community resources, social distancing activities, takeaway dining, and future trip inspiration.  Each content piece shared a uniform message for both In Market and Out of Market audiences.  Within the first few weeks of this content launch, the team saw higher than average click through rates from the majority of markets, especially on the Covid Resources content with over an 11% CTR.  Given the immediate crisis unfolding, it was clear that a universal message spoke to all site visitors.   

With the arrival of summer, the Ridgeland team began to see both In Market and Out of Market engagement fall on their Homepage content.  In addition, the Covid Resources content no longer felt as urgent, but needed to remain readily available for visitors seeking information. With the adjustment to a ”new normal” the team came to understand that a universal message no longer held the importance it once did.  They decided to transition the Covid Resources piece into a Banner shown throughout the site, allowing for further personalization space on the Homepage Hero.  As Mississippi began their reopening process and traveling safely became a reality, the team decided to update their Homepage content using personalized messages to promote summer activities for In Market and Out of Market visitors.  

In planning their content refresh, the Ridgeland team decided to focus on content promoting outdoor, family-friendly activities, and trip planning resources.  The In Market messaging encouraged Mississippi visitors to explore their own backyard, while the Out of Market messaging highlighted safe and fun activities in Ridgeland.  While these copy changes were subtle and simple, the value of a personalized message was clear.  

Enjoy a Safe and Fun Summer

After the first month of running this content, the Ridgeland team saw that the content with market specific CTAs saw an impressive 58% increase in engagement over the initial content with uniform messages for both audiences.  Better yet, the team found that this updated content, along with their Covid Resources content, saw over a 32% increase in engagement from their pre-Covid content in early 2020 and a 53% increase in year over year engagement.  

In addition to this content performance, the team also saw impressive sitewide performance from the visitors who engaged with these market specific CTAs over visitors who had engaged with the homepage content earlier in the year.  The visitors who clicked on the market specific CTA Homepage content visited over 6 pages during their session, compared to the 3.7 pages for visitors who clicked on the single message content.  Furthermore, the visitors who clicked on the market specific CTA Homepage content saw an average duration of over 8 minutes, an increase of 250% compared to visitors who clicked on the single CTA content.  The impact of personalizing to these visitors seeking information specific to their experience contributed to engagement throughout their site experience.  

While the Ridgeland team adjusts daily to the current recovery process, they continue to actively engage with their current site visitors in easy and effective ways.  Encouraged by recent increases in traffic to the site, the Ridgeland team will continue to speak directly to these visitors and ensure that every person, regardless of location, is able to engage with a personalized and welcoming message. 

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