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How an email campaign inspired travelers to explore Oregon

What we learned from Travel Oregon

Ever wanted to strap on a pair of skis and take on the snowy peaks of Mt. Hood? Sip organic pinot noir in the lush vineyards of the Willamette Valley? See millions of years of history revealed in vibrant hues of the Painted Hills?

If so, Travel Oregon is your go-to guide for all the best, most awe-inspiring wonders the state has to offer. “Our goal is to bring tourism to Oregon,” said Emily Forsha, Travel Oregon's Content & Digital Community Manager. “With our email newsletters, we hope to inspire as many people as possible to keep Oregon top-of-mind when they’re thinking about potential vacation destinations.”

Inspiring wanderlust through email

When it comes to email, Travel Oregon’s main goal is to inspire to as many people as possible to come experience the state’s incredible natural and cultural attractions. With almost 200,000 contacts in their email audience, you'd think that would be an easy goal to accomplish – but when working with a list of this size, the Travel Oregon team has to make sure they’re always keeping their messages as relevant and targeted to the individual traveler as possible. 

One way they’ve done that is by pushing out three different newsletters, each catered to a different set of interests. “We have three consumer newsletters: a main one that’s a bit more general, one that focuses on Oregon’s culinary scene, and one that’s all about the outdoors,” said Ariana Bray-Sweet, Global Marketing Services Coordinator. "We’re always trying to provide people the content they want, when they want it."

Travel Oregon’s home page displays a gallery of user-generated Instagram photos, adding another layer of authenticity and relevance to their visitor experience.

And once people have signed up for their newsletters, the Travel Oregon team goes even further with their email personalization. “An Emma feature that we’ve found extremely useful is segmentation,” Ariana said. "We can get very specific with type of traveler we’re looking for. Segmentation is extremely useful for building a list for a targeted email, but we also utilize this functionality to analyze certain behaviors of our subscribers like subscription confirmations."

Launching a creative email campaign: 7 Bikes for 7 Wonders

Recently, Travel Oregon ran a marketing campaign called “The Seven Wonders of Oregon.” The premise?

“There are 7 Wonders of the World, and not a single one of them is here in Oregon. All we can figure is whoever came up with the list must have never set foot here. So we see your Wonders, world. And raise you 7 of our own.
And we invite you to not just see them, but experience them. Because our Wonders aren’t just for taking pictures of – to truly say you’ve seen our Wonders, you have to get out of the car, hike down for the scenic vista and feel them beneath your feet.”

To further promote the campaign, the team turned to Emma. They launched a 7-week scavenger hunt called “7 Bikes for 7 Wonders” – every week, they hid a custom bike designed by an Oregon bike-builder in one of the locations on the “7 Wonders” list. Individuals signed up for Travel Oregon’s email list so they could receive the weekly clue that kicked off that week’s scavenger hunt.

A clue email from the "7 Bikes" campaign

The campaign was a huge success – the kickoff email received a seriously impressive 51% open rate and 35% click rate, and the clue emails averaged a 40% open rate and a 20% click rate!

“The 7 Bikes campaign helped grow our consumer list, and those were some of the best-performing emails that we’ve seen,” Ariana said. "Plus, it was a fun way to change up our messaging – something a little different than the monthly newsletters. It got people really involved and gave them a reason to go explore Oregon.”

Emily added, "In the future, we’re really looking at doing more of those very targeted emails. We want to come up with more creative ways to use email to get people inspired to come to Oregon.”

The takeways

1. Personalization is everything. Whether your audience is the size of Travel Oregon’s or you’re just starting to build your list, sending relevant emails is your ticket to high open and click rates.

2. Send people the content they want to receive. By developing different newsletters for different niches and segmenting accordingly, you’ll attract more people to your lists.

3. Think beyond the newsletter. When Travel Oregon thought outside the box and embarked on a creative email campaign, their engagement shot through the roof!