Myrtle Beach Creates Digital Lead-Gen Machine

  |  July 18, 2013   |  Comments

With 60 percent of Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau's budget devoted to Google search and display, lures new prospects and then sends the traffic on to hotels and attractions for conversion.

The Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has created a multi-channel lure to attract millions of visitors and billions of dollars to the area. With 60 percent of its budget devoted to Google search and display, lures new prospects and then sends the traffic on to hotels and attractions for conversion. In return, its pay-for-impressions deals with partners deliver revenue to help support the bureau.

While some chambers just have a website to provide information about the destination, Myrtle Beach has positioned itself as the marketing organization for local businesses, according to Susan Phillips, director of marketing. "The process starts when people are daydreaming about a vacation and searching," she says."We get people pulled in based on the emotive elements, so when they come to the site, they are prequalified for the destination."

The primary goal of is to pull in first-time visitors. Phillips says, "We know that once we get them here, our hotels will do such a fabulous job of remarketing to them that we don't need to go out and retarget them." In fact, as of 2012, 38 percent of the travelers to the area were first-time visitors.

In addition to national Google search and display campaigns, the chamber also does local and regional campaigns, as well as interest targeting, for example, to golfers or women planning a girlfriend getaway. These ads land visitors on areas of the site targeted to those interests. tracks leads sent to partners but doesn't follow their trail. "Once they go off our website, that is an opportunity for our partners to convert, but they typically don't tell us the conversions," Phillips says. "We do a lot of the heavy lifting for them, and it's very quantifiable."

According to Google, the Google Display Network drives one third of total site traffic at 33 percent lower cost-per-click, compared to search.

The bureau relies heavily on Google Display's testing functionality, often in conjunction with other efforts. For example, this year it held focus groups in Atlanta, Washington DC, and Toronto to test ads, headlines and videos. Phillips says, "In almost real-time we were able to make changes" reflecting insights from the consumer research.

Mobile traffic was 24 percent in the first quarter of 2013, with traffic from iPads at 16 percent. To address the growing mobile audience, last year the Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau worked with Simple View on a complete website overhaul to optimize for mobile devices.

The bureau also uses hospitality-specialist MMGY Global as its social media agency; Fahlgren Mortine for public relations; and Visibility and Conversions, a digital services agency that helps with its Google accounts.

As it aims to grow its actual tourist traffic from the current 14.5 million vacationers a year to its goal of 20 million, Myrtle Beach will continue to adjust the mix of its advertising, Phillips says. For example, the bureau may switch some of its TV budget to YouTube.

The problem is, while Myrtle Beach knows that some of its TV advertising isn’t working as well as it could, it's difficult to measure. At the same time, some of it is clearly working. Phillips says, "Where we have to be careful is that we know what we're doing now is working. It will be a slow, gradual transition."

ClickZ Live Toronto Twitter Canada MD Kirstine Stewart to Keynote Toronto
ClickZ Live Toronto (May 14-16) is a new event addressing the rapidly changing landscape that digital marketers face. The agenda focuses on customer engagement and attaining maximum ROI through online marketing efforts across paid, owned & earned media. Register now and save!


Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Search newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

ion Interactive Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper

Marketing Apps for Landing Pages White Paper
Marketing apps can elevate a formulaic landing page into a highly interactive user experience. Learn how to turn your static content into exciting marketing apps.

eMarketer: Redefining Mobile-Only Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop

Redefining 'Mobile-Only' Users: Millions Selectively Avoid the Desktop
A new breed of selective mobile-only consumers has emerged. What are the demos of these users and how and where can marketers reach them?


    • Contact Center Professional
      Contact Center Professional (TCC: The Contact Center) - Hunt ValleyLooking to join a workforce that prides themselves on being routine and keeping...
    • Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador
      Recruitment and Team Building Ambassador (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreAgora,, continues to expand! In order to meet the needs of our...
    • Design and Publishing Specialist
      Design and Publishing Specialist (Bonner and Partners) - BaltimoreIf you’re a hungry self-starter, creative, organized and have an extreme...