Move Over, Print. E-Brochures Are Here to Stay

Remember how you used to plan a trip? Months in advance, you’d send away for travel brochures from travel agents, state chambers of commerce, and so on. If you were lucky, you’d receive a big, glossy guide in the mail a few weeks later.

The ability to get last-minute discount airline tickets online has sped up travel decision-making. Those glossy travel guides would likely arrive long after you’ve returned from vacation.

A potential visitor to Phoenix, for example, once had to wait up to eight weeks for information from the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). Clearly, that didn’t cut it any longer, so the CVB asked Internet marketing agency Mighty Interactive to help get travel guides into tourists’ hands faster.

Customized E-Mail Brochures Deliver Instant Information

Mighty Interactive cut eight weeks down to near real time by developing a way for visitors to create their own e-brochures. At, a visitor clicks on the “Free Guides” icon and chooses between ordering printed brochures or creating a personalized e-version.

To create an e-brochure, the visitor checks boxes of different interest categories, such as shopping, outdoor/adventure, arts and performances, and golf. After she enters her email address and Zip Code, a custom e-brochure is sent within moments. The e-brochure is laden with links back to additional content on the CVB’s site.

Behind the scenes, the e-brochure is powered by ExactTarget’s dynamic content feature. Mighty Interactive set up an API (define) between the CVB’s server and ExactTarget for smooth data feeding.

Great CTR and Reduced Printing Costs

The e-brochures are a hit with site visitors and bureau management alike. Just over a third (35 percent) of those who receive the e-brochure clicked on one or more links to request additional information. With ExactTarget’s tracking capability, the CVB can track which links are viewed and which will enable it to make educated decisions about updating content and to target future promotional efforts with more precision. In addition, the e-brochures can be sent when a tourist’s interest is highest: at the point of request.

The e-brochure has meant dramatic savings for the organization in printing and postage costs over the print brochures, one of which typically cost $10 to produce and mail.

I ordered an e-brochure based on my interests and was surprised to see it looked like an e-newsletter page, but with a lot of links. When I clicked the links, I saw the e-brochure’s value: a large amount of the site was customized to my interests.

Jason Baer, founder and president of Mighty Interactive, told me, “In the past, not only did people have to wait for their travel guides to be mailed, if they tried to navigate the Web site, they often got lost in the wealth of information available. The e-brochures are truly personal.”

The next version of e-brochures will also include special offers in the cover email itself to increase the value to the tourist.

This e-brochure concept can be applied to almost any business-to-business (B2B) marketing effort. Custom e-brochures could be created for computers based on technical specifications and any additional peripherals. Baer says they’re also ideal for schools and universities that offer a multitude of classes, degrees, and specialties. Instead of getting that entire bulky college catalog, you can get one tailored to the degree you’re pursuing. This online capability could be critical when talking to today’s tech-savvy teenagers who are hardly accustomed to waiting for anything.

A new, B2B version of CVB’s e-brochure is underway. It will give meeting planners instant information on room capacity, meeting space, and other information.

Booking a meeting is a very document-intensive process; custom e-brochures with dynamic content should accelerate the decision cycle. For example, a meeting planner could receive a list of only the hotels that can accommodate an audience of 400 people and above. Also, the e-brochure will be designed to answer all the common questions meeting planners ask about booking a meeting in Phoenix. Baer predicts “by the time they talk on the phone with a Chamber of Commerce representative, they have enough details that they’re already 65 percent sold on bringing their meeting here.”

Looks like the other 49 states better get on the ball with e-brochures. Otherwise, we’ll all be meeting in Phoenix for conferences next year. Not that I’d object to that!

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