industry: Hospitality
Use Case: B2C Sales and Transactions

Visit Myrtle Beach Improves Engagement By More Than 300%

Destination marketing organization uses Act-On to improve data management, clean lists, and hit the inbox with every send

Company:
Customer:

Cori Hutslar

Website Manager

Success By the Numbers

307
%

Increase in click-through rates

230
%

Increase in email open rates

Realized Business Value

  • Strict data hygiene and list management is increasing email sender reputation and email delivery
  • Sending marketing communications only to Active Contacts is improving engagement rates while preserving budget
  • Removing contacts who haven’t opted in to receive marketing emails is minimizing the risk of privacy regulation vilations

Pain Points

  • An outdated email list causing massive spam rates and unsubscribes
  • A low reputation rating with Google threatening their email platform
  • Poor email engagement due to batch-and-blast approach
Visit Myrtle Beach

Visit Myrtle Beach’s mission is to market and promote the Myrtle Beach area as the premier beach destination in the United States for individuals, families, groups, and business travelers.

Simpleview

Since 2001, Simpleview has empowered more than 900 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with customized tools, knowledge, and creativity to help tell these destinations’ unique stories. They believe the world’s top cities and smallest towns each have a role to play in promoting travel and tourism, and they’re here to provide solutions that are built for the way your destination marketing works.

Executive Summary

Myrtle Beach is one of the most beautiful and popular tourist destinations in the United States, but even this attractive seaside location needs great marketing to drive visitors. With the help of Act-On (and our partner, Simpleview) Visit Myrtle Beach —the destination marketing organization enticing tourists to visit the region — has vastly improved their email reputation, delivery, and engagement. By using Act-On to manage their data and clean their lists, they’ve improved their email marketing open rates by 230% and their click-through rates by 307%! Meanwhile, their sender reputation has vastly improved and their spam complaints and unsubscribes have plummeted.

“It made financial sense to only pay for the contacts that were actually engaging with our content, and it helped us get the approval to move forward.”

Cori Hutslar, Website Manager

Challenge

As a destination marketing organization (DMO), email marketing is one of the most important tools in your arsenal. It’s cost-effective and time-efficient and can be used to create highly personalized messages to specific target audiences. For these reasons (and many more) destination marketers often spend a lot of time and resources growing their email lists.

Visit Myrtle Beach is one such DMO that recognized the importance of email marketing, building their email list to more than 770,000 subscribers over many years. On the surface, it was an impressive number that was attractive to stakeholders, but a deeper look into the situation showed a different story. 

Due to low delivery rates and high spam complaints, Visit Myrtle Beach’s Google Sender Reputation was steadily decreasing. Knowing that something needed to change, they began searching for a more robust email automation platform with a high level of support that could help guide them in their efforts to manage their lists and improve their engagement rates.

With Simpleview’s guidance, Visit Myrtle Beach discovered the perfect solution to their marketing automation struggle — Act-On. As the Simpleview team began the process of migrating Visit Myrtle Beach over to Act-On from their previous email platform, they quickly noticed what the DMO already knew: their impressive list was filled with hundreds of thousands of old, outdated, and unengaged subscribers. 

A quick look into the metrics showed that while they were sending emails to the aforementioned 770,000+ users, only a fraction (around four percent) were regularly opening those emails. And of that number, only 0.27 percent were interacting with the email content. 

To make matters worse, the emails were getting high rates of unsubscribes and spam complaints, which had negatively affected their domain reputation with Google. This was their most pressing problem, as it put them at risk of losing access to their email server.

Features Leveraged

  • CRM Integration
  • List Maintenance
  • Advanced Segmentation
  • Email Automation
  • Enhanced Email Deliverability

Less Is More

Visit Myrtle Beach’s first challenge was convincing its stakeholders that a smaller, more engaged list was actually more beneficial than a massive database full of outdated information and unengaged contacts. It was a big selling point for their partners that the Visit Myrtle Beach team was sending 2-3 emails per month to upwards of 700,000 people, and Simpleview was recommending a dramatic shift. 

For management, one of the biggest motivating factors in making a change was cost. On their previous email platform, they were paying per send, where Act-On charges per contact. “Paying per contact was an argument not just for switching to Act-On, but also for cleaning up our list,” said Cori Hutslar, Visit Myrtle Beach’s website manager. “It made financial sense to only pay for the contacts that were actually engaging with our content, and it helped us get approval to move forward.” 

After getting the green light, Adam Nutting, Simpleview marketing automation specialist, began working on Visit Myrtle Beach’s most pressing problem: saving their Google reputation. In doing so, he created an email segment that consisted solely of users that had previously engaged with Visit Myrtle Beach’s email content via opens and clicks. For the next few months, they only sent emails to the people on that list, which quickly improved their reputation score, bringing it from Low to Medium. 

In the meantime, Adam and Bradley Grimes, Simpleview CRM analyst, began the arduous process of cutting hundreds of thousands of unengaged contacts from the Visit Myrtle Beach list. First, they removed contacts based on inactivity. Based on Adam’s advice, Visit Myrtle Beach took a more aggressive approach, choosing to automatically remove users that had not opened an email in the last six months. From there, Cori and Bradley worked together to sort unengaged contacts by geographic location and removed another segment of contacts from foreign countries such as Russia. 

The next step was to identify users that had not submitted an “inquiry.” That is, there was no historic data of the method in which they had opted into the email list — via a form submission, visitor guide download, etc. Without an inquiry, there was no way to prove that contacts had actually opted in to the list, therefore putting Visit Myrtle Beach at risk of violating data privacy laws. 

Finally, the team engaged in a massive data cleanup effort, which included removing hundreds of incorrectly entered email addresses. Contacts with extra spaces, misspellings, or unnecessary punctuation were causing high numbers of bounces and low delivery rates.

When all was said and done, the Visit Myrtle Beach team went from sending 2-3 emails to 770,169 contacts each month, to sending one monthly newsletter to just 246,632 active subscribers. 

Email Is a Numbers Game 

After several months of hard work, Visit Myrtle Beach’s email numbers are up significantly. Click-through rates saw a dramatic 307 percent increase, while open rates soared by 230 percent. 

Even better, their marketing automation platform now integrates seamlessly with their Simpleview CRM, eliminating the need for manual list uploads. Instead, a list of new inquiries and manual adds is automatically synced from the CRM to Act-On each night. Plus, they’re able to easily craft personalized and trackable Act-On emails with data from their CRM. With just a click, they can easily deliver messages that are tailored to individual audiences. 

Going forward, the Visit Myrtle Beach team hopes to use this integration and Act-On’s robust platform to rebuild their list — the right way.

Email Deliverability: What Is It and Why Should You Care?