Shay Read

Visit Utah Content Platform & Year-Round Digital Marketing

Art Direction, Content, Digital, Strategy, UX, Web

The Utah State Tourism Office faced several problems: 1. How do we stay relevant as a state DMO? 2. How do we inspire prospective travelers to want to visit, and how do we make existing travelers want to come back? 3. How do we report success to the Utah State Legislature?

Rather than evaluating other state DMOs, we looked at the travel industry holistically and observed those who were doing things right. All had something in common: compelling storytelling.

While the office currently had a blog, the posting wasn’t consistent and engagement was low. The site itself was useful and well-designed, but it was lacking some substance. Not only that, but the office was currently working through some new success measures and it was decided to focus on site engagement as a proxy for intent to travel—which meant, engagement really needed to improve.

My team (Me, Creative & Design Lead; Andrew, Content Manager; Jay, Associate Managing Director; Sandra, Photo Editor) decided to rethink our content strategy from the ground up with a focus on year-round, targeted marketing. Previously, we had used two major annual campaigns (one for winter and one three-season) to drive all of our content marketing. This meant we needed a new branch of our site to house all of this content.

We looked at travel companies and publications such as Afar, Airbnb and Ski Magazine as inspiration. We wanted our level of writing and storytelling to match those of the best content publishers in the world. We wanted to create a beautiful content hub that promoted exploration, and recommended quality experiences and places. We recognized that travelers today want immersive experiences, and in addition to travel-specific stories, we also started commissioning stories that touched on the people and culture of Utah as well.

To drive traffic to this new content hub, we ran targeted ads that clicked through directly to articles, rather than landing pages and used this content calendar to drive our social media strategy. We also redesigned the main site homepage to filter many of the stories front and center, rather than tucked away in the blog. A year after launch, site and social media engagement had improved immensely, with one of the biggest improvements being in post-impression data.

In fact, our results were so successful, that Google even wrote a case study about our office and we won the 2017 ESTO Mercury Award for our year-round digital campaign.

I led on UX and design for the site updates, and Artistotle, Inc. (our web agency of record) led on development and optimization.

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