ALIVE: A Colorado Travel Magazine Case Study

Published 11/5/13
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Miles worked with the Colorado Tourism Office to create a new lifestyle magazine targeting new and return out-of-state travelers. Summer and winter issues of ALIVE feature in-depth vacation ideas and incredible images delivered in an inviting, inspirational tone that speaks to the state’s “Come to Life” campaign. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with the first issue’s print run exhausted in less than three months. Even as DMOs continue to ramp up their digital presence, the success of magazines such as ALIVE reinforce the continued relevance and importance of print publications, and how targeted content can engage consumers across multiple outlets.

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Case Study: ALIVE: A Colorado Travel Magazine  

BACKGROUND The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) has been producing an annual vacation guide for more than a decade. With a new “Come to Life” ad campaign that’s more targeted and more effective than ever before at driving visitation from key markets, we were tasked with finding new ways to convert those responding to the new campaign to travel to Colorado for the first time or return again and again.

THE CHALLENGE The CTO challenged us to create a print-centric, customer relationship marketing product. They wanted something that was consistent with their new advertising campaign and different from the traditional visitors guide concept. After a lot of internal brainstorming, our Colorado production team pitched the CTO the idea of creating a seasonal, lifestyle, subscription-based magazine. Our goal in year one would be to grow the opt-in subscription database to 50,000 potential visitors residing outside the state of Colorado.

STRATEGY & EXECUTION This new magazine would be designed to continue the “Come to Life” conversation started by other components of the state’s advertising campaign. The reason it was a continuation of the conversation is because the target of this new piece is out of state travelers who have already visited Colorado.com, ordered the annual vacation guide, signed up for the newsletter and/or liked Visit Colorado on Facebook. Our goal is to reel them in with more robust content: in-depth vacation ideas, incredible images and an inviting, inspirational tone that speaks to the state’s “Come to Life” experience — one where travelers are driven to discover and find the entirely unexpected.

In planning the content for this new tool, we:

  • Consulted research like The State of the American Traveler, which found that 49% of American leisure travelers used print media for travel purposes in 2012, a record since this study started tracking that statistic in 2006. We sought to capitalize on that trend, digging deeper into the Colorado vacation experience with a glossy, colorful magazine.
  • Analyzed content that was popular on Colorado.com to give readers more of what they were asking for and expanding stories with photos, travel narratives and local insights. Long, lifestyle features like“33 Hidden Gems: Travel Tales to Brag About,” “Colorado on the Rocks: A Micro-Distillery Renaissance” and “8 Races that Will Make a Coloradan of You” gave us the space to paint a vivid vacation picture. A 14ers infographic, locally crafted recipes, only-in-Colorado places to stay and a photographer Q&A diverged from the standard vacation guide format.

In planning the distribution for this new tool, we:

  • Mined the CTO’s current database of past and potential visitors by sending them e-mails inviting them to subscribe to the magazine.
  • Developed a unique landing page on Colorado.com that included a sign-up form. This page was only visible to website visitors that we could identify as out of state.
  • We promoted the unique landing page on Colorado.com using Get Smart Content, again targeting those that were from out of state and had some pre-disposition to signing up for a magazine like this (i.e. they had opted-in to another product previously).
  • We also included a BRC card in a special promotion to Texas Monthly subscribers, as Texas is a huge target market for the state of Colorado and where a majority of repeat visitors reside.

RESULTS We currently have 45,000 out-of-state subscribers and are on path to reach our goal of 50,000 subscribers by the end of the year. The subscription list also directly mirrors the target markets of the CTO’s advertising campaign. These two primary results met the challenge from the CTO to continue the conversation started by the advertising campaign. The CTO has been over-the-top complimentary of our efforts. John Ricks, Associate Director of the CTO, had this to say about the product” “We just received the new ALIVE magazine. Simply put, it's fantastic. The look, the feel, the stories all combine to truly represent Colorado and its evolving ALIVE positioning. I know we talked about really focusing on creating more of a lifestyle feel for the publication. That has happened in spades.”

After reaching our goals for this year, we are discussing new goals with the CTO for 2014. Now that we’ve developed the right product and cultivated a highly valuable audience, we anticipate turning our attention to more robust advertising options in 2014. Click here to see sample pages from the winter issue of ALIVE.