The Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau aims to encourage increased state and local tax revenue, job stimulation and economic growth and development by marketing the Marietta area to tourists and convention markets.
These days, those at the bureau say the best way to do that is through the Internet, which is why there will soon be a Web site update and implementation of several other Internet-based marketing strategies.
"The Web is really where the action is and you really have to have a 21st century strategy if you want to reach people and it does take a full marketing mix," said Jeri Knowlton, director of the bureau.
Knowlton said the new Web site should be up and running sometime in June. Unlike the current website, which she described as "text heavy," the new Web site will feature lots of photos of area attractions.
"If we can get a lot of really splendid photography onto the Web site, it will be so visually appealing, it will draw people to want to see more," she said. "Especially when people are traveling, (they) want to see what it's going to be like."
Knowlton noted that a digitized version of the bureau's visitor's guide will be available on the site. She described it as a "flipbook" that people will be able to make notes on and print. The visitor's guide will also feature advertisements for some of the bureau's 112 partners which will be hyper linked to that particular business's own Web site.
At a glance
Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau Internet marketing:
The bureau's updated website, www.mariettaohio.org, will go live in June. It will feature more photos than the current website and a digitized version of the visitor's guide.
The bureau will eventually have a mobile-friendly website.
The bureau is on Facebook at Marietta/Washington County CVB and Twitter at VisitMariettaOH.
Internet search and display campaigns have been implemented which utilize key search words and advertisements, respectively, to market the bureau.
For those partners that don't have their own Internet sites, they will be able to create and maintain their own Web site, which will be linked through the visitor's bureau Web site.
The bureau will also be developing a mobile Web site, Knowlton said.
"What statistics are showing is people are making decisions on the fly," she said. "They're using their GPS or their cell phone to make a decision to stop sometimes within a mile of where they're going to make that stop."
The bureau is also utilizing social media. A total of 812 people "like" its Facebook page and 133 people are following its Twitter account, VisitMariettaOH.
Many local businesses, including American Flags and Poles on Front Street in Marietta, also have their own Facebook pages. Owner Sylvi Caporale said she's planning to attend a "Meet the Geeks" session being sponsored by the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce next week to better learn how to implement online marketing strategies.
"I'm going to attend because I do want to learn more about what's available and what's effective, not just to be doing something, but something with results," Caporale said. "We have a limited Facebook presence...it seems like everyone is on there."
Charlotte Keim, president of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce said about 40 local business owners are scheduled to attend the session. It is only open to chamber members.
"It all started because we had different education seminars we were holding and the conversations would always go back to technology...like, 'Facebook? tell me what it is and what you do with it' and comments like, 'I don't have time to do that'," Keim said.
She said seven "geeks" who are chamber members will lead the session and answer business owners' questions.
The Marietta-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is also utilizing other means of Internet marketing. Knowlton said about two months ago, the bureau started a search campaign. She explained that through the campaign, when a person types in any of about 300 key words that are very specific to the Marietta area on an Internet search engine, the bureau's Web site appears at the top of a list of results.
"We want to come to the top, even if they just type in 'Marietta'," Knowlton said. "They may mean Marietta, Georgia, but they may find out Marietta, Ohio is pretty cool, too."
The bureau has also implemented display campaigns in three designated marketing areas, Charleston, W.Va., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Columbus, Ohio.
Knowlton said through this campaign, when a person visits the bureau's Web site, a cookie is planted into their computer system and the bureau "re-markets" to that person through advertisements that appear on subsequent Web sites they visit.
Since the campaigns started in January, there have been more than three million impressions and 31,000-plus re-marketing impressions. She said there have been 4,589 visits to the bureau's Web site, and there have been 29 phone calls and 86 Web events. An example of a Web event would be a person requesting a visitor's guide.
"It is so trackable and so precise that I know exactly how effective my marketing dollars are being spent and through some forms of traditional advertising, that's a little more difficult to get," Knowlton said.