Tourism Ireland: Titanic Stories
This website was created by biznet IIS in conjunction with Tourism Ireland to build awareness of the association between the Titanic and Belfast, and to showcase the full range of related tourism products in Belfast and around Northern Ireland.
Goals and Challenges
Having been awarded the contract to design and develop the Titanic website in June 2010 it was an exciting few months in the lead up to the grand unveiling which took place in New York’s Grand Central Station on 28th September 2010!
This website was created by biznet IIS in conjunction with Tourism Ireland to build awareness of the association between the famous ship and Belfast, and to showcase the full range of related tourism products in Belfast and around Northern Ireland. In the run-up to 2012 and the centenary of Titanic, this new website is being used by Tourism Ireland as the main call-to-action for its Titanic based marketing activities and promotions. The site will inform and intrigue a wide range of people around the world over the next three years with messages about Titanic.
Tourism Ireland aims to capitalise on the huge interest in Titanic that exists among people everywhere and to make this website the most popular online destination worldwide for people seeking information on the Titanic story.
The site concept was to educate users that Titanic was built in Belfast and to celebrate the city’s proud maritime history. One of the unique selling points of this website is the video library which was deployed to support a series of 24 videos which will be rolled out over a two-year period. The biggest challenge was to ensure that the website was mobile compatible and viewable within the necessary browser restrictions of any smartphone, such as the iPhone and Blackberry. This was achieved along with the videos being presented in multiple formats (Flash and QuickTime) to ensure accessibility across mobile platforms. Videos are presented from YouTube when browsing on a PC to ensure compatibility and synchronisation with the promoted YouTube channel.
This site was designed and promoted as the ‘official’ Titanic website of Belfast, Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland – the places that have the authentic right to be most closely associated with the ship’s story.
biznet IIS demonstrated a real vision for the project and is regularly researching and creating ideas and incentives to ensure the retention of online visitors who chance upon the site, have entered the term ‘the Titanic’ on a search engine or responded to publicity and promotions.
Appropriate content from the site is also available on dedicated channels on Twitter, Facebook & YouTube.
Summary of Requirements:
• A suite of multi-lingual, centrally managed sites which will host a range of content including video, photographic, audio, text, database feeds and user-generated content.
• Creation of a distinctive look and feel which reflects the authority of the key stakeholders, albeit in the absence of a set of design guidelines or brand imperatives.
• The integration of existing online partner resources in a single location with seamless linkages to them and to commercial partners for ordering and booking transactions.
• An on-going process for scheduled addition of content in diverse formats, including the design and broadcasting of a monthly ezine to subscribers.
• An on-going programme of Search Engine Optimisation to ensure the site challenges organically for the top spot on Google searches for key Titanic terms.
• Hosting and technical maintenance.
Description of the project/activity with technical background:
The project brief was to develop a new international digital strategy to ensure clear and consistent brand communication throughout the countries around the world. As well as building upon the Ireland brand, the aim of the website was to drive visitors to experience and feel the official Titanic story through video, imagery and audio content throughout the site. Increased interactivity ensures the user experience is fun and interesting.
Our strategy centred on delivering best value and experience to the users, focusing on the design and interactivity to establish Ireland’s brand personality and create the vital positive first impression, and on the content to build Ireland’s brand awareness and encourage visitors to keep returning month after month.
The Titanic website is primarily a visual piece and including video enhances the user’s visual experience when navigating about the website. Moreover, website users are often uncomfortable reading long paragraphs of web copy so enabling them to ‘see’ the content is a much preferred vehicle for such a deserved story.
Video content increases the stickiness of the website. This means Titanic users are more likely to interrogate the website for longer than if the site was simply populated with static imagery and copy. If we look at Tourism Ireland’s objectives for the Titanic website, we want to evoke an emotional response from the content and videos will enable us to do this.
The repositories for these videos are categorised video galleries which are managed easily via the content management system. By having a categorised gallery, users can easily find the ‘type’ or theme of video story they want. The videos can also be searched via a selection of search parameters.
Photographic materials are another key visual to this website. Images are peppered throughout the website on CMS managed pages i.e. in the context of page copy. Each image is individually uploaded into the CMS and given a title and overview detail to explain relevance. This also assists with search engine optimisation.
Imagery is also used on the homepage to help add emphasis and visual impact to entry pods and hero items. All imagery used is on brand and complementary to the ethos and personality of the website.
To help improve the interactivity of the website, users can submit comments and feedback to all sections of the website (user generated content). This is a fantastic way of developing a community aspect and also greatly increases the stickiness of the website.
Aside from increasing interactivity levels, the information gleaned from the feedback and the analytics can be used for marketing purposes to ensure the website evolves as per user requirements and preferences.
Working in partnership with Tourism Ireland, rather than simply as a supplier, has ensured that following this comprehensive site strategy project, the official Titanic website has become the ultimate one-stop resource for everything Titanic, with significant potential for further development and enhancement for visitors.
Titanic Stories is developed, managed and marketed globally by the online marketing team at biznet IIS. The principal aim of the website is to promote Belfast and Northern Ireland as a tourist destination in relation to the building of the famous Titanic ship. We also endeavour to promote Belfast’s strong roots in the ship building industry and as a holiday destination for visitors from across the world.
With that in mind, the principal goals of the site are:
• To market the site to a global audience
• To rank the site highly in a number of global search engines for Titanic-related words and phrases
• To increase visitors and visitor interaction on a month to month basis
• Promote the events, attractions and memorials in relation to the Titanic that the island of Ireland, and other Titanic places, have to offer through the use of ‘hero items’ throughout the site
• Promote Ireland as a holiday destination
With SEO as key element of the global promotion of the website and its concept, this is a key part of the online marketing strategy. The website has been optimised heavily, focusing on the key words and phrases related to the Titanic that users are actually searching for.
With diverse and rich content on the site and new content being continually added, along with the elements of user generated content, good SEO and a well built website, the site is performing very well in the search engines after only a short period of time. For example, the site is currently sitting at position 9 in Google UK for ‘the titanic’ – a phrase that has 5.5million other sites to compete against.
Titanic related websites are highly competitive in the search engines, so the page 1 rankings within Google that are being seen already are a real achievement. In turn, this increase in the search engine rankings is driving increased traffic to the site.
Site traffic between November 2010 and March 2011 has increased by 785% and visitors are coming from all over the world, especially the US, Australia, Germany and the UK and Ireland, to view the site.
The quality of the traffic coming to site is also increasing. Users are engaging with the content, especially the video and imagery on the site. Visitors spend longer on these pages, showing that they are watching the video content and viewing the image content. This, along with the high number of user generated comments on the site, is proving that the content is engaging to the users.
A key method of delivering tourism related messages to the users is through the hero items displayed on the right hand side of the content pages. Full control of which hero items are displayed, and their order preferences, are capable through the content management system. The success of tailoring these hero items to certain pages within the site, combined with the use of campaign tracking code, is monitored through Google Analytics. To date they have proved to be successful, with users clicking on this content to investigate further.
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