Targeted audiences require targeted content. 

Anne Arundel County, Md, is nestled alongside the Chesapeake Bay, easily accessible to Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C., home to BWI Airport, and boasts several historic sites, parks, and walkable downtowns — not to mention that Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland, is the heart of the county! Quite an exciting challenge for any destination marketer.

We know as well as you do that marketing an entire city, region, or county is not an easy job — and Frank DiVenti knows it, too! Frank is the COO of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, a non-profit DMO for the Maryland county. Frank spoke with provokebetter’s Whitney Hahn about how he and his team manage to successfully market the diverse, expansive, and distinct regions in his county by dividing their audience base and websites to serve each of their distinct niche markets.

Creating “child” websites to target specific audiences

One of the biggest challenges many marketers face is targeting a variety of audiences with content that is the most relevant and important to them. People are coming to your destination for different reasons, whether it be for vacation, business, a family reunion, or a wedding — everyone is coming for their own unique experience and is searching your website for solutions to their pain points. And, hopefully, it’s easy for them to find what they’re looking for.

“To sell the product today, you are dependent on a couple of products, and the number one is, in my opinion, your website… The real key to your website is your bounce rate.”

Frank and his team created several “child” websites that all link back to the main “parent” Visit Annapolis site to ensure the only bounces occurring were to other web pages they own. Their child websites include Meet in Annapolis, Weddings In Annapolis, Hotels at BWI, and Annapolis Discovered.

The creation of these websites allows Frank and the marketing team to narrow down their marketing messages, target specific audiences, and provide content and value to the right people in the right place. No longer will business owners have to scroll through wedding venues or vacation itineraries to find hotel rooms or available convention centers to host their next meeting. With an extensive region and audience to cater to, this was an ideal solution to Visit Annapolis’s problem!

The “Three Annapoli” visitor personas

It can be easy to lose sight of who your targeted audience is and how you should craft your marketing messages to communicate effectively with who you’re trying to reach, which is why Visit Annapolis created the “Three Annapoli” after conducting a focus group.

“People want one thing when they travel. They want history, they want food, or they want to explore.”

The results of the focus group led to the creation of their visitor personas: Foodie Annapolis, Historian Annapolis, and Explorer Annapolis. Personas can help Visit Annapolis and other DMOs target their marketing messages more effectively, and using focus groups like Frank did can be a good starting place for nailing down who’s visiting you for what reasons.

Using local brand ambassadors as content creators

For the Three Annapoli, Frank and his team have created the convenient website Annapolis Discovered as a kind of guide to the city for interested tourists. The best part? Rather than depend on a few of the same in-house content writers and video producers, the Annapolis Discovered site features blogs and video blogs written and produced by actual Annapolis locals who are brand ambassadors.

Visitors to the website and the city can get restaurant recommendations, historic spots to visit and explore, and insight into the city that they may not have been able to get through any other means than through a local’s eyes. The local freelancers are beyond eager to share their favorite things about their hometown, and Visit Annapolis can cycle through a larger pool of content creators to keep blogs and videos fresh, unique, and engaging.

Tips for delivering target content to a targeted visitor audience:

  1. Divide your website into separate pages or create “child” websites that link back to your main site if you find yourself trying to reach several different target audiences in one place.
  2. Research your target audiences and/or conduct focus groups to create visitor personas. These will make it easier to target content to the right people!
  3. Reach out to the community to see if any locals are willing to create content to promote the area! For a bit of compensation, locals can become brand ambassadors and promoters, and your destination will become a guest magnet!

About the expert: Frank DiVenti is the Chief Operating Officer of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County. He has over 40 years of experience in advertising, communications, event management, and marketing. His career began in the broadcasting industry, and before working at Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County, he owned a communications consulting company called REAL Communications, which included an 8-month stint as Media and Operations Manager for a Baltimore City Mayoral Campaign.