50-year-old tour operator Reykjavik Excursions has evolved into a digital-first brand through a whole new approach to advertising. In his #DareToGrow story, Marketing Director Ari Steinarsson tells us how they did it—and explains why proving return on investment has been such a game-changer in his marketing journey.
I joined Reykjavik Excursions two years ago: it’s one of the oldest tour operator companies in Iceland, and has grown massively over the last few years—we’ve seen 50% growth between 2010 and 2018. Tourism is experiencing a real boom here and has become a stabilizing influence. Despite the fact that we have a population of just 350,000, around 2.2 million people visit every year.
But as Iceland can be expensive, the experience of traveling here has to be unique. Generally, tourists are looking for a different kind of holiday, and Iceland offers a lot—from waterfalls and the Northern Lights to snow, sun, and rain.
When I joined Reykjavik Excursions, I quickly realized that the first challenge would be encouraging a 50-year-old company to start thinking about marketing in a new way. Traditionally, we’d advertised through airlines and taken part in travel shows. Marketing happened and you waited for the results—and when the results came, you often didn’t know which part of the strategy had worked.
But when I joined, there were really aggressive growth plans in place, and I knew that the only way to get there was to invest in digital. Plus, I knew that a digital approach would allow us to take advantage of up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and reach our customers globally.
To be honest, I was excited and scared at the same time: I knew we had to change the way we were doing things and I knew that I’d need a bigger budget to achieve what we were aiming for.
Partnering up with AdRoll
I turned to AdRoll because as a one-man marketing band, it was difficult to do everything on my own. AdRoll offered a platform that covered more than one channel and helped me with display advertising as well as social [advertising] and email. That was a great help. Plus, I could call AdRoll for advice whenever I was stuck on anything campaign-related!
One of the reasons why AdRoll is so good is that it allows me to dig into return on investment and see how different ads are performing. If in one campaign I’m running 20 banner ads and can see that four of them are out-performing the others, I can change our approach. Every day, I look at the dashboard to find out what’s working and what’s not. That’s great—it means I don’t have to dig through Google Analytics and waste hours of time figuring out what’s worked and what’s not. And with digital marketing, you can’t change what’s not working really quickly.
Over 14 months, we’ve seen some great results: a return on investment of 20% or 30% on some channels, which is amazing. Proving ROI is also really useful in terms of being able to go to the board, prove a campaign has worked, and secure more investment. Plus, I’ve also been promoted to Marketing Director—so I must be doing something right!
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