How Connecticut Used Its R3 Grant
Synopsis by Scott Ball, TBW Editor
Original summary by Paul Benjunas, Connecticut Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection
Campaign Overview and Goal
Upon receiving a $50,000 R3 marketing grant from ACI, the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection’s (DEEP) Division of Wildlife developed a campaign to increase 2021 Connecticut hunting license sales and boost participation in the agency’s hunter safety courses. The target audience was men and women (ages 18-55) who have an expressed interest in hunting and the outdoors.
Partnering with Güd Marketing, DEEP created digital ads for Facebook and Instagram showcasing hunting in Connecticut and promoting hunting license sales.
The first part of the campaign served several digital ads to promote the spring turkey season and hunter education course offerings. They ran from April 5 to May 5 and prompted viewers to click on a link to a webpage, where they could purchase a license or register for a hunter safety course if they are not already certified.
The second part of the campaign ran from Sept. 3 through Dec. 7, with ads promoting several fall hunting seasons (deer, small game and waterfowl). Similarly, these ads prompted viewers to click on a link that led them to a landing page where they could purchase their license or register for a hunter safety course.
Call to Action
Target audience members who see these ads see a link sending them to a landing webpage that not only prompts the visitor to purchase a hunting license or register for a hunter safety course but also describes the benefits of hunting in relation to wildlife conservation. It is important to provide a landing page that offers several options other than just purchasing a license, because some of the visitors may not have taken a hunter safety course.
Overall, the campaign was very successful in terms of engagement, reaching 223,174 people, creating over 3.4 million impressions (views), 371,390 engagements and a click-through rate of 0.95%. In addition to tracking engagements and impressions of the digital ads, Google Analytics helped determine the number of webpage visitations from the ads, as well as how many clicked on the link to purchase their license or register for a hunter safety course.
A UTM link helped determine the amount of revenue generated by these ads. Similar organic ads/posts were featured concurrently on the Wildlife Division’s social media outlets, Connecticut Wildlife magazine and electronic newsletters, ensuring that current followers received the same messages from the promoted ads.
Unfortunately, web design issues restricted the ability to collect analytics data. Enhancements to correct this issue and directly attribute future interest and action from campaigns to enrollment are scheduled for 2022.
DEEP also observed that 98% of campaign traffic came through mobile phones, but there was a lack of mobile page functionality. DEEP has taken steps to address this with the vendor to correct functionality and appearance issues. Also, website design did not allow for optimal functioning as a landing page. The template used in its construction is not adjustable, so DEEP used page anchors to bypass much of the content that Analytics Behavior Flow suggested was distracting users prior to interacting with campaign content.
DEEP has little experience with digital marketing and limitations on accessing licensing revenue data. While it was disappointing to see a low financial return on investment ($50,000 spent, $1,114 revenue), this campaign helped the agency identify where to make improvements to its Hunter Education Registration web system and in efforts to better reach its target audience and encourage participation in hunting.
Social media is one outlet but produces mixed results and should not be the main tool for promoting license sales. After seeing the results of this project, DEEP would like to examine the use of targeted email campaigns using a service such as GovDelivery. This project also helped them better understand the limitations of its online licensing system and how DEEP will have to adapt to those limitations to move forward.
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