Visit Norway is a well-performing website that knows how to offer plenty of inspirational content to the right target audience. Across its 16 language versions the page gathered well over 44 million user sessions in 2018. With such a broad audience, the website attracts many businesses in the tourism industry who want to partner up with Visit Norway to get some visibility on their website. Many web pages already contain partner content and some partners even have a separate page with an overview of their offered packages.
In August 2018 Visit Norway told us they wanted to work with a particular kind of links of a company called TradeTracker, which specializes in affiliate marketing. This type of link is a URL that tracks a user’s click on a partner link on the Visit Norway website. By adding a cookie to the user’s browser it also tracks if a user who came from Visit Norway actually made a purchase on the partner’s website. When this happens, Visit Norway receives a commission on that user’s purchase. This provides both very interesting data to point out the value Visit Norway can offer tourism businesses in Norway, as well as additional revenue for Visit Norway to reinvest in their products.
This way you can set up a performance marketing system where the partner doesn’t pay for mere exposure, but for the actual amount of purchases that were instigated by Visit Norway. No vague guesses, but measurable value for money.
Performance marketing process
What started off as a small-scale project to replace links to a partner’s website with TradeTracker links, quickly turned into something bigger. We created a large database of navigation items that contain TradeTracker links. By using a well-organised tagging system, we were able to generate automated partner content that is customised for each page of Visit Norway, with information about activities, accommodation or transport options.
The tags for every link and every page in the database had to be carefully selected. We had to avoid that e.g. a northern lights tour would appear on a page about Southern Norway (where you can’t see the northern lights), or that Scandic hotels would get exposure on the Svalbard Islands page, even though there is no Scandic hotel over there. Given its amplitude, we approached this large-scale challenge in different phases.
We started by adding a specific TradeTracker code to all partner links across the website and created a structured database of the approximately 2,500 tracking URLs on the website. This gave us the opportunity to remove some outdated partner ads on each page and to assess the relevance of each partner on the website. Both the partner list and the list with URLs were grouped as logically as possible according to location in the country and the type of offer (accommodation, transport, activity). We also included some tags that allow making bigger, more general groups of partner content for more general pages.
Tagging in the CMS
The following step was adding the appropriate tags, so the automated feeds are correctly set up on every page. Then we only had to add the right feed to the right page, and there you have it: content automation across a few thousand pages in over a dozen of languages.
If only it were as easy as described here. Obviously this was a big project, involving a lot of coordination, a lot of testing and a lot of bug-fixing. But right now it is running smoothly and the structured approach has delivered even more than we could have hoped for: an unexpected surge in conversions, which is both beneficial for the partners and for our client, Visit Norway. Now that the system is in place, we offer day-to-day support to the current partners in keeping the information about their offer on Visit Norway up to date.
We are also constantly testing the content, especially with A/B testing, to assess how we can improve the click-through ratio even more. This is where we get creative by testing different pieces of text for headers, different colours for buttons, a different position of partner sections and many other different options. Continuous testing is the best way to meet the user’s needs and to improve conversion rates for our client and their partners.
In the future Visit Norway hopes to attract more partners in this performance marketing program. At NoA Ignite, we are also looking into ways to offer partners the opportunity to make more out of partner content on Visit Norway, such as images, fact boxes, videos, etc. So as you can see, the next challenge already awaits and we are ready to take it on.
Co-author and editor: Pieterjan Benoit
Support & Content Management Specialist
Paweł is a content management specialist who is passionate about automation, the use of new technologies and an agile approach to projects. Since 2018 he's been coordinating technical side-projects for Visit Norway.
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