Traditionally the people who buy RVs are empty-nesters
and retired folks aged 50+. While that is a great market, it is
also a limited one.
For the past seven years the RVIA, a coalition of dealers,
manufacturers and campground organizations, has been trying to
break into a new, bigger marketplace: Families with children.
First the RVIA softened the ground with a year of intensive PR,
and then they began to spend millions annually on traditional
print, radio and TV ads.
In more of a by-the-way than an intensive effort, they also
launched an informational Web site GoRving.com in late 1998.
A funny thing happened on the way to the millennium, site
traffic almost of its own accord began to soar. In 2001 and
2002, the team dabbled a bit in online ads.
The ads worked well enough that when they were planning for 2003,
the RVIA decided to go full throttle and triple the amount of
online ad spend to 10% of the total media budget.
However, unlike many B2C advertisers getting into online, the
marketers at the RVIA were not just looking for clicks. They gave
their ad agency, The Richards Group, a three-fold mission:
1. Expand awareness of RVing as a vacation option for families
2. Get more families to actively consider purchasing an RV
3. Gather qualified sales leads to hand off to local dealers
All of this had to happen on just $900,000 for the year. CAMPAIGN
First Richards' online division, 'Click Here', met with
the traditional ad team to coordinate all efforts. Creative,
copy, design and offers would be reiterated across all media
including TV, radio, print, and Web. (Link to samples of all
Just as the RVIA relied on research studies to tell them how
offline ads were increasing awareness, etc, they engaged an
online study from Dynamic Logic to measure the same things. The
campaign would not be judged by clicks alone.
The main overall note in every piece of creative was one simple
Colors are warm, with tones of amber, lush green, brown, and red.
Almost every single piece of creative, online and off,
features human beings. (Interestingly, it is only when you view
the RVIA's online ad samples that you realize how few other G-
rated banners tend to have humans pictured in them.)
Radio ads featured Tom Selleck's voice to bring that warm feeling
home (link to audio and script below).
The message was focused on the benefits of RVing, rather than the
features of RVs. The campaign's tagline was "Pursue your
passions," and photos showed families fishing, hiking, viewing
nature's wonders, sitting together by a flickering campfire, etc.
The offer throughout all creative also remained constant:
Free CD-ROM or Video
1-800 Go RVing or GoRving.com
After revamping the GoRVing Web site to reflect the new
campaign's images and offer, the Click Here team began to shop
for online media. "Almost half of our proposals had sweeps
components," notes Interactive Account Director Erika Knight.
However, the team decided against all but one of these proposals
because they did not want to clutter the Web with different
sweeps; and, also because while sweeps may help gather responses,
these may not be highly qualified responses. Nor are sweeps
proven to help significantly with long-term awareness or purchase
The team wound up making three different types of online media
Media buy #1: Standard banners on targeted site sections
Instead of going for a high click rate that an annoying pop-under
campaign might give them or an ultra-cheap CPM rate a run-of-site
or run-of-network campaign would offer, the media buying team met
their goals by ultra-carefully selecting each site section and
placement their banners appeared on.
"It was a matter of securing dominance and visibility on selected
areas to really show off what we have," notes Knight. "For
example, we kicked off with a large rectangle on the homepage of
Mapquest and then continued with strategic placement in their
Road Trip Planner section. It was obviously the perfect fit of
people very receptive to our message."
Other buys included highly targeted sections in Yahoo, AOL,
Away.com and About.com.
Media buy #2: Special campaigns on a few sites
For greater impact, the team tweaked their creative for special
campaigns for a few targeted sites that had proven to be good
fits in previous RVIA tests. In each case, the primary message,
art, and offer remained the same but there was an additional
tweak developed in partnership with the site.
- A sweeps on SportingNews.com that tied to the RVIA's
campaign launch sponsorship of Nascar races (the winner got
tickets to an auto race as well as a Motor Home delivered to the
race). The creative also featured links to issues of Go RVing's
email newsletter posted online.
- A PDF download offer for Better Homes & Gardens' BHG.com
site visitors. The PDF was actually a sample issue of Go RVing's
email newsletter -- a clever way to re-use great content.
- A wittily copywritten Eyeblaster-format ad featured on the
homepage of Weather.com, reading, "Along with milk and
vedgetables, kids also need a steady diet of rocks and worms."
The creative featured a photo and audio of a child throwing a
rock into a campground pond.
Media buy #3: Search marketing to generate extra leads
The media buying team also sliced off a portion of their budget
to place into paid search engine ads for highly targeted search
terms such as: RV-related terms, camping, family travel, and road
They measured results daily and weekly to tweak which online
media got more money, making sure that all three campaign goals
were adequately met. Knight notes that if the goal had been
sales leads alone, search marketing probably would have gotten a
larger slice of the pie.
When consumers visited the Web site (driven by an offline
campaign or an online ad link) to get their no-cost video or CD-
ROM, they were asked a series of 17 questions. This seems like a
lot of questions, but only the contact info requires typing
which makes things easier.
The RVIA marketing team selected each question based on input
from dealers about what makes a truly qualified sales lead, plus
research from Harris Interactive on the same topic.
Interestingly they wound up deleting some demographic questions
in favor of attitudinal questions that would help with future
copywriting and evaluating which leads were the best ones.
For example, the form does not ask about household income, but it
does ask what terminology consumers use when they refer to RVs in
speech. It also asks how important bringing a pet along when
traveling is to the consumer. (Link to form screenshot below.)
Naturally one of the questions is an option to join the list to
get the site's email newsletter.
This newsletter was also revamped this year to match the current
campaign. Instead of being filled with info from a faceless
organization, it is now written by a pictured husband-and-wife
team of RV enthusiasts who share details of their life "On the
Although the online media buy was tripled, sales leads generated from the site have jumped by nine-times. Plus,
Dynamic Logic's analysts told the RVIA that the effectiveness of
the campaign ranks in the top 10% of all the companies they have
Chris Morrison, the RVIA's Senior Director of Marketing Communications says, "The campaign is performing most successfully among respondents with two or more children under 18 at home and respondents aged 50-plus, encompassing our primary core family and secondary empty nester target audiences. It also does especially well among males and respondents with incomes above $40,000 per year.
"Among our primary target audience of parents with two or more
children at home, the percentage of those likely to consider
purchasing an RV rose from 28% of those who had not seen the
online Go RVing ads, to 36% of those who had, which is four to
five times higher than typical online measures of purchase
- About 8-10% of consumers who reach the online form for the no-
cost video or CD-ROM, wind up filling out the entire thing for
We suspect this percent would rise precipitously if the landing
page did not also feature links to the rest of the Go RVing site
which must distract visitors from the form. However, Knight
noted this decision was driven by the multiple goals of the
- A stunning 60% of Web leads request the CD-ROM versus the videotape. The RVIA had not expected that, and wound up having to order a lot more CD ROMs in a hurry.
- Last year in May 2002, Web leads were 29% and phone leads were
23% of total leads (other leads included print coupon mail-ins).
Since the campaign launched in February 2003, the numbers have
changed dramatically. Web leads are now 54% and phone leads are
The RVIA are very happy about this because the cost of collecting Web leads is lower than phone, and online you can get away with asking more questions.
- More than 1,400 people have downloaded the PDF from BHG.com.
Knight says, "To have 1,400 people with this type of information
in their hands is significant."
- The cost-per-lead from the search marketing campaign is the
"most efficient" according to Knight.
The RVIA's Morrison notes that while she has been very pleased by
online ad results, she feels the campaign's success is based in
reaching consumers through a wide variety of media rather than
just one channel.
"You definitely need the support. If it's in radio, in TV,
online, in print, that's reinforcement. That's what keeps them
Link to all nine of the creative samples promised above
(Worth clicking just to hear Tom Selleck in the radio ad):