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Path-to-conversion insight transformed TUI Travel's digital marketing strategy


By The Drum Team, Editorial

October 12, 2011 | 8 min read

The value of path-to-conversion insight: use of TagMan prompts TUI Travel Specialist Holiday Group to transform its digital marketing strategy.

OverviewTUI Travel’s Specialist Holiday Group uses TagMan across all its sites to manage tracking tags better and gain complete path-to-conversion reporting.As a result of this complete view of the journey its customers take to a sale, TUI has transformed its digital marketing strategy, including:
  • A sixfold increase in SEO spend from being able to see the true contribution of natural search
  • A major increase in internal priority on web site changes to improve SEO rankings
  • A 30% saving in commission payments to CPA partners through accurate deduplication
  • A threefold increase in paid search spend on generic terms that attract customers higher up the path to a sale In the meantime, simpler tag management— particularly implementation—has meant an overall increase in digital budget as the company has been much more able to try out brand new channels such as Trip Advisor and Where Are You Now, as well as internet radio.
BackgroundTUI Travel is the world’s leading leisure travel company, operating in over 180 countries with more than 30 million customers in 27 key source markets. Its Specialist Holiday Group includes leading UK brands offering ski, destination specialist and luxury flexible holidays, including Crystal, Hayes & Jarvis and Citalia.The group recruited TagMan in January 2011 to track its online campaigns better and manage the many marketing tracking tags on its websites more effectively.Previously, tags used to track SHG’s online campaigns, including display, paid and natural search, affiliates, retargeting, social media and email, were managed separately across all its sites and the data delivered by individual providers.Tess Bedard, head of online marketing at TUI Travel Specialist Holiday Group, says: “The problems posed by multiple tags on our sites were numerous, but included the basic issues of implementing new tags and technologies, as well as more fundamental challenges such as how to gain a single view of the data all those tags provided.“While the information from each channel—paid search, email, display, affiliates and so on—is valuable, it is only by joining it all together that we could possibly get insight into how all those channels work together to attract and convert customers and so plan our spend and campaigns more effectively. “We were also only able to measure the success of our campaigns on a last-click basis. If we wanted to move beyond last click and start to understand—and reward—channels for their complete contribution to sales, we needed to see exactly which channel a buying customer interacted with and when.”Bedard was soon persuaded that TagMan would help solve all these issues by using its smart container tag to remove all the 3rd-party tracking tags from its sites and re-house them in an inde¬pendent tag management and reporting system.StrategyWorking with Bedard and her internal marketing and IT teams, TagMan implemented smart container tags on the Specialist Holiday Group site pages across all its brands, beginning with Crystal Ski, Crystal Summer, First Choice Ski, Thomson Ski and Thomson Lakes.All third party tracking tags were then removed from its sites (a process that—in the first place —sped up the sites due to much lower page weights) and re-housed in TagMan’s independent, tag management and reporting system.The system would enable Bedard and her colleagues to add, edit or remove any tag using a browser-based interface with full control and security rather than waiting sometimes months for a site code change.Bedard comments: “TagMan would enable us to add, edit and remove tracking tags more efficiently. We were already seeing the benefits as it was allowing us to instantaneously implement new campaign tracking.”Also, the reporting interface would deliver all the data from all tags in a single place, including complete and precise path-to-conversion reports that would show the success of channels in, not only converting sales, but also in driving them higher up the customer journey.“We’re able to immediately understand what is and isn’t working from an acquisition, retention and branding point of view, as well as gaining insight into the value of our natural search and social media programmes,” Bedard adds. “Through our use of TagMan we are undoubtedly saving vast amounts of time and energy in the implementation and ongoing management of campaigns.” Global leader in tag management “With the help of TagMan we have been able to increase the total marketing budget for digital alongside a complete shift in the way we weight spend between channels.” Tess Bedard, TUI Travel Specialist Holiday Group.ExecutionWith TagMan implemented on the initial sites, Bedard’s team was immediately able to add, edit or remove tracking tags instantly. But even more fundamental value has been derived from the ability to see how all channels work together throughout the path to conversion.

Example of a path-to-conversion report used by TUI

The raw data provided by TagMan showed the exact path to conversion of any single customer, in order, in detail and in real-time. This included, for example, the precise creative, media placement and timing of an exposure to a display banner and the exact search term (whether paid or natural) used during the purchase journey.The reporting interface combined this data to reveal the contribution of any channel to sales in the following terms:
  • Conversions: how many times any one channel or campaign is the last click.
  • Assisted Conversions: the number of sales in which a channel appeared in the path to conversion, at any stage.
  • Attributed Conversions: the amount of sales in which a channel appears in a path to conversion divided by the total number of events in that path. This is what happens when you divide credit equally for any sale between all the events that appeared in the user journey, known as a ‘flat attribution model’.
Using all this insight, Bedard and her colleagues were able to at last see the role and value of each channel, not just in converting customers, but in attracting them and keeping them engaged throughout the research phases of the purchase cycle. This has transformed how much the company spends on different marketing channels, particularly search.Results
  • New channels and bigger budgetsInstant tag implementation has enabled the launch of new campaigns with partners such as Trip Advisor and Where Are You Now, as well as the trial of internet radio. These campaigns, combined with the ability to even better justify the contribution of digital channels to sales, have meant an overall increase in total digital marketing spend.
  • SEO spend increased by six timesWith click-throughs from natural search results tracked alongside all paid-for campaigns—including their role in delivering customers higher up in the path to conversion—search engine optimisation was shown to be crucial in attracting customers and driving them throughout the journey to a sale. As a result, the company has increased SEO spend by more than 500%.
  • Also, SEO has gained the highest priority within the business. For example, any site changes aimed at im¬proving natural search rankings are pushed through as a priority by internal IT teams and providers.
  • Paid search spend on generic terms trebled While the contribution of ‘converting’ paid search terms such as brand terms has gained less attention with a view of the complete sales process, the valuable role of generic terms—related destinations and activities, for example—in driving customers to a sale has become clear. As a result, the company has increased its generic paid search spend by three times.
Bedard says: “TagMan has delivered everything we hoped. We can implement new campaigns straight away thanks to tag management and are now able to plan all our activities against a complete view of our customers’ online journeys.“It’s almost impossible to quantify the increased ROI since—with the help of TagMan—we have been able to increase the total marketing budget for digital. But, that fact, alongside our complete shift in the way we weight marketing spend between channels, demonstrates that TagMan has made a transformative contribution to our online sales.Email: contact@TagMan.comFollow us: @TagMan


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