Merlin Venues Case Study

Our Work

Merlin Venues
Merlin hits target for first time in seven years
When Merlin Venues, the entertainment division of Merlin Entertainments, approached us their hard-working team hadn’t hit their income targets for seven years. Our job was to provide a digital marketing strategy that would position some of London’s most famous tourist attractions and corporate event spaces – and, of course, get those targets well and truly hit. Here’s how we did it.

The Brief

Merlin approached us to talk about building a new marketing strategy and delivering the digital elements of this. While their in-house sales and marketing team had some skills and resources to focus on marketing activity, they had identified a specific need for performance based digital campaigns. 

The Campaign Execution

We developed a strategy playing on the strengths of Merlin’s current plans to launch digital brand awareness and lead generation campaigns, alongside PR initiatives. Merlin’s attractions already had household name status, but they weren’t widely considered event venues of choice. Our objective was to increase awareness of Merlin’s attractions as venues for events, helping them develop first port of call status and become a renowned destination for events. Our second objective was to put Merlin’s venues in front of people actively looking to rent unique spaces for their events or wanted to attend unique events like those hosted at Merlin. Our goal was to ensure Merlin was found when people were looking for things to do in their target area, but not necessarily looking for Merlin themselves. 

At Patch we like to start with the end in mind, so we naturally began with their income targets and worked backwards to define the amount of activity required to achieve these. By developing a thorough understanding of their buyer personas and typical customer purchase journey, we defined their customers’ and prospective customers’ behaviours. This included where they spent their time online, where they go for inspiration, to source information and to form an opinion. Using this intel, we defined an advertising and search marketing plan that placed Merlin in the right place at the right time. 

By analysing their past marketing and sales data we identified what activity had previously delivered growth. From there we developed a road map outlining our targets, expectations, and how it needed to perform to hit KPIs, remain on the road map and achieve objectives. It resulted in a thorough plan that outlined what the client could expect from their campaigns, when they could expect it and how we’d be monitoring performance along the way. 

One thing we passionately believe at Patch is that to build an effective, relevant strategy, you must get to know the client. From the outset, we spent a lot of time learning about Merlin Events – their goals, their products, USPs, threats, opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses, as well as building relationships with the team. This gave us an in-depth understanding which informed our approach to positioning them in the market, so they’d stand out. It also highlighted actions required to ensure their annual KPIs and targets would be hit. 

We agreed upon a digital plan for one year covering the following activities:

What We Did

The strategy was designed to ensure we didn’t waste the sales team’s time, so our focus was acquiring highly qualified web traffic and leads. It took the in-house team’s strengths into account and made the most of the resource they had, whilst we simultaneously worked with them to fulfil the activity we were delivering and reporting on our KPIs and targets in line with theirs. 

There was a focus on short-lead generation alongside long-term brand building to deliver leads in the short term but also develop longer term brand positions that could be supported organically (and allow them to reduce their agency and advertising spend). 

An important part of the campaign’s success lay on planning and managing large-scale, multi-channel engagement campaigns every three months to regularly have new, exciting, interesting and engaging content for our audiences and campaigns. One of those campaigns was a Road Show with a Marilyn Monroe lookalike to promote Madame Tussauds. Running alongside that was ongoing seasonal brand messaging and sales, with ad and product messaging targeted to different audience segments. 

In Numbers

An additional 9,959 qualified website visitors as a direct result of our advertising campaigns
Over 1.6 million ad impressions over all platforms
A campaign record advert click-through-rate of 67.3%
A 253% increase in contacts and enquiries tracked through the website

The Results

The year we worked together Merlin Venues hit (well exceeded, actually) their income targets for the first time in seven years. At every step of the way we reported against the KPIs and targets laid out in our original forecast so through the year Merlin had absolute confidence we were on the right track to reaching their goals. 

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