Customer Journeys do not only run the online route, nor is online always the final destination. The journey sometimes jumps from offline to online, and to offline again. The trick is not to lose the potentially interested customer along the way. But how do you keep him or her on your path? That question was asked by staatsbosbeheer.
Staatsbosbeheer, the Dutch Forestry Commission, manages nature, continuously working to develop the most beautiful nature experiences. They do this by, among other things, plotting hiking trails in nature reserves. These can of course be found on staatsbosbeheer.nl. The Recreation team at Staatsbosbeheer asked Bohemia Amsterdam to increase the number of walks.
Increasing the number of walks is a difficult goal to measure. That is why we chose increasing the number of pdf downloads of walking routes as the Key Performance Indicator (KPI). Someone who downloads a pdf of a walking route is 99% sure to walk this route. Ok, 90% is good, too.
Bohemia Amsterdam starts an assignment like this by mapping out the current state of affairs. What is happening online? What does the competitor do? What happens on the Staatsbosbeheer site? These facts provide guidance for developing a well founded strategy.
A02a Keyword Analysis
A keyword analysis provides insight into how much people search for certain words and word combinations. We do not only look for keywords with a high search volume - relevance and difficulty are just as important. We can create or optimise content around the keywords so that we can be found here organically. Keywords are subdivided into Brand keywords (brand- or product-related), Sector keywords (words used in the industry) and Content keywords (suitable- or already used to create content).
What story does search volume tell in walking country?
Walking is deeply rooted in Dutch culture. With over 6.5 million frequent walkers, we truly walk the walk in our country. You can see this foot passion reflected in the search behavior; there are more than 8,000 searches queries for walking per month.
"Staatsbosbeheer" is searched for, on average, 15,000 times. Of course, during current news coverage this multiplies. This is a relatively large amount, even without the extra attention. However, competitors such as Natuurmonumenten are searched for more frequently. For the keyword "Staatsbosbeheer" an average of 1 euro is paid in Adwords. Competitors and others therefore have an interest in being found via their own brand name.
Testing keyword combinations provides (surprising) answers.
Keywords are often entered in clusters of two or three. For example: “Walking in Limburg.” When one wants to take a walk, a search is often made in combination with a location. Our analysis shows that walkers search by region. However, Staatsbosbeheer linked the walks to nature reserves. This lead to a delay in being found. We can explain these and other conclusions verbally in more detail.
How does the competitor do it?
A02b Online competition check
To get an idea of how well or how moderately you perform, you sometimes have to take a look around. Content must be legitimate, relevant and interesting, only then will the visitors stay with you. This analysis looks at the impact and type of content per channel. The content is assessed based on tone-of-voice, consistency, and to what extent it is in line with the brand, compared to two competitors. Do not immediately compare yourself with a giant like Apple but with a direct competitor in the same industry, with the same goal, and more or less the same target group.
We compared the Staatsbosbeheer with Natuurmonumenten and the British National Trust.
The most remarkable points:
• 60% of users visit the site on their mobile phone or tablet. Staatsbosbeheer has no app where you can follow routes; Natuurmonumenten does do that and adds interactive features such as audio tours. They try to make a connection between digital and the real (natural) world.
• Staatsbosbeheer scores points by putting its forest rangers in the spotlight. Natuurmonumenten is hesitant about this, while National Trust is missing this altogether. The forest rangers are authentic and have authority.
• Staatsbosbeheer is the only party that blogs through the forest rangers. 24 forest ranger blogs with more than 5,000 followers. Not all blogs are equally popular.
• National Trust produces a lot of current content ("50 things to do in the summer", "Top 10 family walks", etc.) but does not do so in the form of a blog. This content is distributed throughout the website.
• The social media of Staatsbosbeheer is well set up and has a high number of followers. We must note that the competitors generally have more followers. Both Staatsbosbeheer and the competitors do not link to walking routes in their social media content. National Trust also uses social media for recruiting members.
Which technical obstacles stand in the way of a top Google ranking?
A03b Technical SEO
A good site is important so that search engines can find the website, read it well and evaluate it. In addition to using the right keywords and keyword combinations, technical optimisation is also required. If Google does not 'read' the page properly, it will not be indexed properly, either.
• Use the right keywords in the content as naturally as possible.
Google also monitors how long visitors stay on the page. An easy to solve "technical obstacle" is the loading time per page. The mobile visit to staatsbosbeheer.nl is above average. Large hero images, which are the same for Desktop and Mobile, take longer to load and lead to a higher bounce rate. In the end, this delay leads to a write-off from Google.
How does the current hiker experience the quest for the perfect walk?
A03c User Experience
User Experience (UX) is the process of improving user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and enjoyment of interaction with the product.
The walker quickly got lost on the website we started with. The walks did not have their own pages. To encourage the indexing of individual walks, we advised to make progress with the development of a page per per walk.
On these pages, the structure of titles, headers and sub-headers must be properly adjusted so that the pages are properly indexed. Clear routes must be presented together with additional information and filter options on, for example, something as simple as distance.
Make a distinction between buttons.
You can let the User make choices in favour of your goal. For example, by not giving all buttons the same color or weight. Bright green and slightly larger buttons are clicked earlier than light blue smaller buttons. In this way, you easily increase the chance of a better conversion. You send the visitor, as it were, to your goal. So if your goal is to get newsletter subscribers, feel free to make this button a little bigger and position it so it's always visible.
How do you decide where to go for a walk?
A04 Customer journey map
You usually create a Customer Journey Map at the start of the assignment to map out all positive and negative experiences. These help you systematically uncover all the weak links in the journey without missing the forest for the trees.
Suppose you are a walker. How do you decide where to go for a walk? We have mapped this trip. This has, of course, been an imaginary process. We have not done a survey among walkers.
It is Saturday afternoon. Tomorrow the weather will be beautiful; it's going to be slightly cloudy and dry. You think about calling your walking buddy. You ring him up and ask whether he still knows a new place. He has heard of a walking route in the South of Drenthe. Unfortunately, the name of the trail eludes him. It would be something of about 9 km. A bit short for a good walk but ok.
You go online and search for a walking route in Drenthe of 9 km. You come across Staatsbosbeheer and find a route of 9 km called 'Balloërveld'. You click.
A lot of information canbe found on the site. There's also a download button.
Once downloaded, you open the pdf to find the most important parts of information on the site. You can also see how to get there.
Sunday afternoon is the day. You drive to the Balloërveld with your walking buddy. At the indicated location, you will find the starting pole with the QR code.
You scan the code because you don't do something like this every day. You will receive the pdf again but now on your mobile.
The walk can begin.
A05 Management summary
In larger teams and clients with multiple teams such as Staatsbosbeheer, we always work with two final presentation levels. One is comprehensive with all the conclusions and recommendations for the team that works with them hands-on, such as the communication department. The other presentation is for management and is set up in such a way that they can retell it themselves; it is a clear story without much jargon, in manageable chunks. After approval of the points of interest from the management summary, we enter the strategy phase.
The highlights from the management summary:
Staatsbosbeheer has a lot of reach through a variety of online and offline channels, this provides the website with more than 200,000 website sessions per month. However, Staatsbosbeheer is not found properly on Google, partly because routes do not have their own page and there is insufficient content for walking routes.
There are virtually no capture options on the website, one can only register for the newsletter. As a result, Staatsbosbeheer misses out on opportunities to build a relationship with the walker.
Social media is being used actively and properly. The general newsletter is also sent out regularly, but does not focus only on walking routes.
90% of the walking routes do not have a downloadable.
S02 Buyer personas
A clear picture of your buyer persona helps you in almost everything. From product development to offering the perfect proposition, you need to know who your Buyer Persona is.
A Buyer Persona (BP) is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about existing customers. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider incorporating customer demographics, behavioural patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
The main focus of the buyer persona is to map their pain points. What keeps them awake at night and what do they get out of bed for?
Wil and Wouter want to Walk
Staatsbosbeheer uses four buyer personas; Kevin, Mariska, Wil and Wouter. These have been developed by Ralph Poldervaart, (personacompany.com)
Of the four buyer personas, Wil and Wouter are the ones truly passionate about walking. For this reason we used attractive alliteration: Wil and Wouter want to walk. It's as simple as that. We want to focus on the target group and the message.
Our dear Wil
Wil really likes to walk, get a breath of fresh air and marvel at what nature has to offer. For her walks, she sometimes takes the car and sometimes her bicycle. Once she's arrived, she walks around 5 km easily with her partner or girlfriends. She wants to experience nature. She likes to learn and experience things.
She prefers to walk in areas that are well maintained, passing ancient domains with large beech trees or walking along water mills and dolmens. When she sees an information sign, she will read it in detail.
Wil likes to sit down once in a while and really take in the natural surroundings. She has sandwiches and a thermos with coffee in her backpack. Before she goes home, she has another iced tea at the wishing well, and then she's had a perfect Sunday afternoon.
When she is looking for a new route, she finds it important to know whether it can be reached easily, whether there are facilities, and what there is to see and do.
Wouter the Wanderer
Wouter is a true walker and nature lover. He goes for real hiking: 10 km or more, through rugged nature, and hopes to encounter as few other humans as possible. He prefers to go out when it is less busy.
He finds nature the most beautiful thing there is - unspoiled areas, changing seasons, special flowers, and wild animals. For him, that is nature. "In the great outdoors I can really recharge."
Occasionally he searches the internet for new interesting nature areas to discover, but often returns to his own familiar walking environment. Before he goes, he first wants to know whether it is not too popular, if it is far enough from urban areas, and whether there is enough to see.
Flora, Fauna, and Forest Ranger Paths.
A strategy must have one central message. Wil and Wouter, the most important buyer personas for walking, should embody this message for Staatsbosbeheer.
Wil and Wouter want the perfect walking route (A) of that moment (B) in nature.
A) What is the perfect walking route?
The perfect walking route obviously varies per person. In May, for example, Wil is looking for a short 5 km walk with lots of rhododendrons, while Wouter can walk for hours to spot the first small Eurasian reed warbler of the year. The perfect walking route does not exist. However, Staatsbosbeheer boasts so many choices that there is a perfect route for every Wil and Wouter. We divided the interpretation of ‘perfect’ into five themes so that we have something for everyone: Animals, Leaves, Flowers, Streams, and Places of Interest. These themes help us classify the walking routes and to make it easier for W&W to choose their perfect walk.
B) When is it that moment, then?
That moment of walking is determined by four factors: the day of the week, the weather, the season, and the news.
The analysis phase showed that there is a great demand for walking routes on Sunday morning on Staatsbosbeheer, though in combination with a quick glance out the window. "It must stay dry." We must use that momentum. For example, responding the day before to the expectation that tomorrow will be beautiful walking weather, walking will become top-of-mind faster. Wil and Wouter already have a latent need to go outside.
Make use of the unique power of Staatsbosbeheer: The Forest Ranger.
We see that these paths where the simple goal (walking in the countryside) and the end result (walking in the countryside) have become a resounding success. Staatsbosbeheer is the only one that can claim that all their paths have been selected and maintained by a forest ranger. The local forest ranger knows where the nicest places are, where the animals roam about, and where it is quiet. He or she knows their way around their own forest like no other. Maybe he/she even has a secret walk to share that is only open during a limited time period.
Based on this, we devised the 'Boswachterspad' or Forest Ranger Trail. A forest ranger's trail is unique, quiet, beautiful, green, animal-rich, flowery, special, and selected by the forest ranger. This is a route you definitely want to walk. You can get away from all the hustle and bustle, and you know this walk was really selected by the forest ranger.
The name's simplicity may remind some of extremely clear-cut campaigns, such as the Me-Too strategy. That's okay. The advantage is that we don't have to explain anything. Just like a a simple hashtag, the name says it all: A Forest Ranger's Trail is the path of the forest ranger.
The KPIs as a success meter
A Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is a measurable value that demonstrates how effective the sales funnel is. You use Key Performance Indicators to evaluate the success in achieving goals.
KPIs are always SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In addition to the four most important KPIs, Bohemia defines a number of KPIs to see how the different touchpoints perform.
We use the following KPIs for Staatsbosbeheer:
# of users who visit a page with 'route' in the URL
# of visitors who sign up for the newsletter
% of returning visitors
# visitors who download a walking route
The map of resources and contact moments
The McDonalds logo, the opinion of a correspondent, Bob's newsletter; these are all touchpoints. Even the smell in Starbucks is a touchpoint. In other words: Touchpoints are more than websites, banners, or newspaper advertisements.
The difference between Owned, Paid, and Earned.
Owned media is when you use a channel that you manage.
Paid are when you pay to use a third-party channel.
Earned media are when customers, the press, or the public voluntarily share your content without being paid for it.
The role of all touchpoints that support the sales funnel is described. The approach to each touchpoint is explained per level in the funnel (attract, capture, nurture, close). It is always indicated for which buyer persona it is relevant and which frequency is desired.
How do you add a product without changing the brand?
C02 Communication Concept
The Staatsbosbeheer brand cannot be monitored if a new identity is developed for each and every product or service. After embracing the strategy, Bohemia was instructed: Forest Ranger Trails YES. New identity NO.
There is no room within the identity of Staatsbosbeheer to develop a new identity or brand extension. Nevertheless, it is desirable to give the forest ranger trails some form of recognition. We have chosen to give this product a vignette, a kind of symbol of approval. Furthermore, the trails were given their own color on the site and a QR code on location.
How do you translate Wil and Wouter’s wishes into product development?
The most important bridge between the abstract holistic theme as it is stated in the strategy and its implementation are the User Stories.
P01 User Stories
A user story is a short description of what a user wants. User stories are widely used in digital product development such as games and applications. Bohemia Amsterdam employs User Stories to be able to define where and what the "user" expects within the customer journey based on the buyer persona.
To give an example: Wil and Wouter find the website of Staatsbosbeheer based on the keywords "walking" and "South Limburg". On the landing page they want to be able to see immediately how long the route is (Wouter) and its difficulty level (Wil).
A user story could then be:
As Wouter, I want to know how long the walk is so I can estimate whether I will be out and about for long enough.
As Wil, I want to know how difficult the walk is so that I can determine whether my walking buddies can handle the route.
With user stories we can define content and develop design adjustments and functionalities. The detailed User Stories for Staatsbosbeheer led to User Experience improvements, better information available on the site, and communication and campaign ideas. Staatsbosbeheer has implemented many of these ideas with its internal communication department.
Walkers talking the talk.
P09 Referral Marketing
Hiking is a real hobby in the Netherlands with many fans and followers. Wil and Wouter like to read about where the better paths are. So there is also a very active group of bloggers who regularly publish walks and hiking experiences. One of the components for the launch of the Boswachterspaden is to have this group blog about the new routes. This is a form of paid media that leads to earned media.
The flexible route.
The Boswachterspaden are the only walking routes that are solely marked with a starting post. There are no fixed white plates with yellow, red, or blue markings here. The walking routes start at a pole with a QR code. The forest ranger can change the route with one touch on the <save> button if he/she so desires. The forest ranger's reason for this change can vary from flora or fauna protection to more beautiful seasonal views emerging, such as flowering heather or changing autumn colors.
Staatsbosbeheer wants more people to walk on their walking routes. To create interest for their buyer personas, Wil and Wouter, to walk off the beaten track, flexibility is required. The challenge in the Netherlands is the mass of people who wish to walk without encountering too many other people. The highlights of Dutch walking pleasure may be threatened by the large numbers of daily visitors. Bohemia Amsterdam has intentionally sought out a way to guide the walker based on their search behaviour.
A few insights:
- Walkers google differently per region. The use of words in search behaviour varies.
- Real walkers come in two flavours: Our Wil, who likes to get a breath of fresh air and cares about some company, can easily walk 5 km. Our Wouter, who prefers to go out alone to cover at least 12 km to capture that one special butterfly, prioritises distance and special characteristics.
- Less popular walking areas can be interesting for Wil and Wouter.
- Wil and Wouter trust the Forest Ranger.