Website and marketing efforts to publicize the trails along the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor in eastern Pennsylvania.
Five counties, four industrial cities, three rivers, two canals, one National Heritage Corridor, and over 103,000 absolute unique website visitors viewed over 423,000 website pages on the Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, Inc. website from June 2009 through June 2010.
When researching website usage on Google Analytics, it’s no surprise that the “Things to Do” Index page is the highest viewed webpage with over 26,500 page views during the June 2009-June 2010 timeframe. The D&L prides itself in the rich content and information provided for the many local partnerships we enjoy with the communities and organizations along the 165 mile stretch of trail.
The D&L Trail follows the route that anthracite coal took from mine to market. It winds through northern mountains and along the banks of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers through northeast Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley and through Bucks County. The D&L Trail passes through towns, industrial powerhouses and along remnants of the Lehigh and Delaware canals. This earthen path exposes walkers, hikers, bicyclists and others to some of Pennsylvania's finest wild lands, waterfalls, wildflowers and wildlife.
In addition, information regarding recreational, educational, and other various tourism activities are provided for over 23 towns along the D&L Trail. If you’re looking for an afternoon festival or a hiking, biking or boating excursion, the D&L website will give you the facts you need, and, a map to get you there!
Also included in the top five landing pages viewed is the “D&L Trail” page which includes information regarding trail sections and current status. Over 9,000 people were interested in finding out more information about the trail including updates on construction and future trail development. Visitors are looking to the D&L NHC for up to date, accurate information on the trail and they are using the D&L’s website to get it.
Another popular spot on the website is the D&L’s Photo Gallery. In 2009, the D&L hosted their first photo contest, “Reflections of the D&L.” Winning entries as well as other submissions are posted on the website. Interestingly, 9.5% of all visitors to the site view the photo gallery page with over 8,000 unique viewers from June 2009 to June 2010.
The website is funded through an ongoing collaboration of the Bucks County Conference & Visitors Bureau, Lehigh Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, Luzerne County Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. These partnerships have resulted in an integrated marketing strategy highlighted by the D&L NHC’s website, brochures, print advertisement, social networking, and video production. By pooling financial resources, leveraging some of the Commonwealth’s best tourism talent pool, and tapping into the PA Department of Community and Economic Development’s tourism program, each CVB has helped the D&L promote community, heritage and trail-based regional tourism.
The high number of visitors to the website is by no means a coincidence or accidental. Many staff hours are spent reviewing website content and layout, and developing E-News blasts and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The D&L Blog has also seen a large number of visitors with entries including up to date press releases and event information as well as human interest stories, such as “A Beer Drinkers Guide to the Corridor.” Almost 11% of website visitors are sent from reciprocal relationship websites and social networking sites.
Paid website marketing has also proven a successful tool when used with other marketing techniques to drive additional visitors to the site. In August 2009, the D&L saw over 19,000 unique visitors in just one month using a pay per click email advertising campaign.
Due to the current economic environment, more and more people are planning "staycations" or "one-tank vacations." With the high price of fuel and airline tickets, day trips to local parks, museums and festivals have become very popular. The D&L has successfully raised awareness of the diversity of trail and vacation opportunities for its residents within close proximity to home. The "Road Trip" section of the website allows a visitor to find the sites they wish to visit, add them to their trip, and then provides round trip directions. In promoting local tourism opportunities, the D&L provides the added benefit of boosting the local economies.
Finally, the D&L’s website provides information on becoming a volunteer, important resources and documents and community programs and grant information. Volunteerism is key to the long-term sustainability of the D&L Trail.
The Delaware & Lehigh National Heritage Corridor’s mission is to foster stewardship of historical, cultural and natural resources along the early canal and railroad systems that carried anthracite coal from mine to market in eastern Pennsylvania. The D&L’s website is a one-stop resource that provides the public with the information they need to appreciate, experience and share in the bounty the corridor has to offer.