How Kampgrounds of America Localized Their Email Marketing Strategy
Kampgrounds of America, or KOA, has been offering a unique camping experience to families across North America for the last 50 years. Since its start in 1962, KOA has grown to over 475 campgrounds and 60,000 sites in the US and Canada. “As a franchisor, our job is to provide national marketing on a brand level while still giving franchisees the tools and training they need to grow and attract new customers locally,” explains Polly Mulvaney, Director of Marketing Services for KOA. “There has always been a pent up demand for more affordable marketing services.”
“We were familiar with Constant Contact but didn’t realize that a program exclusively for franchises existed,” says Polly. “What we found when we did some research was that the partnership with Constant Contact would have everything we were looking for—an affordable product with the education, training, and support to back it up.”
KOA officially launched its partnership with Constant Contact in April 2012, after a successful test phase which included 15 of its franchise locations. Within the first six months of marketing this program, 66 of its franchisees had set up accounts to send email communications to their existing and prospective campers.
In addition to finding an email marketing partner that provided its franchisees with a tool to help reach new campers and strengthen ties with returning visitors, KOA has been able to overcome some of their biggest marketing challenges, both at the franchisor and franchisee level, since partnering with Constant Contact.
Mastering communication and awareness
As a franchisor, Polly says that awareness and communication are always one of the biggest challenges of KOA.
“With Constant Contact, there’s no reason why all of our franchisees shouldn’t be taking advantage of using email marketing,” Polly explains. “The biggest challenge is always communicating that message to our locations.”
To help KOA and its more than 475 franchisees get started with email marketing, Constant Contact put together a custom marketing plan that would reach all of the locations across North America. Through email communications, custom online training, and personal coaching by phone, Constant Contact is able to help each individual location to upload their list of contacts and to send a professional and effective email campaign.
Prior to KOA’s 50th Annual National Convention, the Home Office provided Constant Contact the attendee list in order to set up a free trial for each campground owner. This enabled Constant Contact to co-promote a dedicated Email Marketing panel discussion at the event, and to meet with interested attendees and show them how to access their free accounts and preview the new KOA email templates.
Maintaining a brand in the marketing wilderness
With locations across the US and Canada offering varied and unique experiences to all who stay at their sites, KOA was looking for a way to offer local marketing without undermining their national branding.
“It’s crucial to us that we’re able to protect the integrity of our brand while also offering our franchisees the flexibility to speak to their audience,” says Polly.
To help KOA maintain the brand that so many campers have come to recognize, Polly worked with Constant Contact to develop custom templates designed specifically to meet the needs of KOA.
“For us, the templates are a way to not only control our brand, but also to make it as easy as possible for people to create and send emails,” Polly explains. “The home office offers templates for those that declare themselves as less tech-savvy, or just want this done for them, as well as those with a bit more technical experience, who may want to customize more of the message.”
In 2013 alone, KOA’s franchisees have communicated with close to 1.5 million customers, with a 47% average open rate and 16.7% average open rate, and the success stories have been trickling in! One of those stories came from Aaron Williamson, owner of Lake Conroe KOA in Montgomery, Texas. One of the biggest weekends of his first season using email marketing, Aaron saw revenue increase by $7,300 over the previous year.
Alec Stern, Founding Team & VP Strategic Development
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