Insight/Action/Outcome: In Amplitude, the digital product team saw that paid search advertising sent visitors directly to a brochure module at the very bottom of a long-format landing page. It performed well, but the digital product team noticed those who completed the lead form were less likely to explore a specific expedition or product and continue further down the funnel. In contrast, the people who landed at the top of the page were less likely to become a formal lead but were more likely to browse particular products and expeditions. With this insight in mind, the team designed a new version of the destination landing page; this change impacted a 14% uptick in expedition click-through rates.
Even in our digital age, brochures are effective. When filled with evocative copy and gorgeous imagery, they inspire people. And when the brochure contains stunning photos of the world’s most difficult-to-reach destinations, they want to see these places themselves. But as Lindblad Expeditions sailed further into the 21st century, it became clear that we needed to elevate our digital capabilities as well.
Exploring a new digital landscape
Before the pandemic, Lindblad had begun a broad digital transformation, investing in digital across the business. This initiative spanned all areas, from marketing to our booking and reservation systems to our fleet of ships, purpose-built for exploring the world’s most remote areas. As travel restrictions lifted, we surged ahead with fresh enthusiasm.
I came into Lindblad Expeditions tasked with rolling out a new marketing tech stack, collaborating with a talented internal team as well as digital transformation agency Gangverk to complete that objective. We were looking for digital-forward tools that would enable us to optimize the buying experience for our site visitors and, ultimately, sell more expeditions.
Our website must make prospective travelers so excited about our travel opportunities that they will share their information with us and request a brochure. We want to make that experience easier while ensuring the people requesting brochures are those most likely to travel. The right platform would show us what drives people to request brochures and then dig into the steps in those funnels to understand how we can improve and enhance them.
Finding a more advanced MarTech stack
Our previous systems, Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, relied on legacy events for specific integrations, and sometimes they would tell slightly different stories. Managing and maintaining all those legacy events and integrations took a lot of work, so we were looking for a way to streamline and automate.
But we didn’t want one tool that did everything. Segment is the connective tissue running through our web stack, and we wanted our other MarTech components to be best-in-breed tools that integrated beautifully with Segment and each other. Amplitude Analytics stood out because it was everything we were looking for. It did data analysis exceptionally well, and compared to Google Analytics, we could get more granular insights.
Everything in our stack now is very complementary. We now have one source of truth for managing our first-party customer data across the website, which we then leverage in downstream systems like Amplitude.
An easy-to-use interface quickly entices people to explore, gather insights, and become comfortable manipulating data for their specific use case.
We had a good idea of what we wanted to track—everything from lead form conversion to reservation requests—and we were able to start using that data on day one with Amplitude. The short onboarding time impacted adoption, too. I had previous experience with Amplitude, so I knew how much an easy-to-use interface quickly entices people to explore, gather insights, and become comfortable manipulating data for their specific use case. Within a couple of months, we had even trained a few team leaders from other business units on the platform. Not only did they become self-sufficient, but they could perform pretty sophisticated analyses and continued to upskill independently.
A surprising insight into visitor behavior results in a 14% uptick in clickthroughs
One of the primary ways we use Amplitude is to dig into our funnels and understand more about how and why drop-offs occur. Combined with the other solutions in our tech stack—including FullStory, which provides heat maps and session recording, and Optimizely, which we use for A/B tests—we can get a complete picture of the data and analyze the results of our experiments.
My go-to feature in Amplitude is funnel analysis. Every business requires getting people from discovery to consideration to purchase. With Amplitude, we can tap into that funnel quickly and understand what’s happening, what’s working, and what’s not. As we optimize our product and landing pages, we use funnel analysis to see how the new iteration compares to the old version.
We can also use Amplitude to split out behaviors using variables like mobile vs. desktop or Android vs. iOS. We might discover that while we’re achieving our goals for a new page, we’re underperforming for a particular device type or category. That’s an opportunity for us to turn to FullStory or run an A/B test and understand how we can make an improvement that improves the experience for all of our users, not just those on a particular device.
We’ve had several “Aha” moments when using Amplitude, including one involving our destination landing pages. During our analysis, we realized that some of our paid search advertising sent people directly to a brochure module at the bottom of a long-format landing page. It performed well—people shared their information and became a lead.
But we also noticed that those who completed the lead form were less likely to explore a specific expedition or product and continue further down the funnel, whereas the people who landed at the top of the page were less likely to become a lead but were more likely to view particular products and expeditions. We kept this insight in mind as we started designing a new version of our destination landing page. We wanted to ensure that no matter where someone landed, it would be easy to find an expedition that might interest them.
Our preliminary results for the page are promising. We’re seeing a 14% uptick in our expedition click-throughs, our primary metric. While we’re flat on our lead form conversion, our goal for this test was to do no harm, so it’s notable that we’re not losing any leads while also fulfilling the purpose of this page: presenting new expeditions for people to explore.
A robust feature set appeals to teams across the organization
My digital product team uses Amplitude to understand how we can improve the customer journey on the site and make it more likely that visitors will become guests. Our editorial, search, and analytics teams all use Amplitude daily. The analytics team especially relies on Amplitude to better understand what types of advertising are most successful or relevant for certain types of conversion.
For example, social media is an important channel for building top-of-funnel awareness. While it drives some lead capture, it’s not great for driving bookings—especially compared to paid search. Our advertising team and analytics and insights team use Amplitude to understand the conversion value or likelihood of converting and booking rates among social media users. With Amplitude, we can answer questions like, “If someone comes to our website from social media and then finds us again through paid or organic search, are they more or less likely to book than somebody who comes to the site directly?” Without Amplitude, a question like this would be incredibly difficult to answer.
There are so many things to love about Amplitude, including:
- Ad-hoc insights. When I have a question about a relationship between two forms on the site and people’s behavior with those forms, I can get an answer in less than 30 seconds.
- Automatic alerts. We launched a new variant of our booking flow specifically for travel advisors. We didn’t anticipate it would generate a lot of traffic, but we wanted to stay on top of the bookings that did occur via this route. By setting up an alert, I know immediately when this type of booking occurs so I can connect with the sales team to learn more.
- Authentication management. When we introduced a new email verification step, we needed to understand its impact on our users. Not only do we have dashboards that let me access that information quickly, but I can also be alerted if the rate of drop-offs at the email verification stage hits a certain threshold.
- Strong governance. We can clearly define our metrics, events, and properties in Amplitude Data. One of the reasons people can start getting value out of Amplitude immediately is that our whole taxonomy is there in black and white, so people don’t have to contact me or someone on my team to ask, “What does this event mean?” We already have it defined and very clearly labeled in Amplitude.
Following the digital patterns of our visitors
Even though we’ve embraced digital, we don’t intend for our website to replace our brochures. They remain an important selling tool, and our goal is to build an experience that complements our brochures. But our time horizon—the timeline people follow from discovery to booking—is quite long, and there’s a lot to consider: Where do they want to go? Who do they want to travel with? When do they want to travel? During this time, people often access our site through several different channels. They might see one of our ads or social media posts or search for us repeatedly.
We see people engaging with brochures as a promising sign, and we want them to continue learning what we do at various destinations. We want them to click through our maps and understand day-to-day life on a specific voyage. We want them to engage our image carousels with our incredible photographs from hard-to-reach destinations. Amplitude gives us a much better understanding of what these patterns look like.
Understanding digital behavior in real time maximizes our effectiveness and helps as many people as possible explore the world.
For Lindblad Expeditions, the value of Amplitude is self-evident, mainly because of the speed with which we can reach insights and answer questions about our audience. Amplitude has paid for itself; it's unlocked capabilities we never had before as a company, leading to increased bookings and conversions. Understanding digital behavior in real time maximizes our effectiveness and helps as many people as possible explore the world.