How we reduced Wilderness North’s ad costs by 80%

Interview with Krista Cheeseman, owner of WILDERNESS NORTH:

Q: Hi Krista, first could you tell us a little bit about your business?

We operate a fly-in fishing and adventure business in northern Ontario. It’s a family owned business, now in our 25th year. We run the largest network of fishing lodges and outpost cabins in northern Ontario with our own fleet of floatplanes to bring guests out to the lodges. We’ve got a pretty broad audience: serious anglers who come out every year, families, small and large groups, corporate groups and so on.

Q: 25 years! How have you seen digital marketing change over the years?

About half of our business comes from online and that number is growing each year. We’ve got a loyal base of customers who come back every year, but we’re always trying to find ways to get new people interested in what we do.

It feels like we’ve tried every tool in the box. We used to spend a lot of money on SEO but we never really knew what was going on or if it was doing any good. After that we tried a lot of social media, also things like blogging, video, Instagram and so on. And we’ve spent a fortune on Adwords over the years, sometimes doing it ourselves sometimes with agencies. We never had a great handle on if or how it was working.

The biggest problem has always been getting our heads around what’s going on and what impact it’s having. It always feels like you’re just shooting in the dark, which is frustrating because everything is supposed to be so much more measurable these days.

Q: How has Horizon Guides made a difference?

The main difference is how simple and easy they make it. They do the things we can’t do, like creating this cool guide and driving all the traffic. And they bring the leads to us like clockwork. They also make it super easy to use the new leads in our email newsletters and our remarketing, and show us how much actual impact it’s having. It feels like taking a big burden off our shoulders.

Q: What have the results looked like?

When we started out with Horizon we were spending around $150 per lead on Google Adwords. Now it’s something like $18 per lead. But here’s the other thing: the quality has shot right up too. We get more enquiries when usually it’s slow and the booking rates from our website leads is noticeably higher. We’ve had to figure out new systems in the office to deal with them all!