Social media, breadth-taking photography and content will be at the heart of the newly revitalised Ireland.com website which Tourism Ireland acquired from The Irish Times in recent months under a digital co-operation deal worth €495,000. The new site will launch mid-December.
The new site will go live in time for January 2013 and will appear in 11 different language versions for more than 30 individual markets worldwide.
The site has been completely redeveloped and will centre on content aimed at inspiring overseas visitors to come to Ireland.
The Irish Times was one of the first 30 newspapers in the world to go online in 1994. The Ireland.com domain name was bought by The Irish Times in 1997 and in 1999 it became the flagship address for The Irish Times online until 2008.
The Irish Times sold the Ireland.com domain to Tourism Ireland in a digital co-operation deal worth €495,000.
The Ireland.com domain name will in effect become the mothership for Tourism Ireland’s entire suite of web properties, which currently attract 12m visitors.
Earlier today, Tourism Ireland revealed its 2013 marketing plans which aim to see visitor numbers to the island of Ireland increase by 5pc to 7.6m.
This increase will contribute €3.7bn to the economies of Ireland, North and South, up 6pc on last year.
Mobile first initiative by Tourism Ireland
Tourism Ireland’s central marketing director Mark Henry told Siliconrepublic.com that the new Ireland.com domain and website enabled the tourism body to do a top-to-bottom refresh of its online marketing efforts.
“The idea is to be inspirational and hook interest in Ireland. Content is at the heart of this and we are shifting to a dynamic editorial approach.
“In a way, Ireland.com will be an online magazine about Ireland with three or four articles every week linked to people’s passions and interests. We will systematically target consumer interests where Ireland has an offering with relevant content.”
Henry explained that the database-driven approach of the past will be harnessed around the new content-driven approach which will also make use of search engine optimisation and social media.
“Several years ago there was no social media, YouTube or broadband so we needed to do a roots-up redevelopment.”
The strong use of photographic imagery will be apparent through the newly designed Ireland.com.
“Every element of the site will be shareable across social. Large imagery will underpin every page.”
Henry said that 60pc of traffic to the existing Tourism Ireland blog comes from Facebook and the ambition is to drive similar levels of social engagement throughout the newly launched Ireland.com.
Henry said Tourism Ireland has more than 1.5m fans on Facebook and 1.1m followers on Twitter. The new Ireland.com site will have social logins for users of most social networks.
“Our research indicates that since becoming a fan, an individual is 65pc more likely to come on holiday to Ireland.”
A key aspect of the redesign of Tourism Ireland is that it was done from a mobile-first perspective, or a ‘touch first’ perspective as it was known internally at Tourism Ireland.
“The idea is that more people will be accessing content by mobile than via a desktop and we wanted the site to be smartphone and tablet-friendly.
“The site has been designed to adhere to swiping principles and the design combined with social integration, the URL and more will be a sweet spot for us in terms of generating word-of-mouth.”
The new site will also make liberal use of video as part of the strategy Henry sums up as “information leading to inspiration.”
He said: “People might be watching Rory McIlroy’s golfing victories on their TV or reading about it online and they can come to Ireland.com to learn more about his background and homelands and every page on the site will have links to offers and the ability to convert the visitor’s interest into a holiday.”
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