Internet Marketing Class Helps Out Hemker Park and Zoo

Posted by on December 17, 2014

What can a zoo do with internet marketing? Plenty, as it turns out.

“This quarter, my Internet Marketing class put together an internet marketing plan for the Hemker Zoo. The project started out with a site visit to introduce the students to the community partner and get them familiar with the zoo and their needs. Next, we explored the course objectives and applied them to an internet marketing strategy when they were relevant to the Hemker Zoo,” said Frank Ayers, business/math instructor at the Minnesota School of Business-St. Cloud campus.

This zoo is located in Freeport, Minn., a “charming town,” said Julie Jackson, business student.

“The class has been helping the zoo boost their online status and giving them tips on internet marketing. One of the main areas of internet marketing the class focused on for the zoo was search engine optimization. A big help with the search engine optimization was Facebook,” Jackson said.

One assignment involved boosting the zoo’s “likes” on Facebook. They were assigned to each get 60 new likes on the Hemker Park and Zoo Facebook page. Through this they were able to rise that page up in the search results on Google and Bing. There had been a negative review that displayed high in the results, so the goal was to push the review down on the page. Success was achieved, but with the nature of internet searching, the results didn’t last. It would be up to Hemker Zoo to continue the drive to reach its marketing goal. 

“One of our tasks was to try and optimize their search engine optimization. We did this by trying to define the target market, find out what they search for, and develop a search strategy. We tried to find keywords and phrases that people would use to search for something like Hemker Park and Zoo. Part of this activity was to walk around campus and ask the different students and faculty what key words they would use for a family outing. Another way that we tried to accomplish this task was to drive Facebook likes,” said Chris Wilson, business student.

Another recommendation to the zoo was trying “pay-per-click” (PPC), or paid advertising. This involves text ads targeted to keyword search results on search engines, through programs such as Google AdWords.

The paid aspect of search engine marketing is based on an advertising model under which firms seeking to rank high in specific search categories will bid on certain terms, or “keywords,” in the hopes of a lucrative search ranking. A lucrative ranking is one that makes money for the firm and is not necessarily the number one or two spot on the page. Sometimes a number two or three spot will be just as profitable for the firm. Since the zoo has many family-orientated competitors in the surrounding areas, PPC would benefit them greatly. Most of these attractions do not have keyword bidding on any of their pages. The zoo could bid as low as one cent to be shown every time any of these attractions are Googled, according to Gemma Lara.

On the final day of class, Heidi Roering and Jacqueline Poepping from the Hemker Zoo were on campus and the students presented to them their findings. Their final report included steps and techniques they used. They also created YouTube videos that explained the process. Heidi and Jacqueline were very excited with what the students presented and look forward to adjusting their marketing strategy.

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