Think Iowa City

Meld has been a strategic digital marketing partner to The Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), or Think Iowa City, since 2022. Their initial ask: find better ways to drive visitors to stay at Iowa City and Johnson County hotels via digital marketing efforts. Together, Think Iowa City and Meld are in the unique position of being able to promote the state’s only Big Ten college town, a place where arts, entertainment, culture, and athletics draw people from around the world. It’s an exciting place to be, and an exciting place to market.

The overarching mission is to drive visitors, meetings, groups, and events to Iowa City and Johnson County. But Think Iowa City wanted a partner with deep digital expertise who could help reach new audiences, amplify current audiences, and drive stronger results. The Meld team’s combined experience in destination marketing, the hospitality industry, and digital, helped us drive strong results almost immediately.

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Powerful Results


The Industry Average​

In the first 12 months, Meld achieved click through rates that were 3x higher than the industry average with paid search efforts. We also discovered through testing and monitoring that some of the key cities driving audiences were not what the organization originally thought they were. The data helped realign the audiences and targeting.

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Driving Leisure Audiences to Stay at Hotels

The first goal was to drive more leisure visitors (as opposed to business travelers) to stay in hotels through organic and paid social media, Google Ads, SEM, search strategies, and keyword research.

Before Meld

  • 7.55% Average Click-Through-Rate (CTR) for Search Ads for all of 2021.

The First Year

  • 23.85%1 Average CTR for Search Ads for 12 months
  • 5,049 clicks
  • 21,178 impressions (the number of times an ad is shown)
  • $0.432 Average cost per click (CPC).
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1According to Databox, the industry average CTR for travel and tourism is 8.24%, which means the Meld Google Search Ads CTR is almost 3x higher than the industry average.

2The industry standard CPC is $0.73. Average for this quarter is almost 2x lower than industry average, per Databox.

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Targeting Freestyle World Cup Event Audiences to Boost Ticket Sales

Think Iowa City envisions and oversees many events throughout the year, including FryFest, granGABLE, Herky on Parade, Donnybrook, and so many more. They also bring in one-time, or in this case, once-in-a-lifetime events, such as the Freestyle World Cup. For the first time in history, men’s and women’s Freestyle World Cup wrestlers from around the globe competed in side-by-side events on the same international stage. Think Iowa City asked Meld to target audiences through social channels and paid ads to build awareness and sell tickets to the three-day wrestling event at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa. Meld identified audiences who lived within four to five hours of Iowa City and had an interest in seeing elite athletes from 16 countries celebrate their sport and their countries. The countries included the United States, Iran, Japan, China, Ukraine, Georgia, and Mongolia.

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Building World Cup Awareness Through Public Relations

In addition to overseeing digital efforts, Meld also conducted interviews and wrote and distributed a series of press releases highlighting some of the incredible stories related to athletes who would attend the World Cup Event.

Building SEO and Thought Leadership Through Blogs

Meld’s content team excels at writing substantive blogs focused on topics audiences want to know more about. We do this by combining our client’s unique knowledge base with keywords and compelling content. Meld has written dozens of blogs for Think Iowa City around topics such as 10 Cool Facts about the Iowa City Area (and Reasons You’ll Want to Plan a Visit), Top 4 Reasons to Retire in Iowa City, Top 5 Kid-Friendly Hotels in the Iowa City Area, and 10 Women-Led Businesses in the Iowa City Area.

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Think Iowa City Social Media

Celebrating Women's Sports
Side by side with the Iowa City Area Sports Commission, Think Iowa City has been a major driving force for shining a spotlight on women’s sports and bringing these events to the community. This post that highlights these efforts received 2,479 reactions, 66 comments, and 49 shares. Talk about support for women’s sports!
Promoting Local
In honor of Think Iowa City’s annual “Foodie February” campaign, the Meld team created a blog highlighting the different global cuisines in the area by featuring 11 local, globally-inspired, restaurants. The blog was promoted with a social media post, which was shared 43 times and received 6,521 total engagements.
Fostering Community

Locals appreciate Think Iowa City’s suggestions for all the best activities, events, and places to hang out in the area. Meld created this social post for the best places to watch the Hawkeye games. It earned 1,933 reactions and became a social conversation with 41 comments.

Encouraging Winter Tourism

To inspire people to visit the Iowa City area during the winter months, Meld wrote a blog showcasing all the fun activities and stays in the area. To spread the word it was promoted on social media. The post caught people’s eye with a whopping 7,192 total engagements! Included in that engagement were 332 reactions and 2,830 post link clicks to the blog!

Services Provided

For Think Iowa City

Strategic digital marketing partner
Audience Identification and Build Out
Google Ads
Organic and Paid Social Media

Ongoing Marketing Support
Event Ideation
World Cup Micro Campaign support
Photo and Video Strategy

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“Our work with Meld over the last few years has had an incredible impact on our organization. The results we received from their very first campaign launch until now has proven that their dedication to ensuring their clients get the best results across any industry is their number one priority. The Meld Team is truly an extension of our marketing team. I know that any campaign we bring to them, whether it is a promotion related to a professional wrestling event or one showing support for agritourism businesses, hotels, or restaurants across Johnson County, it will be creative, strategic, and yield results that justify our advertising budget.”

Monica Nieves Hirsch 

Vice President of Marketing & Communications, Think Iowa City

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