Oregon Casino Hits Jackpot with Web Site Overhaul

Spirit Mountain Casino recently bet big on a Web site redesign.
The company spent nine months last year retooling www.spiritmountain.com with the e-marketing agency eROI. The goal: Attract more regional players to the casino's off-the-beaten-path facilities.

The casino, operated by the Confederated Tribes of Ronde Community of Oregon and offers gaming, lodging, live entertainment and restaurants. To get there you have to drive 53 miles southwest of Portland, Ore., though it's an inconvenient 30 miles off Interstate 5. At the same time, the casino is in day-tripping distance of other significant Oregon markets like Salem, Corvallis and Eugene, as well as Vancouver, Wash., and Pacific Coast beach resorts.

The redesign was aimed to convert TV, radio, print and billboard promotions-placed in those markets with mentions of the site-into more casino foot traffic, said Chris Cherry, online marketing manager at the casino. To create a higher-grade landing page of sorts for the mass-media ads, Cherry and his team thoroughly revamped the site's look-and-feel, navigation and back-end system.
 
"The new Web site is largely responsible for convincing more curious online [visitors] to make the trip out here to see what we have to offer in person," he said. "Our [year-to-date] figures are very favorable and much better than what others within our industry are experiencing."

Since premiering the site redesign in January, Cherry said that the brand has seen sign-ups for its "Coyote Club" customer loyalty program spike by 31 percent when compared to the same period of the year before. He added that his company has also seen increased inquiries from organizations that now see the casino as a potential event or conference venue.

"We spent $40 million on our events center last year," Cherry said. "We can now accommodate that kind of business activity. With the new redesign, we feel that the site's been more welcoming for people to explore us as an events destination. The number of inquiry forms [being filled out] for banquet space and convention center activities have been increasing."

Charles Voloshin, senior account executive, eROI, Portland, Ore., said that the most-important analytical goal in the redesign was to increase viewer engagement. Voloshin pointed to statistics showing that visitors have been spending an average of three-and-a-half minutes per visit and viewing at least five pages. While the site's old system didn't record page views, he suggested that the five-page average for the newer version has outperformed expectations going in.

"Once you get above three or four page views, they are engaging with the Web site," he said. "They are diving in deeper. They are reading about stuff and what the brand offers."

Voloshin said that the site has an "incredibly low" bounce rate, which is a statistic that measures how many visitors leave after only one page view.  The casino site, he said, has had a bounce rate of 16 percent since the re-launch five months ago. He credited the homepage's navigation layout.

"It is designed kind of like a portal, and I think that that has helped," Voloshin said. "If someone wants to find directions to the casino, it's easy for them to find directions. If the viewer wants to find out about restaurants and the lodging, they can find those things on the homepage easily. The site has everyone from college-aged to older retired people visiting; so, the homepage has got to be something that is user-friendly for a whole spectrum of viewers."

Mitchell Hanson, marketing coordinator at eROI, said that visitors have been spending the most time in the following categories: 'Getting Here,' 'Events & Entertainment,' and 'Destination.' He said that these three site categories help a visitor with planning day-trips to the casino, and they were given a more prominent placement during the redesign.

"The old site had a cluttered navigational [layout]," Hanson said. "The new version has clearer hierarchy and is much easier to digest. It's presented in a fashion where people are more encouraged to stay on the site and learn more about what Spirit Mountain offers."