How we helped a $3bn cruise line turn 1 in 3 brand ad interactions into paying passengers, treble online bookings and cut CPA by 42%

About MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises is the world’s largest privately-owned cruise line and brand market leader in Europe, South America and South Africa. Our ships sail year-round in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, and our seasonal itineraries include Northern Europe, the Atlantic Ocean, South America, southern Africa, China, the Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India.

The company, which grew by 800% since 2004, carried 1.8 million guests in 2016 and reported strong financial results with a turnover of nearly €2 billion.

MSC Cruises is a Swiss-based European company with deep Mediterranean roots employing over 17,000 staff globally and selling cruise holidays in 67 countries around the world.

With a strong presence in the Australian marketing, MSC Cruises is headquartered locally on Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

The challenge:

Overcome increased competitor activity without increasing ad spend

The cruise industry boasts a wide-array of well-funded local and international players. Brand terms were becoming more heavily targeted by savvy competitors seeking to win attention away from the well-known MSC Cruises brand.

Naturally, this started to impact ad performance and required a fresh approach, while working within the existing budget environment.

The solution:

Reallocate budget to focus on search and defend ad positions

We proposed a change in strategy to maximise KPIs and capture high intent users while maintaining monthly budget. Working to the brief, we identified an opportunity to reallocate budget from other campaigns, focusing primarily on search ads.

With top positions winning a significant proportion of clicks, an important strategic objective was to prevent competitors appearing top of page, without overspending, to seize the immediate interest.

While brand traffic is typically high converting and lower cost, maintaining an exceptionally high impression share was critical to ensure the brand held the strongest possible presence in relevant search results.

The outcome:

One in three ad interactions resulted in bookings, with a 42% reduction in CPA and 200% increase in online sales

In just three months, Reef rolled out a fresh approach to help MSC Cruises achieve a number of outstanding improvements with digital marketing KPIs:

  • 30% of users completed a booking after 30 days of their first interaction with brand ads
  • Online bookings increased by 200%
  • Enquiries increased by 272%
  • Cost-per-acquisition decreased by 42%

Key campaign statistics:

  • 143% increase in total Paid Search clicks
  • 3x increase in average Click-Through-Rate
  • Paid search was the highest-converting in the channel mix

What the client thought

We work in a highly competitive industry so being one-step ahead of the competition really is essential. Working with Reef means MSC Cruises has a distinct advantage when it comes to digital marketing and know we can rely on the team to adapt to quickly and efficiently. These results are a great example of what we’ve come to rely on from Reef!

— MSC Cruises

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