Emilie Harris  |  October 27th, 2021

Parks Pass: Driving Newsletter Engagement in South Bend Mishawaka

South Bend Mishawaka is home to dozens of expansive outdoor areas.

With revitalized city spaces, a popular state park and more, the team at Visit South Bend Mishawaka wanted to spotlight the area’s park locations and grow visitor interest in the nature surrounding the city center.

With this idea in mind, the team signed on to work with Bandwango in March 2021 and launched the #OnlyinTheBend Parks Pass in June 2021.

The passport, which includes 20 places in the area for outdoor enthusiasts to explore – from waterways to nature preserves – entices passholders to check in to earn prizes like fanny packs and sunglasses.

In the five months the passport has been live, the following results have been captured:

  • 724 sign-ups

  • 685 check-ins

  • 52 prizes distributed

However, one of the most impressive components of the #OnlyinTheBend Parks Pass campaign is the marketing opt-ins captured by Visit South Bend Mishawaka. With a marketing opt-in rate of 80%, the 500+ Bandwango passholders the team has added to their own database has proven to be one of the biggest returns on investment.

“We have been thinking for a long time about how to segment our newsletter audiences. It’s one of the big reasons we signed on with Bandwango in the first place,” Jake Brown, Content and Digital Marketing Strategist for Visit South Bend Mishawaka said. “As we built out the #OnlyinTheBend Parks Pass, it was always in the back of my mind that I would like to market directly to those that opt-in to the pass with outdoor content.”

In September, the team finally had the opportunity to test out their first e-mail marketing campaign to this audience. The goal of this initial test was simply to market outdoor content to a group of users that had already opted in from the Parks Pass and see if email engagement improved.


13.7% – OPEN RATE

1.39% – CLICK RATE


38.1% – OPEN RATE

6.53% – CLICK RATE

Though the open rate for the newsletter exceeded expectations, the team at Visit South Bend Mishawaka was not surprised by the success of the segmented audience newsletter. It was a strategy they had faith in and had hoped to execute for a long time.

“Segmenting our newsletter list always felt a little more aspirational than doable as a small team (and still feels that way to some degree),” Brown said. “With a niche pass, it felt much easier. The platform was doing the work for us, essentially.”

The team plans to continue using the platform to segment their audience list as they roll out additional passes. Right now, the focus is on promoting the #OnlyinTheBend Parks Pass to fall foliage enthusiasts.

Want to see more from this client? Check out Visit South Bend Mishawaka’s other passport – the #OnlyinTheBend Public Art Pass.