First staged in 1937, The Lost Colony is the nation’s premier and longest-running symphonic drama about the English Settlement that disappeared in 1590. The 81st season opens May through August, 2018 at Manteo’s Waterside Theatre, on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. So how does The Roanoke Island Historical Association (RIHA) promote the annual production as well as other educationally engaging events and programs? They use

“The digital world makes it easy to go online and determine which resources are most popular and is definitely popular,” explains Bill Coleman, RIHA CEO. “As soon as the opportunity to start advertising on the website was available, we jumped on board.”

That was in May 2016, when The Lost Colony contracted for two Page Sponsors on the Attractions page of Fast forward to 2018, and you’ll find the theater has an even stronger presence on the site via Featured Listings, Page Sponsorships, Spotlight Text Links and a Mobile Banner.

“Every time our DTN account executive Meredith comes by, we sit down and I ask her what else can we buy because it has been that successful for us,” Bill said. “The return we get has been truly incredible. I’m not exaggerating when I say we keep asking, ‘what else you got?’ is far and away in first place as far as referral traffic.”

“Gone are the days of billboards and brochures, when the only way to know where a customer came from was asking ‘how did you hear about us?’"
~ Bill Coleman, RIHA CEO isn’t the only website they use to advertise the attraction, but Bill and his team of digital marketing professionals track referral traffic, and month over month, remains the number one referral resource. And where 2017 was a great year, The Lost Colony referral traffic from is already up 60% in the first quarter of 2018!

The RIHA team also uses DTN’s reporting and tracking to analyze campaign performance. When a Top 100* report was calculated by the DTN Operations team, The Lost Colony got more than 1.3 million impressions and 8,960 clicks for an average of 0.68% CTR over a 13 month period, landing them number 57 overall. Considering the DTN services more than 1,600 advertisers, this performance is worthy of a standing ovation.

What’s more, RIHA uses a ticketing tracking system that tracks conversions for the consumer journey from to the ticket sale.

“Gone are the days of billboards and brochures, when the only way to know where a customer came from was asking ‘how did you hear about us?’ Word of mouth is always number one, but I’m convinced it starts with an advertisement. Someone sees an ad, asks a friend who recommends it, and they say the referral was from family or friends,” mused Bill.

“The digital sales funnel is more sophisticated. The more people we can get to our website the more tickets we can sell. There’s mass involved in that and we can determine how well we are doing by the numbers—digital advertising is the most trackable marketing we do,” he added.

The Colonists of The Lost Colony

The Lost Colony is held at the Waterside Theatre, the very spot where 117 English men, women and children settled, only to disappear without a trace. Today it’s a bustling vacation destination. Bill understands people don’t come to the Outer Banks just to stay in a hotel room or go out to dinner. People travel here to visit the attractions, too. And he values his relationship with the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau to expose more travelers to his experiences.

“Meredith is great, she’s always willing to sell me whatever I want,” Bill laughed. “All kidding aside, the relationship with DTN and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau is great. A DMO representative showed up with Meredith at our last renewal, which is a nice touch. We’re always looking for more ways to partner with the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau for even more exposure through co-op opportunities.”

You can take in the theatrical event from May 25 through August 22, 2018, and The Lost Colony Wine & Culinary Festival Grand Tasting on Saturday, September 29, 2018.

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*The Top 100 Advertisers by Clicks report was generated by the DTN Ad Ops team and included performance data from January 2017 – February 2018.