Making Data Delightful

South Dakota Tourism

Bringing tourism to South Dakota does great things for the state. To share that mission and impact, we realized we needed to share data, arming travel industry partners with rationale. Cue South Dakota Tourism’s Travel Insights emails — a fresh take on telling stories with numbers.

  • 2017-2023
  • American Advertising Award: Gold, Online/Interactive
  • American Advertising Award: Silver, Online/Interactive
  • W3 Award: Silver, Email Marketing
  • US Travel Association: ESTO Awards Finalist
  • HSMAI Adrian Awards: Silver, PR/Communications Innovation

helping data do more

Data guides decisions. It’s more than a benchmark for how the state is doing — it supports tourism’s reason for existence and proves ROI from tourism tax revenue.

If data can do this much, it needs to be seen — by the South Dakota tourism industry, legislators, government officials and national travel leaders. And if we can get those stakeholders excited about the data and the work we do in tourism, that’s a story worth telling.

Beyond being seen, we also wanted our data to make people smile, think or dig deeper. So, inspired by the passion of our state, we launched the quarterly Travel Insights email series with one goal in mind: make the research and reports as interesting as the great places and great faces of South Dakota. After all, if tourism should be fun, so should our emails.

Drive In Movie Theatre
dinosaur chasing a truck

If tourism should be fun, so should our emails.

Men fishing with a giant fish
Phone with an email scrolling on it
Phone with an email scrolling on it
Phone with an email scrolling on it

emails that entertain

Four times a year, we began emailing Travel Insights updates to a list of tourism stakeholders, both in-state and nationally. Each email has its own theme, often tying into current events or pop culture. For example, one email piggy-backed on the “big international winter sports event” that we can’t legally name, featuring GIFs of snowboarders, scorecards and, a personal favorite, curling. Other versions worked in summer dad jokes, blockbuster movies, Halloween spookies and classic video game references. They all featured attention-grabbling looping GIFs, adding playfulness and lighthearted puns to the numbers.

Shining medals
Curling sport
Scorecards that say 10

The goal — as always — is to lead stakeholders of all kinds to, the state’s industry-facing website, where people can find way more research and reports. From state park visitation to airport arrivals, we made the latest and greatest numbers available to anyone at a moment’s notice.

open season

Over multiple sends, the Travel Insights emails have struck a chord with industry leaders, getting them to stop, drop and open our messages.

animation showing email open rates

Over multiple sends, the Travel Insights emails have struck a chord with industry leaders, getting them to stop, drop and open our messages.Open rates for the Travel Insights series were more than 7% higher than the industry average.

Looking at visitors to, people visiting from the Insights emails viewed 1.96 pages per session vs. the average user who views 1.87. In total pageviews from those coming to the site from our email sends, 37.87% of views were on the Research & Reports page.

In addition to letting us flex impressive open and click-thru rates, we’ve taken home a bit of hardware, winning national awards for online/interactive and email marketing.

spaceship video game
Corn eating popcorn
Get Ready

Even better are the responses the Insights Email series got from the industry.

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