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7 cases where tweaks in SEM delivered big benefits in ROI

Just because someone clicks on your ads doesn’t mean they take the action you want.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) focuses on purchasing ads that appear on the result pages of search engine above or to the right of the content on the search results.

Unlike other media channels, ads are bought on a PPC (Pay Per Click) basis. PPC is an attractive model for advertisers because they only pay for actual traffic generated by their ads. PPC involves a bidding system to get to a top position. Measurements of the actions a consumer takes as a result of SEM are the most surgically precise in all of the marketing, especially for e-commerce businesses.

But just because someone clicks on your ads doesn’t mean they take the action you want. Understanding the SEM relationship of “clicks” to “conversions” to the desired action is hard work. Doing this well is a very valuable skill. It’s an area where little tweaks make big differences.

How big? Here are 7 case studies where tweaks in SEM delivered big benefits in ROI (Return on Investment).

  1. BABYEARTH (PLA’s – PRODUCT LISTING ADS): Paid search is an important part of the marketing mix to this baby products retailer with an e-commerce website. A key part of their paid search campaign is  PLA’s – Product Listing Ads. BabyEarth increased them from 100 to 10,000. They: 1) Focused on bidding and optimizing product images, 2) expanded product target, 3) performed keyword research and expanded search queries and 4) worked to optimize this process. BabyEarth saw monthly revenue increase +129%.
  2. BEAMAX (A/B TEST OF LINKS):  A Belgium based company, manufactures and distributes projection screens for home cinemas and meeting rooms worldwide. They did an A/B Test to determine the value of a red link to their website versus the traditional blue link in ads and found that red outperformed blue by +53%.
  3. BRITISH COLUMBIA TOURISM (LANDING PAGE): The official travel planning site for British Columbia, providing detailed visitor information for over 130 communities as well as 3,000 approved accommodations, Tourism BC relied onGoogle Website Optimizer test and develop the optimum Landing Page for a $1.5 million television ad campaign aimed at the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets to attract more visitors to British Columbia.  By designing the landing page to showcase the talent in the commercial and iMac prize, Tourism BC realized a 52%  form completion conversion rate. The math is impressive: of 100 customers who request information from Tourism BC, 30 percent of them will ultimately visit British Columbia, spending, on average, $2,200 per visitor party, per trip.
  4. MOTOROLA (SCORING SYSTEM): Launched a big new model, its new SLVR wireless phone, with a significant search marketing campaign to support the effort. They set up a scoring system to dump under-performing keywords, change focus as the campaign continued and provide learning Motorola could take action on. The lesson learned were: 1) Engagement doesn’t always translate into sales, 2) Brand name search terms don’t always translate into sales, 3) You never can guess what keywords consumers will click on and 4) The social networking aspect of the Web has changed launch campaigns. From their watchfulness and taking action as they learned, Motorola saw an astounding 30% conversion rate for e-commerce sales of the SLVR.
  5. NATURE BRIDGES (ADD PHONE NUMBER): A leading bridge company that specializes in timber bridges and pedestrian boardwalks for environmentally sensitive areas, merely added a phone number in the paid search ads to give people another way to do business. The company set up phone call tracking in addition to search tracking and a conversion rate and ROI that was 3X higher by phone than the web from the paid search ads.
  6. SCOOP (EVENTS):  The iconic New York City boutique for men and women,  set up various tracking goals to measure events other than purchases such as add to carts, email sign-ups, add to wish lists, store location findings, and new registrations. The new data immediately influenced our bid models and paid search strategies. While keeping costs consistent, Scoop’s e-commerce paid search revenue increased by 765% in the first 60 days.
  7. SLIDE SHOP (A/B TEST SPLIT): An e-commerce site that sells power-point templates for business, did an A/B test where, in one test, SlideShop eliminated the eliminated the calculator in the shopping cart to determine if it was helping people who have made a decision to buy. The company found out it was not and the cart without the calculator had a +15% higher conversion rate.

Although these are tweaks, they demonstrate the attention to detail and rigorous analysis that goes into small changes that make a big difference. Do these case studies prove how small tweaks in SEM deliver big benefits and ROI to you?