Six examples of effective PPC and SEO campaigns

Search is arguably the most important digital marketing channel (cue angry comments), as it can be used to both drive brand awareness and capture conversions.

In January Google reported Q4 revenues of $14.4bn, a 36% year-on-year increase, which gives an idea of just how valuable search is for brands.

Therefore I thought it would be useful to round up six examples of brands that have achieved success with effective search campaigns.

Furthermore, to give an insight into the state of search marketing in the UK, we are currently running our 2013 UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Survey, sponsored by NetBooster.

The survey is relevant for all UK digital marketers with a focus on paid search, SEO and integrated marketing campaigns. 

Search is also one of the categories in #TheDigitals, our new awards that recognise the best in digital marketing and ecommerce. Award entries must be submitted online before the deadline March 13, 2013.

Further information on categories and entry requirements is available at thedigitalsawards.com. But without further ado, here are the six search marketing examples…

Sky News

Sky News’ campaign aimed to bring breaking news into the PPC space by targeting users who searched for highly specific news stories.

To implement this strategy Sky News collaborated with Unique Digital, who took its RSS feed and ran it through their Darwin Optimiser technology. 

This automatically generated keywords that were relevant to the particular news story, which allowed the campaign to be uploaded to search engines as soon as it has been received by RSS. 

Creating standardised templates for ad copy ensured that stories could be posted quickly. The Darwin Optimiser technology also deep-linked the ad copy to each news article.

A centralised PPC budget was put in place, so daily spend could be reviewed, in case a major story broke.

This strategy taps into the potential of breaking news to generate big search volumes, and given that keywords are highly specific this means that costs per click are priced relatively competitively. 

Click volumes were high, with over 100,000 clicks generated, whilst CPCs were priced under 25p.

Traffic generated from the campaign delivered 400% more inventory in page impressions than the average for other non-breaking news PPC ad campaigns.

Alec Brownstein

The Google Job Experiment was a personal project by freelance copywriter Alec Brownstein, who used Google vanity searches (when people Google their own name) to find himself a job. 

Brownstein set up paid search campaigns using the names of New York’s top creative directors as keywords. When the creative directors Googled themselves, they found paid search ads asking for a job.

It is also worth noting Brownstein deliberately misspelled ‘Googling’ by changing it to ‘Gooogling’, as advertisers cannot normally bid on trademarked terms.

Brownstein got interviews from four out of the five New York executives he targeted, received job offers from two of the companies and finally accepted a job at the Y&R agency. Brownstein also made it to the shortlist for the Clio Awards 2010 for self-promotion.

The Perfume Shop

Working with Net Media Planet, The Perfume Shop used a YouTube Video Targeting Tool in conjunction with the Mercury technology platform to overlay adverts for celebrity perfumes targeting matching celebrity videos on YouTube.

Traditionally, PPC has not performed well on YouTube as advertising could only be targeted on a site-wide level, not to specific videos or categories. The launch of the YouTube Targeting Tool changed all this.

Net Media Planet identified that a large proportion of The Perfume Shop’s customers are interested in celebrity culture and so decided to target key celebrity videos with celebrity branded perfume adverts. 

Net Media Planet aimed to execute the campaign on a large scale to drive brand awareness and direct response for the client.

Combining this approach with Net Media Planet’s Mercury platform allowed the agency to target thousands of YouTube videos with 100% relevancy to the viewer.

The YouTube PPC achieved a +236% return in investment on a view through conversion. The revenue from this YouTube campaign even outstripped search engine PPC sales.

talkSPORT

Guava helped commercial broadcaster talkSPORT increase traffic to its website by creating a series of embeddable widgets with scrollable content.

Having already established talkSPORT newsfeeds with leading football news and rumour sites, the search agency aimed to develop new widgets that presented the content in a more attractive and engaging way. 

These embeddable newsfeed widgets were hosted on the talkSPORT website, and publishers could embed and customise each widget (e.g. only Tottenham related news) for immediate publication on their own site.

The widgets presented the content in a scrollable HTML format, helping to catch the reader’s attention much more than a simple RSS feed. When the widgets went live in April 2012, talkSPORT was receiving around 800,000 look-ups from referring sites. 

As the widgets were adopted by more sites, traffic significantly increased, such that by the end of the transfer window on 31 August, the widgets were delivering four million hits per month. This represents an increase of 400% in just four months.

Guava’s campaign also helped push talkSPORT to the very top of Google for the search term ‘transfer rumours’.

South African Tourist Board

Quirk eMarketing’s innovative SEO solution for the South African Tourist Board utilised Google Earth as part of an overall link-building strategy. 

Using Google Earth was an effective link-building and brand propagation tool, as it recreated a realistic representation of places, activities and destinations in South Africa and therefore increased the likelihood of conversion through a high level of user engagement. 

The site design meant that it generated a lot of repeat visitors, exploring it for prolonged periods, and therefore increasing the chances of generating deep-links.

The campaign resulted in almost 24,000 online mentions about the Google Earth tool. In addition 50% of people mentioning the site also linked to it. 

The site generated 130,000 visits and its Google page rank increased from 0 to 4. Offline media has also shown an interest in the application, as it has been featured in The Times, as well as in international and local TV and leading print publications.

Vodafone

In 2011, Carat conducted multiple test-versus-control experiments to determine the effect that differing spend levels on generic keywords had on Vodafone’s in-store sales.

The research demonstrated that online spend had a ‘halo’ effect on retail telesales as well as non-attributed online sales.

Initially, Carat’s internal research and evaluation team studied the last five years of performance data for Vodafone’s 385 stores. It then analysed this within Google’s 24 GMAs (Google Marketing Areas) to find similarly performing groups.

Using Google targeting, Carat was then able to boost, reduce or cut spend completely in those areas, measuring the impact in terms of how in-store sales changed over eight-week periods. 

The terms used were generic keywords such as ‘mobile phone’ and ‘phone contract’. While these were important for Vodafone as they represent their direct product mix, these terms are normally dismissed as performing outside of their cost-per-acquisition target.

In three tests, the research proved that maximum spending in generic search (100%) drove an uplift of in-store sales of 2.90% at a cost-per-sale of £38.09.

The study also twice tested a middle ground and found that a 51% increase in spend on generic keywords drove a 0.95% uplift in-store while a 59% investment drove 0.88% uplift.

The research provided key insight into Vodafone’s product mix: while online activity normally aims to drive mobile phone contracts, the biggest uplifts were in pay-as-you-go phones and upgrades.

Carat’s research showed the effect of generic keywords on both in-store consumer behaviour and sales. These keywords have proven their value to Vodafone; as the study demonstrated the power of maximum spend on generic terms.

The results of the research were:

  • Stores sales increased by approximately 3% in test areas.
  • Cost per sale was improved by over 50%.
  • Vodafone have new confidence in generic PPC search’s ability to drive in-store sales.

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Six examples of effective PPC and SEO campaigns

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