How 10 Minutes of Research Changed Manufacturer’s Product Offerings

Where did your last brilliant business idea come from? Was it an aha moment, an epiphany … or was it from something you read or saw that sparked your idea?

Our Lawn and Garden client had been selling trellises online and in big box retail locations. These products performed satisfactorily in those retail locations, and the search volume around these items supported those sales.

Digital Campaign Performance vs Sales

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But what about similar products? How do they compare?  With a quick review of the search volumes for “lattice,” we quickly discovered that the combined search quantities were three times that of “trellis.”

Our client had both the materials and the capabilities already in place to manufacture this product. With upcoming annual sales meetings, our client used our market research and data to help bolster their pitch for adding lattices to the repertoire of products carried by retailers and distributors. The jury is still out on the final outcome, but it is a shining example of how sales and marketing can align to drive strategy and key decisions.

Real World Example: Traffic, Conversions, and Sales

What’s most important: Site Traffic, Site Conversions, or Sales Dollars? Trick question. Separate but equal, each of these outcomes is inter-dependent.

This graph shows the actual performance for three of our client’s product lines.

Digital Campaign Performance vs Sales

B-SearchVSales-graph2 Real World Example: Traffic, Conversions, and Sales

Starting with picnic tables, the search volume is significant. At first glance at the search results alone, it appears this is a product collection in need of supportive advertising and additional attention. But if you look a little closer, the actual site conversions for this product are low, along with the percentage of total sales generated by picnic tables. This isn’t where we should be investing our client’s marketing dollars.

In contrast, the fencing products generated a similar amount of search volume, but accounted for a much larger share of actual conversions, site sessions (research!) and sales. In fact, for a similar search volume, the sales are more than 60% higher than that of picnic tables. This indicates that the return on the paid search investment is more than 13 times that of picnic tables. Knowing this, should we consider whether a change in the spend will increase the return percentage? Could we spend less and see similar results?

In lawn and garden, our spend hasn’t generated the sales we’d hope to see. This might indicate that an optimization in our keywords is necessary, that our geographies should be reviewed, or that our content should be analyzed for SEO value.

What does your analysis tell you about your own business?

Smarter Tomorrow than You Were Today

One of the most important marketing activities you will ever do is analyze data. Without it, your business decisions will be based on your gut, rather than real information.

For all of our clients, we always begin by understanding what the reality of the business is. What does the data say about sales, ideal customers, the frequency and size of the transaction. This is the kind of information necessary to create an effective marketing strategy. Marketing efforts are not everything though, we have to pay attention to the data and make optimizations accordingly.

For a Business to Business (B2B) client that manufactures custom cases (solid exteriors containing foam cut to specs of the objects to be carried as in photography or medical equipment), we established two layers of activities. First, we started with Paid Search, targeted to specific geographies surrounding their manufacturing locations. We then layered in display retargeting to increase frequency.

In B2B, lead generation is the key to new sales. Because these are businesses selling to other businesses who in turn sell to the end user, finding new clients can make a tremendous impact. Tracking how a new client came into the fold and adjusting to find more like them is key.

Each week, a report with the leads from the website are sent to the client with details on the keywords and location of user. Through this process, they will understand what is being searched to find their products, and make educated decisions about adjusting keywords, changing targeted geographies or budgeting by day of the week.

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Our client then tracks the leads on their end and categorize them by industry type. Then, we cross-reference with different data points to determine where and how to make campaign optimizations. The first sizeable piece of closed business for our client was for a multi-year project amounting to more than $300,000!

Additionally, this information helps us change keywords we are using to drive business. An example of a change includes the removal of keywords related to military and guns. Because of the large market for gun case consumers, we determined that consumers using those keywords were primarily end users rather than business purchases. Thus, the keywords were eliminated from the campaign.

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After making optimizations based on data, such as eliminating certain keywords/industries and implementing re-messaging, we increased Paid Search conversions by +160% in one month (compared to previous month), by increasing the conversion rate +140%! You can also see from the chart below that the percentage of new users closely matches the increase in users overall at approximately 30% month to month. Additionally, sessions to the site improved incrementally while bounce rate decreased by 70%; this traffic highlights that our clients were quality, interested parties. Without the data or assessment of the business that $300K sale may never have occurred and optimization opportunities would have been missed.

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Drive Enrollment and Combat Declining Numbers

Falling short of e-commerce revenue goals and experiencing a negative ROI on their marketing strategies and campaigns, our client needed a digital marketing strategy that efficiently allocated budget dollars to reverse this trend ASAP.

Offering online trainings and accreditations for specific industries/tracks, with no brick and mortar location, they had to be top of mind to drive a strong return within a set time-frame.

Advance 360 developed and executed an integrated program that ultimately increased their online enrollment while decreasing the investment they were making in SEM.

Results

SEM has increased as a result of newly implemented campaign management.

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2018 Digital Marketing Trends

Who is your most valuable audience? Your digital strategy should lead them directly to you. But the landscape changes quickly. How do you keep up? Here’s our take on actionable insights you can (and should) incorporate into your marketing strategy, including advances in online display targeting, content marketing and video.

Fruit Company Offered Finest Products, but Lacked Measurements for Success

With zero ability to measure ROI on marketing initiatives and zero integrated digital marketing strategy, Shoreline was operating at a disadvantage. Though their website effectively meets the needs of direct visitors, Shoreline Fruit was missing a vital component – a holistic marketing strategy designed to expand their audience, reaching those still steps away from the “visit a website” piece of the customer journey. They had built the piece, but the audience wasn’t coming. We dug into the data-driven realities of Shoreline Fruit’s ideal and targeted audience. Using this market research data and our understanding of the stages of the customer “path to conversion,” Advance 360 fashioned a comprehensive campaign. The campaign focused on identified targets as well as other targets determined during our collaboration with Shoreline Fruit. Next steps involved converting this knowledge into action.

“One of the things Advance 360 will be helping us with specifically is social media. Since January, our Facebook likes have already grown 116% and our LinkedIn followers are up 146%.”

fruit-stats2 Fruit Company Offered Finest Products, but Lacked Measurements for Success

Total App Downloads Outpace Goal

Smart strategies and swift optimization create engagement beyond expectations.

 

We all have dozens of apps on our phones. How did we learn about them? What’s the difference between those we use everyday and those that we barely touch, yet refuse to delete from our device? And how does the originator of the app influence us to download or purchase their app over a competing one?

In this case study, you’ll see that the special blend comprised Google App Ads, Paid Search, Social Media and Display impressions, but the clear winner was social media.

PREMIUM APP WITH A ONE TIME INVESTMENT OF $12.99

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FACEBOOK ADVERTISING RESULTS IN ONE MONTH

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In the two months represented by this data, 334 total downloads were made from the social channel. Using targeted social ads led to a dramatic increase in purchases from this space.

IOS APP ANALYTICS: 2 MONTH RESULTS

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Reduce Spend in Search, Improve Results

A national e-learning company was falling short of e-commerce revenue goals and experiencing a negative ROI on their marketing strategies and campaigns. Advance 360 was able to develop a digital marketing strategy that efficiently allocated budget dollars to turn around this trend within a four month time period. The end result was increased on-line revenues as well as a decrease in SEM spend.

How to decide “Should I bid?”

Many marketers struggle with the decision to bid or not to bid on brand keywords through paid search. It can be a daunting decision.

At Advance 360, we first analyze businesses and their competition to determine if we should bid on brand terms. If competitors are bidding on a business’s brand term, we want to bid to the top position to outrank the competition.

If we do not find competition bidding on brand terms, we want to take our research a step further. Our Search Engine Marketing (SEM) team can run tests in specific geographies and analyze the cost versus the cannibalization of organic traffic as outlined in this article. With the results of this research, our clients feel a definitive answer regarding bidding on their business’ brand terms and we deploy a plan.

For more, check out this article which explores determining when it’s worth it to bid and when it’s better to let organic do the work.

Recruiting International Students

According to the Institute of International Education, more than one million college students studying in the U.S. are international students, and 47% of those are from China or India. Due to limited funding, more than half of these students elect not to make a campus visit before starting classes. The US has always been the destination of choice for international students, making your digital marketing strategy around an international audience even more necessary.

We’ve outlined some strategies below to help universities marketing to prospective international students:

SEO/SEM

If you were an international student, how would you go about searching for universities in the United States? You would probably search for something like: “programs for international students in the United States” or other similar phrases. Having your university’s web page appear on the first page of that search’s results will enable you to be visible to international students. If you are a very small university it may be hard to compete with larger ones through organic search results, which is where paid search can help. 

Digital Content

Digital content is all about knowing who your audience is and writing for them. Use relevant and useful content to attract prospective international students, like rates specific to international students, as well as information, and answers to frequently asked questions to help make their decision easier. By providing as much relevant information as possible, you will be a step forward ahead of your competition. Remember, your content strategy will elevate your SEO rankings, too.

Mobile

study by UVersity.com showed that international students use their mobile device to visit websites, download university apps, take a virtual campus tour, and view university social media. Having a mobile-friendly website that is engaging and has a fast response rate will allow you to make a good impression on international students. But before you have prospective international students looking at your website university, you need to get noticed. Mobile marketing will allow you to reach the audience you have intended while getting your university’s name out there for prospective international students to notice and research.

Social Media and Other Grassroots Strategies

International students want to communicate with admissions counselors, international services, and students during the admissions process.

  • Use your international alumni to intrigue prospective international students. Create testimonials that you can quote and refer to on your social media accounts. You can also use your international alumni to create a page on LinkedIn. Invite current and former international students to join the page so that perspectives can view it and find someone to connect with that went to college abroad and can give them valuable advice.
  • Use your social media account to promote materials that are important to international students. You can promote materials about the number of international students there are on campus if they are relatively high, or you can promote materials about clubs/organizations that are on campus to help international students feel acclimated on campus.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. Using Instagram is second nature for current teens which is why utilizing your university’s Instagram and advertising on the platform will help increase your university’s brand presence with international students. Posting pictures of campus and students will give international students a feel for campus life without physically being there. Keep in mind that generic photos of campus are no good, make sure the pictures capture candid moments.