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Atlas Copco drills into paid search to strike direct leads

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Objective: To create a market for used water well drilling rigs
Strategy: Paid search ads driving viewers to a microsite site to review available equipment
Results: 311 new leads in 18 months, with the lowest cost-per-lead of any of the company's marketing channels

Atlas Copco Construction Mining Technique USA designs, manufactures and markets a variety of construction and mining equipment, including drilling rigs for water and oil and gas wells. The company also often takes used equipment in trade when selling new rigs, and so has a selection of refurbished equipment on its hands.

The U.S. wing of a Sweden-based multinational, Atlas Copco had focused on traditional forms of marketing its products, the cost of which can range up to $1 million new. These channels include print advertising in trade publications, its own custom publications and trade shows. But the company had no ready way to market its pre-owned equipment, which might be priced at several hundred thousand dollars.

Commerce City, Colo.-based Atlas Copco relied on marketing agency 90octane, Denver, to help develop a paid search and landing page strategy in support of its used water well drilling equipment.

"When they first came to us, in 2008, the economy was turning downwards," said Paul Vangura, project manager with 90octane. "They said to us, ‘We have to push our used equipment more toward those people not willing to spend as much money.' "

Because of the immense price tags for even the used products, 90octane developed a new destination—www.atlascopcomarketplace.com—conceived not as an e-commerce site but rather as an Auto Trader-style resource, where viewers could browse for products in specific locales.

Also, a client-side management system was developed where, as pieces of used equipment became available, Atlas Copco could upload its products and information sheets, and build the inventory list continuously.

Only such information as brand, year of manufacture, model and location are listed on the microsite.

"If they want to know more about the details of a particular piece of equipment, they have to register to receive a spec sheet," Vangura said. The resulting information is submitted to sales and also flows into a database of prospects.

The site also features a geo-locator, which indicates which Atlas Copco dealers throughout the country currently have used drilling rigs available for inspection.

Keyword groups were divided into three main areas, which helped qualify visitors: general phrases such as "water well drills," indicating an early stage of review; branded phrases, such as "Atlas Copco" itself, or "Ingersoll Rand," a well-known brand whose drilling business was acquired by Atlas Copco in 2004; and terms indicating a readiness to buy, such as "water well drills for sale."

Only about 80 to 100 keywords were employed, appropriate for an uncrowded, niche space.

"Depending on the search terms they employed, visitors would be taken to different landing pages," said Joanna Canton, Atlas Copco marketing communications director. Some keywords directed visitors to product home pages, she said, while other phrases might direct them deeper into the site, perhaps to viewing drilling accessories.

The company geo-targets its search ads (based on those locations where it has dealers) and dayparts the appearance of ads across the country in normal business hours. Canton said all viewers are allowed to look at a few pages at first but are asked to register for an e-newsletter to see more.

Up- and cross-selling aren't ignored. Atlas Copco continues to communicate via e-mail blasts to its registrants once a month, with updated offers about accessories—for example, a two-for-the-price-of-one offer on new drill hammers and bits.

Originally published Feb. 8, 2010

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