Intuit unit revamps search strategy, sees click-through rates soar

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MyCorporation Business Services is an online document filing service targeted at small businesses. When Intuit Corp. acquired the company last winter, it needed to increase traffic from paid search leads and increase conversions from the click-throughs it was already getting. The company hired SiteLab International to complete an optimization assessment and create a cohesive paid search strategy.

The optimization assessment didn't uncover many problems, but the ones it did find were significant. For example, some of the site's content was buried in images, and title tags weren't as specific as they should have been. The company was also linking to sites that weren't relevant to the business. "That could have been hurting us," said Mike Matey, marketing director of Intuit Focused Business Initiatives.

But the real challenge was that had no real pay-per-click strategy-just a list of keywords with everything linked directly to the home page.

"Our first efforts went into landing page reassessment," Matey said. "We needed to drive people to appropriate landing pages based on the company's individual services. Traffic used to go to our main site. Today, it's diverted to one of 24 or 25 landing pages."

The next step was keyword expansion and implementation, which began in February. The company used A/B testing to determine which keywords were working, Matey said. It pulled words that performed poorly and added new keywords, taking its keyword total to 1,000 from 200 at the beginning of the campaign.

The company then moved on to testing ad copy. "We did a test using the price [of incorporation service in the ad] versus not using the price," he said. "We had one that said, `Incorporate your business. Try it now,' and another that said, `Incorporate your business for $149. Try it now.' We saw better results adding the price."

Because all keywords are not worth the same amount, Intuit marketers also established budgets based on performance. Before engaging SiteLab, there were no cost-per-acquisition (CPA) caps; bids and buys weren't adjusted based on the value of an actual conversion, which meant that the company could end up paying the same for a new $30 trademark search customer as it could for a $150 incorporation customer. Without restrictions on bid pricing, the company got plenty of impressions but very few conversions.

"It really wasn't rocket science. We needed to get the program going and figure out what we were willing to pay for each new customer," Matey said.

As a result, the company realized that it didn't have to be in the No. 1 paid search position for its ad to be effective. As long as appeared in one of the top four slots, the campaign was working, he said.

Today, the company's click-through rate is up 400% and, although Matey said he can't release specific figures, total conversions and net revenue are on the rise. Cost per acquisition has decreased, too-to about 25% below the ceiling that the marketing team initially set. Originally, CPA was about 5% below that ceiling.

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