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MergerNetwork.com gets search engine marketing makeover

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Challenge: As a resource for potential business buyers, MergerNetwork.com, a site owned by Marketplace Technologies, provides a database of businesses being offered for sale. Its market includes small and large companies, private equity groups, business brokers, investment bankers and individual buyers.

But the company was dissatisfied with the third party it was contracting with to manage its cost-per-click (CPC) and new acquisition campaigns. “I wanted them to manage each of the pay-per-click campaigns very closely,” said MergerNetwork.com President Bob Brauns. “It’s a lot of trouble. ... You have to be looking at the bids all the time, and you can’t do it manually.”

The campaign's cost per acquisition was too high and its conversion rate was too low. The targeted keyword set wasn’t representative of MergerNetwork’s offerings, and the search engine marketing firm managing the accounts was not continuously optimizing the campaign. Brauns said, for example, that the quality of clicks on his site was better during the week than on weekends, and better during the day than in the evening. “It’s like managing a huge stock portfolio. Their job is to say, ‘Let’s take some away from one keyword and put it on another.’ It requires a lot of upkeep that company wasn’t doing.”

Solution: Marketplace Technologies approached iProspect, a search engine marketing firm, to improve its the pay-per-click ad campaign by maximizing the number of new member sign-ups while decreasing the cost-per-acquisition of new members.

“[IProspect] has an automated system which was very important to me,” Brauns said. “They also have the ability to move funds around. We gave them a budget and asked them to maximize conversions, get as many registrations as possible for that amount of money.”

At the outset, the iProspect team researched the behavior of MergerNetwork’s target market and then recommended an enhanced keyword list to include more-relevant phrases segmented into targeted ad groups.

“The beginning was really about understanding how the accounts were currently structured,” said Andrew Wheeler, paid search manager for iProspect. “Immediately adding keywords really made the biggest change. Then we started implementing bid strategies to take into account particular fluctuation and, within the first four months, the increase in sign-ups substantially reduced CPC.”

Results: Within four months, membership sign-ups on MergerNetwork.com increased by 111% per month, while cost per acquisition decreased by about 50% per month. Also during that time the campaign’s conversion rate in Google increased by 54% per month. Brauns said this has translated to about 15% increase in sales.

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