BtoB

Mix of tactics improves printer’s search results

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Challenge: Advanced Media Publications’ 48HourPrint.com, a b-to-b printer, began to dabble in search engine marketing a couple of years ago.

“We had no clue how to optimize our site and no idea how to get better results from Google and Yahoo,” said Paul Dailey, manager of online marketing at the Boston-based printer. While the company had some success, its initial attempts were scattershot and costly. “Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t,” Dailey said.

Just as bad, its average cost-per-acquisition was high. The company was spending $140 to $150 to get orders that averaged $200.

“We were doing OK with paid search back then, but we were spending a lot more than we needed to spend,” Dailey said. “Our CPA was really bad.”

At the time, the whole process was managed manually by one employee. The printer even tried to save money by turning the campaign off each night, but that meant it failed to reach audience segments from other time zones that were searching for printing services.

48HourPrint.com also faced a number of search engine optimization challenges. The site had very little content tied to keywords, and its URL naming convention didn’t contain targeted keywords and was not categorized appropriately. In addition, metadata on product pages were sparse and, as a result, the Web site had very low visibility on the search engines.

“We had content, but it was written straight for our user,” Dailey said. “It wasn’t optimized at all. Our URLs were not optimized. We didn’t have good metatags, so the spiders didn’t know what they were looking at.”

Solution: The printer brought in SEM firm iProspect—initially, to deal with its paid search strategy.

iProspect reviewed the existing keyword list and determined that it needed to contain more so-called nonbranded keywords and phrases that were more directly related to its services. Branded keywords, terms that include the company name or an exact product name, are rarely searched on by customers.

In addition to adding variations of existing keywords, iProspect significantly enhanced 48HourPrint.com’s keyword list by researching, reviewing and hand-selecting highly queried two-, three- and four-word nonbranded phrases containing adjectives and verbs that directly related to the act of seeking and purchasing online printing products and services.

It then segmented the list of words into different ad groups and further tailored the creative (text) to appeal to each segment. iProspect also continually tested various offers for the printer—10% off business cards this week, for example—to see which worked best.

And the SEM agency continually adjusted the keyword bidding strategy, using iSEBA, its automated bid management tool.

IProspect also assessed landing pages seeking areas for improvement. One area that ended up needing work was the shopping cart, which was not easily accessible due to its location and design.

48HourPrint.com soon came to rely on iProspect to examine its search engine optimization strategy as well.

Working together, the two developed more than 50 new pages of copy, covering all the printer’s most important products and reinforcing highly queried keyword phrases relevant to the two highest revenue-generating services: business card and postcard printing.

They also created so-called “subdomains,” divisions of larger domains that are sometimes implemented on a site to further categorize content and boost natural search visibility for targeted keywords.

Finally, they implemented revised metadata on key pages of the site.

Results: 48HourPrint.com, which has a monthly search budget of about $40,000, now sees $5 back for every $1 it spends on advertising. In addition, it is now spending half of what it used to in order to acquire each customer, or about $70 for its average $200 order.

In the period from February to August 2006, pay-per-click revenue increase by 45%. In addition, sales in that same period increased by 35%.

On the organic side, Dailey is just as pleased.

“We have a lot more content that is better organized, and the pages are all keyword-loaded with words that make them easy to find,” he said. “Instead of writing just for the Web, just for spiders or just for people, we are able to find the balance.” He added: “We make it a pleasing experience for our customer while still keeping the spiders happy.”

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