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Overland Storage improves ‘post-click optimization,' lead conversion

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Many companies work hard to optimize their search results and click-through rates. But how many see it all the way through, focusing on optimizing what happens when visitors reach a particular Web page? Failure to attend to this last, crucial step can result in rising bounce rates and falling conversion rates.

Not so at Overland Storage. After spending the past 18 months working hard to perfect what visitors experience once they click through to the company’s site, the b-to-b data storage and backup company has been able to increase its conversions and leads dramatically.

Overland, based in San Diego, sells its solutions directly as well as through its partners, and like many other companies seeks leads via search results. (Its search budget constitutes about 2% of its marketing spending.)

But Overland had a problem: After it launched its paid-search efforts about two years ago, it saw that click-throughs were coming in but they weren’t converting at the rate Gary Ware, the company’s Web marketing manager, wanted.

“We were having low conversion performance overall,” Ware said. “We found that a lot of people were coming in early in the sales funnel but didn’t want a quote; they were just looking for some sort of solution.”

Instead of inviting visitors to request a quote, Ware switched to a registration process for white papers. Even then, conversion was less than 1% compared with an industry average of up to 3%.

“We decided to start from scratch,” Ware said. “We said that if we were spending money on paid search, we had to make sure we were driving the user to what we wanted as an end result.”

Post-click optimization
In mid 2007, Overland tapped ion interactive, whose on-demand LiveBall product aids the creation, testing and analyzing of Web pages to inspire conversions.

“Overland’s problem was a common one,” said Anna Talerico, exec VP at ion. “When paid search is just getting up and running, companies often focus on the keywords they’re buying but not much on where they’re driving the traffic.”

Talerico said Overland’s most glaring problem was sending viewers to a “deep link,” a purportedly relevant page or form buried within its site, but one offering a confusing abundance of content and features without relevance to the searchers’ specific needs.

“It was clear from looking at our bounce rate that visitors who were searching for ‘business continuity’ or some similar pain point were being directed to a product page that didn’t necessarily speak to that,” Ware said. “We needed to speak in a way that matched our ads to our landing pages.”

As part of Overland’s post-click optimization program, landing pages were vastly simplified with attractive graphics and designed to address logical prospect segments. Primary landing pages invited visitors to self-segment—for example, defining themselves as having small storage needs versus large storage needs, or with C-level interest as opposed to midlevel manager needs.

“We really focused on this segmentation idea,” Ware said. “We wanted to make sure that the landing pages visitors wound up on were speaking in ways they understood.”

Those visitors who defined themselves as having small or large storage needs were directed to Overland pages focusing on solutions tailored to their needs. Similarly, those “looking for a solution” were directed to an offer for a free Overland white paper and short lead-gen conversion form. From here respondents could initiate sales contacts or request a fast quote, to shorten the distance between marketing, sales and the close.

“We found that searches for brand terms were from people further along in the sales process,” Ware said. “And these were more apt to request a quote. We’d asked the segmentation question, and then presented the viewer with a fulfillment form that catered to that segment.”

The new post-click program also separated the wheat from the chaff. Those visitors looking for solutions to data loss recovery, which Overland does not provide, were directed in a helpful way to third-party resources.

All the new landing pages were revised with solution-oriented copy and simple graphics, bulleted text and photos of smiling, helpful-looking people.

More, and better, leads
Ware is pleased with the performance of his post-click campaign. He said Overland’s conversion rate is now averaging as much as 5%, with some segments performing as high as 13%.

“As a result, our amount of leads now is tremendous,” Ware said. “But we don’t want to get too high. These are valuable prospects, and we don’t want any of them to go cold.”

Interestingly, Overland’s cost per conversion has increased by 60%, but Ware said this was due to the inherent competitiveness of various keywords.

“If [we] can get people to convert, we’re willing to pay more,” he said.

For the future, Overland plans to experiment with more sophisticated landing pages and conversion offers, perhaps inviting the viewer to a video demonstration or an on-demand webinar. Adding the option to join a social network on data storage is also being considered.

“We’re still optimizing and improving things, and as long as we’re staying above the industry average going forward, it’s good,” Ware said. “We’re excited.”

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