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Scaling Profitably - A Back-To-Basics Approach

⬆ 33%
⬆ 14%
Clickthrough Rate
⬆ 12%
Search Impression Share

Cars.co.za - is one of South Africa’s leading online portals for buying and selling cars. 

The Challenge

This case study illustrates the importance of a back-to-basics approach when taking over a mature account that is underperforming. The paradoxical aspect of the basics of PPC is that they are easy to explain but require sophistication to implement intelligently and iteratively in a manner that is cumulatively beneficial to the account. For example, scheduled reviews of device segment bid adjustments will only contribute to the achievement of the client’s objectives if analytical rigour is used to parse what did and what didn’t work about the previous bid adjustments.   The client’s brief to TMI required us to diagnose and remedy what they saw as underperformance in key PPC metrics. The client’s motivation for approaching TMI stemmed largely from the fact that they had available budget with which to scale their online marketing but were reluctant to deploy this extra capacity without a concomitant improvement in their KPIs.  Specifically, the client needed to increase leads because, as an online portal for car sales, leads from their aggregated listings are the very heart and soul of their business. They had money to spend on this project and their two ancillary goals were to increase their ad auction market share whilst mitigating the cost per sale liabilities associated with the desired expansion.

The Intervention

TMI references an internal Best Practice Playbook that is a collation of Google’s PPC knowledge commons and the in-the-trenches lessons that our account managers have wrought from literally millions of auctions through which we have trafficked ads for our clients over the years. With this in hand, we subjected the Cars.co.za account to a diagnostic audit so that we could figure out exactly what needed to be fixed before scaling of the account could begin in earnest. We then created highly-trackable and rigorous work plans to restore and entrench the KPI outcomes that Cars.co.za had tasked us with actualising. The specifics of this transformation were as follows:  

 1. Many of the campaigns were constrained by budget. Upon establishing which of these would efficiently deploy extra budget under our management, we unconstrained these campaigns in a staggered and monitored fashion. The most successful of these was the Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) campaign which saw a 64% rise in leads in the first 3 months. Over the same period, the DSA campaign’s spend increased by 115% and the cost per lead (CPL) increased by 30 % which signals that TMI’s scaling of this campaign successfully mitigated the high CPL risks linked to significantly increased spend. The DSA campaign is a key marker of account health for Cars.co.za because the ability of its ads to dynamically insert search terms is an indispensable functionality for a website with approximately 75,000 different cars listed on its pages. The DSA campaign represents 40% of account spend so TMI’s careful shepherding of its performance became highly consequential. 

 2. Day parting settings were analysed in terms of standard measures of efficiency and adjusted accordingly to reduce wasted spend. - Ad delivery methods were changed from Standard to Accelerated because our intra-day trend analysis showed that standard ad delivery was not adequately leveraging search traffic during office hours. - Negative keyword lists were reviewed and augmented to further reduce click traffic that was unlikely to generate leads. This increased spend efficiency and contained CPL figures. - Mobile device segment bid adjustments were recalibrated according to a review of their historical efficacy and in line with a mobile bid adjustment formula used to homogenize CPL data across device segments which, by definition, increases efficiency of spend.

 3. TMI reviewed paused keywords that were historically good lead drivers but considered to have unsustainably high cost per lead metrics. We used our bidding protocols to strike a balance between lead volume potential and CPL. 

 4. TMI also made comprehensive use of Target CPA flexible bid strategies in AdWords which automated bid adjustments towards the CPL goal. Automation tools in AdWords can update bids across thousands of keywords daily, and TMI uses them extensively and strategically to allow our account managers to focus on other aspects of campaign management and to think of new ways to stay ahead of the competition.

The Results
     Ad copy became more relevant and the account level click-through rate rose 14%. 
    Another statistic that indicates the successful fulfilling of the client’s brief is the fact that lead growth - at 30% - was 10 percentage points higher than the increase in the CPL. 
    The account scaled spend by 58% whilst the average cost per click rose by only 13% - a statistic which emphasised that TMI successfully fulfilled the client’s brief to ensure efficiency of scaling. 
    Cars.co.za increased its share of the online car sales market by just over 12% which, outside of the efficiencies of spend delivered by TMI, was a crucial source of lead growth. .

We use a highly structured PPC management framework, which draws on years of experience in setting up and managing high volume, complex PPC campaigns.