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Northwoods Team

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A Venerable B2C Brand Has Its Strongest-Ever Digital Spring

A Case Study

June 19, 2020 | Northwoods Team, Your Trusted Digital Trail Guides

4 Minute Read

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a national B2C company made winning digital moves that significantly strengthened its brand long-term. So what did we – that is, Northwoods and our client – do to accomplish this? How did we do it? And can your B2C do it, too?

First, the Results

April 1 – May 31, 2020 (year-over-year snapshot)

April and May are the company’s peak season. In 2020, both traffic and conversions hit all-time seasonal highs for this 85+ year-old brand. Organic traffic rose 80% year-over-year. Paid search traffic jumped 148%. Website conversions doubled. Conversions from ads tripled. 

April 1 – May 31, 2020 (year-over-year snapshot)

April 1 – May 31, 2020 (year-over-year snapshot)

Organic traffic vs paid search traffic bar graph

conversions vs conversions from ads bar graph

How We Accomplished These Results (and How You Can, Too)

A combined effort in both SEO and digital advertising led to a strong start to the year. 

1. Unbranded Paid Search

For many years, the client included branded paid search campaigns to its marketing mix. Branded paid search means bidding on your own brand name to appear at the top of Google when a user searches for your brand name.

This widely debated concept has its pros and cons. When many competitors bid on your name, the debate has substance. In this case, several competitors were bidding on the client’s brand name. We suspected that the company could side-step the bidding war and tap into a vital set of unbranded keywords with massive reach.

These unbranded keywords relate to the root product that underpins the company’s very existence.  Expanding our presence with these keywords proved to be a big step in building awareness of the longevity of the brand without explicitly touting the brand. Thus, awareness of the long, strong history of the brand becomes background knowledge in the mind of the user.

A couple months of testing verified the effectiveness of the unbranded strategy and gave us and the client confidence to cut the branded campaign entirely. This freed advertising dollars for substantial expansion of our unbranded presence.

2. Content Development

Through onsite SEO and consistent content development, our SEO team increased page one unbranded blog rankings by 1,309% year-over-year.

This boosted organic search traffic by 80% year-over-year and positioned the brand for strong organic search and effective organic brand awareness moving forward.

Organic ranking growth is a marathon; it falters without ongoing, consistent effort. Such sustained effort leads to eye-opening results that directly impact the bottom line.

3. Strategic Analysis

Data is a beautiful thing, and downright gorgeous to the Northwoods team of data junkies. As part of our process, we periodically step back and re-evaluate every tactic and campaign in play. We deep-dive into accounts to identify which levers we can pull to pluck more performance from the same number of advertising dollars. We took such a dive prior to building our client’s spring 2020 campaigns. Two of the levers we pulled are described in points 4 and 5, below.

4. Smart Display Campaigns

Google’s machine learning continues to mature and become more effective. Smart Display is a great example of this.

With standard display campaigns (e.g., banner ads) on Google’s network, advertisers have the option of targeting users based on several factors the advertisers define. For example, you can target users as to whether they are “in-market” for your product or service, are browsing specific websites, are browsing content related to a specific topic, whether they’ve visited your website, and so on.

With Smart Display, advertisers leverage pure machine automation. Google serves your display ad to users they believe to be most likely to convert.

Multiple analyses indicate that Google’s Smart Display campaigns will aim more for remarketing audiences than for prospecting audiences. Thus, if you are looking to build the top of your marketing funnel, you might exclude your known website visitors from this campaign type.

5. YouTube for Action

This case study indicates that YouTube for Action campaigns can lead to strong growth at the top of the funnel. These video ads appear at the beginning of a YouTube video. They are intended to drive action and conversion.

Many conversions from YouTube ads are delayed. They occur after the user has watched a portion of your ad and your brand name stuck. Later, the user Google-searches your brand, lands on your site, and converts. These actions are called view-through conversions and are an important part in measuring your campaign’s success.

Learn more about Northwoods’ digital advertising and SEO and content marketing services, and don’t hesitate to reach out if we can be of help!