30 second summary:
- The digital transformation offers companies the opportunity to build real customer relationships through personalized marketing experiences.
- The behavior of digital shoppers is changing, and consumer expectations for pure digital interactions and less tolerance for traditional sales tactics like cold calling are rising.
- Paid search is a rapidly growing channel that ensures a data-driven approach to strategy and execution.
- Evan Kent, VP Integrated Marketing at Schneider Electric, and Kimberly Dutcher, SEM Manager at Merkle, share their collaborative approach to redesigning the paid search strategy that continues to deliver positive business results.
It can no longer be denied that the digital transformation is here. Every business leader thinks about how companies use digital technology and organize their business models to create more value for their brand. In the marketing area, the digital transformation offers companies countless opportunities to create real customer loyalty through personalized marketing experiences. By designing corporate organization, strategy and technology with a view to digital transformation, brands can ultimately deliver customer experiences that are contextually relevant and personally informed.
Schneider Electric and its five-year paid search partner, Merkle, tackled the digital transformation challenge head on in 2019. They have made more focused efforts than ever to redesign the brand’s approach to paid search marketing to align with the company’s broader digital transformation initiatives.
Immerse yourself in the digital transformation
Schneider Electric aims to empower everyone to get the most out of their energy and resources, thereby combining progress and sustainability for all. As a global specialist in energy management and automation, the company’s mission is to be a digital partner for sustainability and efficiency. To support this mission, the Schneider Electric team realized an immediate need to redesign their search engine marketing program to improve the quality of the traffic being directed to the website.
With the recent changes in digital buying behavior, the Schneider Electric team quickly realized that the total search volume exceeded the investment. The market grew, but Schneider Electric investments decreased. The brand’s gentle voice in the marketplace has been enhanced by an isolated approach to marketing investments. Paid search programs were defined based on the available investments of the business units (BUs) rather than starting with the available search volume and then defining an investment need. This resulted in campaigns that were underfunded, searches for search volume that just didn’t exist, and a general lack of evergreen branded searches.
The Schneider Electric team decided it was time for a change. To solve the internal challenges, the company has put together a team of dedicated search specialists who work side by side with its Merkle digital agency. These specialists are the link between deep knowledge of Schneider Electric audience and account optimization. Schneider Electric’s paid search team has deliberately moved from creating and running reactive paid search campaigns to proactive market and industry-based planning. Your search task changed to focus on traffic, landing pages, and the basic need to answer searchers’ questions.
Standardization of digital transformation with paid search
After working with Schneider Electric on paid search for five years, the Merkle SEM team had valuable historical information about the company and its paid search trends. This data has been invaluable in proposing a consolidated, centrally budgeted paid search account structure for the United States. The reorganization expanded Schneider Electric’s US paid search program from 14 paid search accounts and 22 budgets for seven business units to one account with a budget. This resulted in significant performance improvements and enabled a robust testing and learning environment.
The redesign of the account was also an opportunity for the unified paid search team at Schneider Electric and Merkle to lay the foundations for the future expansion and success of paid search marketing. For the first time, teams were able to take a comprehensive, data-driven, strategic approach to the channel that gave all parties the information they needed to get big results for the company, rather than getting localized results for individual business units.
Key lever for a successful transformation
When setting up a transformed US paid search account that aligns with Schneider Electric’s business goals of getting the right search traffic to the right pages on the site, the unified paid search team didn’t go from the start. Years of historical data and analysis helped guide the teams where keywords historically performed best. In this paid search digital transformation, having a keyword audit initially was critical to ensure the team was focused on the right keywords for the brand and its critical products and solutions. The click-through rate (CTR) and the cost-per-click (CPC) were given the strong historical data in the engine and the wide range of optimization levers used to improve these metrics in the early stages could contribute to the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the account optimization team.
The unified paid search team took a two-pronged approach to the final URL selection for paid search. First, the team determined whether the most relevant URLs were assigned for the keywords. The increase in Quality Score was a critical KPI as Quality Score is a major factor in how often and how high your ads are displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Second, Schneider Electric’s paid search team translated Quality Score for Schneider Electric’s web team to improve overall page quality and user experience on the site. It is these types of cross-channel collaborations that are required for further marketing success. The digital transformation of the company cannot be successful without them.
3. Efficiency metrics and results
The continuous monitoring and optimization of the general KPIs, CTRs and CPCs of the team ultimately contributed to the success of the company. In the course of 2020, the paid search team was able to increase the click rate by 137 percent compared to the previous year through keyword audits, URL audits, ongoing performance optimizations and the flexible allocation of the budget to the most efficient keywords. Working with Schneider Electric’s Site Analytics team was also crucial for the measurement. Bounce rate and site engagement became important metrics in user experience.
Continuous development of paid search with digital transformation
In 2020, the first year of transformation, the paid search team focused on the basics:
- Who is the target group?
- Where on the site would they land?
- Do we have the answer to the seeker’s question?
- Are we bidding on the right keywords?
- Is there an existing search volume? How much investment do we need?
- How long should a program run? How do we integrate other media features to optimize purchases?
- Do we have the best copy of the ad?
This customer-first approach took time to design and optimization is an iterative process, but the results have been exponential:
- Lower cost per click
- More traffic to the site
- Searchers go deeper into the site
Now that the paid search team has a solid foundation, you can experiment with new and more advanced search techniques to further optimize your audience, bid strategies, and cross-sell opportunities. When the right traffic gets to the website, the team can focus on monetizing that traffic by managing and measuring the engagement, leads, and contribution to the website’s sales. Paid search is no longer a guessing game – data-driven and statistical techniques are used to optimize investments.
Given a number of paid search marketing trends in 2021, particularly automation in the industry, the Schneider Electric and Merkle paid search team is excited to see what opportunities there are for further expanding their marketing efforts. B2B advertisers are changing the way they play the search marketing game in 2021, and those who innovate early and often rise to the challenge and ultimately grab the chance.
Evan Kent is VP Integrated Marketing at Schneider Electric and Kimberly Dutcher is SEM Manager at Merkle.