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Join Our Research Team at DMA 2014
Jun 19, 2014
Case Study

Search Marketing: LexisNexis develops high-touch versus high-tech approach to PPC management for a 798% overall increase in ROI

SUMMARY: In 2012, LexisNexis Bookstore's revenue performance was down almost 50% compared to 2011. By focusing on relevance and individual book title searches, the company was able to better target and serve its audience.

See how the marketing team studied the most relevant search terms, and made each product its own "mini campaign" to drive a 798% overall increase in ROI.
by Courtney Eckerle, Manager of Editorial Content

CHALLENGE

As an informational company helping legal businesses and news professionals gain success through uncovering proprietary information, the vast majority of people that LexisNexis targets in its marketing efforts are attorneys, according to Deanna Pagano, Ecommerce Director, LexisNexis.

In a recent successful ecommerce store campaign, law enforcement officers and law students were the target audience as well.

The LexisNexis Bookstore's ecommerce performance was in a break-even rut for 2012, and revenue performance was down almost 50% compared to 2011.

Performance had improved slightly beginning in 2013, but the ROI on PPC advertising was still wavering.

Two main issues contributed to the lack of ROI:
  • The keyword strategy focused on high-level categories, rather than individual book title searches

  • Used as landing pages, the category pages weren't focused enough and offered too many choices

An example of more high-level keywords being bid on would be the team focusing on "banking law" as a keyword instead of focusing on the actual book title the team was promoting.

This "drove a good amount of traffic, but very little ROI," according to Leonardo Saraceni, Inbound Marketing Specialist, LexisNexis.

Prior to this campaign, Pagano said she believed that given how specific the company's customer segmentation is, and how niche the products are with a professional need driving prospects, "I think our campaign required a high-touch approach to management versus high tech."

She added that technology obviously plays a significant role in managing campaigns, "but it can't be a set-it-and-forget-it algorithm" and the team needed to adopt a more active keyword management program.

CAMPAIGN

LexisNexis' Bookstore paid search campaign began in April 2013, and the team changed the keyword strategy to focus on product keywords, such as individual book titles, in order to capture title-specific searches that had previously been missed opportunities.

In this campaign, the team created ad groups and ads for each book for better targeting and relevancy, and made the following changes in their accounts on Google AdWords and Bing:
  • Used the individual product pages as landing pages to increase the likelihood of a purchase

  • Used Google AdWords Product Listing Ads to expand the focus of advertising down to the product level

  • Continued PPC bids on higher level category keywords and brand keywords, but took a more focused, relevant bidding approach

Step #1. Focus on the product keyword strategy

The previous category pages on the LexisNexis store weren't focused enough and offered too many choices, which goes back to the high-level keywords. If the team was going to bid on banking law, they now wanted to send people to pages that had a lot of banking law options.

"We have an extensive catalog, so people will be able to browse to hundreds, if not thousands, of titles. And that just didn't fit a streamline shopping experience. It didn't help them find what they were looking for. I think people just got frustrated," Saraceni said.

The team needed to take a holistic look at the campaign, Saraceni added, and be active in finding new testing opportunities. To begin applying the active and more specific keyword strategy, individual product titles from the whole catalog were matched with an ad group, and specific ad copy with keywords.

"So fairly quickly, given that there are 6,000 to 7,000 books in the store, we were able to turn every single title into its own little campaign," Saraceni said, adding that "finding that title and pulling keywords from it was somewhat of a tech challenge, but the agency and the Web team worked together to find keywords at a macro level."

Initially, the efforts were fairly straightforward. In the first run of the campaign in April 2013, the team was bidding on the actual title.

"So if the book was Nimmer on Copyright, those would be the keywords to bid again. As the campaign progressed, and we saw traffic that we had more historical numbers to deal with, then decisions were made based upon performance," he said.

For instance, for some book titles that were more popular and saw more traffic, the team ran search query reports to see what people were actually searching for, versus what they were bidding on.

Then, the team compared and decided if they needed to add more keywords or remove some keywords that are not relevant.

This is an ongoing process with many books in the campaign, the essence of which is "really understanding what the customer behavior is," Pagano said.

The keyword testing done during this campaign came from the search query report, which "gave us the initial set of, 'Oh, so these are the terms that people are actually typing into Google,'" Saraceni said.

Pagano added that, as tempting as it might be for search marketers, “don’t ignore Bing. Bing is generally very profitable for us, and I think that folks tend to focus on Google to the exclusion of all other engines.”

Step #2. Treat each product as a mini campaign

The way the LexisNexis catalog is divided is certain marketers have responsibility over certain product lines, Saraceni explained. So as the campaign expanded, "we are talking with some of those marketers and finding more relevant keywords that may not be in the book title."

This is part of the ongoing process in which the team takes this feedback and does keyword discovery based on the subject matter at hand. Part of this focus on individual books was to make each one feel like its own mini-campaign.

Essentially, for every title LexisNexis has in the store, the team has a unique ad group and a product listing ad for that as well on the product page. Relevancy is extremely important in the process of building up keywords, Pagano said.

Within the 7,000 products in the LexisNexis store, the law category is extremely segmented by two factors, she explained, jurisdiction — what state you practice from — and practice area, such as bankruptcy, real estate or family law.

"For any one customer, we might only have 20 relevant products to them. So relevancy is particularly important, because they are not going to need the 7,000 titles. They need the ones that are relevant to their practice area and/or their jurisdiction," she said.

Using a feed of the products currently in the store, the team focused on people shopping by practice area.

"When you click, there would be hundreds of ad groups, basically, within that specific navigation heading. And then, each of the ad groups represents a unique product," Saraceni said.

New relevancy in keywords addressed the issue the team previously had with being too broad. For example, Pagano said, many customers were bankrupt, and were searching for "bankruptcy laws."

"It was casting too wide of a net. … It was further up the funnel. There wasn't sufficient customer intent behind it," she said.

The team pulled the unique identifiers for products, such as product ID or title. Campaigns were then grouped by practice areas "and then very specifically by each product name," Saraceni said.

For example, he said, they were able to see the Complete Guide to Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance, which is product ID 133444, and observe "which queries [customers] are performing, which ad copy is working the best, and how that specific product is selling at any given time."

Store navigation

The navigation on the store wasn’t changed by the campaign, Saraceni said, but the campaign was modeled after the navigation in the store to help the team filter in a systematic way.

"It was influenced by the categories of the books themselves, which is the big factor in our product listing ad because that's how the Google's Merchant Center was structured," he said.



RESULTS

Looking at the performance data, the team was able to see "lots and lots of clicks with very little conversion, which from a high-level view, this means our keywords are relevant, but they are distant from the conversion point," Saraceni said.

He added that "when you see a lot of clicks and no conversion, that means you're at the top of the funnel and there is room to go down."

Between April 2013 and January 2014, LexisNexis realized the following results:
  • A 798% overall increase in ROI

  • A 135% overall increase in revenue

  • Total revenue in its peak month of January 2014 surpassed the previous best-ever month (which was three years prior) by 56%

  • 107% overall increase in the number of orders

  • A 39% overall increase in conversion rate

  • A 50% overall decrease in cost per order

After the issues the team faced with the campaigns being too broad and fairly hands-off, "we had 20%, 30% ROI. And most months, we were barely breaking even, which was very far from where we wanted to be," Saraceni said.

With the foundation of product titles and branded terms covered, "then you have room to expand, which is what we did," he said. "Now, we're looking to add more keywords at a little higher in the funnel but very carefully, always looking at ROI."

Pagano added it's important to "always be looking for that next thing to test once you have that solid foundation, because you never know when consumer behavior is going to start to change. So you need to be ready to capitalize on that."

Sources

LexisNexis

Marketing Mojo — Digital marketing vendor

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