September 11, 2008
Case Study

How to Switch to SEO, PPC Strategies to Increase Leads: 10 Steps to Triple-Digit Lifts

SUMMARY: Are you a marketer for a U.S.-based company that has worldwide dealers yet barely a Web presence? Then this Case Study on lead generation is for you.

Basement Systems has maintained triple-digit growth in leads generated from its SEO and PPC campaigns over the past two years. The 10 steps they take.

Basement Systems’ website generated very few leads a few years ago. The basement waterproofing company’s marketing, in fact, relied primarily on Yellow Pages advertising.

Little effort went into the website because basement waterproofing is a reactionary purchase – people usually don’t need it until they experience a wet basement. So, buying ads in the Yellow Pages seemed sufficient to generate business.

Richard Fencil, Web Marketing Director, wanted to shift the firm’s lead generation focus to the website – a relatively new marketing medium at that time for the company with dealers worldwide. Here are the 10 steps Fencil and his team took.


Fencil and his team focused on SEO and PPC campaigns to make the website the primary online lead generator. “We just need to be out there in the appropriate spots,” he says. “And the Web is great for this because when someone looks for waterproofing, we can affect how we come up there to an extent.”

Here are 10 steps the team took:

->Step #1. Redesign website with SEO in mind

To generate leads from SEO, Fencil’s team redesigned the website in the following ways:

1) Changed the structure and navigation to make it easier for the search engines to understand what Basement Systems offers. They did this first by creating an easier flow for readers.

2) Did a lot of keyword research up front. After they knew which keywords effectively drew people to the site, they built keyword-related content into it to convert traffic into leads.

“We have multiple keywords that drive small amounts of traffic,” he says. “So, we have to build our site to accommodate lots of different searches.”

3) Implemented a thorough assessment of all titles and metatags. They found many pages with duplicate or incorrect tags and titles.

Tip: To consistently improve the SEO of the website, Fencil and his team used consultants and attended conferences and seminars. They used this information to complete three major overhauls of the site to get where it is now.

Note: Natural search drove most of the traffic to the site, But it didn’t convert quite as much traffic as PPC ads because SEO is not as targeted.

->Step #2. Create a PPC campaign

A. Buying and messaging

When buying PPC ads, the Basement Systems team got far better results in local markets than nationally. So, they bought the largest metro buys they could. They also bought in smaller markets where they had dealers.

Some of the geotargeted PPC ads took a prospect right to a local dealer’s site instead of Basement Systems’ website. “People want to work with a local company, not necessarily a national company,” Fencil says.

The messaging in PPC ads changed based on keyword searches. Some sample keyword searches: “basement finishing,” “basement waterproofing,” “crawl space waterproofing,” and “sump pump insulation.”

B. Testing

Fencil’s team used analytics offered by major search engines like Google and Yahoo! to test the effectiveness of PPC ads. “We test every text line, dynamic content switching on Yahoo! and, of course, placement positions based on bids,” he says.

Positioning of ads, whether first or seventh, was extremely variable. Many factors influenced placements, including how well a keyword phrase converted traffic. So, Fencil’s team continued testing, tweaking, and tracking to get better results. They discovered that putting the 1-800 number in the ad, for example, had no effect. It was better to put text in there.

Note: Dynamic content switching generated a higher clickthrough rate but a lower conversion rate. They bid on ads accordingly.

->Step #3. List in relevant directories

Fencil and his team posted Basement Systems’ 1-800 number and website URL in every directory their intended audience might search. Directories included Yahoo! Directory,,,, and many other niche or regional directories.

->Step #4. Build credibility in the community

Basement Systems built credibility by:
- Posting over 400 customer testimonials on the website
- Highlighting its patented sump pump systems on the home page
- Highlighting 19 innovation prizes on “waterproofing products” on the home page
- Showing products on the homepage that have been featured in popular TV shows, such as the one hosted by Bob Vila, Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

->Step #5. Create partnership with dealers

Basement Systems’ dealers are independent. They can sell other products and services besides those offered through Basement Systems. But that didn’t prevent Fencil’s team from directing leads from the corporate site to dealers based on their location.

In addition, Fencil’s team helped dealers improve their own websites by implementing the same SEO strategies they used nationally.

The team also built boxes on dealers’ websites that said: “As Seen on TV: See Us on Bob Vila and Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls.”

“The more they sell, the more products they buy from us and we benefit,” he says.

->Step #6. Respond immediately to inquiries

If a lead came through the 800 number on their website, Basement Systems had people on their staff reply immediately to set up free appointments. “As soon as it comes in, we get right back to them because people change their minds,” Fencil says. “Things aren’t as important a day later.”

A lead from a contact form was forwarded to the appropriate dealer for their call-back.

->Step #7. Encourage dealers to set up extended hours

Basement Systems encouraged all their dealers to have extended hours to respond to leads themselves.

->Step #8. Join social media communities

Fencil has created a new staff position that focuses on social media. He wants to be prepared for any future shifts in the way people find information on the Internet.

But the initial goal of the social media campaign was to join communities where people discussed anything related to waterproofing. They answered questions in forums in those communities. They simple wanted to talk to people, not create viral videos or anything like that, Fencil says.

->Step #9. Constantly try new things

Though most leads came from SEO and PPC campaigns, the team did a smattering of other things to drive and convert traffic. “We do banners, display ads … we have a spread on Bob Vila,” Fencil says. “We’ll spend money anywhere to try things.”

They test to see what works and optimize based on test results.

->Step #10. Test and track

The team used Google Analytics to track where Web leads come from. Then they compared the source of leads to how well the leads converted to determine what sources drove the most traffic or sent leads that converted better.

Tip: Basement Systems used its own proprietary software with programs like Google Analytics to get this information.

For tracking, the team attached different codes to different ads, switched phone numbers for certain campaigns, and created specific landing pages for specific campaigns. “There are lots of ways to do it so you can absolutely track every single click that comes from every source,” Fencil says.

The team also did multivariate and AB split tests to see what kind of content and content placement converted better on the website.


After Fencil and his team shifted their attention to the website, the number of leads skyrocketed 3,477% from the year before. “It just shows how we weren’t doing anything in 2004, so it’s kind of a ridiculous number,” he says.

Having triple-digit increases in Web leads for two consecutive years is nothing to brush off, though.
- 295% more leads generated from the Web in 2006 over 2005
-151% more leads generated from 2006 to 2007
-71% more leads generated from 2007 to 2008 so far

“In 2006, I thought, wow, we probably can’t grow much more than this,” says Fencil. “And then we more than doubled the next year … I haven’t even seen the size of our market yet. I can’t guess it.”

NOTE: Leads were described as people who filled out an online form or called the website’s 1-800 number.

Unique visitors to the site also increased by 106% from 2005 to 2006.

Traffic increased 22% from 2006 to 2007. “It kind of shows we got better at our conversion, not just generating traffic,” Fencil says.

Useful links related to this article

Basement Systems' Creative Samples:

Yahoo! Directory:


Yellow Pages:

Ed Carte, consultant used by BasementSystems:

Basement Systems:

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