There are many sources you could use to attract traffic into your marketing funnel.
But let’s be honest, three companies dominate – Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
So while in many other MarketingSherpa articles we give out-of-the-box ideas for building your marketing strategy, today we’re going to address the 800-pound gorilla in the room and give you ideas for working with the industry’s Goliaths.
To spur your ideas for working with these major platforms, in this article we bring you examples from a luxury customer homebuilder, a chocolatier, and a business academy.
At MarketingSherpa, we bring you case studies to give you ideas for building a successful marketing funnel. If you would like more hands-on help, see what it’s like being part of a MECLABS SuperFunnel Cohort by joining us on Wednesdays for ChatGPT, CRO and AI: 40 Days to build a MECLABS SuperFunnel (MECLABS Institute is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa).
Lacher Construction is a luxury custom home builder – each house is built and designed from scratch, not from pre-built templates like others in Augusta, Georgia, and the surrounding areas. This business model focused on a different target buyer than what many competitors were going after.
Rob Lacher, Owner, Lacher Construction, said “We’d get people calling but their budget was nowhere near what we worked with – and this was when we’d get calls at all, because sometimes our visibility online wasn’t great.”
The website had many basics, including a logo and product photos, but they weren’t what was needed to convince the right buyer to get in touch.
Creative Sample #1: Old logo
One example of a challenge the company faced with its old site was the way credibility was presented, simply with a headline and Learn More button. The website referenced its high rating with GuildQuality, but the team questioned if many visitors would know what GuildQuality was, and wouldn’t trust it as much as a Google rating, for example.
Creative Sample #2: The old homepage (courtesy of WebArchive)
The team got a new logo designed, a logo that was more reflective of a luxury builder. It was implemented on the website and all applicable online pages – Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, etc. The team also began using it on yard signs and in presentations.
Creative Sample #3: New logo, after rebranding and re-messaging
The website was re-messaged to highlight three themes that made Lacher Construction different than other options:
Creative Sample #4: The main area of the homepage, after rebranding and re-messaging
“Data was cleaned up across multiple citations for consistency. This is one of the top local SEO ranking factors (according to Whitespark) and not only provided the right information anywhere Lacher was found, but also helped with Google My Business rank – which is important since most buyers begin with a Google search,” Rule said. “Google is your homepage. Even if they’re heard about you, they’ll Google you before getting onto your site. Invest accordingly in your Google My Business profile, images, and other items that show up in Google search. Google presence – where a buyer typically begins learning about you – creates an impression of ‘Oh, I absolutely should click on their website.’”
In addition, the team reached out to other places where competitors were listed, but Lacher Construction wasn’t, in an effort to negate a few advantages other companies had. “Quantity of citations is also a ranking factor, so this targeted Google Maps rankings,” Rule said.
“Using Google Search Console data pulled into Google Sheets using the extension Search Analytics For Sheets, we can see rankings rise over a period of one year,” Rule said. “Sometimes a large website can undergo changes and see major results in one month, but smaller sites might take longer because Google doesn’t see them as relevant for as much information.”
For example, originally the website’s SERP position for ‘luxury home builder in augusta ga’ averaged 13.1. One year later, the SERP position averaged 2.4.
“And in Google Analytics, we can see the long-term impact that’s continued,” Rule said.
For example, sessions from Google My Business increased from 16 in February 2020 to 88 in February 2023, a 450% increase. Sessions from organic Google search traffic increased from 45 in February 2020 to 75 in February 2023, a 67% increase.
Keep in mind, a luxury customer homebuilder in a small market does not need a huge number of visitors to be successful. “Thanks to our investments in marketing, we have at times been booked out for over a year in advance! And we consistently get higher-quality calls from people interested in what we offer,” Lacher said.
Martin’s Chocolatier is an independent chocolate company specializing in artisan European chocolates. In 2022, with COVID-19 restrictions lifted and supermarkets reopened, Martin’s faced fierce competition from established brands such as Hotel Chocolat, Cadbury, and Nestlé.
For the Easter period of March/April 2022, the overarching goal for the brand was to deliver growth at a profitable advertising cost of sale (ACOS) in the UK marketplace compared to March/April 2021. The team had a £34,000 budget for March/April 2022.
The team combined all Amazon ad campaign types with a strategy that covered all stages from discovery to retargeting to generate revenue but also to spread awareness and affinity for the brand. Here is a detailed look at how they did it.
In previous years, Martin’s did not take full advantage of this key commercial event. Their strategy did not target all phases of the customer journey nor utilize all the available ad types. Testing different ad types early allowed the team to identify which worked best at each stage of the customer journey and focus their efforts there.
Martin’s has limited resources and makes over 90% of its revenue from Amazon. The product segmentation efforts allowed the team to identify non-performers early.
With competitor Thorntons publicly reporting a 200% increase in sales in 2021 compared to 2019 pre-COVID levels, the team knew that well-known brands with large budgets would be hard to compete against. To compete, they focused on Sponsored Display and Sponsored Product ads to reach a large number of users early, and targeted competitors to help capitalize on searches for bigger brands and grow NTB sales.
The team’s research found that supermarkets start selling Easter eggs at discounted prices at least one month in advance, and that people who purchase Easter Eggs in advance are likely influenced by product displays in supermarkets.
To reach these initial buyers, they created a Sponsored Product Ads (SP) manual keyword campaign – pay-per-click advertising on Amazon – starting on March 7th to catch early browsers for Easter egg terms and start populating product viewers.
They also ran an automatic campaign to increase ad visibility and to harvest other keywords and ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Number) that they could potentially target.
SP Ads allowed the team to pick up early search trends and brought similar products onto their radar that they could later target. These ad types also covered all stages of the customer journey, from discovery – which would increase their NTB (New-To-Brand) sales – to conversion (which would drive revenue growth).
Product isolation at an early stage was very beneficial, especially if the product was dominating a campaign. By separating the product into its own campaign, they were able to monitor performance, segregate budgets and manipulate targets more efficiently.
As searches and competition grew, they expanded their campaign coverage. Using data from SP auto campaigns, Amazon’s recommendations, and Amazon’s SERP, they populated their SP competitor targeting campaign aiming to increase their market share. Likewise, they ran an SP brand ASIN protection campaign to defend their product detail page from other advertisers.
To achieve top positions on Amazon search results, they launched a Sponsored Brand campaign targeting keywords harvested from the existing campaigns. They showcased a custom image to capture the attention of the shoppers, increasing brand familiarity and giving shoppers a peek at the brand’s product range through Product Collection ads.
As they got closer to Easter, they expanded their reach by targeting shoppers who looked at ‘Easter Eggs,’ ‘Chocolate Boxes & Gifts’ and ‘Chocolate Gifts’ categories; and launched a Sponsored Display Views Remarketing campaign on April 6th with a lookback period of seven, 14 and 30 days to re-engage non purchasers.
Finally, since one of Amazon’s biggest USPs is Prime delivery, purchase intent is usually highest two to five days before an event. They launched a Sponsored Display In-market (IM) campaign targeted towards the ‘Chocolate Gifts’ and ‘Chocolate Eggs’ IM audiences five days before Easter.
Martin’s Chocolatier was heavily reliant on Sponsored Product Manual Keyword campaigns. While the ad tactic makes up 88% of their overall ad initiatives, they never really analyzed the searches that came through as they never added converting search terms as targets in the campaigns nor filtered unprofitable targets. The data that could have been harvested was no longer available so despite a lot of history in the account, in some way, the team started with inadequate and inconsistent data.
What they did to tackle this issue was to ensure they had coverage in all the available placements by creating campaigns across different ad types and across the bestselling products – such as automatic, audience-based, and broad category campaigns a month before the Easter event.
By doing so, and after getting some data through, they were able to identify which ad tactics worked best, as well as where their customers had come from. These campaigns cover highly relevant keywords, competitors or closely related ASINs, as well as segments of people who are interested in products within the chocolate category as targets.
Sponsored Product Manual Keyword campaigns were still the most profitable, delivering 12.74% ACOS in March, and also generated the highest revenue contributing 34% to the overall ad revenue. That said, those campaigns had a historical advantage and did not need to really go through a learning phase.
The highest amount of data came from the auto campaigns, bringing in 31.4% of the overall revenue…though at a higher ACOS of 16.53% in March. The information the team harvested here was fed into their ASIN targeting campaign and supplemented their existing keyword targeting campaigns.
The biggest surprise was the Sponsored Brands and Sponsored Display campaigns. The team found that at least 37% of ad sales that came through to the Sponsored Brand campaigns were new customers, and 100% of the sales they achieved in Sponsored Display was New-To-Brand.
Creative Sample #5: Amazon Sponsored Brands ad from Martin’s Chocolatier (middle)
Creative Sample #6: Amazon Sponsored Display ad from Martin’s Chocolatier
“The Easter strategy was formed based on the learning that we have ads which captured the interest, ad tactics that drive the money and profitability from the initial touchpoint but also campaigns that recapture these potential customers that needed to get more acquainted with the brand before converting. As long as you know how to analyze your data and get the foundations right, you could be successful and you would be able to compete with bigger brands,” said Hannah Reyes, Marketplace Manager, Fluid Commerce (Martin’s Chocolatier’s ecommerce agency).
Between March and April 2022, the team spent £33,885 on advertising at an ACOS of 19.86%.
They generated £170,594.57 in revenue (a 282.29% increase year over year) and £14,307 in NTB sales (a 545.91% increase).
Overall sales also benefited from the enhanced ad activities, with total revenue growing 17.76% YoY. The sales velocity gained during Easter stayed with the brand and improved the rankings of the core products.
In fact, following on from the success of the Easter campaign, more shoppers have become aware of Martin’s Chocolatier, which has catapulted some of their products into the top 50 Bestsellers in the Chocolate Boxes & Gifts category on Amazon.
Creative Sample #7: Highly Rated for ‘Chocolate Box’ & ‘Chocolate’ search terms (January 2023)
Creative Sample #8: First sponsored listing for ‘chocolate gift’ search (January 2023)
Martin’s Chocolatier also earned the Bestseller badge from for ‘easter egg’ and ‘easter eggs’ for ASIN B09TW7DW9D, and Amazon’s Choice Badge for ‘easter egg hunt chocolate’ and ‘easter eggs’ for ASIN B079ZX46WR.
Creative Sample #9: Best Seller badge on Amazon ads for Martin’s Chocolatier
“I’ve been genuinely impressed with the results this project has achieved in such a short space of time. We have even been ranking above big-name brands on like-for-like products and I couldn’t be happier with the performance of the campaign,” said Philip Ahn, Managing Director, Martin’s Chocolatier.
Iskra Evtimova used to provide done-for-you services and was trading her time for money.
“I am an online marketer, and the services I offered at that time were SEO and paid advertising in Google,” said Iskra Evtimova, Founder, Iskra Evtimova Marketing & Mindset Coach.
However, she loves teaching, and felt she was very good at it. So one day, she decided to create a Business Academy where she could teach entrepreneurs how to present and advertise their businesses online to attract more clients and make more money in less than six months.
The question she asked herself was: “How can I advertise my Academy?” She decided to organize a five-day free workshop. “The idea was to go live every night for one hour in a closed Facebook group and give valuable information about creating and growing an online business,” Evtimova said.
The workshop was called ‘My successful business,’ and the plan was to present/pitch the Business Academy on the fourth day. She wanted people to get to know her, see her teaching methods, and come and join her paid program if they see her as the right fit.
“To spread the word about the workshop and gather possible participants (leads), I chose to promote it via Facebook and run my ads there,” Evtimova said. She invested €250 in Facebook Ads.
From the Facebook Ads, 1,000 people registered for the free workshop.
From those 1,000, around 300 people watched the videos (the recordings were available in the group for one week).
In the end, 40 women joined her paid program, so she gained a little over €20,000 in revenue – a 7,900% ROI.
“I have learned that once you give value upfront, people start trusting you and want to buy what you offer. It is important to remember that the paid services you provide must be of excellent quality, as you have already set the bar high,” she advised. “Gain the trust of your potential buyers first, have a great offer, and the sale will be easy. People buy from those they know, like, and trust. Instead of running ads to directly promote your products or services, think about how to earn your dream clients' trust first.”
This article was distributed in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
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