Sweetspot rent high quality properties to students in Nottingham, Exeter and Oxford. They hired Mahon Digital Marketing in September 2017 to improve performance of their existing Adwords account.
Due to the highly seasonal nature of their business with properties becoming available at the beginning of the academic year, and rented out as soon as possible afterwards, for much of the time website content is very slim.
This has had the effect of organic traffic being limited and taking some time to restart each October. PPC promotion has therefore played a key role as the source of the majority of traffic and booked property viewings.
Our approach was to focus primarily on the client’s CPA targets and within budget constraints, maximise traffic to generate as many property viewing bookings in as short a time as possible. Making full use of the ever expanding features within Adwords allowed us to maintain click through rates and compete with the other players in the marketplace.
At the point Mahon took over, the account had been running for two years, so there was data available to base our review and initial restructuring on. The first step of the project was to review the existing campaigns in light of the cost per booking being extremely high in the previous two years. Those which had potential for running to target were kept active, and new campaigns were created to cover the Oxford properties and also Brand terms, as the site wasn’t in position 1 in the SERPs for some key search terms.
To improve the performance of the existing campaigns we undertook a review of and optimised:
- Campaign targeting
- Ad group structure
- Keyword relevance
- Keyword match types
- Keyword bids
- Ad copy
- Ad extensions
- Network traffic
- Search query data
- Negative keywords
The general strategy already in use, of running campaigns across the UK with keyword phrases containing the city names, and other campaigns geotargeted at the cities in question using keywords without the city name was quite logical. Our review highlighted a number of keywords with poor relevance however. This was addressed through a combination of pausing some keywords or adding negative keywords to filter out irrelevant search terms.
Some ad groups were focussed too broadly at the rental market and were paused in favour of those containing student related phrases. Additional groups were added to expand on those in place already and included groupings based around the number of bedrooms in the shared houses, and also the local area names and post codes.
Ad copy and extensions were all refreshed and updated in line with any price changes for the October launch.
The first season, October 2017 – April 2018 saw a 400% increase in the number of tracked bookings and a significant reduction in cost per booking over the previous year.
The seasonal nature of this account means that each September prior to relaunching, we have incorporated newer features that have been introduced to Adwords in the intervening period.
Features implemented and taken advantage of since Mahon Digital took over account management to improve performance and expand the variety of trackable leads include:
- Price extensions
- Callout extensions
- Call tracking
- Cross device conversions
- Structured snippets
- Review extensions
- Expanded Text Ads
- Device level bidding
Several new campaigns have also been created, tested and optimised:
- A remarketing campaign to target site visitors who didn’t book a viewing, which has proved effective
- A display campaign aimed at students in the relevant areas
- A campaign to promote the few remaining properties that tend to remain unrented in the New Year, after the majority are taken in the October-December period
As well as implementing the above and refreshing and trialling new ads, we optimise bids constantly, based on ad positions and conversion costs, and monitor search query reports regularly for less relevant search terms to block.
General Performance Trends
With the year on year experience of running this account, plus the added data, each iteration tends to bring improved CTR, lower CPA and CPC, and higher impression share.
2017-2018 Academic Year Performance
The most recent run of the campaigns presented some additional challenges:
- The crossing over during 2017 of most Google searches now being made on mobile rather than desktop devices. The site although being mobile optimised, does not allow contact form completion on these devices
- A more restrictive budget
- A desire of the client to not run Brand ads (traditionally CPA has been very good for these) to reduce spend
- Less choice of properties due to some being sold off
- A goal of all properties being let before Christmas – in previous years, there have always been some remaining into the Spring
- More direct competitors in the market place, as shown by the Auction Insights in Adwords
Despite the above challenges, all properties were let by the middle of November with the target CPA being achieved once more, and the majority of bookings being driven as usual by the Adwords campaigns.