When Paid Search Marketing & Business Operations Come Together

Any seasoned paid search marketer understands the importance of granular data analysis. It becomes habit pretty quickly, especially when you gain big wins as a result of peeling back the onion to uncover opportunities within your account.

When working with newcomers to the field, it's often easy to sense their anxiety when they first begin to realize all of the possible data points that one should consider when managing an account. As if the basics like cost-per-click (CPC), cost per lead (CPL), conversion rate, return on ad spend (ROAS), etc., aren't enough, you then layer in analysis related to day parting, days of week, seasonality and so on -- it certainly can be a lot to take in.

But is it really necessary to be looking at the data this granularly? Absolutely.

Here's just one real life example of the payoff of being meticulous in your analysis of paid search data. But there's also another important theme in this story, and that's the power of joining business operations with empirical marketing data. When the two work hand-in-hand, the entire business wins.

The Background

We took on the management of an existing paid search account for a company in the health care vertical. The primary objective was to drive quality lead volume at an acceptable CPL. These leads came either via a web form, or a call to the call center.

Through some initial research, all parties were aware of decreased search query volume on most of the search terms on Saturdays and Sundays. A business decision had been made at that time to operate the call center on limited staff on Saturdays and Sundays to adjust for the lower call volume that was expected to be driven through paid search. Made perfect sense.

The Observations

One of our first steps was an account restructure to improve relevancy both at the ad copy and landing page level. As we got to work on this, we quickly noticed a significant trend that was occurring in the account, and had been occurring for some time based on historical data.

Call & Form Leads Days of Week

Digging into performance on a day-by-day level uncovered a trend that had been overlooked as a result of viewing data at a more aggregate level in the past. When simply changing the lens in which one looks at the data, small breakthroughs can be uncovered. In this example, call leads and form leads were broken out based on day of week.

In the graph above, there's an obvious deficit of leads occurring on Saturday and Sunday. The business assumed that this would be true though -- as past research had showed decreased query volume over the weekends.

Overall weekend leads decreased approximately 56 percent as compared to weekdays. But was this really all due to less search demand during the weekends? When taking things out of an aggregate view and analyzing call leads and form leads separately, and how each behaved based on the days of the week, things quickly became clear.

  • During weekdays the proportion of call leads was typically about 16 percent higher than form leads, yet on weekends the call leads were 76 percent lower than form leads.

  • During weekdays, call leads made up 55 percent of all leads, yet on weekends call leads made up only 19% of all leads.

The Recommendation

After several hypotheses were made, business operations was brought into the discussion and the question of weekend call center staffing was addressed.

How is it that the variance of call leads could be so much lower than web leads during the weekend? Are people less inclined to make a call on a Saturday or Sunday? Are we missing major lead volume opportunities due to insufficient staffing levels in the call center? Maybe both?

Only one way to find out -- test it.

The data was compelling enough for business operations to increase call center staffing on Saturdays for four weeks to test the impact this would have on call lead volume and CPL within the paid search program.

The Impact

By increasing call center staffing on Saturdays only (Sundays remained constant for the time being), the weekend lead variance improved significantly and drove increased quality lead volume at a CPL that was consistent to that of weekdays.

Whereas the variance of weekend leads had been decreasing by 56 percent compared to weekdays, by adding additional call center staff to handle the inbound calls that we being driven from paid search on Saturdays the weekend lead variance shifted from a 56 percent decrease to less than 40 percent decrease -- helping to drive an increase of efficient leads to the overall program.

Weekend Variance Call & Form Leads

In addition, the ratio of call leads to form leads evened out dramatically when the call center was better staffed on Saturdays. With added call center staffing on Saturdays, call leads made up 55 percent of total leads on Saturdays -- the same proportion that occurs during weekdays.

Call & Form Leads Before and After

At a time when increasing overall lead volume (within acceptable CPL levels) was critical, the call center staffing solution played an important role in enabling the paid search program to reach a breakthrough.

Key Takeaways

  • Above anything, track your call leads -- if you're not, you may not know what you're missing.

  • You never know what you're going to find when you dig deep in the data -- it's not always gold, but sometimes it is.

  • Compelling paid search data matched with business operations can most certainly lead to impactful improvements for the paid search program and the company.