Gaining efficiency around search-based marketing: REA Group's keyword quest

ASX-listed property digital media company rolls out online advertising management tool and gains new automated reporting and management capabilities

When you have more than one million keyword search terms and multiple digital brands to manage, having an automated, scalable and efficient search management and reporting tool is vital to your sanity.

This was the case for Bill Robinson, an SEM specialist working at ASX-listed online property industry digital advertising organisation, REA Group. The company operates a host of well-known real estate brands including realestate.com.au, and realcommercial.com.au, all of which are heavily reliant on Google and Bing search for traffic and customer leads.

Robinson and his team manage 30 accounts including different identities for each state, as well as website sections such as land development or commercial property. The search marketing team is a centralised function and works across all lines of business.

The problem was that its incumbent search management solution was archaic, slow and manual. Making bulk changes to keywords was an arduous process, and customer service was poor.

“Our goal was to improve paid search ROI and the level of inquiries from paid search activities,” Robinson said. “This is very important as search sits at the heart of our traffic strategy.”

The company opted to roll out Marin Software’s platform concurrently with another major SEM software provider over a three-month period, a task which involved tracking tasks through both systems. Tests were conducted in four main areas, Robinson said: Bid management and automation efficiency; customer service; reporting efficiency; and accuracy of conversion.

The Marin Platform was successful and has now been rolled out as a permanent platform. In one example, Robinson said REA saw a 52 per cent increase in enquiry conversion rates on one of its accounts on realestate.com.au after deploying the software, and a 39 per cent decrease in cost per click.

Scheduling, changing and optimising campaigns across the sites has also become quicker and easier, and was achieved without spending additional dollars.

Another key area of improvement is reporting. “I can automate reports and distribute these to stakeholders, whereas previously we had to download reports,” Robinson said. “Data is presented in a more visually appealing way as well.

"People are more interested in the metrics that affect them, such as cost per inquiry or return on ad spend."

In addition, Marin integrates well with REA Group’s existing analytics social and search technology tracking platform, SiteCatalyst, and allows the team to pull in conversion data, such as email leads to real estate agendas. This helps determine which real estate ads to run for that day. Marin also integrates with Google Adwords, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook and Adobe Insights.

Having rolled out the Marin automation bidding platform earlier this year across higher value accounts, Robinson said his team are working to extend the technology across all keyword accounts. Recent upgrades to the platform have also allowed REA Group to gain more functionality with site links and how it tags ads for Google.

"We're using this feature more to change our site links," he said.

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