Why optimisation is the name of the game at First

Digital marketing agency First implements Marin search marketing software to save time and increase conversions

As more businesses spend big on search marketing, one digital marketing agency has found an innovative way to increase conversions and reduce cost per acquisition for its clients.

Australian digital agency, First, partnered with digital ad management provider, Marin Software, in an effort to enhance its client’s online marketing efforts, save time on reporting and optimisation, as well as improve visibility and surpass key client objectives.

“Optimisation is what we do,” First’s director of consulting, Mark Baartse, told CMO. “With paid search and other media spend, optimisation is really the name of the game. You need to try and figure out how to make every dollar work as hard as you can. Meanwhile, automation is a means to an end, in that it helps us to spend more time doing the optimisation and value-added activity.

“Marin’s software does automation better than a human would typically do, and by doing so it frees up more of our time to do things like expand the campaign, to experiment, to find new opportunities and to do more in-depth reporting.”

Implementing a scalable solution

Core to First’s business is delivering campaigns and creative strategies that target, capture and convert consumers. Baartse said this is achieved by applying a robust digital framework and a 360-degree approach to the online presence of each client’s brands.

In order to remain competitive and optimise efficiencies, First wanted clients to benefit from the latest in tech solutions in the search and social digital space. With a rapidly expanding business and more than 350,000 keywords under management, First needed a scalable solution that provided automated optimisation and reporting services.

“In the past 22 months, First has grown very strongly in a competitive market place, adding approximately $100,000 a month in revenue from our 2013 position,” Baartse said. “This represents a 20 per cent increase in revenues, which has flown consistently through to the bottom line result. This has been achieved on the back of a 50 per cent increase in the consulting and account management staffing that has allowed us to continue to provide the best technical and consulting services possible.”

This growth made it increasingly important for the agency to increase efficiency while also maintaining current levels of client support. On top of this, First needed a solution that could be seamlessly integrated with search and social media solutions.

Marin Software provided First wish a single unified view of each client’s performance marketing activities. This enabled First to manage, report and optimise client campaigns across both publishers and channels, at the same time, saving them significant amount of time and money. It now takes First just minutes to deliver the same service which previously took the team sometimes days to complete, Baartse said.

In fact, First reported a 70 per cent time saving, which has enable the team to have greater focus on analysis and optimisation.

“Marin takes care of the day-to-day running of things, which don’t actually add a lot of value to things but need to be done, like reporting, optimisation and multiple search engine stuff, which can be incredibly time consuming,” Baartse said. “Being a consulting agency and company, we have a limited amount of time to invest but it’s very easy to spend an entire allocated budget doing day-to-day routine stuff, which leaves limited opportunity to do value-added stuff that actually shows worth and makes a difference to the business.

“Having Marin Software allows us to do more interesting work rather than spending hours and hours duplicating campaigns, setting up bidding and boring stuff like that. It’s good for my team because it helps them to be more challenged and more engaged.”

Seeing the bigger advertising picture

As a result of implementing Marin Software, First also has a more holistic view of its clients’ activities. This includes better insights into what channels are performing, as well as being more adaptable when making any changes to campaigns. First can make changes to its clients’ campaigns responsively based on meaningful data, and has a management solution that facilitates streamlined bidding and optimisation across multiple channels.

Using Marin’s ‘Automated Bidding’ solution, one of First’s financial services clients reported an 18 per cent increase in enquiry conversion and a 20 per cent decrease in its cost per lead (CPL) on non-brand terms.

“Marin has a very sophisticated bidding technology and capability built into it that helps you run things better,” Baartse said. “Those things alone can help you increase engagement with customers and increase market share.”

In the last couple of weeks, First has been doing in-depth analysis for the large financial client across five different countries, and found that different geographies had different conversion rates at different times of the day.

“For example, for this company in Australia, between 10pm and midnight, conversions were really high, but in Singapore that trend was really different,” Baartse explained. “Doing that sort of analysis takes a lot of time, which Marin helps us to free up to be able to do. It also has reporting tools and analysis that helps us get that data easier than we could otherwise.”

The digital agency has also seen increased audience engagement, generating a greater number of conversions for First’s clients. Marin’s integration with key search and social media solutions such as Adwords, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, DFA and Jet Interactive meant First has greater transparency of the value its programs are driving to clients. It’s also empowered the agency to drive more conversions.

First customers also running with Marin include AGL, Scoupon and Fuji Xerox.

“This allows us to give a lot of benefit across all these customers,” Baartse added. “It’s a lot about doing basic bread and butter things like being able to manage across multiple search engines, while allowing us to get on with more value-added things.

“For example, a basic, simple thing is running ads on Bing. Bing is a lot cheaper to run than Google, in the vast majority of cases, but the volume is very low, so the ROI on consulting hours and the time used is not very good. But Marin allows us to do it all in an integrated way.”

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