What this SMB did to lift its search engine marketing game

Art lovers founder talks about the search engine strategy helping it to find new customers

Art lovers exhibition
Art lovers exhibition


When your business exists to sell the work of undiscovered artists, being seen is critical. But with the proliferation of online retailers in Australia today, standing out from the crowd has become an increasingly difficult proposition.

Art teacher, Nancy Donaldson, says she founded Art Lovers two years ago as a means of supporting under-represented artists. In her own life as a teacher, she has seen numerous students leave the arts due to the difficulty of making a living.

“We were seeing lots of really talented people who just don’t get seen or picked up by galleries,” Donaldson tells CMO. “You have to be producing at a certain level for a gallery to take you on, and for lots of people art is a part time activity.”

But while the online world offers a theoretically limitless exhibition space, it is useless if no one can find what you are selling.

Donaldson initially turned to keyword search advertising, but as a small business did not have the budget to compete effectively, and hence was constantly being outbid. So she turned to Melbourne-based direct response marketing agency, King Kong, to help turn things around using content, search engine marketing and retargeting.

King Kong founder and head of growth, Sabri Suby, says the strategy developed for Art Lovers reflects the transformation taking place in search marketing since it first emerged 20 years ago. One of the key changes was to be more targeted in the keywords Art Lovers was buying.

“Doing search marketing, you need to start thinking more and more not just about vanity keywords like ‘art online’, but specific artists names and people searching for long keyword strings,” Suby says. “In the beginning, people were just searching for one or two keyword-based queries, and now they are putting five or six keywords in search queries.”

Ascertaining intent

Another critical factor is to understand which searches actually carry genuine intent that might be converted into sales.

“If someone is looking for ‘art shop’, there is very low purchase intent behind the keyword, even though it gets the vast majority of searches,” Suby says. “However, if someone is Googling ‘art shop Melbourne’ you know there is purchase intent behind it because they are thinking about a location to go and look at.”

While search engine marketing might be 20 years old, Suby says it continues to evolve rapidly. This is being driven in part by changes being made directly by Google, such as removing the ability to target an exact phrase match.

“Google AdWords as a platform today is completely unrecognisable to what it was six months ago,” Suby says. “New features are constantly being rolled out across client campaigns, and unless you are really looking at these campaigns weekly and daily, then there is a lot of wastage that occurs.”

Suby says one particularly useful tool now is the site, Answerthepublic.com, which pulls in aggregate search data from Bing and Google.

“You can look at what that keyword mindmap looks like in a visual representation and look at all the questions people are asking,” Suby says.

As a result of working with King Kong, Donaldson says Art Lovers’ has seen a return on investment of $6 for every $1 spent.

“We could see the advice was valuable, especially for newcomers like us, and it brought our attention to things we had missed,” Donaldson says. “At the moment, we have 60 words out there and 50 sitting in first second or third place, and 56 are on the first page. So the agency has done a really great job of getting those words in there.”

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