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How a testing model is driving SEAT and CUPRA’s search marketing performance

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How a testing model is driving SEAT and CUPRA’s search marketing performance

“Will we ever be able to put search marketing strategy in the driver’s seat?” This is almost every search marketer’s dilemma as the community continues to remain at the mercy of Google’s algorithms and updates.

SEAT S.A, the Barcelona-based multinational automaker part of the Volkswagen group have innovated a testing model that is driving growth for its brands, SEAT and CUPRA in the European market. While SEAT is the young, cool and urban brand that offers cars with striking designs and several mobility solutions – CUPRA is an unconventional brand, which is defined by its progressive design and the performance of its electrified models.

We spoke with Corinne Calcabrina, Global Media Manager at SEAT S.A, Sophie Santallusia, Global Paid Search and Programmatic Director, and Alejandro Sebastian, Global Search Team Lead at PHD Media Spain to discuss the ‘Performance innovation program’ (SEAT S.A’s testing model) and its value add to the businesses.

A fast-paced industry

Digital is a fast-moving sector and search is always reinventing itself with new formats and everchanging ways to create and manage accounts. The teams at SEAT and CUPRA had several pain points:

1. Staying on-top of all innovations and changes in the industry

“We needed to become first movers who actively capitalize on opportunities that appear. To ensure this our teams needed to take advantage of search space dynamics, apply best practices, and gain a technological and intelligence edge over the competition.”

– Corinne Calcabrina, Global Media Manager at SEAT S.A.

2. Improving visibility of the team’s hard work

“While we were putting all these efforts, we wanted to improve our team’s visibility. While we are busy becoming the best performing channel, always reinventing, working towards results and efficiencies, we often miss the glitter of other channels. Adding an official scope and framework means we get to report and showcase our achievements.”

– Corinne Calcabrina, Global Media Manager, SEAT S.A.

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3. Maintaining performance and improving efficiency

“As the best performing channel on a last-click attribution model, we were also facing multiple challenges. The pandemic lockdowns and microchip shortages made search performance improvements a constant, ongoing must-have. This meant decreasing the cost per click (CPC) and improving the cost per acquisition (CPA) were always core reasons to develop such a testing model.”

– Corinne Calcabrina, Global Media Manager, SEAT S.A

Putting testing in the driver seat: The SEAT and CUPRA Performance innovation program

The SEAT S.A testing model, ‘Performance innovation program’ was designed to align with the inherent love for innovation that runs at the core of SEAT and CUPRA brands. The testing model was built centrally to maintain brand focus on the strength of paid search – improving cost efficiencies and accelerating performance.

Corinne and her team at SEAT S.A and their agency, PHD Media reviewed brand strategies for SEAT and CUPRA respectively, their performance, and local needs. They created a framework that provides structure, helps the brands expand their market share, and deliver central visibility on the testing results. They created specific testing roadmaps, based on quarterly goals that align with local markets based on their needs and strategies.

“We then applied our tests, sharing the hypothesis (highlighting results from other markets) of what we hope to achieve and then applying the test into the main strategy.

“We had a clear timeline and roadmap. We always test and learn. This allows us to have a specific position with partners, allowing us to always be part of the alphas and betas, testing new formats, always trying to improve results at the same time”, Corinne shared.

To facilitate consistency the SEAT S.A team organized tests throughout the year pacing one test at a time for an ad group or campaign to maintain efficiency and gain clear observations. The roadmap was created on these factors:

  • Priorities for markets based on the impact and workload
  • Changes that Google makes to ad formats or different features that it sunsets or iterates

The search marketing grand prix: data, automation, and visual optimization

SEAT S.A and PHD Media started differentiating strategies by keyword type and defined them for each ad group. Keywords were segmented based on brand and non-brand search, their role, and their respective KPIs. This data was then used during the auction bidding. Artificial intelligence (AI) was used to segment audiences and target ads that were top of the funnel. Comparative insights from these tests were later fed into the business to inform the direction of strategy.

To improve the click through rate (CTR) and lower CPCs, the SEAT S.A team focused on adding visuals to ads, improving ad-copies, and testing new extensions. They also decreased CPAs by using bid strategies and the system’s AI to get the best of their budgets.

To master their visual impact on audiences SEAT S.A used image extensions for each ad across all their campaigns. Google displayed these images based on multiple factors like clicks, content, and keyword triggers to optimize the best performing ones.

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From a data point of view, in Search SEAT S.A used Google Search Ads (SA360) to manage and monitor their Google Ads and Bing Ads respectively. The data sets tracked all the core essentials of paid search:

  • Keyword conversion performance
  • Ad copies
  • Audience data through all the custom bidding options available in SA360

Outcomes

The ‘Performance innovation program’ model has helped SEAT and CUPRA achieve one of their best tests which catalyzed their search performance in terms of the cost per visit (CPV), one of their main KPIs that signaled top of the funnel conversions. The cost per visit (CPV) improved by 30% and cost per acquisition (CPA) improved by 37%.

SEAT S.A (SEAT and CUPRA) are now equipped with new ways to deduce and analyze conversions on a market-to-market basis.

Sharing intelligence across diverse markets

After completing the testing phase, the SEAT S.A team and their global partner PHD Media reported on results and observations. Sharing their learnings and insights with other markets has empowered other teams to benefit from the knowledge and expertise derived from the successful test prototypes. Focusing on components that drive results has allowed the teams spread across to be challenged and has facilitated constant learning while embracing changes and new features. The SEAT and CUPRA teams are now strongly positioned to outperform the competition.

Gearing up for a cookie less future

Going cookie less will bring challenging times and impact the search channel. SEAT and CUPRA plan to counter this with the use of Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to maintain performance and target the right audience. Opening up to new visual formats like Discovery campaigns and MMA/MSAN from Bing will also take an important place within search in the future, as the core of search might evolve with more automation, less granularity and control.

Greater focus on measurement and a privacy-first future

The team is testing ‘consent mode’ with GA4 and ‘enhanced conversion’ to estimate the attrition due to privacy guidelines. They are also focused on identifying and designing a risk contingency plan for the paid search elements that they won’t be able to test in the near future.

“We are testing all the new solutions and features that Google is bringing to the market in terms of privacy and cookie less capabilities. Particularly, our testing is focused on deploying the full suite of Google Analytics 4 (GA4), site-wide tagging, consent mode, and enhanced conversions.

Additionally, we are also testing new audience segments that GA4 allows within a privacy first ecosystem on our paid search campaigns. We are seeing some positive and promising results.”

– Corinne Calcabrina, Global Media Manager at SEAT S.A

SEAT S.A and PHD Media are actively focused on Google solutions for mapping markets and audiences that are privacy compliant and applicable for targeting segments.

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They are also working towards gathering and connecting first party data like CRM audiences and customer match solutions.


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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

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7 Data-Driven Content Strategy Tips For Improving Conversions

There’s an old maxim in the marketing world, “content is king.” This has been true as long as search engine optimization has been around, and probably dates back even further in the world of general marketing.

But as simple as that adage is, it leaves a lot of room for interpretation, namely what kind of content?

In those early SEO days, it meant identifying your keywords and jamming them into pages anywhere they would fit.

But modern digital marketers are smarter (not to mention that strategy doesn’t work anymore).

These days, successful content starts with a plan that’s backed up by numbers, a data-driven content strategy, if you will.

But what exactly does that mean?

In simple terms, it means developing content using an approach built on user information. This can include information like demographics, survey answers, consumer preferences, etc.

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You probably don’t need to be told why this is important, but just to make sure there’s no doubt, let’s be clear: Using a data-driven content strategy helps you decide where to spend your time, effort, and money.

In other words, you have finite resources. You don’t want to waste them on people who aren’t likely to convert.

A data-driven content strategy allows you to tailor your marketing campaigns to generate the best ROI.

For the purposes of search engine and PPC specialists, it can help you decide which keywords to go after, ensuring you’re targeting the right audience.

Sounds simple enough, right? All you need to do is pop open your content research tool and look for commonalities, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s a bit more to it than that.

But never fear, that’s why you’re here.

In this helpful guide, we’ll give you a step-by-step approach to developing, implementing, and optimizing your very own data-driven content strategy.

Ready to get started?

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1. Set Your Content Goals

The very first thing you need to decide is what you’re hoping to accomplish. You can’t be all things to all people, so you need to make some choices.

Do you want to increase traffic? Are you looking to make sales? Do you want more leads?

Determine what your content goals are and identify the channels best suited to meet them. Once you’ve done this, you can establish your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Be sure to keep this in mind while you’re creating content.

Everything you add to your website or campaign should serve a purpose. If you’re not sure what it’s doing, your audience won’t know either.

2. Define Your Target Audience

Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to figure out who to go after to make it happen.

Comb through the demographic data and other information you have access to. Spot commonalities that occur across many or some of your targets.

Many marketers find it helpful to create customer personas. Using your data, imagine a typical person for each of the various roles you’re targeting.

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For example, you may have a prospect persona, a lead persona, a buyer persona and a repeat persona.

Put yourself in the shoes of these imaginary people.

What type of language resonates with them? What is their highest level of education? Do they want professionalism or personability? Why are they on your website? What do they hope to accomplish with your help? Be as detailed as you can.

Many marketers even give them a name. For example, if you were creating personas for your plumbing supply company, you may have:

Lead Larry – 45 years old

A mid-career plumber, Lead Larry owns his own one-man business. He makes $75,000 a year. He went to a trade school and his work van is 6 years old. He’s looking for a way to reduce overhead and find cheaper parts than his local supply company. He values hard work, honesty, and professionalism.

Be as creative and detailed as you like, just remember this isn’t a fiction-writing exercise. You’re creating personas based on your typical target, so keep your persona in line with who they actually are.

3. Review Your Competitor’s Content And Do Topical Research

Now it’s time to take a look at what the competition is doing. Maybe they’re just flying by the seat of their pants, but they’re probably putting some effort into their campaigns, too.

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Review what they’re doing and look for what appears to be working.

For example, if they’re blogging, they may have a view counter on the page. If so, what type of blogs are getting the best results?

Look for trends in your industry. What’s everyone talking about? Is there a big trade show coming up? Or a new technology about to be released?

Figure out who you’re competing with for clicks, not just to see what’s working for them, but also to gain ideas for content of your own. Start making a list of things you want to cover.

If there are influencers in your niche, this is also a good time to check and see what they’re posting about.

4. Conduct Keyword Research

Once you’ve settled on what your content should be, it’s time to perform that old SEO staple: keyword research.

Using a tool like Google Analytics, Semrush, or something platform-specific like YouTube’s Search Insights, figure out the type of language your content needs to use.

This will help you in more than just the SEO aspect, too.

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Using keywords in your content demonstrates to your audience that you speak the same language they do. And that doesn’t mean English, it means using the nomenclature everyone in the niche will understand.

Going back to our plumbing supply example, that means referring to a product as a “three-fourths full port threaded ball valve,” rather than a “metal connection thingy.”

Okay, that’s a ridiculous example, but you get the point.

The good thing is that you probably already have a working, if not expert knowledge of this.

5. Create Content That Aligns With Your Goals

If you remember, the very first step to creating a data-driven content plan was to determine your goals.

Now, equipped with everything you’ve done since then, it’s time to create the content that addresses them.

Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be F. Scott Fitzgerald to write the kind of content your audience wants. And you’ve already done a lot of the foundational work – now it’s just time to put everything together.

Your content could take nearly any form, videos, blog posts, infographics, case studies, or white papers.

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If you’re not comfortable doing these on your own, it should be reasonably easy to find a writer or videographer in your area or extended network. Just ask your connections for recommendations.

If you’re still not confident in your ability to deliver or you can’t afford to hire someone, don’t worry. We have an excellent piece that will walk you through everything you need to know about content creation.

6. Promote Your Content On The Right Channels

You’ve created your masterpiece of relevant content. Now it’s time to share it with the world. But how do you do that? Do you just post it on your corporate blog and wait for Google to index it?

You could take that kind of passive approach, but this is great stuff you’ve just made. Everyone in your niche will want to consume it. And to make sure you get the eyes you want on it, it’s time to promote it.

But before you go linking to it on Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn, and every other social media platform and aggregator site you can think of, pause for a minute.

When you were developing your user personas, you hopefully received some data about where your targets live online.

Are they regular Twitter users? Do they haunt industry-specific forums? Are you connected to them via Slack or other instant messenger apps?

Find out where they hang out and post away. In most cases, if you’re not sure if your targets use a platform or not, you should just go ahead and post anyway.

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There are some sites where you can be dinged for unpopular content (Reddit, for example), but most of the time, there’s no harm.

This is also a time to start thinking about how you can repurpose your new content.

Do you have an opportunity for a guest blog post on another site? Or, would your new infographic fit perfectly in your next investor report?

If your data-driven content is built on the solid principles we’ve discussed, it will get engagements.

7. Use Analytics To Measure Results

After your content goes live, you can begin measuring your ROI to see what you did well, where you missed the mark, and what could be optimized to perform better.

This is where the KPIs discussed back in step one come back into play.

Some of these are easier to track than others.

If increasing sales or conversions was your goal, you should have data that backs up performance. Likewise, if you set out to improve traffic to your website, you should have the analytics to track that.

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Things like brand visibility can be a bit trickier.

Regardless of what it is you’re using to determine success, you should find the data you need to track performance in Google Analytics.

For a detailed walkthrough of this process, we’ve provided information on exactly how you can measure content marketing success.

A Data-Driven Content Strategy Is A Winning One

Data is a marketer’s best friend. It tells you exactly what works, what doesn’t, and often, why that’s the case.

And a data-driven content strategy is vital for success in today’s hyper-competitive business and SEO environment.

Use the tools available to you to gather data – that’s why they’re there.

Learn to identify what the numbers are telling you and use them to help you craft the kind of content that not only attracts views but gets shares and achieves your goals.

More Resources:

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Featured Image: metamorworks/Shutterstock

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