Company: Company: Continental Warranty
Contact: Shawn Vicklund, Director of Marketing
Location: Location: Seattle, Washington
Industry: Insurance, B2C
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 300

Quick Read:

Continental Warranty focused its search advertising efforts on generating leads through its offer of free quotes for extended-warranty coverage. After three years of running paid search campaigns that averaged 700 Web leads per week from 20,000 keyword phrases, its lead-capture rate had plateaued.

Shawn Vicklund, director of marketing for Continental Warranty, needed to better understand the company's target audience to increase lead volume, lead quality, and conversions. Continental Warranty turned to conversion-optimization firm magnify360 for help with profiling and better targeting visitors.

In May 2007, Continental Warranty began a three-month pilot program using 30% of its paid search traffic.

During the first 10 days of the pilot, the company increased lead volume 42%. After four months, in September 2007, the company's lead volume was up some 90% as a direct result of the campaign: The leads increased from 700 per week to 1,332. Moreover, sales increased 23% in those four months.

The Challenge:

In 2007, after a three-year search advertising campaign directed at generating leads by offering free auto warranty quotes on its landing page, Continental Warranty's lead volume had plateaued. Helming a team of 250 salespersons, Shawn Vicklund had to increase lead volume and quality with a new campaign in order to increase conversions and, therefore, revenue.

Continental Warranty also needed to increase the data it captured on its landing page. The data form on the page gathered a minimal amount of information in order to provide the free auto warranty quote: year, make, model, and mileage.

For a better understanding of its target audience, Continental Warranty wanted to gather more information. It hoped that expanding its visitor profiles would allow its sales team to create more-convincing, better-tailored sales pitches.

The Campaign:

In spring 2007, Continental Warranty turned to magnify360, which helps B2B and B2C companies improve site-visitor engagement and conversion.

During the initial 10-day pilot program, the company directed 30% of Continental's traffic to the existing landing page, to serve as a control. The remaining 70% were directed through magnify360's microsites, which adapt themselves to visitors' profiles and needs.

(A microsite is a mini-site, or a distinct group of individual Web pages, that is part of a primary site. The microsite that magnify360 created had its own URL but was a sub-domain of Continental Warranty's main Web site.)

Before the first page of the microsite is even delivered, magnify360 gathers 30+ points of data on each visitor—behind the scenes, without asking the visitor for any information. The collected data includes geo-location, Internet browser type, and user's operating system, among others, and is enough to determine which microsite would be effective for the visitor.

Once the visitor is on the appropriate microsite, magnify360 continues to profile the visitor, and the microsite responds in real time to that information. It changes to fit the visitor, in terms of matching the right content with the visitor's profile and needs.

Continental Warranty and magnify360 worked together to identify specific visitor profiles and supplemented them with magnify360's library of proprietary profiles.

Using the data collected during the first 10 days of pilot program, magnify360 was able to identify additional visitor profiles and developed new microsites targeting those profiles.

The results of the three-month pilot were so impressive that the company moved 100% of its PPC traffic to the magnify360 platform.

The Results:

Within the first four months of the optimization campaign, the company's lead volume went from 700 per week to 1,332.

During the same time, Continental Warranty generated on average $125,000 in additional revenue per month, Vicklund said. As a result, the company was able to expand its keyword buys from 20,000 to 40,000, in turn driving more leads to the site.

Despite the substantial increase in lead volume, lead quality did not degenerate, as evidenced by the customer retention rate's remaining steady throughout the campaign: Continental gives customers a 30-day grace period during which they can get their money back if they decide they don't want the auto warranty; however, during the optimization campaign the proportion of customers taking advantage of the money-back offer did not increase.

Moreover, surprisingly, the response rate for those filling out microsite response form tripled, even though visitors had to answer more questions (up to three more, referring to product preferences—e.g., "What would you like your warranty to cover?").

The successful campaign allowed Continental Warranty to collect more data on its customers, providing its sales teams with additional tools to help them in the sales process, according to Vicklund.

"It was good to see that even with the campaign we had run for three years and had really developed to its fullest potential that there was still room for growth and we learned through this that your search campaigns don't have to plateau," Vicklund said.

Vicklund said Continental Warranty continues to develop customer profiles and microsites, and that the campaign is still growing with no signs of slowing down. "With the data, we are discovering more about our customers' trends and habits and it continues to reveal more to us on a daily basis."

Lessons Learned:

  • Get to know your customers better. Take a systematic approach to understanding those who want your product or service. Profiles or personas are a good way to understand not only who your customers are but also how to reach them.
  • Search campaigns can be reinvigorated by using customer data to customize landing pages to meet their specific pain points. Tailored landing-page content that reflects the keywords used in your PPC campaign, for example, can play a vital role in increasing conversions. 

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Case Study: How a Web-based Company Increased Leads 90%—and Sales 23%—via PPC-Visitor Profiling, Landing Page Personalization

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