Search Engine Guide Case Study: Overcome One-Size-Fits-All Strategy With Flexible Software

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For the second half of 2004, Cingular Wireless, a client of, stipulated a specific average cost per order for Web site orders that took place through search.

The main search marketing expense is the click-through, so a campaign's CPO is mainly the combination of the cost-per-click spent on keywords and the frequency with which a search marketer advertises on any term. Cingular specified an average CPO for the whole campaign, but gave Did-it free rein as to how to meet that average.

One option was to spend an equal amount across all keywords. A second option was to vary the spend for different keywords. For the latter option, the question remained as to what type of differentiated CPO strategy would work best.

At the same time, the right software determined the possibility of a more differentiated strategy. A more specialized strategy would require software that could be customized easily to every new client. Without thoroughly flexible software, a one-size-fits-all solution would become the only option, and the "best strategy" question would be moot.

Solution and Results

Did-it found that some keywords converted well with minimal investment while other conversion-powerful keywords needed higher spend to achieve results. "Cingular," "cingular wireless" and "," for instance, all converted easily. "Cellular phones," "cellular" and "wireless phone" were conversion-powerful keywords requiring more effort. This suggested that a differentiated strategy would work best.

Did-it created a multitiered CPO solution based around ease of keyword conversion and the ROI that a keyword would yield. The result was a bidding strategy through which keywords that offered low-hanging fruit got less spend; high-yield, high-hanging fruit got more.

Maestro, Did-it's proprietary bidding platform, was programmed accordingly. A below-average target CPO was set for low-hanging fruit. Target CPO for high-hanging fruit keywords was programmed at as much as 60 percent above the campaign average. This strategy let Did-it exceed its campaign target by 20 percent, creating thousands more orders for Cingular than anticipated. In the course of its relationship with, Cingular's search-driven Web site orders have doubled.

Emphasize Each Unique Element

The best search marketing campaigns are those that recognize the full diversity of all campaign elements. Uniform solutions can achieve ROI, but in emphasizing each unique element marketers can take full advantage of every opportunity that a campaign offers.

Diversification requires a high level of customization. Customization, in turn, requires bidding software that can be adapted readily to the new opportunities that every campaign presents. This software/strategy combination yields the best-tailored search campaigns.

For more articles from The Direct Marketer's Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing, visit .

A PDF of the guide is available at:

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