Rebranding is never easy. Home improvement website HomeAdvisor abandoned its old domain ServiceMagic, which it had used for 13 years, and used Google AdWords to rebuild brand awareness and customer relationships.
Historically, the company has provided services beyond basic home repair, such as wedding planning and photography. But in October 2012 it narrowed its focus to home improvement and repair projects, which required a rebrand.
“Rebranding is an intensive and rather expensive process for any company, whether traditional or new media,” says Brandon Ridenour, HomeAdvisor’s chief product and chief technology officer. “We knew that going into it. Our expectation was this is something that’s going to pay off over the medium and long-term.”
However, ServiceMagic had a reputation and an audience; it had more than 10 million content pages online and more than five million unique visitors a month. Losing those visitors would create significant revenue loss. Despite the name change, the brand’s site needed to continue to perform.
Because the brand had used Google AdWords since ServiceMagic’s inception, the company decided to rely on the service during its rebrand. Before the official relaunch, the company conducted research and ran tests to see how customers would react to the new name.
“People understood the service [part of ServiceMagic], but they didn’t want magic when it came to home repair and improvement,” says Diana Boyles, HomeAdvisor’s director of digital marketing.
The brand also ran AdWord pilot campaigns before rebranding to lure customers to the site, check out the services, and locate a home service professional, Boyles says. In addition, the company used paid search to overcome effects on organic search, bid on old and new terms to monitor AdWords performance, and launched a YouTube video explaining the site’s name switch. By following these techniques, HomeAdvisor increased its clicks by 24% and click-through rates by 15%. The company also increased conversions by 5%.
But it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Ridenour says the brand experienced six months of “under performance.” In addition, two weeks after the brand switched its domain, the brand disappeared from Google entirely. Four days later, Ridenour says the brand “magically” reappeared.
“Even a search for our brand directly, ‘HomeAdvisor,’ didn’t bring up any results related to our site,” Ridenour says. “That’s a fairly scary proposition, especially when you’re a company like ours that’s so heavily dependent on search engines for our business.”
Boyles says HomeAdvisor continues to use AdWords today. Ridenour adds that the company is conducting a brand tracking study to see if its new name is getting any online traction and how the brand measures up to ServiceMagic over time. He adds that HomeAdvisor continues to track its brand metrics quarterly.