A long tail SEM strategy gave us 30% cost reduction and increased CTR with 143%


Our SEM, search engine marketing, strategy has been the same for many years.

Based on the success of Google adWords marketing over the years a lot of words have been moving out of our price range and to overcome this hurdle many has come up with different strategies to bypass this problem.

Change the name

When we first started talking to SEM experts some of them told us that we should probably change the name of the school. Our schools name is “BI Norwegian Business School” but most people call us (at least in Norway) just “BI”. Searching on “BI” on Google bring up more than a billion hits with Business Intelligence on the top. Mind you, we don’t do to bad in this search.

The SEM experts concern was that we would not be able to dominate this search phrase in the future. Would of course be a drastic step to move away from one of Norway’s best known brand names.

Find another more unique phrase to dominate

One strategy was to think of another name than e.g Business School with more than 2 billions hits, but that was the strategy of everyone else too and now the term Business University has more than 3 billion hits, which was a whole other story just a year ago.

A very good example of such a strategy is BGL Groups site comparethemarket.com, a site that aims to help consumers compare the market to find the best price and deals for them on a range of products. Here they have a lot of competitors and searching “compare the market” gives you more than 1 billion hits. They introduced a campaign with Meerkats and called the site Compare the Meerkats instead. Backed with a clever film concept and other marketing this strategy became a huge hit. Today “compare the Meerkat” produces more than 3 million hits, but back when the campaign started it didn’t give you much.

Long tail strategy

Based on the increased amount of data online the consumers have changed their way of searching. According to Google each user uses 3-5 different search words for each search they do; the obvious thing to do when you try to narrow your search and produce more relevant hits.

And this is what long tail SEM (or SEO) is all about. We used to buy a couple of thousand words and short combinations. With our long tail strategy we buy a combination of more than 50 000 words. The result is lower cost and high probability of conversions. In theory it would look like the picture below (courtesy of our agency Ignitas).

In reality this is precisely what happened:

Since the user uses more words in the search and these combinations is the same words we buy, the relevance for the user’s increases, and the number on our ads increases.

We have run the new strategy for about three months now and when comparing it to the strategy used the same period last year we increased the CTR from 1,22% too 2,96%. Up 143% in three months. And at the same time cut the cost by 30%.

When we have more data over a longer time span we expect this numbers to increase even more, since we have spend a lot of time during the first three months to adjust the set up.

When looking at just the last couple of weeks of the test period we have cut cost by 50% and the CTR is up by close to 300%.

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