Case Study: TopBulb Beckons with Search Engine Terms
Problem: Boost a B-to-B catalog’s reach
Solution: Expand sales into the consumer market using search engine marketing
Result: 30 percent of TopBulb’s overall sales now come from the consumer market, from 0 percent four years ago
Consumers began finding their way to the TopBulb.com Web site soon after its launch in 1999, and they found the site almost exclusively through search engine marketing.
Until 1998, Indiana-based Gray Supply Co. produced only a print catalog, selling hard-to-find light bulbs to the b-to-b and medical markets. Though the company’s founders had hired Phil Bonello as president and CEO that year to increase sales, he also saw a chance to expand the company’s reach. However, he avoided brand-centered (and costly) print catalog means.
“People don’t think proactively about replacing light bulbs until they burn out,” says Bonello. “So it’s difficult to stimulate interest by pushing a message.” Rather, he capitalized on the power of search terms and established TopBulb.com as the more consumer friendly face of Gray Supply.
Company executives brainstormed a list of possible search terms (e.g., aquarium lights, black lights). They then built productivity models for each term to measure performance.
Once terms were established, executives made sure that while the hotlinks for each varied, all of them took the consumer to the relevant product or category page within TopBulb.com. Bonello, a psychologist by training, believes the fewer steps between the inquiry (stimulus) and the desired search result (response), the greater the probability of a sale. In fact, the only search terms that lead to the home page are the ones so general it makes no sense to send consumers anywhere else.
When analyzing their search terms, Bonello and his team look at response rates and clickthroughs. The search terms are modified based on daily, or even hourly, results. This precludes the company being blindsided by a lack of results from an ineffective term.