Case Study | Paid Search

Clearlink and Cartesian Prove Added Value from Partners in Branded Paid Search

Clearlink and Cartesian disprove the myth that branded paid search strategy should remain an in-house initiative and highlight the need to distribute paid search spend appropriately.

Using paid search to track and forecast sales is essential. It provides actionable insight and gives your brand a great deal of power in terms of channel volume and regulation. Relinquishing that to a third party can feel threatening to your internal agency’s bottom line. So it’s understandable why brands are reluctant to hand off bidding volume to a partner or dealer outside the company. 

However, rather than confirm a brand’s worst fears, Clearlink has proven it offers a great deal of value that ultimately grows sales for its partners.

The Background

A global telecommunications company wanted to improve the effectiveness of its paid search efforts. Its in-house dot-com teams are bound to a budget that can suppress auction sales and consequently make it difficult to manage multiple dealers in an auction. 

Other partners like third-party agencies and dealers are generally paid on a percentage of media buy, so their incentive is to spend as much money as possible. Additionally, search engine representatives, such as those affiliated with Google, give brands lip service to prevent them from reducing key spend in the auction. 

Not using dealers, however, presents another set of problems that can affect the long-term health of a brand’s paid search campaigns:

  • Allows competitors to bid on branded keywords.
  • Decreases ad depth and narrows the funnel. 
  • Measures impact of ad depth against declining organic traffic results. 

The telco needed to find a better way, so it decided to test Clearlink’s ability to manage its position 2 auctions in a performance marketing role. It wanted to see if Clearlink’s paid search strategies and managed websites would outperform the telco’s in-house teams and microsite.

However, rather than confirm a brand’s worst fears, Clearlink has proven it offers a great deal of value that ultimately grows sales for its partners.

The Key Players

Clearlink: Clearlink, a SYKES company, partners with leading brands to attain and retain lifelong customers. Clearlink’s expertise lies in customized marketing, sales, and technology services. For this top telecom company, Clearlink leveraged cutting-edge strategies to outperform the telco’s internal paid search agency. To further incentivize incremental sales, Clearlink is paid on a performance-based model. 

Cartesian: Cartesian is a specialist consulting firm of industry experts focused on the global telecommunications, media, and technology industries. The company uses data to help its clients build and execute strategies and transform their business. Cartesian acted as an independent third party for this test, measuring performance and advising the telecom company on the appropriate actions to take based on the findings.

The Methodology

Clearlink’s Paid Search Methodology

Coordinate Partner Efforts for Competitor Suppression

    • To ensure maximum coverage while reducing competition in the top four results, manage each partner and coordinate auction metric KPI targets like Position Above Rate, Impression Share, and Prominence Metric. 
    • Develop a clear and consistent reporting system to measure auction metrics across multiple partner positions.
    • Coordinate weekly communication to preserve fair alignment for all parties in auction and reduce competitive pressure.

Increase Auction Depth and Brand Visibility

    • Conduct robust A/B testing to optimize ad copy and landing pages.
    • Expand the funnel/reach of the telco brand by targeting customers in the research phase (higher in customer decision-making process).
    • Identify impression share targets to yield the highest visibility across SERPs on valuable branded terms.

Reduce Paid Marketing Costs

    • Track and optimize over 40,000 individual keywords.
    • Coordinate regular bid adjustments aligned with auction guidelines for all parties to ensure a competitive auction.

Drive Incremental Sales

    • Use a dedicated sales team for better product knowledge and implement innovative sales techniques to increase conversion and average order.
    • Increase position 2 sales in the Google auction compared to the brand’s microsite by measuring activations per 1,000 impressions. 

 

Cartesian’s Test Methodology

 Develop Test Framework and Success Criteria

    • Identify key success criteria and performance metrics for measurement, including sales and funnel efficiency.
    • Develop a fair baseline for performance comparison, taking into account seasonality, historic marketing offers, etc.
    • Determine and share the framework for auction position management and rules to ensure fair auction conduct.

Measure Performance and Oversee Fair Auction

    • Collect sales and auction performance data required to calculate key performance metrics.
    • Validate data quality and ensure it is consistent against all known sources to ensure fair representation of performance.
    • Examine whether auction activity was in line with developed fairness guidelines.

Evaluate Impact and Provide Recommendations

    • Evaluate the overall impact to the telco, based on incremental sales and lifetime value delivered.
    • Provide strategic recommendations based on learnings identified during the test.
27%

The Results

Clearlink outperformed the telco brand’s paid search agency, microsite, and sales team by increasing position 2 performance by 27%. Cartesian was able to verify Clearlink’s efforts were outside of external factors such as seasonality lifts. Due to the success of the test, the telco continued to have Clearlink manage three additional dealers in the auctions (positions 3, 4, and 5). Clearlink continues to manage and monitor the entire auction to increase paid search attributed sales without compromising the dot-com site in position 1.

  • Increased activations with equitable impression volume.
  • Preserved auction integrity for other dealers and brand dot-com.
  • Built a strong collaborative working relationship with Cartesian and the telco to continually improve overall auction strategy.

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