Africa is one of the most exotic places on Earth. Often referred to as the Cradle of Civilization, Africa is a truly immense continent that boasts some of the most diverse and dramatic landscapes in the world, along with many of the planet’s most iconic animal species.
Go2Africa’s Carlien Parsons at ‘Giraffe Manor’
(and no, this image was not altered in Photoshop)
Established in 1998, South African travel agency Go2Africa has been helping people realize their dream of seeing this incredible continent first hand for almost 20 years. When it came to using AdWords to find new business, however, they needed a little help themselves.
Carlien Parsons, Go2Africa’s Commercial Optimization Manager, oversees much of the company’s digital marketing efforts, including both organic and paid acquisition.
“I look after all our paid advertising efforts, search engine optimization as well as overall conversion optimization,” Carlien explains. “Our business is solely done online, so these areas are very important to us. We also do everything in-house, which means we have a full content and creative team working with our optimization team.”
Since Go2Africa was founded, Carlien and her team have adapted to and incorporated a wide range of strategies into their digital marketing campaigns, including SEO.
“We were one of the first South African travel companies to put all our marketing efforts into digital – paving the way for a lot of companies doing what we do,” Carlien explains. “Our business is also a little different in the sense that we have a full development team in-house. This gives us the freedom to create and build solutions for our travelers on a continuous basis – always improving how we do things and deliver what our clients need.”
As search algorithms changed and relying solely upon strong organic rankings became restrictive, Carlien began to explore new opportunities to find new customers – namely paid search. However, despite having an experienced in-house team behind her, Carlien struggled with her campaigns’ limited return on investment. Although Go2Africa’s early campaigns met some success, it was not the kind of result Carlien had hoped for.
“We’ve always been industry leaders in the search engine optimization space, achieving great rankings for a variety of Africa safari vacation terms, but with the ever changing landscape of search engine marketing, we’re looked to broaden our reach and naturally looked to paid search,” Carlien says.
It soon became clear that while paid search represented an incredible opportunity for Go2Africa, the realities of managing several simultaneous campaigns on a daily basis were greater than Carlien anticipated.
That’s when Carlien discovered WordStream.
Like many of WordStream’s customers, Carlien soon found that using WordStream not only saved her valuable time, but allowed her to more easily focus her efforts on adjustments that yielded far greater returns.
“Our main objective was to bring through quality leads from our key target markets – the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada,” says Carlien. “We wanted to keep the campaigns and strategy quite tight and controlled, learn in an incremental way through the guidance of our Customer Success Specialist at WordStream. We were able to see great results within the first couple of weeks of running campaigns via WordStream’s software.”
Although Carlien’s Customer Success Representative made several actionable recommendations that Carlien implemented early on, the advice Carlien received helped her think of her PPC campaigns in a different way, from the ground up.
Go2Africa’s PPC Success Report shortly after becoming a WordStream Customer…
…and a recent PPC Success Report – a dramatic increase in CTR and conversion rate,
and a huge reduction in CPA
“It’s important to not have the paid campaigns be disjointed from your overall direction,” Carlien says. “From a campaign objective point of view, our base was very low and so our objectives at first was to build solid foundations for all our campaigns, through achieving good Quality Scores and having great landing pages that are optimized for conversions.”
By rethinking her approach, Carlien was also able to identify areas of her account in which improvements could be made for maximum results – something she saw soon after making those adjustments.
“Because we kept the account structure tight, the workload has always been manageable, but, from a prioritization point of view, the focus is on campaigns that have drifted – either too much spend with low conversion or low quality leads,” Carlien explains. “The concept of creating a single-focus landing page has really paid off for us. For these campaigns, we’ve kept the concept and creative tight and focused on the end goal – a lead to pass on to our sales team.”
A combination of more tightly focused targeting and smarter keyword research made an immediate improvement to the performance of Go2Africa’s campaigns, and also shaped Carlien’s approach to future campaigns – namely, how she and her team interacts with Go2Africa’s sales teams to identify pain points in campaigns that can be optimized for greater returns.
This renewed emphasis on communication also allowed Go2Africa to leverage the subject matter expertise of its sales team even further, resulting in stronger ad copy that really resonated with prospective customers.
“I think the fact that we focused on a couple of strategic areas and rolled out well thought-out campaigns made this possible,” Carlien says. “My one big learning experience last year was to stay close to your product and sales teams – know what’s working and what’s not working. Learn as you go and implement changes as you get feedback. Doing everything in-house gave us an extra advantage. We know the unique selling points of our product and service and we were able to easily communicate that in our ad copy. Do make sure that whoever run your campaigns know exactly what you’re selling!”
As it true of many WordStream customers, Carlien found that the single most valuable resource WordStream offered her was time. By simplifying and streamlining her PPC workflow with WordStream, Carlien can use her time more effectively and get more accomplished.
“WordStream has made the day-to-day management of all our campaigns easy,” Carlien says. “I can tackle and complete all the daily housekeeping work quickly each morning and move on. I honestly think that without WordStream, we wouldn’t have seen the same success we achieved throughout last year.”
Originally from the U.K., Dan Shewan is a journalist and web content specialist who now lives and writes in New England. Dan’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Daily Beast, Pacific Standard magazine, The Independent, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other outlets.
See other posts by Dan Shewan
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