DRL Ltd. is the leading white goods retailer in the UK, operating the ecommerce site AppliancesOnline.co.uk, as well as the appliance websites for nearly a dozen other major UK brands. The company launched Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews in April 2009 and Ask & Answer in August 2010, aggregating all of their user-generated content (UGC) at Appliance-Reviews.co.uk.
Appliances Online has been running Google AdWords paid search (PPC) campaigns for years. Their highly-optimised campaigns are the result of years of testing, tweaking, rinsing, and repeating. In November 2009, Appliances Online began incorporating rating- and review-related terms into their paid search campaigns, and measured significant improvements in these already high-performing campaigns as a result.
What they did
Appliances Online followed a complex PPC campaign structure that allowed them to vary ad copy based on different factors. The retailer began bidding on keywords that included “reviews.” Keywords were grouped into three types:
- Generic product.
Example: “Washing machine reviews.”
- Brand and product.
Example: “Hotpoint washing machine reviews.”
- Specific SKU product code.
Example: “56562SR reviews.”
Beyond simply focusing on review keywords, Appliances Online varied the ad copy for each keyword group. For example, when bidding on a keyword including “[SKU] reviews” and the product had at least three reviews, the ad copy included the product rating and number of reviews. Different variations of ad copy included:
- Number of reviews.
Example: “Read 1,570 Hotpoint Washing Machine Reviews.”
- Product star rating.
Example: “Rated 5 Out of 5 by 200 Owners.”
- Availability of different types of UGC.
Example: “Read Over 541 Owner Reviews, Product Video Reviews, Customer Q&A.”
Bidding on review terms delivers up to 30 times better click-through rate than traditional PPC bidding
Bidding on review terms generated between five times and 30 times better click-through rates for Appliances Online than their traditional PPC bidding, depending upon the keywords in question. These results came on top of Appliance Online’s already high performance results for paid search ads.
Google and Bing suggest that paid search copywriters create simple, enticing ads that highlight features that stand out from competitors. For retailers like Appliances Online that sell many products available at other competing retailers, the presence and volume of UGC on their product pages is a key differentiator. “We’re overjoyed with how well this is working,” said Matthew Lawson, Web and SEO Manager at DRL Limited. “This is what customers are looking for – it answers the question: ‘Is this appliance right for me?’”
Including review data in paid search ads, bidding on review terms, and directing this traffic to their review site, allows Appliances Online to, “set expectations before users click,” said Lawson. Searchers know star rating and number of reviews before clicking the ad, so visitors are more targeted – they have an idea whether the product is right for them before clicking. “We don’t want visitors to find that their answer [to the question ‘Is this appliance right for me?’] is ‘no’ after they click, and then not convert.”
Bidding on review terms cuts paid search costs in half
It is significantly cheaper for Appliances Online to bid on review terms than on general terms. Paid search campaign costs are measured in cost percentage – the cost of the paid search campaign divided by the revenue the campaign generates. In this case, Appliances Online’s cost percentage for traffic to their review site is 50% less than traditional PPC traffic to the site.
In part, this is because Google gives Appliance-Reviews.co.uk high relevancy for review-related search terms, making these terms cost less than broad matches. “Reviews have become a core optimisation factor into how much we pay for PPC,” said Lawson.
The bottom line
UGC is already shown to boost natural search traffic and improve product page freshness. By using review content in their paid search ads and bidding on review-related search terms, Appliances Online has further capitalised on the search benefits of UGC.