Staggering Pay Per Click Results: A Vacation Rental Case Study

Posted on Categories Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click Results

Here at ICND, we’re all about finding the path of least resistance for increasing profits. For some clients, that means that we’ll be working on content for their website, updating an old site with a fresh design or creating intelligent social media marketing campaigns.

It also means that we’re fans of well-spent paid advertising to produce a fantastic ROI. Today, I’m excited to share some pretty fantastic pay-per-click results we’re seeing with a client in the vacation rental industry.

Note: To protect our client’s privacy, we cannot share the location of the rentals.

This particular company has been running pay-per-click advertising for a few years, mostly with the intent of generating traffic to their website. With no revenue tracking in place, they weren’t sure what traffic was working the best. They came to us hoping for far better maximizing the spend on their AdWords dollars. The client had a basic understanding of how keyword bidding worked and an okay account structure, but was looking to maximize results.

Our first steps were analyzing the current AdWords setup with our comprehensive kickoff audit checklist. After this audit, we found a few glaring holes in the tracking and conversion departments. There was only goal-based tracking in place with no revenue tracking to truly nail down precise ROI on adspend. We fixed this immediately and began on improving the account structure, match types and ad copy through testing.

After adding conversion tracking we were able to find specific keywords that were generating fairly high click through rates and traffic, but no conversions. Sure, people were on the website and browsing around, but our ultimate goal is to get the best people who are likely to book with pay-per-click advertising. After dumping around 15-20 keywords that were sapping up a fair amount of adspend, we were better able to find keywords that convert into bookings. Finding these keywords has allowed us to spend time on keywords that convert and then breaking up those into separate ad groups for better quality scores. Given that in most of our accounts, we can only spend up to a certain fixed budget, dumping non-performing keywords can provide a huge lift to our ROI.

Our steps follow a similar pattern for most of our pay-per-click accounts in the vacation rental space.

  • Setup & run conversion tracking for Adwords to see campaign, ad group, ad copy and keyword level conversion data.
  • Create a really in depth negative keyword list for covering accidental impressions and wasted ad spend. We spend at least a few hours digging up negative keywords every month to add to our accounts to reduce waste.
  • Create a solid campaign & ad group structure that reflects the correct match types, topics, categories and landing pages for maximum quality score.
  • Constantly test elements like landing pages, ad copy and sitelinks to increase CTR.

After running through a few simple steps, we saw a fantastic ROI. During the month of March in 2014, we had the following stats:

  • Spend: $986.05
  • Impressions: 21,949
  • Clicks: 3,211
  • CTR: 14.63%
  • CPC: $0.31
  • Confirmed Bookings: 39
  • Online Revenue (total booking value): $31,349.91

    ROI: Over 30:1

During this month, for every dollar spent in PPC, over $31 was generated in total online booking revenue. Although we hope to implement call tracking soon, this doesn’t take into account bookings from calls as well. This particular client books about half their rentals online – so adding in phone tracking would likely yield another 30k or so in revenue. This does not take into account the portion that Vacation Rental Company gets due to differing agreements, but should shed light on the solid pay-per-click results we’re seeing in this particular market place.

Performing a solid pay-per-click campaign takes time and a solid knowledge of match types, quality score, great landing pages and a willingness to tweak, test and deploy quickly. But in many markets, the competition just does the bare minimum: they’ll create one-line ads straight to the homepage with zero sitelinks, location extensions and broad match their keywords. Taking time to do all the little things right in pay-per-click can yield huge results. While your competition is doing the minimum, you can surpass them.

Author: Paul Hanak

Paul built his first website at 12 and ranked his first website on Yahoo when he was 18. Fast forward through 13 years of vacation rental marketing experience, he is now the Director of Digital Marketing for InterCoastal Net Designs, leading the team through some of the biggest industry changes for the vacation rental market, and some even bigger changes in the Google landscape.