The idea of calling out a tradesman – plumber, carpenter, builder, whatever – isn’t typically considered a pleasurable experience by most people unless, of course, you’re one of those home renovation tragics.
So, in 2004 two Aussie entrepreneurs, David Vitek and Robert Sharon-Zipser, created hipages, a website that connected customers with tradies in their area who actually wanted the job, and would provide quotes for the finished work. In 2015, NewsCorp purchased a share of the business which now represents over 78,000 Aussie tradesman who cover 1300 home improvement categories.
Naturally, when you’re playing in the highly competitive and highly searched tradie category, then your Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is going be what gets you the eyeballs – and the business – over a myriad of online competitors.
Hipages is regularly touted as one of Australia’s biggest search marketing spenders but Kenny Tse, hipages’ Digital Marketing Manager, advises that knowing your brand, knowing your audience and knowing their behaviour is the first thing a brand should get right before embarking on a (often expensive) search strategy.
For hipages, the problem is two-fold. Sure, the brand has to be top of mind (as search brings in almost half of hipages’ customers), but it’s important to go one step further and explain the brand’s unique proposition.
Agreeing that it’s not just hipages fighting to be front row and centre after someone’s hit the search button, Tse shares that “every brand wants to be in the face of their consumers every minute of the day, but you’re not going to appeal to everyone all the time. It’s really important to just focus on the primary purpose of the business, highlight this in your search ad, and on the post-click experience that forms part of your customer’s subsequent journey.”
“User segmentation is so important, being able to identify where a user is in the path to purchase makes converting that user a lot easier. With segmentation, you’re able to be in the right place, at the right time, with your marketing activities.”
“For example, a user searching for a locksmith is more likely to need one urgently, that’s why we focus on direct response messaging. On the other hand, a user searching for a builder may need to do more research before making a decision, so we will retarget to them just to remind them we’re available when they’re ready,” he says.
With a big focus on growth, SEM plays a crucial role in new user acquisition for hipages, which is why they use a combination of Google and Bing for their search advertising. Given Bing has 11.5 per cent share in the search market, Tse shares the platform gives them many new users to target, especially since it has a wealthier and more mature base – an ideal scenario in the home improvement category.
Tse agrees that not all search engines are the same and adds he’s often surprised by the number of people he meets, who are involved in search but haven’t tried Bing. “The only real way to find out how Bing can help your business and get more online exposure, is to try it out. If your budget allows, I would highly recommend setting a test budget aside to do new things.
“In my experience at hipages, the cost per acquisition (CPA) with Bing has been lower and revenue has been higher compared to that on Google – that really speaks for itself,” Tse reveals. “Because there are fewer competitors on Bing, it definitely helps with the performance metrics. We have also been able to enjoy these successes due to the assistance of our account managers at Bing, who really go out of their way to help us optimise our account.”
Some tips from hipages on how to improve your SEM? Try new features early that can mean quick wins at low cost per clicks. Utilise sitelink extensions to send users to pages your customers care about. Keep learning about your audience (they are different on Google and on Bing) and adding relevant keywords. Try and manoeuvre your search to where your customers are. And never underestimate the power of data. “We have three data scientists working at hipages all providing vital insights to the company. In order to make informed changes to the hipages SEM accounts, we’re looking at a few million rows of data every week,” Tse concluded.