2 Proactive SEM Initiatives That Worked for Miles Kimball

The Miles Kimball flagship catalog has long been synonymous with tradition, having been around for almost 75 years. While it’s easy to remain in a comfort zone, and do things the way they’ve always been done, Miles Kimball has been very innovative and forward-thinking in its online program.

Here is a summary of two proactive SEM initiatives that Miles Kimball and its stable of properties has been testing.

“3 Screens” search program
The 3 screens in this program are desktop/laptop, tablet and mobile. Since consumers are now responding on just about every device that has web capability, Miles Kimball thought it would make sense to develop search campaigns based around devices. Similar to direct mail segmenting, “search device segmenting” produced these significant learnings:

  • When you create separate ad groups and campaigns based on device, you are able to manage keywords and spend for each, and take advantage of differences between the three. Ultimately, this leads to better budget allocation and greater profitability.
  • Since each keyword and/or ad group is tracked independently of the others, it is very easy to see trends when analyzing data.
  • While this is a significant amount of work, the analysis of the increase in sales and revenues against the added expense of creating the three groups proved that Miles Kimball realized a net profit, making this a viable program.

Search campaigns segmented by merchandise category
In Miles Kimball’s early days of search, all products were grouped together and not segmented by merchandise category. Results from other clients have proven that grouping search terms and ad groups by product categories or departments is a proven SEM tactic. Understanding this, Miles Kimball tested merchandise segmentation starting in 2009 and has been very successful. Here are the steps that were taken for the “search merchandising” campaign:

  • After a review of the products that are available online by department, campaigns were created in over 12 categories and housed over 650 distinct ad groups.
  • For each of these adgroups, financial metrics were determined, such as ad to sales ratio, gross dollars and others.
  • Relevant keywords, strong copy and tracking for all keywords and adgroups comprised the nuts and bolts of the campaign.

The primary objective was to isolate those ad groups (departments) that generated the greatest revenue, and allocate dollars accordingly. This exercise, across many clients, typically results in reducing the average number of keywords per ad group by a factor of 70% to 90%. So for 1,000 keywords that used to be in two ad groups, they would be segmented into numerous groups of 50-100 keywords each.

Cynthia Tully is a vice president and account director with Acquirgy.

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