About First Data:
First Data independent sales is a merchant services company with services in payment processing, authentication, electronic commerce and credit reporting. The services extend throughout the year with 24×7 availability. Touted as the industry leader, it is not only present in internet business but also has made its mark in traditional way of doing business. As such it provides credit, debit, prepaid and check acceptance services.
Founded in 1969, First Data has evolved over time, by the late nineties the company had extended its footprint in countries other than United States. It operates in Australia, Canada, Mexico and United Kingdom. Following 2001, the company has gone into expansion mode and acquired couple of companies after being bought out by KKR, one of the leading private equity firms in 2007. However, till date company remains leveraged and operates as First Data corporation. To maintain strong hold on merchant services it acquired ICICI bank’s merchant services in a strong deal of $80 million USD thus maintaining its stance in the industry.
Business Objectives of First Data:
First Data used Pay per click (PPC) campaign as their marketing effort to initiate the sales process.
Two primary problems that required attention were:
- Cost to acquire a lead was $200
- First Data consistently received bad leads
Like every business, the main objective of First Data was lead generation which would initiate the sales funnel for the ultimate conversion of the user. However, it comes with a cost. But paying $200 for a single lead was way too expensive as compared to industry average. According to Hubspot, a recent study revealed that the average B2B cost per lead is $43 and that for B2C is $15 far lower than what First Data was incurring.
The first step of the sales tunnel was proving out to be costly affair. If we take a look at the sales funnel, the potential leads eventually become the prospect customers and finally convert into sales as customers. First Data was stuck up at the first step itself and hence required a proposition to tackle the problem.
Secondly, it was receiving bad leads which was increased their overall cost of the PPC campaign. In PPC, bad leads means users which come at your doorstep are the ones looking for something else but not your product or service. The more the clicks, more cost incurred by the company. This is often the result of wrong keyword selection while preparing the ads. Bad leads also count for the unengaged users who are not very often part of the conversion process.
Strategies adopted by First Data:
First Data approached eBrandz for mitigating the overall cost and optimize the marketing efforts for them.Of the various strategies and actions implemented by ebrandz, here are the 4 primary ones:
- Shifted website hosting
- Boosted Content writing
- Fine tuned SEO aspects
- Tamed Click fraud
Website hosting is one important aspect in a wholesome website plan, it ensures the site is well maintained by the webmasters. The first step taken by eBrandz was to shift the website to a new hosting environment which provided access to log files. A real wise move to ensure troubleshooting takes place after reviewing the log files in case of any failures. Secondly, eBrandz changed the content strategy for First Data by ensuring SEO friendly content on their website.A quick look at the First Data website explains it all that the website has been fine tuned for its potential customers.
Since, there are hundreds of cues determined by Google for a optimized page, eBrandz made few changes on that front as well. It ensured that the webpage followed SEO checklist which included Title tag, H1 heading, URL, Alt tags, Images and related keywords.
Since most part of traffic constituted bad leads, eBrandz investigated further and found that First Data was affected by click fraud. In PPC parlance it is defined as the illegitimate clicks which are pointed to your website to increase the overall cost without a genuine interest in the product or the service. eBrandz prepared a report of all the source networks and internet protocol addresses and submitted a report to Yahoo and Google who eventually refunded part of the ad spending to First Data as compensation.
Because of the timely resolution to the major problems encountered, eBrandz was able to cut 50% of the cost on potential leads for First Data. The cost per lead reduced from $200 to less than $100 a significant reduction in the finance books. Though, initially following the steps taken by eBrandz, the traffic on the website reduced mainly due to the
- Changes made in keyword selection
- Removal of bad terms
- Issue of click fraud was addressed
Hence the significant results that were achieved were –
- 50% decrease in cost per lead
- Quality of leads improved
- Click fraud was isolated
An interesting case as such, the problems faced by First Data were substantial in nature and hence provide great learning experience. The strategies adopted by eBrandz also throw light on the subject with clear cut plans to tackle the corresponding issues. The issues such as cost per lead and bad leads can influence the sales process at large and can hamper any well established business of the likes of First Data.
It also brings forth the thought that the content still rules online marketing, little tweaks here and there can bring you back on track. All the major parameters brought by Google are still considered as important and hence a full blown SEO strategy is required to bring the numbers. We just can’t ignore the SEO checklist before going live on the internet.
Finally, the issue of click fraud, it is still in vogue and signals all the marketers around to be cautious of the activity. There is a need to consistently monitor such activity by looking at the source traffic, not only the referral traffic such as Social Media and the blogs but the networks and logical addresses it is emanating from. In case, your website is receiving a lot of traffic specially the bad leads, we must understand the source at that very moment and inform the search engines immediately. Google has in fact created a platform to understand invalid clicks to ensure level playing field for all the advertisers.