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Happy Idiots dig deep with offline conversion import

  Article , Success stories

Agency optimises for ‘real performance’ with cookieless solution

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Putting a smile on client’s faces

Dutch performance agency Happy Idiots, a part of the Happy Horizon Group, is a full-service online marketing agency. As a search specialist, team lead Erik van der Linden spends the majority of his time dreaming up new solutions to solve his clients’ problems and challenges.

As Erik described in his own words, “I’m constantly working to ensure campaigns are super tight, that they are working as efficiently as possible, and drive better results, to make our clients smile — after all that’s what we’re here to do, to put a smile on their face!”

One such client is Finance Prospects, an aggregator looking to use search as a lead generation tool. Erik and his team found a novel solution for the client working with Microsoft Advertising to apply offline conversion data to improve campaign efficiency.

This was transformative for optimisation. Suddenly we could see which campaigns were driving poor quality leads and which were the hidden gems.

— Erik van der Linden, Team Lead SEA, Happy Idiots

Deeper understanding of what is really performing

The effective optimisation of any search campaign is limited by the data it has to work with. In most cases, campaigns optimise to the highest possible volume of clicks or conversions at a reasonable return-on-ad-spend (ROAS). However, in this case the client was specifically looking for leads that would convert into appointments. For the Happy Idiots team, generating more clicks which converted to leads was not giving them the qualitative data they needed to assess how successful the campaign was in meeting the client’s objectives.

Working closely with the client, Erik utilised offline conversion data to enrich the analysis of the campaign performance. By importing this data into Microsoft Advertising it was then a simple task to overlay campaign performance with the offline Conversion Tracking signals and see which leads converted to a successful appointment. “This was transformative for our optimisation efforts. Suddenly we could see which campaigns were driving poor quality leads and which were the hidden gems to focus on,” said Erik.

At the start of 2020, the process of importing offline data was cumbersome and manual, but when Microsoft Advertising upgraded the pilot to allow for automated import, the Happy Idiots team could update the offline conversion data on an hourly basis. “This was ideal for us as it gave us the most relevant actionable data, and we could set rules within the Microsoft Advertising interface to switch campaigns on or off based on the ‘real performance’ of appointments rather than clicks,” explained Erik.

Using offline conversion import, the efficiency of the campaign improved dramatically. By optimising to the right data points, Happy Idiots achieved the desired number of leads while cost-per-appointment (CPA) was reduced by 31% and the lead quality increased by 21%.

Not only this, but because of the additional data fed into the Microsoft Advertising system, automated bidding strategies also started to perform better, optimising to the metrics Erik’s team cared about the most.

One scalable solution to two different problems

An added benefit of using the offline conversion import was that it was a completely cookieless solution to enhancing conversion data. “We set out to solve a very specific problem for our client,” said Erik, “but along the way we realised this might actually also solve for the challenge of advertising in a cookieless world.”

2020 brought big changes in EU legislation around cookie use for advertising purposes. “As an agency, the prospect of a cookieless future is a huge challenge for us,” said Erik, “but we firmly believe that in the short-term, offline conversion import is a useful countermeasure to our dependence on cookies and this will help future-proof our client’s campaigns.”

As a result, Erik and his team have started implementing offline conversion import for more Happy Idiots clients as a best practice. “The impact of this goes way beyond efficient lead generation. We’ve seen e-commerce clients use it to work out which products are less profitable because they incur higher rates of returns, and other companies increase their sampling production as customers who received product samples converted with higher transactions. The insight you can generate with all this data is amazing,” concluded Erik.

This strategy and the agency’s approach to partnership resulted in Happy Idiots being first runner-up for Client Partnership of the Year award at the 2020 Microsoft Advertising Partner Awards.

Offline conversion import is a useful countermeasure to our dependence on cookies and this will help future-proof our client’s campaigns.

— Erik van der Linden, Team Lead SEA, Happy Idiots

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