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Build with Ferguson constructs bigger returns

  Article , Retail , Success stories

With Dynamic Search Ads, Microsoft Audience Network and Syndication

Consumer behaviors drive e-commerce growth

Build with Ferguson logo

With people spending more time in their homes than ever before due to COVID-19, interest in remodeling projects, new fixtures, lighting, and appliances has grown. In-store business at many home improvement retail stores, however, was impacted by the pandemic.

Fortunately for e-commerce business leader Build with Ferguson (Build), they were ready. From its roots as an online plumbing supply company started by college friends in 1999, Build has grown into the biggest e-commerce home improvement retailer in the U.S. The company boasts a massive inventory of building products, fixtures, furniture, décor and supplies, along with personalized sales and support services from knowledgeable experts via phone, online chat, or email.

In early 2020, despite the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, Build stayed the course with its digital marketing strategy and paid attention to consumer behavior trends and insights gathered from Microsoft Advertising. As consumer activities started shifting, the company observed a growing interest in a variety of products, including touchless faucets to help prevent the spreading coronavirus, along with bidets as stores ran out of toilet paper. Those early unique behaviors were followed by a surge in broader home improvement products.

“We went with a consistent, marketing-first approach, to better help our customers find the right products during this time,” says Paul Thurman, Senior Search Engine Marketing Specialist at Build. With help from a strong online brand presence bolstered by paid search and other Microsoft Advertising products, Build could be sure their products showed up whenever a potential customer started searching online for everything from light fixtures to appliances.

“We’re working to be a one-stop shop for not only the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) consumer, but also for small investors who rehab and flip houses to professional builders and contractors” says Aaron Vipperman, Senior Search Engine Marketing Specialist. “We want to help builders get the job done.”

It’s exciting to see that we can specifically target to the people who are more relevant to our business. We’re increasing our efficiency, our targeted ads, and making sure that we’re getting in front of the right people.

— Aaron Vipperman, Senior Search Engine Marketing Specialist, Build with Ferguson

Driving growth with multiple tools

Build with Ferguson bathroom photo

Bathroom photo showcasing Build with Ferguson products.

Build focused on three digital advertising products with Microsoft Advertising to maximize their online reach: Microsoft Advertising Syndication, Dynamic Search Ads (DSA), and the Microsoft Audience Network. Their strategy produced impressive results, as the company saw a 70% increase in click volume with Microsoft Advertising from 2019 to 2020, with these three products as key drivers of that growth.

“Syndication allows us to expand our reach to other websites,” Vipperman says. “We can then keep our message constantly in front of our customers, which is huge for us.”

The success Build achieved on Microsoft Advertising Syndication convinced them to aggressively try to capture even better results. “We’re still early in our use of Syndication, and we’re definitely expanding it right now. Everything we’ve seen so far has justified the expansion,” Thurman says.

In addition to using syndicated paid search, Build also leveraged Dynamic Search Ads to ensure they serve ads on every possible user query, even when they do not have keywords built out to cover certain products. Their DSA performance has been just as efficient as the rest of their program, and as time goes on, Microsoft’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) continues to improve and help Build showcase as much of their massive inventory as possible.

Build with Ferguson kitchen

Kitchen photo showcasing Build with Ferguson products.

“We have insight into what our customers are actually looking for and we're able to match their searches with a relevant ad even if we don't bid on the exact keyword they’re using,” Vipperman says. “I think that's the biggest value of that product.”

The company was also one of the first advertisers to utilize the Microsoft Audience Network, which identifies a potential customer’s intent and dynamically serves a native ad, either image or feed-based, across various Microsoft properties such as MSN, Outlook, and Edge. Powered by Microsoft’s AI and machine learning, the Build team says the Microsoft Audience Network routinely outperforms other display platforms in terms of efficiency, relevance, and brand safety. That leads to more engagement and has been a tremendously efficient format to drive both upper and lower funnel customers to Build with Ferguson.

Using these three Microsoft Advertising products has helped ensure that Build reaches a broader audience of both new and existing customers, providing a boost to Build’s traffic and efficiency. “It’s exciting to see that we can specifically target to the people who are more relevant to our business. We’re increasing our efficiency, our targeted ads, and making sure that we’re getting in front of the right people,” Vipperman says.

Gaining insights to reach new and existing customers

While the increase in clicks and revenue speaks for itself, the Build team says the industry and consumer insights provided by their Microsoft Advertising team are extremely valuable as well. “We trust the Microsoft Advertising team to provide relevant data and suggest the right approach for specific advertising campaigns, and to respond quickly when needed,” Thurman says. And the more Build with Ferguson uses Microsoft Advertising tools and engages with their account team, the more they learn about better ways to target existing and potential customers.

Additionally, the Microsoft Advertising account team is knowledgeable about Build’s goals and the customers the business is trying to reach. That trusted relationship gives the Build team confidence that they’re highlighting their site and products as efficiently as possible, Vipperman adds. “We keep going based on what they’re saying, and we’re going to be in the right spot at the right time.”

We are very, very happy with the amount of growth and expansion that we’re able to leverage from Microsoft Advertising.

— Aaron Vipperman, Senior Search Engine Marketing Specialist, Build with Ferguson

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