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Adding Digital Marketing Magic to a Creative Paper Cup Company

In 2012 we introduced you to the Digital Marketing Makeover. A bid by us and a team of experienced Bing Ads Accredited Professionals to help small businesses thrive in economical challenging times by offering digital marketing advice. So far we’ve helped very creative chef from Cheshire, a Scottish entrepreneur and a catering business . Today we’re casting an analytical and creative eye on a manufacturing business – The Paper Cup Company.

As you expect from a business that has started up and thrived during the economic crisis they did not sit still when it comes to digital marketing either but the Digital Marketing Makeover team thinks there are some things they could do to improve their presence online. Read on for some tips you could use for your business too around web design, pay-per-click, search engine optimisation and social media.

Mark Woodward from the Paper Cup Company

About the Paper Cup Company

The Paper Cup Company is a business in the North West of England which makes (you guessed it) paper cups in flexible quantities from a thousand to over a million which they can deliver with a short lead time. Well-known brands they have taken orders from are -amongst others- The Body Shop, Twinings, DAF, Easyjet, Heinz and Hertz.

The company was started when owner Mark Woodward was made redundant from his job in the packaging industry. Being in his fifties and living in rural England chances to find a new role were stacked against him. He did benefit however from a lot of experience and made the decision to start up his own business producing and selling paper cups. The Paper Cup Company now has a manufacturing plant in the UK and is providing jobs for others: at the time of writing Mark employs fourteen staff. His business story even made it to BBC One's Inside Out of which you can see an extract below.

Advertising efforts so far

The Paper Cup Company has a Facebook page, a Twitter account, Pinterest boards and has a LinkedIn presence (staff has profiles too). Email campaigns, pay per click (PPC) and social media marketing has worked well. Cold calling, exhibitions, phone directories and ads in trade magazines less so. The business aims to become the largest short run paper cup company in Europe. Time for the makeover team to cast an analytical eye to see what they can do to help in the digital field!

Websites - More not always the merrier

The first thing that did stand out to each expert was the large amount of websites. In 2008 there were no less than forty (!) websites which had the purpose of driving traffic to two main sites. The company says this amount has reduced and is likely to reduce further. Keeping many sites running for search engine optimisation (SEO) purposes is however not the best use of time and resources. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. You’re likely to confuse customers. Not all sites have the same look and feel and customers may wonder if you are one and the same company.
  2. The sites (like this one for example) lack depth of content and links to rank well.
  3. To achieve a good ranking in paid search results you need a good link equity (the collection of the links that point to a site at any moment in time) this is easier to achieve for one site than many.
  4. You make it hard for yourself to track which advertising efforts lead to results.
  5. PPC could really work wonders for you but if you promote various sites with the same product you’ll be competing against yourself on the main keywords.

To summarise maintaining various sites may not generate the result you are after whilst it could confuse your customers and make other promotional efforts harder. It would be better to optimise one website. This is not to say you should not pay attention to SEO this blog post highlights some good SEO best practices, in this article on of our guest bloggers explains how he optimised a site for SEO whereas ‘Give some roar to your SEO to perform in the Bing organic results’shows you specifically how to show up well in the Bing organic results.

Five tips to make your website design work harder for you

Our panel of digital marketing mavens also knows a thing or two about website design. Here are some tips to make the website work as hard as possible for the business:

  1. Decide on one final domain. The panel preferred the look of the Printed Paper Cup Company over the of the Paper Cup Company (more modern, fresh with a clear selling point on the homepage). You can take things you may have learned from other pages and apply the best practices on this site.
  2. Write for your customer, not to rank. Think about what customers may need or like to know to make an informed decision on your product.
  3. Share prices on your site – Sometimes the obvious can be forgotten – a previous makeover contestant, a catering chef did not show menus on his website. Have you tested showing price information? There may be reasons not to but most customers would expect to find this kind of information on a company website.
  4. Share trust signals. You’ve done really well to appear on national television and have fulfilled orders for some pretty large brands. Use messaging as ‘As seen on the One Show’ and display (with permission of the brands of course) some of the more well-known logos prominently.
  5. Add clear call to actions to each page – the printed paper cup company URL page is better at this than the paper cup company URL. Add call to actions like ‘order now’ in the body text. The contact form is findable on the former page but hidden on the latter.

The Digital Marketing Makeover team finds the first design fresher and better than the second one.

Get guaranteed targeted search exposure with pay-per-click!

There are some good reasons why companies should use PPC: It gives you guaranteed exposure, you have more control over reaching an audience relevant to you and your ads show immediately.

Unlike some other forms of advertising it is easy to control your budget and to measure your return on investment (ROI). The points above are a bit further explained in this blog post whereas this one explains the difference between SEO and PPC and how the two complement each other.

The Paper Cup Company already has set up PPC campaigns and finds them useful. Without having seen their actual campaigns, our experts have some tips which their company could apply to their campaigns:

Beware of bidding against yourself.

The price of keywords is determined in a keyword auction – apart from you, your competitors may also want to show up for the keywords you fancy - just like in any offline auction. When you promote multiple websites that promote the same product and you bid on the same keywords you essentially becoming your own competitor in the auction, making those keywords more expensive to buy. In this case you may be best off choosing one website and to promote that one site well.

Another way you can drive the cost of keywords up is by bidding on duplicate keywords. Removing duplicate keywords will save you time and money without losing coverage.


In Bing Ads you can target your ads by location, day of the week and time of day, age and gender and device. If being the largest short run paper cup company in Europe is your goal, try advertising in other European markets (target by location) You could start by advertising you German site for example. You may also notice that orders come in between certain hours of your working day and less so overnight – target by time of day! If your website is not adapted to be easily read from a mobile phone and it is hard for customers to ask for information or place an order – remove mobile targeting. You can add/remove mobile traffic from the ‘settings’ section in Bing Ads under ‘Targeting options – Devices’. If you know what demographic is most likely to buy from you then you can target this group with your ads, also in the targeting section of Bing Ads.

Learn from your campaign by using reports

— To know how your PPC campaigns are doing and to know what you could improve you need data. In the reporting section of Bing Ads there are various reports you can run. Performance reports for example can tell you about conversions, conversion rates, click through rates, ad position, average cost per click and impressions. One report that is really interesting is the search query report – it shows exactly what terms people used which made your ads show up. Not only shows it what words you could add to your campaign but it also highlights words you don’t want to show up for, allowing you to improve your results. This blog post tells you more about how reports can be tailored to show what you need to know.

Find the right keywords for your business

It can be hard to know which keywords are right for your business and how to find them so we wrote a blog post about it. Bing Ads Intelligence is a free tool you can use not only to find keywords but also to see how often they get searched for. If you feel you use up your budget too fast on keywords everyone bids on you can also investigate long tail keywords – these are keywords that consist often of two or more words and they are more specific (and cheaper to bid on). Do make sure that all in all you’re still driving enough traffic to your site (find the right balance).

Use keyword match types well

Keyword match types tell the search engine how closely a search query has to match your keywords to show up your ads. The more precise the match, the more likely your ad converts – the trade-off can be less traffic. The panel suggest using all match types but instead of normal broad match you use broad match modifier – it gives you the ability to fine-tune or restrict how liberally Bing Ads matches closely related broad match terms. ‘Buy Paper Cups’ could have a plus sign directly in front of the word paper; Buy +Paper Cups, only keywords with paper contained in it will then show up.

Optimise, optimise, optimise

For great results you have to keep an eye on your account and tweak things when needed. Are your keywords working for you, which ad copy does best? Are you targeting the right audience? Do your ads show up in a good position – are you making the best of seasonal increases in demand for paper cups (tip – be optimised six weeks before any seasonal peak) it sounds like hard work but it will pay itself off in business!

If it all seems a bit much to get on with besides the day job you could also have a look at those pay-per-click experts who have passed the Bing Ads exam and can help you manage your pay-per click campaigns. More advice on building a PPC campaign from scratch can be found in the PPC Back to Basic series.

How to create interest with Pinterest

It’s great the Paper Cup Company has embraced Pinterest and they’ve started off well by creating a few separate boards and they started off well by showing where cups are made, showing designs and by starting off one board that isn’t about themselves but about a topic related to their product (tea and coffee) which will help to pull in interest from beyond their current followers. To move on from here there are many things they could do but let’s focus on three:

Make creative inroads with paper cups on Pinterest

1. Create a content strategy around the lifestyle of your audience. You got it right with starting your coffee and tea board – we need more of it and it need to be planned. Think of some fun boards you could create around paper cups and think of how these board can be timely. This is also the right platform to reach people with the different product segments you have.

i. Seasonality:School holidays? Make a board ‘Fun things to make with paper cups’ Christmas? ‘Turn cups into Christmas decorations’ Maybe even have some of your creative team design some nice downloadable templates people can use to pimp their work coffee cups (with your logo on it). You should also look at current products you have and how these fit in with events. The Union Jack cups could have been pinned to a board about the Royal Wedding, the birth of Prince George, The Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics…

ii. Templates: People love free crafting templates on Pinterest – Get your team to create some funny wraps for paper cups or add-ons for straws (think seasonal, Movember, Christmas, Easter or pair up with a charity and create cup wraps people can use for charity coffee mornings.) Hosts the templates on your site and direct the pins to it. You can also add a little logo on the templates. This will create brand awareness as well as increase traffic to your site.

iii. Get a guest pinner: You can invite someone to pin on your behalf. A nice way to strengthen the bond with a current client and to attract more like them is to let them be a guest pinner for the Paper Cup Company. You could invite a small individual coffee shop you deliver to pin about coffee for example (recipes with coffee, the history of coffee, funny sayings about coffee etc.) or attract attention for the high quality design work of your cups (attracting marketing businesses) by having someone pin about product design or their event (and let them pin your cups so that it shows how these fitted in). In fact there is a special category for design – when you set up your boards consider in what category you’d like them to show up.

2. Track your activity – set up your account as a business account and you can track what does well and not so well, helping your to optimise your efforts (just like you should do in PPC).

3. Make it easy for people to follow you: add the Pin it button to your website.

Three Tactical Twitter Tips

The Paper Cup Company has made a nice start on Twitter too – we like the fact they retweet customers, show pictures of their cups at events and demonstrate the charitable side of the business. To increase engagement on this channel they could do the following:

  1. As with Pinterest think about the content strategy. As in all social media engagement it is less about pushing content and all about engaging, sharing and helping to build valuable relationships. Think about who your customer is and what it is you can share with them that would be deemed helpful (beyond special offers) – have a peek at what your competitors tweet too. Use relevant hashtags (in moderation) to make your tweets visible to a wider relevant audience.
  2. Be consistent – your followers are not all online at the same time so it is ok to draw attention to the same topic a few times. If it is hard to make time to tweet during the day – schedule tweets. Companies like Hootsuite, Sprinklr and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule tweets (and some allow you to schedule Facebook and LinkedIn posts too). They also make it easy to monitor what is being said about you which in turn makes it easy to engage with your audience.
  3. You could make the blog easier to discover from the website homepage. You can let different people in the company blog (cup designers, sales staff who have attended a trade fair etc.) and let personalities come through opposed to using it for press release style announcements only. Finally use Twitter and Facebook to drive traffic to the content (and make sure people can contact you easily from the blog, show the sidebar).


Special thanks! Our special thanks goes out to the Bing Ads Accredited Professionals who contributed their insights to this post:

Katie Walton - Digital marketing executive specialising in PPC for Boom Online Marketing (Katie gave her advice whilst getting ready for her honeymoon so congratulations are in order and some kudos for her commitment) Boom is a specialist online marketing company, focusing on SEO, PPC, conversion rate optimisation and social media. Matt Hopson from Screaming Frog, a search agency from Henley-On-Thames in Oxfordshire. Maria Waters from Online PPC by Maria. Maria has an extensive PPC based knowledge of the Travel, Retail, Finance, Motors, Gambling, Digital Agencies and Careers industry. Besides offering PPC management Maria also gives businesses training on this subject. Ryan Jones, assistant PPC manager at multilingual search marketing company Search Laboratory: a global company with over 250 clients in 18 countries which manages campaigns in more than 35 languages for major retailers such as ASOS, Debenhams and Barbour.

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