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Point It: Pointing the way to smarter search

July 2016

Point It, a digital marketing agency that specializes in paid search, paid social, programmatic display and search engine optimization, has spent more than a decade living up to its name by pointing clients in the right direction. With that experience comes the wisdom to know that even if an online campaign is growing, it can still be made to grow smarter.

“There’s always been a focus on cost efficiency and cost control,” explains Lisa Sanner, vice president of search marketing for the Seattle-based agency. “If we can't measure how a dollar's going to impact a search result, we're likely not going to spend that dollar.”

Since their 2002 inception, Point It has managed hundreds of digital marketing campaigns, including such high-profile clients as AT&T, Cisco, Docusign, Sharebuilder, Amazon and the Microsoft Store. While their expertise is impressive, it is amplified by a knack for treating large companies with scrutiny.

Explains Sanner: “We're not out there just saying ‘Oh, we have a million dollars and we're going to spend a million dollars.’ It's not like that at all. We optimize and drive results to roll out targets and goals.”

Natalie Barreda, the senior client manager who oversees the U.S. Microsoft Store account, joined Point It just under two years ago, pulled in by the allure of a large company’s resources with a small company’s mindset.

“I scoped out jobs, did my research and was sold on the fact that Point It is a small agency in the sense of employees, but a large agency in the type of clients that we manage,” she explains. “I was super interested in that.”

When Sanner joined Point It, she was about the fifth employee — currently, that number hovers in the high thirties. “We started working with Microsoft way back in 2007, so it's been a nine-year partnership,” she recalls. “Microsoft Store grew as Microsoft’s overall umbrella grew, at first we started with just Office 2007 and Vista ESDs, electronic software downloads, then as we drove results and revenue we expanded and scaled it where it made sense. Now, we have one of the largest consolidated global programs that’s being done; we’re live in 57 markets, supporting 27 different languages.”

Smart targeting

As they get close to celebrating the 10th anniversary of this partnership between Point It and Microsoft, Sanner says it’s important to remember what got them here. “The growth is because there is a focus on not spending money to spend money, but making sure that it's hitting the efficiency targets and achieving results. Period.”

How can they be so confident that they are indeed hitting those targets? Both Sanner and Barreda go out of their way to praise Universal Event Tracking from Bing Ads. “Rolling Bing UET out was essentially giving us the capability to do remarketing in search,” says Barreda. “It really allows you to capture that low-hanging fruit.”

According to Sanner, it was something Point It was eager to test. “With Bing UET and other features, we'll test it on maybe two of our top campaigns, where we think it makes the most sense,” she explains. “We’ll gain insight from it, and then roll it out to all the other campaigns in an account.”

Although UET is relatively new, Point It is already reporting tremendous returns after barely half a year. “We launched Bing UET right before the holidays, November-ish of last year,” remembers Barreda. “And since then, it has allowed us to capture an additional $50,000 in revenue that we wouldn’t have captured if we didn't have that.”

Employing experimentation

Such returns, they are happy to report, frequently accompany Bing Ads experimentation. “With Bing rolling out new features, it allows us to employ strategies and prove that they're successful,” Barreda says. “And also capture additional revenue super efficiently for the client — which ultimately, is what we're trying to get.”

So, where does the industry go from here? It might seem foolhardy to make any grand predictions, but whatever the direction, Point It is determined to continue pointing the way.

“Our Bing reps are just outstanding at keeping us abreast of what the latest things are, with our business in mind,” says Sanner. “Mobile is becoming much more important; native advertising is interesting. There's always new ad formats, new extensions, different types of ways your ad is presented on search. We don't mind being guinea pigs, as long as it makes sense for the business.”