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Driving performance with Bing Ads

  Article , Tech and Telecom , Success stories

Learn how Vodafone maintains a competitive edge

The benefits of a “be first” strategy

Vodaphone logo

Vodafone logo

Did you know the first mobile phone call in the UK was made on January 1, 1985, from London to Newbury? The company that made the call, establishing the UK’s first cellular network in the process, was Vodafone.

Since that day in 1985, the Vodafone customer base has grown to more than 465 million, of which 19.5 million are based in the UK.

The telecommunications firm provides a range of services including voice, messaging, data and fixed communications. Last year, Vodafone entered the broadband space, becoming the first UK-based company to scrap line rental charges on broadband.

Vodafone has big ambitions. It currently operates in 26 countries and works in partnership in an additional 52 countries, empowering its customers to communicate with the people they care about effortlessly and on their own terms. “We recognize that everyone communicates differently, so we’re committed to making sure our customers always feel connected wherever they are,” explains Christopher Pearce, search and affiliate lead, Vodafone.

“There’s a shift happening in the telecoms industry,” says Pearce. “Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen lots of mergers, acquisitions and new entrants. This has led to companies trying to diversify and expand the range of services they offer their customers.”

It’s a complex environment, not just for Vodafone but for all telecoms businesses. With organizations no longer focusing on specific product categories, broadband businesses are moving to mobile and vice versa. As a result, Vodafone has adopted a “be first” strategy across all its marketing activity.

“The biggest challenge for Vodafone is the need for constant innovation. The telecoms market is competitive and constantly changing, so there’s always a need to find new ways to engage consumers,” explains Pearce. “Reaching out to our customers and making sure they have a full understanding of our services is really important to us.”

Bing Ads is key to that innovation. “Our relationship with Bing Ads is a core component of our customer acquisition strategy,” Pearce says. “Paid search is fundamental in allowing us to capture the attention of potential customers when they’re in market and most likely to buy.”

Our relationship with Bing Ads is a core component of our customer acquisition strategy.

— Christopher Pearce, search and affiliate lead, Vodafone

The importance of collaboration

MEC logo

MEC logo

“Search is a fast-moving industry. One of the big benefits of working with Bing Ads is the ability to test new services as and when they become available,” says Pearce.

To ensure Vodafone is constantly evolving, its media agency MEC works closely with the Bing Ads team to identify which of these new services it can trial. This ensures Vodafone can satisfy its growth plans and maintain a competitive edge.

“The Bing Ads team has provided us with the ability to develop highly bespoke messages across a range of markets. We’re able to pinpoint core audiences at critical moments in the purchase lifecycle, making Bing Ads a fundamental partner for us,” says Elliot Saxton, search account manager, MEC.

That drive saw Vodafone become the first telecoms company to take advantage of Bing Shopping Campaigns, which the company uses to manage Product Ads that showcase products with an image, text, pricing and the company name. With a wide variety of choice, consumers need to be empowered to make choices for their specific needs. Bing Shopping Campaigns enabled Vodafone to differentiate itself from its competitors and optimize its ads with greater detail and visuals. This allowed Vodafone to create ads that would appeal to customers as they searched for particular products online.

“Searching and shopping for a mobile phone is a visual experience,” explains Pearce, “so the visual format of Bing Shopping Campaigns really appealed to us.”

Remarketing in Paid Search has also driven strong results. In fact, it frames a large part of MEC’s overall strategy for Vodafone. “Our best prospects are people who have already shown that they’re interested in Vodafone’s products,” explains Saxton. “If we can move them closer to a purchase, then we’re delivering on our objective.”

Pearce adds, “Remarketing in Paid Search is incredibly useful for us. By targeting people we know through the Vodafone site, we can be much more audience-focused.”

To add further precision to its campaigns for Vodafone, MEC worked with the Bing Ads team to add links and descriptive text to ads with Enhanced Sitelinks. This enabled Vodafone to include as much information as possible in the ads it presented to customers. Also, by adding an image to ads with Image Extensions, Vodafone is able to align its paid search activity with other market campaigns, such as TV spots, and ensures that a consistent message is presented to the consumer.

“The functionality Bing Ads provides enables us to be more targeted and gain a deeper understanding of our customers,” explains Pearce. “This means we can send more personalized messages to key audiences at crucial points in the customer lifecycle.”

Transformational ads for iPhone 7 launch

Vodafone store experience

Vodafone store experience

For the iPhone 7 launch in 2016, Vodafone became the first UK mobile provider to pilot a new Bing Ads feature. This allowed Vodafone to place a clickable “order now” button alongside its ads to bolster its click-through rate and capture potential sales.

In advance of the launch, MEC identified that key audience segments would be those in the 25‒34 and the 50‒64 age brackets. Vodafone and MEC used Bing Ads demographic targeting options to increase bids on these audiences by 40%. The aim here was to drive more traffic through core audience segments. During the launch, these audiences had a 23% higher click-through rate and a 19% higher conversion rate.

Location targeting also drove strong results during the launch. “Using Vodafone’s first-party data, we identified postcodes in the UK where there was a higher tendency to go in a store to purchase an iPhone,” says Saxton. Working with Bing Ads and using its location targeting options, MEC increased bids in these locations by 15%. In those locations, conversion rates increased by 5% compared to the rest of the UK.

“These enhanced ads helped give us a significant edge over our competitors,” says Pearce. “As one of the biggest launches of the year, this was hugely successful for us and is a testament to our close working relationship with the Bing Ads team.”

“I’d recommend Bing Ads to any advertiser in the UK. There are huge gains to be made across many search accounts.”

— Christopher Pearce, search and affiliate lead, Vodafone.

Reducing the cost per sale

Datatable showing Vodaphone achievements with Bing Ads: click-through rate increased by 20% year over year; cost per sale decreased by 28%; cost per click decreased by 27%. Data provided by Vodaphone.

Vodafone Data Table

Capturing as many customers as possible while keeping costs down is a big priority for Vodafone.

By using Bing Ads, MEC has helped Vodafone drive a 20% increase in its click-through rate and a 27% reduction in its cost per click year on year. Vodafone has also reduced the cost per sale by 28%, which is 40% lower than the cost with the leading alternative.

“With new players constantly entering the market, it’s vital that Vodafone continues to stand out from the crowd,” says Pearce. “We need to continually work on refining our approach and ensure we’re embracing new technologies as they emerge and incorporating application downloads into our activity.”

MEC and the Bing Ads team are now working on ways to improve their audience targeting. By identifying more key audience segments throughout the customer lifecycle, they can better optimize Vodafone’s ads.

“I’d recommend Bing Ads to any advertiser in the UK. There are huge gains to be made across many search accounts,” says Pearce. “If you’re not working with Bing Ads, you’re not engaging with the strong, unique customer base that you can reach through Bing Ads.”

See a summary

Download an infographic to discover how Vodafone used Bing Ads to lower the cost per sale.

  Download the infographic