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Wickfire blazes a trail in search marketing

  Article , Retail , Success stories

Traffic visits up 66% while lowering average CPC by 40%

Stoking the flames of search marketing

As a leading digital marketing company focused on search marketing, Wickfire supports retailers, helping them get their products and services in front of consumers with special offers. The firm uses automated workflows and optimization technology to not only guide consumers through their purchasing decisions, but also to maximize the reach and conversion potential that search marketing offers merchants.

Wickfire’s foundations are built on search, starting with a platform that enabled the company to work directly with e-commerce sites and help them advertise online. Business took off in 2013 when Wickfire launched TheCoupon.co, a site that offers deals and coupon codes for apparel, furniture, software, and technology, among other merchant products and services. The site continues to get half a million monthly visitors since it went live.

TheCoupon.co, offers deals and coupon codes and Buyersguide.org, helps consumers research and evaluate their online purchasing decisions on a wide variety of products.

TheCoupon.co, offers deals and coupon codes and Buyersguide.org, helps consumers research and evaluate their online purchasing decisions on a wide variety of products.

Soon after, Wickfire launched Buyersguide.org, a site helping consumers research and evaluate their online purchasing decisions on a wide range of beauty, fashion, health, home, and tech products. This sparked the company’s growth, kindled by small e-commerce retailers then stoked by large aggregate ones. The company now advertises for more than 2,400 online companies, with its advertising channels generating $550 million in referred sales for its clients.

The way we’ve been able to grow with Microsoft Advertising has been transformative.

— Katy Hall, chief operating officer, Wickfire

The power of search

With a specialty in search marketing, Wickfire understands the power of search and how to harness it.

“Search helps consumers at a critical moment in their purchasing decision,” says Katy Hall, Wickfire’s chief operating officer. “It’s a medium where consumers show buying interest but have yet to pick their product. They’re looking for information before they make a decision, and we fill that need successfully.”

Moreover, search allows Wickfire to get in front of consumers showing purchasing intent, enabling the company to make decisions at a granular level when it comes to exact targeting in terms of keywords and bidding on specific keywords.

“Search helps us investigate and decide what user choices should be on our pages,” says Cheney Wakeman, vice president of operations at Wickfire. “We interpret what users engage with on our pages and change our pages around in the same way that we have a bidding algorithm set for our keywords. We’re able to leverage data from search to target what users are actually looking for.”

Getting ahead of trends in consumer behavior

Wickfire logo

As a Channel Partner with Microsoft Advertising, Wickfire has access to resources that allow the company to gain insight on search behavior. “We integrated with the Bing Ads API, and we run data analysis on a lot of the information we pull to make sure we’re reaching as many consumers as we can,” Hall says. “We’ve also seen traffic segments we’re able to target on Bing that we can’t on other search platforms.”

Additionally, these partner resources enable Wickfire to quickly adapt to evolving consumer trends. For instance, the company saw changes to consumer behavior in early 2020 as a result of COVID-19: a surge in searches for emergency food and disaster preparedness supplies, a spike in searches for products that people would typically buy in-store, and a shift to buying from e-commerce sites.

“Our team understood, probably earlier than most, how serious this was going to be because we saw those consumer trends playing out in real time as early as February and into March,” Hall says.

Wickfire will be taking the insights gleaned from those trends and applying them to its search marketing strategy this holiday season. The company will increase its search spend prior to Black Friday and sustain that throughout the holiday season, as well as manually bump its usual automated bidding to reach as many consumers as possible.

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen Cyber Monday outpace Black Friday,” says Hall. “This year, with people not wanting to go into crowded stores with long lines, we’ll see an even greater shift into the e-commerce world. We’re projecting that this will be a great holiday season for e-commerce.”

Firing up growth and efficiency with Microsoft Advertising

To boost its performance, Wickfire employs Microsoft Advertising features, adopting search syndication at a rate of 97% and enhanced Sitelink Extensions at a rate of 98.7%, with Callout Extensions and Structured Snippet Extensions seeing the biggest adoption. Its proprietary algorithm also works seamlessly with Microsoft Advertising’s Enhanced CPC (cost per click).

The company is reaping the benefits of its partnership with Microsoft Advertising, experiencing not only tremendous growth through new and sizable accounts — around 300 or so since 2019 — but also exceptional results. On Buyersguide.org, for example, traffic has increased 66% from January 2018 to May 2020, with over 1 million clicks garnered during May 2020 compared to 194,000 clicks in the same month of the previous year. All this while lowering the average CPC from $1 to between $0.60 and $0.70 per bid.

Wickfire attributes these results to how competitive Microsoft Advertising is with other search marketing platforms, especially in terms of reach and flexibility. “One of my favorite parts about working with Microsoft is that there are a lot of ways to refine and tailor what works for us, which even other platforms don’t provide,” says Wakeman. “Our team appreciates it’s something we have at our disposal.”

The company is excited about the results it has achieved, and Wickfire is looking forward to a continued partnership with Microsoft. “We’re able to reach more users, allowing us to further invest in search and get better results,” Hall says. “The way we’ve been able to grow with Microsoft has been transformative.”

We’re able to leverage data from search to target what users are actually looking for.

— Cheney Wakeman, vice president of operations, Wickfire

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