We pride ourselves on offering a service that cuts through the electronic payment jargon and delivers results in the simplest way possible. Working with Permission has been a very similar experience for us. They deliver an easy-to-understand methodology that cleverly bypasses the confusion so common in online marketing. It’s a comprehensive end-to-end solution. I’d recommend anyone who is looking for a simple way to solve the complex problem that is online marketing to give them a call.
Roger Yibo Wang
Managing Director – Flo2Cash Limited
Flo2Cash is a credit card and direct debit electronic payment provider based in Albany on Auckland’s North Shore. It operates within an industry category littered with technical jargon and convoluted processes. Thankfully, due to some locally developed nimble technology, the Flo2Cash team is able to slash through all this and enable their clients to enjoy a very simple ‘one-stop shop’ approach to using electronic payment methods.
They contacted Permission in early 2010 with a desire to substantially increase the number of sales leads coming from their website. Up to then things had been going reasonably well, but the lead volume was low and needed work. This, coupled with the growing amount of positive customer feedback the business was receiving, convinced them that it was time to break out of any ‘best kept secret’ category they may be in.
To start things off, Permission took the Flo2Cash team through a comprehensive website review process. The outcomes of this work highlighted their relative strengths, ripe for further leverage, and conversely the gaps that needed additional work. A series of programs was suggested and subsequently agreed upon to enable them to gain and eventually surpass their competitors in the online space.
The first job off the rank was to improve the level of reporting from the analytics tools running across the Flo2Cash website. Once complete, this allowed the team to accurately track the effectiveness of any alterations Permission would roll out later.
Google was the next point of focus, specifically improving its ability to rank Flo2Cash website pages for keywords specific to their industry. Researching which keywords were worth ranking for was the first job. These choices were then matched against the existing pages on the Flo2Cash website and, where there were none, new pages were created. These were then optimised to improve their keyword relevance. Permission then embarked on a comprehensive article writing and distribution strategy to help improve the quality and volume of inbound links to the site.
Within a month the results started to flow through. The custom-built Google ranking and traffic volume reports revealed traffic gains of over 50% as the site was re-indexed and the rankings moved upwards.
Increasing numbers of searchers were now seeing the business listed in their Google results screen and were clicking through, wanting to start a conversation with a prospective electronic payment supplier. And so, with this traffic-building work well underway, the attention of the two teams moved to the website and to improving its ability to convert all this new traffic into new leads.
As it would happen, the start of this stage coincided with Permission becoming a customer of Flo2Cash. We had been using a traditional credit card processing solution for a number of years and were looking for something with a few more smarts and a few less fees. Flo2Cash was an obvious solution.
This allowed Permission to see the obvious gaps in what prospects were told online compared with what was experienced later as a customer. So both teams sat down and reworked the design of the home page and the order in which content was displayed. The Flo2Cash service comes with some very valuable and unique benefits and, while not exactly hidden, they required more prominence on the main pages of the site. In a similar way, the growing level of social proof the service enjoyed with its lengthening list of customers was made more obvious across the revised layouts.
During this stage, the teams also looked at the number and types of lead conversion options prospects could chose from on the website. At the start there was just one, which was suited to those who were a fair way down the sales decision-making process. So the teams worked on adding more that were better suited to those in the early stages of researching their options.
Once in, these changes made the website work harder at converting the traffic it received. And, with the climbing rate of traffic from Google, the site’s lead volume began to noticeably pick up. From here on it was all about tuning things to get the most from the solution. This involves ongoing work to tweak the site’s ‘conversion-inducing’ content coupled with the implementation of a range of tactics to steadily move the site higher in its search rankings.
We believe we have the right staff, products, selection and service standards for our market but when it came to online – while we were doing OK – we knew we could achieve at a higher level. Working with Permission has helped us in a number of different areas understand what that next level is and how to get there in simple, understandable and practical ways.
– Steve Preston – Managing Director – Choice Catering Equipment
Sometimes clients engage Permission to help them improve on the success they have already achieved. This was the case when the team at Choice Catering Equipment came to Permission as a referral from their then web developer who had built their e-commerce-enabled website.
They arrived with the single task of improving the effectiveness of their Google AdWords advertising. This type of traffic had already proven itself with its positive ‘order converting’ traffic. Now they wanted to engage some specialist campaign management resource to build on their work to date.
To start with, Permission completed a comprehensive review of their AdWords account. This work generated a comprehensive list of optimizing suggestions. One of these was to increase the negative keywords the account was using. (Negative keywords are those that can sneak in between good keywords and, by doing so, make them unsuitable. For instance, the keyword “second hand” when you are bidding on “gas ovens” and you only sell new products.)
By reviewing previous AdWords reports, the Permission team could see that there were a sizable number of clicks coming from keyword phrases that included negative-style terms. This was resulting in wasted clicks that were churning through a sizable proportion of the monthly AdWords budget.
To fix this, both teams reviewed historical reports from months of click data and produced a long list of keywords that were in future to be categorised as negative and, as such, would not be responsible for showing future ads for the incorrect search phrases. This list was then uploaded into the Choice AdWords account – effectively doubling their previous negative keyword list. (This list has continued to grow each month as more negative terms have been added as Permission continues to trawl through the company’s click reports looking for instances of any new negative words.)
The team at Choice enjoyed two benefits from this work being completed. The first was the obvious saving of wasted click cost on these non-relevant keywords. The second was more subtle and related to the positive way in which Google views and consequently provides a bid pricing advantage (reduced cost) to advertisers who have above-average click-through rates for their ads. (The click-through rate is defined as the percentage of searchers that see your ad out of the total number that click on it). The long list of negative keywords now ensured that their ads were more likely to be shown only for relevant searchers and thus were being clicked more frequently during the periods they were shown, which increased their click-through rate.
So, with these paid advertising costs now under better management, Permission was then asked to turn its focus towards the organic traffic the site received from Google and present some suggestions. This traffic source represented a sizable chunk of the total visitor count. The structure and design of the website was helping things here. Fortunately, it had been built in such a way that made it relatively easy for Google to properly index for the vast range of product terms the business supplied.
Permission began its hunt for improvements by embarking on a process of extensive keyword research. As a result of this they located a selection of keywords that had a high search volume but a comparatively low ranking for the Choice website. A few of these required immediate work and Permission presented a series of straightforward alterations that rectified the issue and moved the rankings upwards from where they were struggling previously.
The Google Analytics website reporting application was being used to track the outcomes of all the changes during this period. And, while it provided some good general information that was ideal in guiding the early changes the site required, it lacked specific e-commerce sales detail that was necessary to track the effectiveness of the more subtle site changes required in the future. Permission had experience with configuring Analytics to work this way on sites it already managed and it worked with Choice and their web development team to ensure the necessary tracking changes were made and successfully implemented.
“Our relationship with Permission goes back a long way because it works. They offer both a dependable service for online campaign management and a challenging perspective to help guide our strategy online.”
– Reece Zondag CEO Les Mills New Zealand
Les Mills New Zealand started working with Permission back in November 2004. They initially contacted the company looking for some advice on further developing a project they had running to automatically communicate with members via email. A previous solution had come across some unexpected problems and some independent advice was now required to find a new vendor and assist in getting the project back on track.
Permission was engaged and assisted with the selection of a new supplier. Work then followed to help support the project implementation and the post-go-live phase. This project was successfully completed and the solution is still working well and in operation today.
Subsequent to the success of this engagement, Permission was asked to provide advice and support on the supply of services for the ongoing ad hoc member email communication process. To start with, a ‘member get member’ campaign was chosen to trial Permission’s capabilities. Permission provided consulting on the strategy of the campaign, the design of the email and the necessary deployment services to successfully deliver the campaign.
All went well and later on in 2005 a regular member email communication strategy was settled upon and the highly successful Les Mills member newsletter was released. Initially called BodyLines, this campaign has passed through various iterations as the Les Mills brand developed. Throughout all this, it has continued to be one of the most actively read email newsletter campaigns that Permission manages.
Permission’s involvement with the company then moved from email to the highly popular website: www. lesmills.co.nz. This was re-launched mid-way through 2007 and Permission was tasked with installing and configuring Google Analytics to improve the site’s reporting capabilities. Les Mills head office staff were then trained by Permission on the use of the tool and are still supported in its use.
After running Google Analytics on the site for a few months it was noted that the site’s search engine rankings, while good, could do with some improvement. Permission was called upon to provide advice in this area too. They worked with the site’s web developer and the marketing manager at the time, making the necessary content structure changes, which produced a significant increase in rankings and subsequent search engine traffic.
Throughout this website work, email distribution carried on for both member and prospect communications. The content design and creation was supplied by a selection of suppliers – with Permission being able to accept creative input in a range of formats, converting all of these into an ISP – and email-friendly format.
As the growth in digital communications increased so did the marketing team at Les Mills to support its production and management. Permission was tasked with provided coaching support to these new staff, so much so that they took a more active role in managing their own Google AdWords campaign and ongoing Google Analytics reporting.
To provide some strategic balance to all this highly tactical work, Permission and the Les Mills marketing team meet on a quarterly and annual basis to a) review overall progress and b) map out the strategic focus points for the period ahead.
“SelectValet is definitely a start-up success story. Two things helped us achieve this. The first was our focus on presenting a great product to market – the second was Permission and their focus on supplying us a steady stream of leads. It’s one hell of a combination.”
– Mark Gilbert, SelectValet New Zealand
Launching a new business always comes with a fair amount of risk. The percentage of failures that don’t make it past year one is staggering and anything that can reduce the likelihood of this occurring can only be a good thing. And so it was with all this in mind that Mark Gilbert approached Permission to assist in the launch of his new mobile car valet service – SelectValet.
Mark, as the country master franchise for the SelectCleaning business, had seen firsthand the good work the team had done with growing this established business. But now he was more interested to hear how Permission could apply its skills to the launch phase of this new venture.
The team at Permission scoped out the work that was required, describing how this would help Mark achieve the objectives he had set for the business. This was met with approval and Permission was engaged.
Initial discussion centered on achieving some clarity on the needs and desires of the prospect audience. Mark’s team had a wealth of information on this subject but was still keen to learn more. Therefore, some additional online research was conducted by Permission to fill the gaps. Once this work was completed, the two teams worked together to produce the first draft sales copy for the site.
The Google AdWords system was seen as an ideal option to tap into a reliable and cost-effective stream of prospect traffic to ‘test’ this sales message with. Permission established an exploratory campaign and the lead flow began to build and provide a good base to kick-start the business.
After a few weeks, things started to gain momentum as the lead flow began to grow to a credible volume. While this was occurring, the valet service was also proving to be very popular with customers – repeat business volumes were above initial expectations. The project was still in its research phase and further tweaking of the sales page was completed as more information was collated on the needs of the online shopper.
Having proved that the system could convert paid traffic into leads at a profitable rate, the focus then moved to improving the site’s rankings within Google’s organic (or free) listings. This involved conducting some initial keyword research and then supplementing this with the keyword-based knowledge gained from their successful AdWords campaign. Out of this came a seed group of target keywords that were chosen for optimization improvements.
All this work had been focused on the Auckland region and, with this showing good positive signs, it was decided to roll out similar offerings to both Wellington and Christchurch. Different selling messages were crafted for each and, as before, were tested and proven on paid Google AdWords-generated traffic.
Now in its third year of operation, the business is well on track to become the largest mobile car cleaning company in New Zealand by mid this year. But when it comes to lead development, there is always room for improvement. So each month Mark meets with the team at Permission to review the stats from last month and to plan out the changes required to keep ‘polishing’ the system.
“Fly Buys has come a long way with its online communications since those early campaigns back in 2004. Obviously there’s been a large amount of change to make this happen – technology choices, creative suppliers, and internal team members – nevertheless, the path to where we are now from where we were has been a smooth and successful one. I put our relationship with Permission during this period as being an integral part of this achievement.”
– Chris Lamers, Head of Marketing and Product Development
If you were a Fly Buys member back in mid 2004 you may have in your Inbox the first ever email message sent as a campaign on behalf of the Loyalty New Zealand marketing team. Back then Fly Buys had dispatched only a small number of email campaigns, all through agency providers. Unfortunately, these projects had taken longer than expected to deploy and came at a cost that made any ongoing campaign work seem cost prohibitive.
Permission was then approached to see what it could offer. Fly Buys liked the flexibility that a relationship with Permission afforded. Email was a new space for the marketing team and they were not sure how it would proceed. Permission is an independent ‘technology agnostic’ supplier of email marketing support services, and the Fly Buys team liked the luxury of being able to pick and chose the technology and support options that best suited them at this early stage.
This flexibility also transcended the creative space and was evident in Permission’s ability to ‘play nicely’ with a range of creative suppliers. This allowed the Fly Buys team to retain existing agency relationships for creative content while also keeping their options open. Permission could accept content from all these sources and manage the detailed process of turning it into an email- and ISP-‘friendly’ format prior to planning its dispatch.
The situation seemed ideal and Permission was engaged. A decision was quickly made on a local email marketing technology provider who was up for the job. Teams from both Permission and Fly Buys were trained in the technology and planning started on the initial campaigns.
Their first campaign was dispatched to just 15,000 members. Those early messages were designed to gauge members’ acceptance of this new channel and were seen as tentative steps forward. Nevertheless, member response was positive and over the next 6 months they had dispatched four campaigns to just under 100,000 members.
The success of email marketing began to take hold and monthly send volumes grew and grew and with it the complexity of each campaign. So much so that in 2008, after 4 years of sterling use, it was decided that the original email dispatch technology was not able to provide the features necessary for the next generation of email marketing campaigns the teams were planning.
So, as was the case back in 2004, both companies began to define the revised business requirements and embark on the process of finding a new vendor. Unfortunately, a search among local technology providers drew a blank so overseas suppliers were approached. The US-based technology provider, Responsys, came through as the best match and was engaged in August 2008.
Permission and Fly Buys staff were trained on the Responsys application and both teams began the task of migrating all future campaigns onto the new platform. The detailed campaign dispatch process that both teams followed was modified to allow for the new technology and quality checks were run before the first campaigns were released.
One of the many new features the system offered was improved content-targeting options, allowing member messages to be better tailored to suit their individual needs. Creative suppliers were also changed during the technology upgrade as the design was refreshed to keep pace with the new Fly Buys brand.
The campaign activity from those early days’ work is now dwarfed by current average monthly campaign counts of 35, which produce email sent volumes that frequently break through the million mark.
“Permission has been an integral part of our success. In our business it’s all about engaging with the right type of prospect at the right stage of the sale. Working with Permission has helped us tap into a steady stream of these types of people.”
– Mike Candy, Agrigarden Distributors
Agrigarden Distributors are based in St Heliers, Auckland, and began working with Permission in January 2006. They represent the Grillo Ride On Mower brand in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as other leading garden equipment manufacturers.
When Agrigarden and Permission first met, the Agrigarden operation was in its start-up stage and the business had limited market awareness. The website had just been finished and required promotion. There had been some use of the traditional methods of promotion, such as print and magazine advertising, but this was seen as a cost-prohibitive option for long-term use. So, the general consensus was to head online and attract those prospects using the Internet to find the products they offered.
Prior to meeting Permission, the St Heliers team had set themselves up with a Google AdWords account and started their own advertising. And yes, while their credit card had taken a slight hit and they had attracted some clicks, they were not sure if this method was providing a worthwhile return. So it was with a slight element of urgency to get some traction online that Permission was engaged.
The web development team responsible for building the site introduced Permission to the Agrigarden team. First off, and as a way of proving some level of expertise, Permission began work on optimizing their Google AdWords account. This was quickly brought up to a best-practice level and any wasteful spending was removed.
During this work Permission found that, while their AdWords advertising in the New Zealand market had been performing reasonably well, similar efforts in Australia were not producing such good results. Permission presented a way to re-configure the account to improve this situation, which was accepted by the Agrigarden team. Once implemented, this quickly changed things and the Australian AdWords traffic rocketed upwards by over 400%. The Australian lead count grew by the same proportion and the business started to take off.
Once AdWords was under control, Permission then focused on optimizing the main website so it could be found by those clicking on the results shown in the organic (free) part of Google. Fortunately, the website developers had designed the site so that changes like these could be made, and it was a relatively simple task to have the necessary page content altered.
As is normally the case with altering organic rankings, it took longer to effect a noticeable change than the prior work done in Google AdWords, but still the site slowly moved up in the rankings for the search keywords the business was targeting.
During those early years, the business quickly became established and more and more dealers joined who were willing to support the Agrigarden product across Australia and New Zealand. The Australian market grew at a promising rate so it was decided to build a separate lead generation system specifically for this market to capture as much of the available demand as possible.
The first step was to learn more about the Australian consumer. Permission conducted some online prospect research to add to the existing knowledge the Agrigarden team already had. Based on this work, a draft appointment page was written. This worked well and this initial version provided a solid 25% lift in conversion results.
The layout and content of this page has since gone through a series of iterations. Using Google’s Website Optimizer product, the team has split-tested various versions against each other to slowly, but progressively, creep up the conversion rate month by month.
Improving the organic search results for this Australian content has also come under focus. Even with the increased competitive nature of the market, there have been some solid improvements here.
All this has culminated in a steady, reliable and affordable stream of new prospect enquiries flowing into the Auckland offices of Agrigarden each week – all ready for them to disseminate to their dealers in both Australia and New Zealand.