Getting down to business
Launched in 2005, Simply Business is the UK’s leading insurance broker for small businesses. While the traditional broking model was slow moving and inflexible, Simply Business developed an agile service capable of delivering bespoke policies tailored to specific requirements. With much of their business conducted online, today the company insures over 170,000 small business customers, more than any other UK broker.
Having been established during the internet era, Simply Business has always been forward thinking in their use of technology. The challenge for Simply Business over the next few years is to test new channels in the online market. All of the company’s customer acquisition takes place online, so sticking to traditional methods will only give limited capabilities to grow and expand their customer base. When they realised they were reaching the maximum results possible in their search advertising efforts, Alastair Douglas, the company’s head of marketing and analysis, started looking to other avenues to continue to acquire new customers in their highly competitive business-to-business field.
Alastair Douglas, head of marketing & analysis, Simply Business, says, “You can see the huge increase starting at the time of the AdMob trial; I must admit I was sceptical that this might work, but I am impressed.”
Advertising on the move
The company had already launched a number of mobile search campaigns that had proved successful, and had recorded good results using click-to-call functionality in a search advertising context. Alastair and his team took the decision to launch display ads on the AdMob network using click-to-call and click-to-site within their banners. To trial this new approach, they created a campaign to run for one month.
Potential customers of Simply Business can receive quotes either by filling out an online form or by contacting a call centre representative who will complete the form on behalf of the caller over the phone. Clearly, in their mobile display advertising click-to-call was a natural fit. AdMob also enabled the company to reach a core audience of business customers. Simply Business addressed business people by tailoring the campaign to BlackBerry devices, and by serving ads in AdMob’s news and business channels. These content-based bundles of publisher sites include well-known brands frequented by business people, such as The Independent, News24 and Aljazeera.
Ring the changes
As soon as the campaign went live, the company noticed a sharp rise in calls to the call centre. “As the mobile site is tagged with Google Analytics, we do have visibility on what’s coming in,” explains Douglas. “You can see the huge increase starting at the time of the AdMob trial. Once our campaign went live the calls started coming through immediately. Our early scepticism that this type of campaign would have a low CTR for our sector proved unfounded. In fact we recorded increases of up to 800 per cent compared to previous weeks, and the quality of calls and leads achieved was also above what we had hoped for in terms of being able to convert into sales.”
In common with many business-to-business enterprises, Simply Business requires advertising that is response-driven. While display advertising is often considered a vehicle for branding rather than direct response, the experience of Simply Business illustrates that mobile display is capable of driving exceptional results in terms of real conversions. Because advertising on the AdMob network uses a cost-per-click model, it’s attractive to business-to-business and performance marketers for whom return on investment is critical.
“I must admit I was sceptical that this might work,” says Douglas. “But I am impressed.” Off the back of overwhelming success of their AdMob activity, Simply Business is putting increased emphasis on mobile advertising in the future. They’re currently building a new improved mobile-optimised site based on the findings of the campaign, and once this is complete they plan to use AdMob as an always-on monthly investment.
In light of the fact that mobile has emerged as a high quality acquisition channel instead of just a branding tool as first thought, the company is also currently working on a fully automated process of tying in sales achieved through mobile campaigns into online tracking. This will provide even better feedback regarding the returns on their advertising spend. “We will be eager to invest more into mobile and indeed mobile advertising as the medium continues to evolve,” says Douglas.