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Rent1 Equipment Rentals – A New Media Sources Case Study (updated)

How We Increased Organic Revenue To $100K In Less Than 6 Months

Here’s an expanded marketing strategy with details from 2014-2019 and beyond. This post covers what we’ve done for Rent1 since 2014. That’s five years worth of work. Some of what we’ve done is no longer viable. Regardless, I want you all to see everything. 

The original agreement before upgrading online marketing package:

Basic SEO:

  • On-going search engine optimization
  • Monthly reporting
  • Checking and regularly building local citations
  • Very basic link building campaign

August 2014 – We were given a budget 8x larger than when we started

In August 2014 Rent1 decided to increase their online marketing budget by 800%. They were seeing amazing results with basic optimization being done and came to the conclusion that they would decrease marketing efforts in other platforms like the Yellow Pages and move most of it to their online marketing campaign with Drip Marketing. We were pushing to advertise on Google and Bing with a small budget as a test just so that we can show Rent1 missed opportunities where they don’t dominate. Rent1 gave us a fair PPC budget to work with. Our target was the lower mainland in BC.

Here is what we did in order of importance:

  1. Onsite search engine optimization, which included:
    1. Speed optimization
    2. Meta tag optimization
    3. Duplicate content monitoring
    4. Internal linking structure setup and improvements
    5. Changing the architecture into a silo system with user intent in mind
    6. Copywriting on most important pages
    7. Creating and managing URL structure
    8. Optimizing code for search engines
  2. Offsite search engine optimization
    1. Basic link building
    2. Local citations
  3. Pay Per Click Ad Campaign (Google & Bing)
    1. Search/display network on both Google and
    2. AdRoll
    3. Facebook
    4. LinkedIn
  4. Website improvements
    1. Continuing edits where needed
  5. Tracking user behaviour
    1. Recording user sessions to see pain points while they’re browsing
    2. Heat mapping important pages to see if visitors are completing given tasks
  6. Landing pages
    1. Copywriting, wireframing, designing, and testing different landing pages
  7. Monitoring sales team
    1. Using custom numbers and an AI system to determine if the sales team is doing their job after we guide visitors down the sales funnel
  8. Email marketing campaign
    1. Running behavioural email marketing campaigns
  9. Personalizing marketing messages based on user behaviour
    1. Showing different messages to visitors who have visited certain websites
    2. Presenting incentives to call when a visitor is leaving in the middle of the sales funnel
    3. Viewing the browsing and conversion history of each visitor

Completing the SEO audit

We score each client based on overall SEO-ability. We look at key elements like content, indexation, accessibility, speed, and overall domain authority. Rent1 had clear areas where it could improve. Here’s a list of tasks that we had laid out for better search engine visibility:

  1. Increase the number of indexed pages (machine pages and all category pages)
  2. Increase the number of short and long tail keywords
  3. Increase conversion rates and overall revenue from the website
    1. We had to make sure we tracked everything because the main point of contact for visitors was going to be phone calls and not form submissions
  4. Increase local mobile search
    1. Some, if not most contractors need rentals fast so they search on their mobile phones. It was important to increase overall rankings on desktop as well as mobile rankings
  5. Making sure the website loads a lot faster
  6. Determining user intent based on search phrases
  7. Measuring and determining phone call conversion
  8. Tracking and optimizing top landing pages
  9. Using structured data to guide search engines
  10. Improving meta tags for better click-through rates on the search results page

The effect of our SEO and online marketing efforts

We generally compare our metrics based on the same period of the previous year. For examples, we’ll take the results of September 2014 and compare it to September 2013. In most cases, data from analytics will not correctly reflect our efforts if we compare data from the previous month of the same year.

Here are the results from September:

Google Analytics Results

The reason why the pages/session, average session duration and bounce rate decreased is that we have different campaigns going directly to a particular page where the visitor gets all the information they need. They no longer have to click around looking for information.

Organic traffic increase:

Organic Traffic From Search

 

Organic traffic grew by a whopping 117%. The plan was to increase:

  • The number of indexed pages
  • Get those indexed pages to rank high
  • Increase click through rates
  • And have visitors convert with great copy

We were able to do all these things and more. Here’s how we improved rankings, CTR and overall conversion through organic search:

  • We optimized each page based on user intent, which was:
    • Rental rates
    • The machine of interest for rent
    • Adding structured data
  • We built local citations
  • We had customers write reviews
  • We sped up the website
  • Re-wrote all title and description tags

Organically we were able to double the visibility for Rent1.

search visibility

Benchmarking and tracking leads

It’s very difficult to benchmark and track online marketing when most conversions happen over the phone.

We decided that the best way to resolve this issue was to use a custom number on every single campaign.

Our tracking system isn’t just meant to record calls for later review. Our AI system can automatically determine if a call is not going well. With triggers, we are able to send emails to important figures in the company if a sales rep, front desk clerk or an office administrator is having trouble with taking calls.

Here’s an active indicator list of what we report to all our clients:

phone tracking

As you can see, it’s very important to this client that all customers be treated very well on the phone. This data was a gold mine. For example, we found out that the agitation level was fairly high for most reps. When we pointed this out to our client, we were told that reps handle multiple calls at the same time so they need to finish the call and go to the next customer. We suggested a call centre where calls would go to a local company who can capture the lead and report back to the client. This way reps can spend more time with the customers. Their agitation levels have dropped significantly since then.

Increasing the number of calls and conversion

Increasing the number of leads was extremely important to us. We decided to run multiple targeted campaigns in Google AdWords with custom designed landing pages. Landing pages ranged from having a promotion on them to simply having specific equipment featured as the primary message.

We also focused on changing key areas of content to include better copy, which performed really well.

AdWords Campaign

Rent1 had an AdWords campaign last year. Because of low conversion and lack of tracking, they decided to stop the campaign.

Google AdWords has always worked really well for most of our clients so we wanted to try setting up a new campaign with best practices and see if we can increase ROI.

Our challenge was that most construction workers, engineers and architects won’t fill out a form if presented with one. We decided to use a custom number for each landing page to track each lead dynamically. All calls were recorded and analyzed through an advanced system with our phone tracking software.

We made sure ALL landing pages had relevant copy with the visitor in mind. Our ads all had great scent so that if someone clicked on a message on Google, they wouldn’t be confused on the page they were landing on.

adwords ad example

landing page copy

It’s also very important to keep the average CPC low with high-quality scores. We wanted the best position possible whenever someone was looking for a key phrase we were targeting. Over time our relevance increased with better copy and landing pages making the most profitable keyword $4.87/click in the course of five months.

 

clicks adwords

With Ad Extensions, we were able to make our sales funnel even easier to go through for potential clients. If our ads were compelling enough, they can call directly from search. During the course of five months, we were able to get 57 direct calls from search. We had 67 calls in total with both search and our landing pages combined.

call-extensions

Adwords can be a black hole with your budget if you don’t know what you’re doing. We needed to make sure we had scent, great copy, excellent landing pages, the right keywords targeted and a proper way to track a sale from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

Our ROI for AdWords turned out to be massive. The budget spent in five months was less than $1500 and we were able to get more than $40,000 in rentals.

Sales figures (online channels)

Overall sales from organic rankings reflected the increase in traffic from Google. We were able to double the revenue from the website because of the visibility increase within Google. The total revenue increase from Organic traffic totalled more than $100,000 in less than 6 months.

Our revenue numbers for Google AdWords were also impressive. Our first 6 months was a test run. We’re going to increase the budget in the New Year to reflect demand. Here are some of the PPC numbers, which are interesting:

  • Spent $300 in August
    • ROI was $3000
  • Spent $300 in September
    • ROI was $7000
  • Spent $268 in October
    • ROI was more than $10,000

Let’s look at our digital marketing plan for 2018-2020

At this point, we’ve become very familiar with Rent1. Our agency is helping with:

  • UI and UX
  • Video
  • Software development
  • Market research

Because calls have been the primary source of leads with Rent1 (this will change), I am going to share call data for 2018 compared with 2017.

CallRail 1 year worth of data

We’re looking at a 43% increase in the number of calls (1,687 versus 1,179).

Let’s look at numbers from Google Search Console:

GSC 16 month Rent1 data

Please remember that December is the slowest time of the year for Rent1.

Our primary keywords are killing it nationally. For example, “excavator rental” is doing very well:

excavator rental click data

And finally, here are the ranking numbers compared to the biggest players in the industry (United Rentals and Sunbelt Rentals).

Rent1 rankings data against compset

The Visibility score is calculated considering a proprietary formula, based on the keyword rankings retrieved during the updates (done once a week). The score reflects the progress of your websites in search, across all keywords and search engines targeted in a project.

Market research + results

We run 100s of user tests with heatmaps, surveys, user recordings, and studied click data of 1000 visitors. A lot of eyebrows got lifted from what we discovered.

Rent1 heat mapping study

It turns out most clicks on desktop devices go to the contact page even though the phone number is one of the biggest element above the fold. If you look closely, the navigation is almost completely ignored.

We finally convinced the owners of Rent1 to go with a new UI based on our results.

New Rent1 header

It took some convincing, but we decided to:

  1. Remove “rental” from the global navigation links
  2. Reduce the size of the contact page and emphasize the phone number
  3. Offer a search option at the top. We didn’t hypothesize on why we should put a search bar at the top. We quickly realized that customers were selecting, “pick a machine” and getting nothing.
  4. Completely redefine the category page
  5. Revamp the individual product pages based on collected data over the last year

We’re going to get into the details of what we’ve done in separate posts.

A media strategy

Before Drip, Rent1 had no real media strategy. We now have a whole new campaign for photos and videos. Here are some examples to help their customers and staff:

We’re also going to use very high-quality images, which no other company is even considering right now. A few examples of our work:

We have a whole new content strategy which will be discussed on other posts with details. We will incorporate a lot of our media in social media and focus on value-added content on their blog. It’s going to be night and day compared to what you see right now.

Conclusion

Rent1 was a great example of how a well-executed online marketing plan can pay off in the short and long term. With increased rankings, secured more qualified leads from search and a new pay per click campaign we were able to almost double the rentals compared to 2013. By March 2015, Rent1 intends to double its online marketing budget for even more leads across different cities in the lower mainland.

2019 update: We now dominate the heavy equipment rental market in all aspects (not just online visibility). Our agency has helped Rent1 become more than just a website. Their website is a hub for online media and valuable information. Our next few campaigns will be a little more hands on. With the help of the staff from Rent1, we’re going to create dedicated areas on the website for different industries like mining, city, landscaping, and contractors. These pages will then be designed and printed for potential high-level large clients, which will be hand delivered.

The demand is there and we’ll be there to capitalize on behalf of our client.