Puppy adoption service lowers costs and boosts conversions
Puppies. They’re the Picassos of cuteness; a synonym for “Awwww.” Just saying the word makes you feel all warm and toasty inside.
Finding the perfect puppy for your family, however, can often lead to a very different emotion: frustration. You want a particular breed or size. But, historically, finding a puppy has been a very local experience, and when going through local channels, you find yourself with limited options to choose from and minimal information about the pup’s breeder, health and lineage. If only you had a trusted source that could offer a wide selection of breeds while also qualifying each breeder and providing you with a detailed history of each puppy, so you could find the perfect puppy no matter where you or they live. With PuppySpot.com, you do. PuppySpot works with responsible breeders around the United States to place healthy dogs into loving homes. In reliably bridging the gap between breeders and owners, PuppySpot provides all parties involved (including the party on four legs) with a happy ending. “Seeing how excited people are and how much love they have for these puppies really has an effect on you,” says James Green, chief marketing officer at PuppySpot. With more than 100,000 healthy puppies placed in deserving homes to date, the company has touched several hundred thousand lives.
Yet even in presenting a win-win scenario, the company couldn’t succeed if nobody knew about it. Some awareness crops up organically through word of mouth, social media and searches, but the true lifeline comes from online advertising, including search engine marketing (SEM), across multiple channels such as Bing Ads.
We’re dancing in the rain over the Bing Ads performance.
— James Green, chief marketing officer, PuppySpot.com
So how exactly does PuppySpot work? Although the company’s proprietary process has more than 25 steps, everything begins with great breeders. PuppySpot employs a comprehensive screening process to find responsible, caring breeders across the United States. “We examine their breeding practices, review their facilities, and ensure they meet or exceed our industry-leading health and safety standards before we consider inviting them into our exclusive network,” discloses Green. “For us to build a trusted brand, we need to always be sure that we're providing an honest, transparent, high-quality service for our customers.” Last year, less than 10% of the breeders PuppySpot reviewed were ultimately invited to join its exclusive community.
As for the puppies themselves, they tend to be less than 16 weeks old. PuppySpot has, on average, a few thousand available for placement in forever homes at any given moment. Each comes with information on both parents. “We know the general behavior and attributes of each breed,” says Green. “But we also stay in contact with breeders and monitor their placements through our network, so we have a better sense of how breeders raise their puppies, which is something that can be hard to reliably find anywhere else.” If at any time during the process a prospective owner needs help, he or she can talk with a “puppy concierge” or member of the company’s Customer Advocate team for assistance. “We provide ongoing training for our core team members so they can be as knowledgeable as possible,” says Green. “That way, they can make recommendations to customers that match their needs.”
Breed details can indeed come in very handy. For example, the company’s CEO, Greg Liberman, has a daughter with dog allergies who desperately wanted to have a dog. Knowing that poodles are hypoallergenic, the family decided to search for a poodle. That search resulted in the family falling for Lucy, a poodle that Liberman’s 8-year-old daughter found on the website. A few weeks later, Lucy traveled from Missouri to join the Liberman family.
As for customers, PuppySpot screens them as well. “Many people focus on our breeder screening, but that is just the start of what we do. Our focus is our puppies, which means we not only do our best to make sure they are healthy but also that prospective puppy parents can provide happy, forever homes for our puppies,” says Green.
Once a person chooses a puppy, PuppySpot’s team of travel agents jumps in to coordinate travel — most often by air — to get a puppy from the breeder to the customer. In the meantime, the breeder must comply with PuppySpot’s vaccination and health protocols, which culminate in the breeder taking the canine to a licensed vet for PuppySpot’s proprietary nose-to-tail health exam. The results of that exam are submitted to PuppySpot and reviewed by PuppySpot’s internal health team, which must clear every puppy for travel before a puppy is allowed to leave its breeder. After customers get their pup, they then visit another licensed vet for a post-travel checkup, which automatically triggers PuppySpot’s industry-leading health guarantee. In addition, PuppySpot checks in periodically with the customer to follow up and make sure both the dog and owner are doing well.
James Green, Chief Marketing Officer, PuppySpot.com
PuppySpot employs approximately 200 people across three offices in Los Angeles, California (the company’s headquarters), Florida and Utah. How the company got here offers an interesting story that illustrates many inherent challenges of rebranding a business and what Bing Ads can bring to the table.
In October 2016, the company’s new ownership and management team rebranded a pre-existing company with a functioning technology platform and launched it as PuppySpot.com, with an entirely new vision and mission for the company.
Green points out that rebranding, by definition, poses some online marketing hurdles. “It can be a pretty big challenge,” admits Green. “Starting a new brand in a PPC campaign requires resetting all of your quality metrics, scores and click-through rates. Everything basically starts at zero.” In addition, as a disruptive entrant into an industry that has a long history, PuppySpot had to overcome the relatively unknown concept of finding a puppy online, meaning the team not only needed to increase awareness for its own brand but also build the category. That’s when the PuppySpot marketing team turned to Bing Ads account reps to help them on both fronts.
Data provided to Bing by PuppySpot
The Bing Ads team worked closely with the PuppySpot team to design the right online marketing structure as well as optimize PuppySpot’s use of various keywords. “They made sure we had full keyword coverage from our previous account,” says Green. “It helped us recover faster with our new brand on Bing Ads than we did on Google AdWords.”
Bing Ads reps reduced campaigns to a handful of specific ad group categories that matched coverage from the old account. Under certain circumstances, the Bing Ads team extended coverage too.
In addition, the reps used Enhanced Sitelinks, Call Extensions and Callout Extensions to get PuppySpot in front of people with high intent. They also helped PuppySpot create a breadth of ads to test which messages resonated the most with the new name. “We wanted our click-through rates to top our pre-rebrand levels,” recalls Green. “To achieve that, our messaging needed to be clear and compelling.”
To that end, Bing Ads reps worked on creating specific messaging for different audiences and, according to Green, such strategies helped grow PuppySpot’s Bing Network audience by 30 to 40%. “Every step along the way, we're getting great feedback from the Bing Ads team, very specific recommendations, that we're able to quickly put into place with very little work on our side,” says Green.
Bing Ads has made it easier for advertisers to have an alternative to where their SEM dollars go. I don't think the value of that in paid search can be overstated.
In addition to targeting, Bing Ads reps guided PuppySpot’s SEM team with bid adjustments, making them much more efficient. “That not only lifted our account performance above our previous levels, it also made our job easier, so we could focus on the countless other things we were working on for the new brand,” remarks Green.
For example, Bing Ads reps worked a lot with bid modifiers. In geographies where particular campaigns proved less effective, the team used negative bid modifiers to reduce unnecessary spend. The Bing Ads team also designed bid modifiers to better optimize ad schedules.
To Green, examples such as these, more than any particular feature, illustrate the Bing Ads team’s efforts. “They’ve done a phenomenal job providing us with recommendations, helping us with optimization and keeping our cost to acquire a new customer down,” says Green. “That makes it easy to reinvest back in Bing Ads, way more than any other platform we're spending money on.” In fact, Green feels that the Bing Ads team’s recommendations top all others for paid search. “The quantity and quality of the work is so great that we want to apply their knowledge across our entire paid search operation.”
To date, Bing Ads has exceeded PuppySpot’s expectations. For example, Green has recently seen a much better cost per lead (CPL) with Bing Ads than with Google AdWords and previous results with Bing Ads.
For the cost per lead, Bing Ads reps were provided a target CPL from PuppySpot. At the end of 2016, Bing Ads delivered an average CPL below target. Bing Ads has also exceeded the targeted conversion volume per week, and click-through rates have garnered similar results. Compared with Google AdWords, Bing Ads has managed to convert leads at a much higher rate and at a lower overall cost per lead.
Conversions aside, visits to the website over the same time period of several months have increased as well. “We’ve easily met or exceeded the numbers we were seeing with Bing Ads prior to the rebrand,” says Green. "We’re dancing in the rain over the Bing Ads performance." All in all, Green feels a lot of good vibes at work from all directions — puppies, breeders, owners, employees and Bing Ads reps. With the help of Bing Ads, PuppySpot can now better focus on delivering puppy love. “Bing Ads has made it easier for advertisers to have an alternative to where their SEM dollars go,” says Green. “I don't think the value of that in paid search can be overstated.”
View or save the infographic to see how PuppySpot worked with Bing Ads to design the right online marketing structure and create messaging to target specific audiences.
Download the infographic