Case Study: Chicago Photographer Generates Leads with Paid Search Campaigns

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Merchant: Christine Waller Photography
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Platforms: Facebook, Google
Bottom Line: Small businesses rely heavily on Facebook and paid search to make sure their websites show up to locals who search for their services online.

Numbers don’t lie, which is why Conor Keenan keeps a close eye on key performance indicators like cost-per lead, cost-per acquisition, cost-per click, click-through rate, and cost-per thousand impressions to evaluate the effectiveness of the paid campaigns he runs on Google and Facebook.

“We calculate the cost-per lead and cost-per acquisition of each channel and then scale what works,” he says. “Our top channels are paid search — Google at the moment, planning to scale to Bing soon — and Facebook.”

As the digital marketing manager for Christine Waller Photography, a small photography business based in Chicago, Illinois, Keenan uses many sources of traffic to generate leads. His monthly search budget runs between $250 and $500, depending on the services he’s focusing on that month.

“Paid search is just a no-brainier,” he says. “People are actively looking for photographers, it would be irresponsible of us as business owners to not show up when someone searches for our services.”

Like many small businesses, Christine Waller Photography has been forced to adjust its paid search strategy in light of Google’s decision to remove ads from the right side of the AdWords layout.

“We’ve had to adjust some of our bids, and make sure that we didn’t get kicked into a lackluster position, because the position we were located in was on the right side,” he says. “We’ll continue to monitor these changes until we feel each campaign is back to normal.”

Even before Google’s changes went into effect, Keenan was already focusing more heavily on Facebook as a form of customer acquisition and retention. He uses a combination of paid and organic efforts. Keenan favors the platform because of how easy it is to “tell visual stories” with photographs. He encourages past clients to share content with their friends and family by posting “sneak peaks” on the company’s Facebook page.

“We definitely use Facebook more now than we have in the past,” he says. “As the platform has evolved, it has allowed us to connect with our core customer, more often, and for less money.”

Of course, Facebook ‘likes’ are not the ultimate goal for Christine Waller Photography — new clients are. To get Facebook fans to convert, Keenan makes it as easy as possible for visitors to contact his business by telephone. He’s also made sure that an email address is prominently displayed on the Christine Waller Photography website, and contact forms are included on every page.

“We’ve also run some promotions in the past, discounted limited-time offers and such, that has helped to turn visitors into converters,” Keenan says.

Next on the horizon is a plan to start working on more “top of funnel marketing strategies” utilizing content promotion partners, such as the native advertising platform StackAdapt. Those campaigns are set to begin after this year’s main wedding season wraps up.

Although Keenan has looked into advertising on Yelp and niche websites, including The Knot, he’s not interested in launching those campaigns until he’s been able to build up reviews and content on those platforms.

“Kind of like how you don’t want to go to a retail store and discover they only have two things on the shelf and neither of them fit you,” he says. “We want to make sure we have something in place that works for as many people as possible.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.