In just over a year since its formation Africa-car-hire.com has grown into a successful car rental company in the South African market with a fleet of over 6 000 vehicles available from 40 branches across the country.
At its head office you will find a small staff complement consisting of five people, with over 500 employees involved in day-to-day operations at branches.
Russell Weston, the founder of Africa-car-hire.com, explains that his 20 years of experience in the tourism and car hire industry helped to guide the development of Africa-car-hire.com's website, which was designed to efficiently handle bookings.
This is what differentiates Africa-car-hire.com in the market, combined with competitive pricing and included rental benefits that would usually be charged separately, such as border crossings.
There are many vehicle rental companies in South Africa and the market is very competitive as travellers still rely on cars to get around while South Africa is developing its public transport system.
Russell says that Africa-car-hire.com prides itself on great value and all-inclusive rentals that make it unique in the market and adds that the company is also seeking venture capital to help develop it to the next level.
Africa-car-hire.com developed two avenues for driving business to its site:
- An affiliate programme compromising of 250 partners to drive sales. "Hospitality service providers connect to our system to make vehicle hire bookings for their clients, while they focus on their core business," says Russell.
- AdWords has been part of Africa-car-hire.com's business from the beginning. "Africa-car-hire.com receives 88% of its natural search requests from Google. It was obvious that advertising with Google would give Africa-car-Hire the best exposure," says Russell. "We compared other advertising options in relation to return on investment. The web return is not only measured by clicks or visits. It is also determined by resulting transactions."
Russell says that the initial integration of AdWords was simple. Time and experience allowed Africa-car-hire to refine its ad campaigns on AdWords, and the resulting transactions. "In the beginning we received great generic traffic with a low booking rate," he affirms.
"Once we had enough history on AdWords, we analysed our performance and made suitable adjustments. We immediately saw an improvement in our conversions. The impression rate decreased but our click-through rate increased to 3,64%."
According to Russell, Africa-car-hire.com experienced a 400% increase of monthly visitors to its site for the period from February 2007 to February 2008 through AdWords. This, in turn, had led to increased sales.
Russell says, "Sales have increased 200%, with lower advertising expenditure, leading to an increase in profits."
A recipe for success
Russell says Africa-car-hire.com followed seven steps to improve conversion rate from its ads:
- Define advertising goals clearly: More traffic? More transactions? More subscriptions?
- Optimise budget spends for effectiveness: Africa-car-hire sets their daily spend on AdWords at a fixed amount depending on the company's available budget, and takes into consideration factors such as seasonal demand and ad position preferences, as these affect the bid rate in ads.
- Africa-car-hire.com improved its click through rate from 1,79% to 3,64% by adjusting its campaign with clearer-text ads that more accurately reflect what the business offers.
- Select appropriate keywords, avoiding the ones that do not attract the desired audience: Russell says, "We realise that words like 'cheap' may have a negative connotation and do not reflect the value we offer."
- Improve website landing pages for the conversations: Africa-car-hire.com website has gone through an upgrade to improve functionality and navigation. Russell used the AdWords Website Optimiser tool in gauging what content and designs would work best, further to which he implemented conversion tracking from the landing pages and booking confirmation page.
- Monitor account performance: Africa-car-hire.com uses Google Analytics to track how many of its website visitors come via AdWords ads.
- Widening the reach of the ad campaign: Africa-car-hire initially served their text ads solely on Google Search until Research Russell was sure that his AdWords campaign conversion rate had reached the acceptable level, Russell opened the campaign to GoogleÕs Search Network and Content Network.
Africa-car-hire.com sees AdWords as a vital part of its business and plans to continue using it indefinitely. "We are extremely optimistic about our success with the AdWords campaigns and view our relationship with Google as a strategic partnership. AdWords is a business tool that can expand your business as far as you are to go," says Russell.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION about Google AdWords and tips on running an AdWords campaign, download this AdWords Beginner's Guide, visit www.google.co.za/adwords or click on the Technology menu tab on this website.