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My #PPC Test That Made Me Ship My Pants

By now, most of us had seen Kmart’s Ship My Pants video. If you haven’t, take the time to watch it before reading, as it’s a gem. (I’d rather you waste time watching that than reading the rest of this anyway.) It went viral shortly after launch and gained a lot of press, which triggered a huge increase in search volume, as you can see in this screenshot below from Google Trends.

ship_my_pants_trends

Seeing this as an opportunity for one of our clients at SEER in the shipping industry, Transit Systems, I immediately reached out to our client with the following proposal as I thought, “Why not try to capitalize on someone else’s efforts?”:

proposal

Here, we clearly laid out our plan explaining why we should execute (tons of press, recent spike in volume, no competition), how we should execute (keywords, ad copy), and also our expectations (less direct response, more brand effect). We also delivered this screenshot of the SERPs to show that there was zero competition:

ship_my_pants_serps-revised

The message was sent at 4:56PM on a Friday so I figured it may be a lost cause, as it may not be seen by the client until Monday, and I was in no position to pull the trigger on a test like this myself. However, at 5:20PM, the client responded:

tsi_response

I also really liked the out of the box idea and had already prepped the account in Editor for a speedy launch. After a few back-and-forths, we were live by 5:30PM with a $150/day budget. I anxiously checked my metrics on the bus ride home, refreshing AdWords every so often to see new data pour in – I felt like a client impatiently checking for their ads to show for a top keyword (I think everyone who has worked at an agency knows exactly what I mean).

After Day One, we generated 45 clicks for about $40 bucks, but no conversions. I put my PPC account manager hat back on and wrote it off to only being live for a short period of time.

day_one_stats

No worries, there’s always Day Two. Well, that didn’t turn out to be a winner either. We generated a total of 68 clicks for just over $105 and no conversions again. And now you can see that our impressions took a huge hit when compared to day one due to a drop in Quality Score.

day_two_stats

When all said was done, we generated just over 200 clicks, 28,000 impressions, and zero conversions at a total cost of $286. 96% of the people bounced, with probably 100% of them shipping their pants when they realized we were neither at Kmart nor a relevant site. However, 94% of those visits were new so we did get in front of 190 new people, potentially.

final_stats

final_stats_GA

Looking back almost a month later, I try to think if there was a better way to approach this or if it just was a failed plan from the beginning in terms of generating leads. We did present this as more of a branding effort than direct response, but did not see any significant lift in search volume, and my hopes of making it onto some “look at this creative strategy for PPC” blog posts had quickly faded away. And while this did not ultimately end in the results I would have liked to see, it won’t deter me from trying to think of the next “outside the box” approach. Sometimes being creative doesn’t work out, but you won’t know unless you take a chance.

Have a similar experience and what to share? Feel free to post in the comments below!