With a greater reach than the leading Russian TV stations, the Russian search engine Yandex is the best way to target Russian customers for your business. Whether your business sells shoes or machinery, Yandex.Direct offers the most useful method for advertising in Russia. The Yandex.Direct industry success story featuring NTK Forklift, a supplier of warehouse and road construction machinery, offers one great example.
Yandex sat down with NTK Forklift’s marketing director, Dmitry Kim, who talks about why it’s important for his company to get calls from clients and how Yandex.Direct helps NTK Forklift achieve this goal.
How was your company established?
Our company was created in 2007. Its name consists of two parts: the English word “forklift” and the Russian abbreviation “NTK” which stands for “new technologies from China.” We sell and service warehouse and road construction machinery from different brands.
In the early 2000s, there were few choices for warehouse equipment: either high-quality, expensive machinery or cheap machinery manufactured in former Soviet factories. The middle segment was completely empty and we decided to occupy this niche by starting to import loading machinery from China. We chose products from China’s largest companies that manufacture machinery for large international brands and maintain high quality standards. After some time, we added products from French and Swedish manufacturers to our stock. We did this to satisfy all of our clients’ demands.
We didn’t open at the best time: the 2008 economic crisis started and our part of the market shrunk five-fold. Construction on warehouses stopped and demand and purchasing power for machinery fell sharply. But there was a positive aspect in this: buyers started to count their money. The client understood that commercial machinery should be profitable: it can be high-quality, convenient, and inexpensive. Our offer proved to be in demand in this regard. While many companies cut back staff and even went bankrupt, we steadily developed.
We initially pledged our stock into our business model. This helped us to quickly react to the demands of our clients who needed a product “yesterday.”
How did you target your first clients?
At first, we tried to cover all advertising sources that could bring us clients: newspapers, mailers, expositions. But we soon understood that we needed to be a little more specific.
So you started using Yandex.Direct for more specific targeting?
Yes. At that time, our marketing department only consisted of two people. They did everything on their own without turning to an agency’s services. We had 40 ads and we rotated them without any geographic targeting.
At first, we paid very little attention to Direct, but we soon realized that Direct works a lot better than SEO (search engine optimization): we created an ad, paid for it, and received the first calls that very same day. Optimization does not give such quick results.
Currently, around 60% of our clients come to us from Direct. What’s more, Direct is very mobile and flexible. For example, we have various offers and they are often directed at a specific region. That’s why Direct’s geo-targeting advertising is very important for us.
We eventually understood that we could not physically conduct a large number of ad campaigns and gave this task to an agency. Now we have about 60 active ad campaigns that each have around 700 ads and 2,000 search phrases. The agency’s task is to constantly track the ad campaign’s indicators, specify keyword phrases, add negative words, and evaluate the effectiveness of placing ads in different positions.
We still don’t have many employees working in our marketing department. The main team consists of 7 people who act as the brain. We perform most of the routine tasks using external contractors.
How do you measure the success of your advertising efforts?
We have a particular product and it’s not possible to order it on our site or a regular online store. That’s why we evaluate several indicators of success: completing order forms, ordering a return call, and downloading our price list. Initially, we installed practically all analytic systems available on the market. Now our marketing department primarily uses Yandex.Metrica because it is so clear and straight forward.
What do you find useful about Metrica?
Metrica helps us make the site’s work more efficiently. We conduct experiments, look at users’ behavior, and study the Metrica heat map. We optimize our site based on this information. We’ve redone the site’s header more than five times.We have analyzed the order form on the site using Metrica tools and understood that it’s too long. The only thing we didn’t ask about was the client’s blood type! We reduced the amount of fields and, as a result, the amount of orders has increased.
You have a complex product, so many clients may need consultation before making a purchase. Do most of your sales happen after telephone calls?
Yes, 90 percent of clients call us first. And the main goal for Direct is to make the client call us. The sales manager should understand the client’s needs, accurately explain the advantages of a given product, and reorient a client based on their needs and requirements. It’s not possible to break some stereotypes when a person reads a script. We even decided to stop providing online consulting on the site. Clients are only interested in the price and availability of machinery. That’s where the conversation with the consultant ends. Now a client calls us to ask these questions and everything else depends on the consultant’s professionalism.
How do you analyze incoming calls?
At first, we used the simplest method: our employees at the call-center asked our clients how they found out about our company. But we soon stopped doing this after we understood that this burdens clients with superfluous questions. Now we track call statistics in conjunction with an agency. We change our contact numbers on the site depending on which advertisement the client came from and then look at the call statistics for each number. We currently have around 20 telephone numbers. We use different numbers for different ad campaigns in Direct, a separate number for banner advertisements and for traffic from search results. By doing so, we understand which advertising source the call came from. If we don’t have a precise picture, we buy up the numbers and check various hypotheses.
We also randomly listen to telephone conversations recorded with the client’s approval. This often helps to provide a real evaluation of effectiveness. For example, a banner is placed on a good site, people click on it, and calls come in from this number. We listen to the calls and it turns out the client didn’t even need our product. We understand that, even though calls are coming in, the conversion rate from them is very low. That’s how we made the conclusion that a large number of calls does not guarantee a high conversion rate for sales. We have to look deeper.
How do you sell machinery in various regions of Russia?
We don’t have many branches, but we do have a large dealership chain throughout Russia. Dealers know how to sell, but they don’t always see the need to advertise. Our view is that the more a dealer sells, the more the company earns. That’s why we create sites for dealers ourselves and invest money in promoting them. We train our dealers’ employees and customize their ad campaigns.
What indicators do you look at when evaluating an ad campaign’s effectiveness?
We have main key effectiveness indicators: the cost of attracting one client and the number of clients attracted. After this, we tie these indicators to how much we earn from these clients and we calculate ROI. Of course, we also calculate CTR when composing the ads’ text, but this is not a main indicator of effectiveness for us because CTR for low-frequency requests can reach 100%. We currently spend most of our marketing budget on Internet advertising. We spend more than half of this money on Direct.
If you were to compare Direct to an object, what would it be similar to?
It would be a violin. If you tune it well, you can draw people in by playing it. If you don’t tune the violin, you can scare everyone off when you play it. Even an expensive instrument in the wrong hands sounds bad. If a campaign is poorly targeted or an ad is poorly composed, it doesn’t matter how much money you put into it. Even the best “violin” won’t help. It’s important to know how to tune it or how to ask an expert for help.