“The return on investment for the ads we’re putting out has been tremendous.” — Steve Lizardi, CEO Ramjet
“Feed Your Machine” is the tagline for Ramjet, a family-run computer renovation destination. Based in the heartland city of Champaign, Illinois, the company is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary of delivering the same promises once made to “The Six Million Dollar Man”: Better than before. Better… stronger … faster.
“We’re a company that focuses on upgrade products for Macs,” explains CEO Steven Lizardi, touting the company’s strong word-of-mouth. “We get a lot of business from Apple employees and people that Apple recommends to us … People will ask ‘Hey, is there somebody you can recommend to upgrade my memory and my hard drive?’ and we're one of the brands that they recommend, since we've been at this for awhile. We also get a lot of Apple employees who come and upgrade their products with us.”
With such testimonials, referrals and recommendations, there’s little doubt that Ramjet is among the best at what it does. Once a company has those ducks in a row, the next step is an obvious one: Get the word out.
“We've had challenges of how to engage our customers,” says Lizardi, a hardware technology and memory veteran who acquired the company three years ago. “Typically, what ends up happening is we have customers who find us through search advertising. Our goal is to acquire these customers and give them a great experience, and then they’ll come back for more repeat orders on memory upgrades or storage upgrades and the like.”
Enter Direct Agents, a digital marketing firm with a diverse, high-powered roster of clients including Samsung, Forbes, Tommy Bahama, Scholastic and Sony. Utilizing everything from search to email to social and more, Senior Search Strategist Team Lead, Brendan Strauss works closely with Lizardi to feed the marketing machine.
“We've experienced quite a lot of changes in the search industry alongside Ramjet as a client over the last several years,” says Strauss. “Their typical consumer is fairly knowledgeable in this segment, looking to purchase RAM or certain upgrades for their Mac and really do it themselves.”
The game plan has always been to use a so-called “funnel” approach. “We get to that audience in a few ways,” Strauss explains. “We have some fairly broad keyword terms, whether it is ‘Mac memory,’ ‘or Mac RAM,’ which is very broad. And then we have other terms that are a little more defined, maybe it’s ‘MacBook RAM’ or ‘MacBook Pro RAM.’”
Continuing to drill down, the strategy will extend to specific model numbers and product features, becoming increasingly more granular. While testing various techniques throughout the years, Direct Agents has come to realize that the funnel approach is best.
“Those upper-funnel terms, the broader terms — when we pull those down, drop the bids and try to cut what appears to be wasted spend, we see the whole funnel start to thin,” Strauss observes. “So we follow this holistic funnel approach, depending on where the users are. They may be just checking out Mac RAM for the first time, and that's their first engagement with Ramjet. Or, they may be searching for that product specifically, and we're bidding on that. We're sending those users to the perfect landing page for the highest chance of conversion.”
Summing things up, he adds: “It's reaching users at all different points of the funnel, wherever they are comfortable, and whatever they're searching for.”
With their gameplan in place, Ramjet and Direct Agents used Bing Ads to take their game to the next level.
“Initially we thought, ‘We're in Mac land here, and people who own Macs use Safari,’ so we had that focus,” Lizardi concedes. But Direct Agents opened his eyes to more possibilities — and the higher average income of a Bing user. “Our typical customer is a customer who is willing to spend a little bit more money.”
With Bing Ads, Ramjet quickly began building an impressive bridge to its desired audience. “We have a lot of customers who are graphic designers or filmographers,” Lizardi explains. “What we've found is that Bing attracts customers that work. We have gamers that really want to stay on Windows 10, and they prefer a lot more of the flexibility that you get in that environment. A lot of our customers would rather install Boot Camp and put Windows 10 on their Mac and run gaming that way; that's something my own son does.”
Bringing in people with a higher tendency to purchase, and the sort of open mind that would embrace Windows on a Mac, turned out to only increase Ramjet’s already solid customer satisfaction. “It provides the best of both worlds — they get a lot more flexibility, and there are a lot more audio capabilities in Windows 10 than you would get from OS X,” Lizardi observes. “We're finding that there are new customers we're reaching on Bing, and as Direct Agents has been great about finding us more customers on that search engine, we've just continued to focus on it.”
The strategy has yielded great results. “The return on investment for the ads we’re putting out has been tremendous,” beams Lizardi. “So we’re continuing to gear more and more of our budget to Bing users.”
Lizardi is also a big fan of remarketing. He says this tactic is particularly useful because Ramjet often has two valuable tools at its disposal: the specific SKU a potential customer has inquired about, and countless positive reviews referencing their work on that very product.
“What we've found is when users are on a product page and they're shopping — let's say they're on Facebook, on their phone or whatever — we have tracking of their cookie that essentially fires a review to them about that product SKU that they were visiting,” he explains. “It says ‘Hey, I bought this specific product for my Mac Mini.’ These are dynamically created ads, tailored to that customer's user experience.”
The Ramjet CEO readily admits that remarketing can be a double-edged sword if used improperly — but when the experience is relevant and personalized and properly worded, it can be a valuable tool. “The challenge is, we don't want to just fire off a generic retargeting ad, like ‘Hey, shop at Ramjet!’” he laughs. “We want to be more surgical about it and say, ‘Hey, we have customers just like you that bought exactly the same product for that exact same machine you own — and they had a wonderful experience with it.”
Another Bing Ads feature that Lizardi is intrigued by is location targeting, which allows advertisers to focus on geographies that best match their desired coverage area. An astounding four out of five consumers on PCs, tablets and mobile devices are conducting local searches, and nearly 75 percent want ads customized to their city or zip code. Using Bing Ads location targeting, a company like Ramjet could take advantage of a range of capabilities to target its audience by geographic location, such as ZIP codes, cities or states.
“That's another area we will look at in the immediate future with Direct Agents,” Lizardi says with enthusiasm. “We're an Illinois company, but we find that we address a lot of needs that are in New York and California; those are big markets for us. I want to look more into that, and see if we could add more conversions for East Coast and West Coast users, to see if there's a way for us to spend a bit more to acquire that range of customers.”
Since Bing Ads puts the information right at their fingertips, it’s easy for Lizardi and Direct Agents to find the right tools for their needs. “It'll start by us having a look in analytics and finding out how many users coming from Bing are in what region in the country,” Lizardi explains. “But my sense is, if it's any indication of what it's like for our business companywide, it's probably a heavy set of users on the West Coast, and we're going to want to target them more.”
As American author Horace Greeley once famously said: “Go West, young man.” As it turns out, all these years later the concept of Manifest Destiny still exists — it has just moved online. For modern-day, online explorers like Lizardi and Ramjet, the thrill remains in the opportunity for expansion.