YHA is a charity with over 150 youth hostels in England & Wales that transforms young lives forever through travel and real adventure, opening their doors to almost 1m people each year.
During 2018 paid search performance declined across all campaigns. Impression share dropped off a cliff and revenue suffered. This was in part due to the rapid expansion of paid search bidding by online travel agents (OTAs) such as Booking.com.
YHA engaged us in March 2019 to reverse the slump in performance and to combat the growing market share of the OTAs.
Our approach to improving the YHA accounts focused on building a solid foundation of keywords and ads, incremental changes based on data, and a series of test campaigns in different niche areas.
The account we took over had many hundreds of ad groups across two accounts (including a Google Grant account). The quality of these ad groups varied enormously. Many had irrelevant keywords, generic or incorrect ad copy or had the wrong bid strategy to compete in search.
We isolated the best performing keywords and conducted our own keyword research. We also overhauled all the ad copy to make it relevant to the keywords and updating the proposition copy. We also added Responsive Search ads to the campaigns. After cutting large numbers of poorly performing campaigns, adding new campaigns and changing bid strategies and bid prices we started seeing some improvements in performance.
After three months managing the account revenue was up year on year by 206%, from an increase in spend of only 10%. The YHA's impression share also grew against competitor OTAs, resulting in a reduced cost per acquisition.
“I’m delighted with the results achieved so far. We’ve not only seen a dramatic increase in traffic to the website and more accommodation sales, but we’re now making better use of the Google Grants account. This means we’re reaching more potential volunteers, funders and beneficiaries as well as families, friends and schools who could benefit from the charity in future.”
Jon Smith, Head of Digital, YHA (England & Wales)