Cross Country Trains – Case Study

Cross Country Trains – Case Study

A national rail franchise with a requirement for improved online marketing performance to boost expansion.

The brand was well known for anyone regularly using trains to make their way across the county, however, due to massive competition from other more established rail operators the company turned to online marketing to help attract more customers.

The Work

Very simply the company’s website had the functionality needed to take orders for train tickets. In fact the functionality was very good and the process for the booking of one-off tickets or repeat journeys was simpler than many competitors. What needed to be improved was the SEO performance to ensure that maximum traffic was being driven to the site from free search engine listings.

A full site audit was conducted which focussed on web analytics data to determine where online users were coming from and in the case of search, what they were typing into search engines. This painted a picture of which search terms were most successful for the company. However, this does not automatically mean that they are the most searched terms in relation to train travel. Focus was then turned to generic keyword research to understand the search volumes for hundreds of search terms and keywords. With these two approaches it was possible to see the popular search terms that the website was not ranking for and therefore the amount of traffic that was being lost.

The website content was then altered to better target the high volume search terms which the brand did not appear for with additional pages and crafted text being added. This allowed Google to match widely used search terms with content on the website where before there was no link.

A good example of the approach here was how the site targeted popular journeys. “Train ticket Birmingham to Liverpool” was a very popular search phrase for which the brand did not appear in the search rankings and thus attracted absolutely no traffic. Additional landing pages were created which focussed on many hundreds of journeys like this with information about attractions in each location and considered text on the page. This also provided a very targeted landing page for paid advertising (PPC).

The keyword and search term research conducted for the SEO review was crucial in constructing a successful PPC campaign. Ad text was written that engaged the user and encouraged clicks whilst ensuring that pricing was present to dissuade clicks from users who did not wish to pay the cost of the ticket. All of the popular journey specific search terms were linked through to their respective landing pages which meant there was high relevance between the destination page and the text within the advert.

The Results

Traffic from organic search listings increased by more than 600%! What became obvious is that whilst the most searched phrase of “train tickets” was used hundreds of thousands of times a week in fact the volume was overshadowed by the specific journey search terms when each was added together. By creating the landing pages and ensuring that the site had a destination for these searches Google quickly picked them up and pushed them to the top of the rankings. As a result traffic from SEO flooded in.

Organic search traffic was bolstered by the number of visitors coming in via paid adverts. The same journey specific search terms used in the SEO project were built into the PPC project and due to the lack of competition the cost per click was very low. As soon as the campaign was switched on traffic began to flow to the site and revenues and profits were boosted as a result.

Ongoing management of SEO and PPC allowed the campaigns to be tweaked to ensure that poor performing ads were improved or weeded out and top performing ads were given increased budgets.

  • Client Cross Country Trains
  • Tags PPC, SEO
  • URL View Project

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