At the beginning of the Covid-19 quarantine period in France, the first course which I had to take online because of the situation was “Marketing Performance & ROI optimization”. I was a bit disappointed at first but then the course turned out really interesting with the Simbound, where we had the chance to play a cloud-based simulation game for online marketing
About The Simbound Game
Storyline: “Tablet Shop” has encountered troubles with selling its products lately and your goal is to grow Tablet Shop’s customer base by using the Simbound simulation e-Marketing. The main markets are the US and UK, however, the sales margin for the UK market tends to be a bit lower due to shipping costs (around 5 EUR).
At first, I recommend you to read this file as an introduction to how the game works. Just a quick summary, you will join a competition as part of a team and you will have to compete against other students just like how advertisers compete in real situations. The game is set on a number of rounds and during each round, you have to make decisions and changes in your campaigns in order to compete with other teams and achieve your objective – which is ROAS (Return On Advertising Spend)
Let’s start the game!!
1. Keyword Research
On Simbound, you have access to a function which is similar to Keyword Planner of Google Adwords, based on that, you can see all the search keyword volume and trend in different markets.
The key metric is ROAS, so for me the US will be the main target since it has a higher volume of search and you get 5 EUR more for each sale than the UK. However, I still want to play safe, what happens if all players think the same way with me and then the US market will be more competitive? So maybe I should at least test/invest one campaign in UK market?
Also, other things I noticed is that Apple/ Ipad seems juicy for everyone as it has the highest sale value (50EUR). But it also looks quite expensive and difficult to convert. I bet that some of my competitors may go for it, instead of competing them, I want to go for something less popular and more profitable. So it’s a NO GO for me. Follow this logic, Sony and Samsung (40EUR) seem potential, following up by Blackberry, Asus, Lenovo, etc (30EUR).
All of them are just a hypothesis. There is only one way to know which works and which doesn’t work – TEST! TEST!
2. Optimize Landing Pages
The second step after the research is creating landing pages. Simbound lightens the workload already, you don’t have to post actual products to the page. The simulation allows you to test which option (video, picture gallery, CTA link, different header or type of title – one product, certain products) works best for your landing pages. My advice is to try to optimize your page score also by keywords, in real life, the landing page is really important because it affects the Quality Score of your Ads campaign, as well as the conversion rate.
For the first round, since the main goal was “CONVERSION”, I created mainly landing pages for specific products that I want to sell via Ads campaigns and did not care much about creating landing pages for SEO, which is quite a big mistake that I realized when I was at round 4. And it’s a bit late since we played only 5 rounds.
I don’t want to expose all the tips to play the game here but I guess you still can figure out by yourself! The hint is just pages for organic traffic and paid traffic need to be built in different ways! (And don’t forget to spy your competitors :P)
3. Search Engine Marketing – Time to TEST !!!
Remember that what the most important thing is “ROAS” and the strategy is “Never put all your eggs in one basket”. Below is how I divided the 1500EUR budget and organized my SEM campaigns on the first round play.
We have a chance to play a test round, which I tried to test as much as possible. From this table, the first thing I calculated is the Cost per Conversion to eliminate the ineffective campaigns to see if I can improve them or just move the budget from them to the most effective one.
I realized Sony is doing really well, meanwhile, the CTR of Lenovo and Samsung are really low and it didn’t spend the money as expected. For Lenovo, the problem is the keywords. My friend sets all the high search volume keywords of Lenovo on the Android ads already so the left keywords are low volume and expensive. So, we still can improve the ads by relocating the keywords. For Samsung, the reason must be too many competitors as the average ad position is 7, the CPC is also higher compared to other keywords – so I decide to totally shut down the campaign (even Samsung is my favorite brand, but I’m really sorry, for this game, profit must go first).
Another thing is our most profitable campaign turned out “Generic”, which I just want to test the idea of setting random high search volume keywords (without a specific brand name) and used homepage as the landing page. I was not sure it could work at first (that’s why I run 50 EUR only), however, the result was amazing! It means there is potential to capture people who want to buy tablets by surfing around the Internet without any brand in mind.
Now I’m ready to adjust my campaigns and wait for the first round result!
And here’s what I got! I was quite happy that our team got the 1st place. After the first round, things get easier when you have data. Here are a few tips that may be helpful for you for SEM.
- Capture results to compare performances
- A/B testing for the ads
- Pay Attention to Keywords
- Allocate budgets – focus on the profitable one!!
- Spend 10-20% budget to test new keywords
- Make sure that ads spend all the money that you set ( be careful or else you will lose your money here)
I think it’s quite a good result for my first time with Simbound. After 5 rounds, we are the winner with total traffic and ROAS.
In Summary, to be able to play Simbound, my advice for students is acquiring the fundamental knowledge about Google Adwords first and paying attention to KPI. Overall, I think it’s a good practical game to understand and learn more about digital marketing!