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Cases 17 min read September 8, 2020

How To Evaluate The Profitability Of A Project And Form A Long-Term Strategy: Vintage Experience

How To Evaluate The Profitability Of A Project And Form A Long-Term Strategy: Vintage Experience
Evgeny Kudryavchenko
Evgeny Kudryavchenko
Why would a web development team need to write a marketing strategy? Because at the very start of the project, it is essential to understand the direction in which it will develop in the future.
This is quite a difficult task, but you will learn a lot of exciting things in today's article. You will also see how Serpstat can help automate many of the steps in strategy development.

Getting started
Vintage Web Production made its first Joomla site in 2006. Now we have about 100 people in the team, and we specialize in creating websites for market leaders or those who want to become one. We work in a range of $50.000+ for a corporate website. Our clients include international companies such as Danone, PocketBook, Subaru, Toyota, Lexus, Johnson&Johnson, Socar.

Our tasks and challenges
When we became the leaders of the local market, a new type of client began to work with us: we call them "offliners" - these are big businesses, often with a 10-20 year history; they traditionally make the main sales offline, but they already understand that they need to build the online component of the business.

For example, one of the big kebab chains contacted us. They knew how to calculate the opening of a new restaurant, the cost of renovations, etc. However, they didn't understand the volume of the market and activity on the Internet, how to estimate investments in digital, and the number of sales. We are actively using Serpstat and Similarweb for these purposes.

We learned how to do it quickly, and introduced this practice on the presale because to sell with a check above the market, you need to give the client more at the first meeting.
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Shaping our marketing strategy with Serpstat
Since we don't limit ourselves to the site's development and design when working with client projects but form a full-fledged marketing strategy for the business for 2-3 years in advance, we use Serpstat for various tasks.

Analyzing competitors for new products
Introducing new products to the market without understanding how the market lives and how to work with the audience and the product is a worthless idea. Therefore, even at the presale or already at the stage of working with the client's project, it is necessary to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the client's niche.
Often the client comes with his list of competitors, but it happens that the client's perception of them does not reflect the real picture.

The only way to assess a niche, in this case, is to operate with real data. Therefore, we always compare competing sites that the client has provided with the results in search engines.

With Serpstat, we collect keywords (and suggested and related semantics) to gather competitors from an end-user perspective. Previously, we did it all manually, which was very inconvenient, but in the last four years, we have been automating the process using Serpstat.

Based on this analysis, we develop ideas for bringing a new product to market and put forward theories. We check them on simple implementations and understand how it can work. Next, we are already creating an action plan for bringing the product to the market for 2-3 years.

For example, there are hundreds of competitors in the sale of hydraulic pumps, but they are not serious - with amateur sites and a weak context, although the cost of the product is high.
If we go with a good product catalog and set up SEO to get a lot of traffic, we receive 50% of all requests in the country with a cost of 5-7 thousand dollars per month.

In terms of market size and product value, this is a good ratio. At the same time, we are developing a site where people really want to buy. Although we are web development, we are also responsible for the client's investment efficiency for 3 years after launch, and Serpstat helps us a lot.

Evaluating the profitability of online projects
If a client has a strong offline business, but it is not represented on the internet in any way, it is essential to calculate all the benefits of the digital model, what costs the client will face, and how soon they will pay off. The value of such a service is that we save the client's money and protect him from unnecessary investments. Or, on the contrary, we say what will work and what will not. The cost of our services pays off tenfold for the client.

For example, a client wants to enter the rolled metal market and needs to find out whether people buy cast iron pipes on the internet. To do this, we analyze competitors to understand how strong they are and what strategies they use:
We find the top 10 competitors in the niche and evaluate the queries for which they are ranked.
If there are only branded queries in organic search results, then it is clear that SEO is not done on purpose. If there are commercial queries in the first positions, the competitor invests in SEO promotion. In the same way, we evaluate the competitor's activity in contextual advertising: the presence and number of ads, the requests for which campaigns are launched, the quality of landing pages.
Based on this analysis, we draw a conclusion about marketing tools used by competitors and form a strategy for the client for 2-3 years, and estimate the forthcoming costs depending on the level of competition.

Although we are web developers, we must understand that the site itself does not work, so we give the client recommendations on what to do with the site further, where to direct resources (SEO, context, content marketing, etc.).

To determine market capacity, we use a potential traffic metric. This is how we determine how the market lives, its potential and traffic. We compare the indicators with a small adjustment for the real indicators of the projects to which we have access.

For example, there are 1.5 million spied keywords in the metal niche. If the client covers 15-20% of requests in the first year, we get traffic of about 200 thousand users per month. Considering the approximate conversion of visitors to buyers, we can calculate the number of orders for a client - 10 thousand per year. In turn, the client estimates this number of orders and the cost of maintaining a metal warehouse in comparison with eCommerce.

When you need to convince an offline client, we prepare an extensive study of existing players or neighboring niches. If the niche is not represented at all, we analyze the markets of countries where this area is more developed. Serpstat databases are very convenient for this. Let's say we are creating a website for the Polish market - we easily evaluate it without using additional services (VPN).
It happens that the client does not understand why he needs to invest in the site. In that case, we prepare a market analysis and show that with their current investments in digital, they have reached the order top, and to reach a new level, they need to invest more.

Thus, we help businesses that are not online to assess the return on investment in digital (website development, advertising, hiring employees), potential market capacity and player activity.

How To Discover A Competitor's Budget For Contextual Advertising: 3 Unusual Methods

Assessing SEO potential of existing projects to form a digital strategy
To create an action plan, we evaluate its effectiveness, required resources, and costs. The graph of the distribution of keywords by positions for which the domain is ranked in the search results is handy to assess the project.

Particular attention should be paid to keywords on pages 2-10 in the SERP since these phrases can quickly increase customer traffic. We would do such an assessment of the potential in any case, even if the client requested only the design. Based on such a quick analysis, we make recommendations and pass them on to the client.

There are niches where there are no strong competitors in SEO, or the leading players are not taking full advantage of them. This is how our clients become leaders with the minimal website development and promotion costs.
For example, let's take a kebab delivery service in Kyiv - there were many competitors, but they used only context advertising and did not develop a website. We created a website, formed an Internet marketing strategy, made adjustments to the details (for example, replaced the dishes). The traffic to the client's site and the number of orders grew so much that a new problem arose - hiring employees for service. To solve it, we prepared a landing page for HR and launched an ad campaign.

As a result, the client's business looked better on the Internet than offline, which led to a complete reorganization of the business into a digital model. Now the site has a VR application (you can hover over your empty plate and see a kebab, a CRM system, call tracking, end-to-end analytics, courier tracking.

The key success was that we tracked down that the niche is small, but low-competitive and formed the right strategy. For all questions that arise at the stage of creating a website or forming a strategy, we rely on data, and not using experience or intuition. This data helps to convince the client.

Zebo: How We Used Serpstat To Analyze Competitors And Check URLs

Searching for the most effective marketing tools
To move on to assessing the potential costs of a team, you need to decide on the marketing tools that will be used. For example, does it make sense to invest in content marketing and hire SEO, editor, copywriters, or is it worth focusing on contextual advertising?

In our practice, there was an outsourcing company, that had a high competition level in contextual advertising. After calculating the required investments, it became clear that the client's budget, which was planned for PPC and the team's maintenance, will be exhausted in three months.

At the same time, competitors weren't doing content marketing. Therefore, we chose a content strategy already at the stage of website creation and deliberately approached the technical side - we placed the initially correct linking, wrote headings, formed meta tags. That is, already when creating the site, we understood that the client would invest in content marketing and we managed to stretch the budget for a year and at the same time increase the number of applications by 6 times.
There are also the opposite cases - clients think that they need content marketing, but when we assess a niche, we understand that it is very competitive. In this case, we promote the project only for contextual advertising.

Here we use reports for the analysis of competitors in PPC.
For example, we can estimate how many advertisements a competitor is launching and what kind of ads they are - we evaluate the strategy. For example, one competitor displays context for queries using toponyms, while the other does not. Based on this analysis, we can assume competition in advertising in the region we need.

Tracking our competitors and promoting agency websites
We also use Serpstat to monitor two of our sites and target advertising campaigns to the US market.

Vintage Agency has chosen this strategy: it is costly to promote by keyword "web design." We saw that we have a solid case on interior design, so we chose this niche and wrote several articles on interior design. We take the first place with this pool of low-frequency keywords.

Then we took the topic of restaurants and pumped the content according to the same principle. Next, we saw that no one wants to be # 1 for the "bad web design" keyword. And we decided - why not, and wrote several articles on this topic.

As a result, we took three topics, focused on them in content marketing, and now track positions with Serpstat. When we see that we have achieved certain results, we take the next topic and start working with it.

Summing up the above, I can say that because of Serpstat, we managed to simplify the performance of routine tasks in many ways and improve the quality of services provided. So, the service helps us at such stages:
Analyzing competitors for new products.
Estimating the profitability of projects that go online.
Assessing the SEO potential of existing projects to form a digital strategy.
Searching for the most effective marketing tools.
Tracking your own competitors and promoting agency sites.
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