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Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007 at 4:14 am

Touchdown! GoDaddy Discovers Online Conversion

By Robert Gorell
February 7th, 2007

According to GoDaddy.com’s recent Super Bowl ad, “Everybody wants to work in marketing.”

Why’s that? At GoDaddy, marketing these days means parties, champagne, t-shirts, and… transparency. And so we say, “you’re welcome.” (I’ll explain later. In the meantime, we should congratulate GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons for getting his metrics straight. The Magic Kingdom awaits your arrival, sir.)

In a guest piece on AdFreak’s Super Bowl blog, Parsons responded to critics of GoDaddy’s not-so-shocking-for-the-00′s ad–replayed no less than three times, mind you–with some equally lukewarm (but sober) revelations:

  1. GoDaddy.com makes money by selling URL’s
  2. Even if it stinks [and it did], the ad drove over 100% more revenue than last year’s ad
  3. This doesn’t add up, since traffic was down 48% compared to last year’s Super Bowl bump
  4. But, hey… Money is better than traffic

Now, back to why GoDaddy should thank us. Last February, we blogged about GoDaddy’s failure to create a cross-channel experience that lived up to the hype. “I hope it’s not like last year,” indeed. As you’ll see in our ’06 video analysis, a simple change to the GoDaddy.com homepage would’ve made all the difference. (Note: for those familiar with multi-channel marketing, you may want to skip to the 2:20 mark.)

Future Now co-founders Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg even used GoDaddy’s 2006 Super Bowl fumble as an example of what not to do throughout last year’s Waiting for Your Cat to Bark tour.

So, what gives? Was the GoDaddy “Girl” spying on us between catcalls and brainstorming sessions? If not, then someone else in their marketing department had the good sense to put her on the homepage before popping the sparkling white.

Exhibit D:

godaddy_homepage.jpg

Exhibit Double-D:

godaddy_superbowl.jpg

David Ogilvy needn’t return from the dead to remind us that Monday-morning quarterbacking doesn’t win Super Bowl rings for one’s clients–but who can blame GoDaddy’s ad critics? Hopefully, GoDaddy’s marketing department, and not their agency, really was behind the campaign’s stale creative.

But it worked! Just not for the reasons Parsons outlined for AdFreak:

“At first this anomaly had us scratching our heads. How could sales and new customers be up so drastically, while visitors to the site are down so sharply? Then we figured it out – at least we think we did.

“With the advent of online video, most of those who simply wanted to see our ads went to familiar sites like iFilm.com and break.com. Those with a serious interest in GoDaddy.com came to our Web site. After thinking about it: That’s just fine with us.”

Well, um… not exactly. What happened here–unlike last year–is what often happens when multi-channel planning leads the charge. The end zone is reached when a customer buys a website URL and/or hosting package from GoDaddy; not when fearless bloggers praise the brand for its vision.

Sure, a spike in traffic does wonders for a company’s ego–and is no doubt a relief for its agency–but where’s the beef? The fact is that this year’s GoDaddy ad was so stupid, so utterly cheesy, so dot bomb-era vapid that it was only half as effective as last year’s spot. That’s right, ad-ranters! 48% less traffic means it was 48% less effective! That’s not even a field goal, it’s a punt. And still (STILL!) they managed to double (DOUBLE!) their revenue.

That, sports fans, is a conversion rate touchdown.

How’d they do it? They followed our advice and put the GoDaddy Girl on the homepage, the commercials were easy to find, and they played good defense by buying relevant keywords. (Sorry, Bob. We’d like to think it was the YouTubes and the iFilms that did it, but that stuff was around last year. Speaking of which, you might want to take down those access codes to view the too-hot-for-TV clips. They’re all over the intertron and nobody needs to give you any info to see them. Nor do we need to see your analytics to know it’s hurting conversion. It is.)

Now, the real question is, “How much revenue did GoDaddy leave on the table last year?” It’s a safe bet those figures won’t be available anytime soon but, whatever the number is, it’s staggering (especially since, aside from these few changes, the site looks exactly the same as it did in ’06). You see, doubling online conversion has an exponential effect on revenue once you double the traffic that feeds it.

And they’ve only tapped half the market!

Ask just about any woman aged 25-50 which Super Bowl moment stuck; Prince’s performance, or the GoDaddy commercial. My initial research suggests both made an impact–the only difference is the look on their faces when you ask. Believe it or not, women everywhere buy domain names and/or “work in marketing.” Amazing, isn’t it?

Now that top executives are warming up to conversion rates and revenue as the true measures of online success, maybe next year’s cross-channel players will stop trying to party like it’s 1999.

A note to Bob Parsons: You’ve got an amazing story. You’re a gentleman, a soldier, and a hero among entrepreneurs (those who don’t know you by now don’t deserve a Wikipedia link). If anyone can handle some tough love, it’s you. So please, Bob, don’t be just a cut above SalesGenie.com. Any Willy Loman-esque geek with 2.6 mil can do that. We know everyone wants to be on your marketing team. It’s just that maybe next year you should outsource. It might not be a bad move.

Oh, and no need to visit FutureNowInc.com to see where to send us a check for finding the key to your mysterious revenue boost. It’s our pleasure.

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Comments (8)

  1. GoDaddy is brilliant. It’s a hard product to advertise for, and yet they have it in spades. Their commercials made them, and for some reason I only see them during the superbowl. http://www.ifilm.com/video/2819690

  2. [...] Why's this remarkable? Because Bob found value where others might only find noise. He thought about it.Last week, GrokDotCom critiqued GoDaddy's Super Bowl ad. Although it wasn't an attack, it was personal – as was the comment I left on his blog. Hot Points is a moderated, yet Bob kept my contentious post. He thought about it. [...]

  3. You make a lot of interesting points, but as far as effectiveness goes, I think you’re making a mistake equating traffic as a measure of it. The end goal is increasing market share. If that happens, they’re effective. Plus that, with the number of registrations they have and the controversy about everything, it’s feeding itself, making it not about who goes to the site, but how many customers they have. It’s passed the tipping point and hey, if your sales go up, who cares how many visitors you have (or vice versa).

  4. Robert, I’m not at all saying traffic is an accurate measure of their website’s effectiveness. On the contrary, I’m saying that traffic speaks only of the ad’s effectiveness. This is why generating more traffic in and of itself shouldn’t be the end goal for an online business–especially not one like GoDaddy. The point that’s being made here is that, by making a few key changes to their site, GoDaddy was able to double their revenue with only half the traffic.

    If you run an online business, once an ad has increased traffic to your site, the ad has done its job. In other words, an ad alone cannot improve your website. So, the bigger opportunity is planning the experience ahead of time so when you run the Super Bowl ad with the GoDaddy Girl, she’s on your homepage once the traffic starts flooding in. That’s the difference from last year, and it’s what we showed in the film clip above.

    Also, I disagree with you on your last point. If your sales go up, you’d better know WHY they went up. Otherwise, odds are you won’t be able to repeat and, hopefully, build upon your success. What I was doing in this post is exactly that: explaining why the sales/revenue boost happened. This year’s GoDaddy ad was less effective (measured in traffic) but better online planning made all the difference (hence, increased conversion = increased sales/revenue).

    Thanks for reading!

  5. godaddy commercials are great. For the next Superbowl, they can “pump up” the commercial with 3-D glasses. Can you imagine coconuts coming out of the TV and the response from everyone.

  6. I appreciate your insights and the good information you have shared here. All points are significantly important for me and your article have helped me a great deal.
    shoebuy couponscoupon

  7. When you are ready to publish your web site and get the domain name that you want, you will need to find the best hosting service that offer you what you need and is affordable for you to use. Go online today and see all of the services that are available for you to use to help get your web site published and increase your business online.

  8. Godaddy has its own cool way to advertise. And recently, super Bowl advertising has been working great for GoDaddy. Super Bowl is now much more than game. Probably there sales will increase soon after such large volume of traffic via Super Bowl websites.

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