Palate Sensations

Introduction – who is Palate Sensations?

Since 2006, Palate Sensations Cooking school has been pushing the envelope for cooking lessons in Singapore.  Their classes take place in a state-of-the-art studio, with professional equipment and guided by professional chefs.

Over their decade of existence, Palate Sensations had already achieved:

  • Rankings towards the top of page 1 on google.com.sg for “cooking class singapore” and related queries
  • A very active and engaged facebook community who are excited to read compelling stories of what is going on at the studio
  • A hyper responsive e-mail list of over 11,000 customers and fans.
  • A streamlined automated booking process that allowed for online booking of courses and integrated billing, venue and staff booking.

Challenges

But founder, Lynette Foo, wasn’t satisfied yet. And we agreed. There were two challenges:

  1. Lost opportunity in the corporate market

Studio utilisation is key to profitability. While Palate Sensations ranked better than any cooking school for keywords like “cooking school singapore” and “singapore cooking classes”, these keywords tend to bring in students one by one.

Selling classes one by one is tedious, and it takes many separate bookings to fill a class.

Corporate customers almost always bring a group of employees, customers or partners. So the revenue from one corporate transaction is about 10 times larger than that of a single consumer.

2. An outdated website was holding them back

Palate Sensations’ website was holding them back for several reasons:

OLD-HOMEPAGE-MAY-2016

It looked outdated and didn’t do justice to what Palate Sensations had to offer. While Palate Sensations offered a great venue, the website’s fonts were inconsistent, the images badly positioned. The site didn’t position Palate Sensations as a great venue for corporate clients.

The website also broke down frequently. Occasionally, it was even down for an entire day, leading to lost business.

And it could only be updated by an external developer. Lynette and her team could not even change a single word or image on their own, which would often take several days. This delay greatly frustrated their marketing efforts.

What we did

Google Adwords – only for the true high ROI products

In order to immediately bring in more corporate business, we identified a number of keyword opportunities that could get the venue capacity maxed out in a single transaction:

cooking team building

kitchen rental

Google AdWords is very powerful. In a few minutes, your ad can reach people searching for your specific product. It’s also a beast, and if you don’t tame it, it will eat all your profits.

So we built a tiny Google AdWords campaign around it, to make sure Palate Sensations would be seen as a potential provider for these corporate activities immediately. Below is a long-term overview of the campaign we ran.

analytics

The campaigns reliably generate enquiries at a cost of between S$20 – 30 per enquiry. Mind you, each of these enquiries has the potential to convert into a deal worth several thousands of dollars, and a considerable percentage do materialise into actual team building sessions and kitchen rentals.

Increase perceived value

With the AdWords campaign in place, we were directing the right prospects to Palate Sensations. But they were still directed to the old website, which didn’t look great.

Building a new website takes time. So we did something else first for immediate improvement:

Facebook video retargeting

Lynette had commissioned a number of videos that were a great showcase of cooking classes at Palate Sensations.

We used Facebook retargeting to make sure these videos showed up in the feed of anyone who had visited the website. While we hadn’t gotten to revamp the website yet, getting these videos in front of Palate Sensations’ audience helped to position Palate Sensations as a great location for corporate events.

Facebook adWebsite Revamp

The look and feel of the website wasn’t on par with the level of ambience and service that Palate Sensations offers to their customers. The site also went down frequently, making it impossible to find Palate Sensations online and leading to lost business. An upgrade was sorely needed.

The challenge with rebuilding the Palate Sensations website was that it had an advanced course booking system integrated into it. So we could not simply build a new website from scratch. And changing the booking system would be a complex and time consuming operation.

What we needed was a way to show what Palate Sensations was really like, with plenty of high quality photos, testimonials and video.

Also, the new site needed to be editable directly by Palate Sensations staff to make their marketing more nimble.

To overcome the obstacle cause by the booking system, we segmented the booking system from    the old website and embedded it on the new website. Now, if the booking system went down, the site would still be up and prospective clients would be able to contact Palate Sensations:

Building the new Palate Sensations website was a collaborative endeavour between our teams. We chose for the new website to have:

–       High quality images of the venue, food and people;

–       Relevant student reviews on every page of the website;

–       Extra web forms that helped capture more inquiries leading to extra bookings.

After we deployed the new site, the results were immediately obvious.

Reduced bounce rate by 40%

bounce rate before after

A website’s bounce rate quantifies the percentage of people who ends up on the website and doesn’t take any next action. They either close the window or hit the “back” button. A high bounce rate (anything above 50%) indicates that a website fails at engaging its audience.

As you can see, with the new website, we almost halved the bounce rate.

70% more enquiries

enquiries before after

The above image is quantitative proof that the new website outperformed the old one.

However great a website looks, the ultimate goal is to get people to do something that brings them closer to signing up. We tracked the number of inquiries, phone calls and bookings before and after the website revamp.

As you can see above, the new website brought in 70% more enquiries. This will roughly translate into 70% more bookings — mind you, all we did is change the website; we did nothing to increase traffic around the changeover date!

More than numbers only

The improvement wasn’t only on the numbers side, though. With the old website, people who enquired for kitchen rental weren’t generally willing to pay the rental rates Palate Sensations was asking for.

With the new page design, the type of prospects wanting to rent the venue completely changed, and has included Air New Zealand, Google, Credit Suisse and many more.

Analytics based improvements

The new website is WordPress based. This enables both the Palate Sensations team and ourselves to login at any time and make quick tweaks to improve the site without a need for coding.
Over time, we have kept a close eye on campaign performance.

Our Google Adwords campaign began performing better from the day the new website went up. When people clicked, they now saw compelling copy, images and testimonials and it was easier to enquire.

Campaign stats, however, revealed a still relatively high bounce rate on the page. Meaning that many people who clicked the ad apparently weren’t entirely convinced.

Collaboratively, we have since improved the page by shortening the text and breaking it up into images, as well as adding a number of benefits to the copy that were previously not mentioned.

In short

A digital marketing strategy is a puzzle. Palate Sensations already had several pieces in place, with an engaged Facebook audience, prominent Google ranking and highly responsive newsletter.

The missing pieces, in this case, were targeted outreach to high ROI prospective clients and a compelling website.
We worked together with Palate Sensations to put these pieces in place, and prioritised the actions that could pay off quickly.