Have you ever wondered what happens to a golf course's bottom line if it rains for 10 days in a row? Or the effect of a frost on a small citrus farmer? These businesses have to pay their employees even while their revenues plummet and they struggle to survive. Inclement weather is a risk that many businesses are affected by but have little recourse for.
WeatherBill (www.weatherbill.com) is the first online service that allows businesses to protect their revenue and control costs from the impact of bad weather. WeatherBill provides tools to analyse how weather might affect a user's business and offers insurance-like coverage with payments based on particular weather conditions. Customers can choose between a portfolio of coverage options such as Rainy Season or Frost or select a custom weather coverage tailored to their needs. WeatherBill in effect provides a hedge against various types of relevant inclement weather for businesses. Founded in 2007 by CEO David Friedberg and CTO Siraj Khaliq, the company is backed by Nephilia Capital, a prominent weather risk and catastrophe reinsurance fund manager.
WeatherBill's first-to-market situation has made understanding its nascent website traffic a high priority. Custom weather coverage options are available for purchase on the website and understanding how users navigate the site and find the company's primary offering allows WeatherBill to create a more effective site that meets its customers' needs. Like many other businesses that generate revenue from online transactions, WeatherBill needed to analyse traffic flow to generate more conversions.
Understanding what kind of users access the site is of unique importance since WeatherBill provides free pricing tools up front for all visitors. These automated processes provide users with the convenience of getting their price quotes without having to call a WeatherBill employee or make a purchase. But if prospective customers select the options in which they are interested, receive their custom-tailored quotes and then exit the site, valuable information about them can get lost. WeatherBill needed to know what kind of coverage visitors from particular industries were looking for and how easy or difficult it was for them to find what they were seeking.
Implementing Google Analytics opened up new channels of information on WeatherBill's customers. The company's existing mix of traditional offline marketing efforts, including magazine, radio, local and industry association ads, became trackable with the same level of accountability of online advertising. "With Google Analytics, we have greater insight into the effectiveness of these offline campaigns beyond the number of calls they generate," says CEO David Friedberg.
On the web front, Google Analytics traffic reporting provided insight into companies that felt vulnerable to weather risk - a surprisingly diverse list. "With Google Analytics, we can do a lot of market discovery," says Friedberg. Visitors from local water districts, makers of heavy farm equipment and even NASA spent significant time on the site. Airports that already had sophisticated weather management facilities came seeking to hedge against snowfall costs. Having traffic reports available within hours allowed WeatherBill to correlate their visits with real-time weather factors around the country. For example, the company is able to identify areas with high agricultural output as well as the types of seasonal risk that growers in these areas are worried about. By analysing the use of the online quote tool, WeatherBill is able to find out whom to market to, when to do it and what to offer them.
Google Analytics data also played an important role in site content and structure decisions. WeatherBill was able to identify and eliminate a little-used section of its website that led to few conversions. In addition, a specialised page was added for the aforementioned makers of heavy farm equipment. "We want our highest-converting customers to feel as though the page has been designed for them," says Friedberg.
WeatherBill was one of the first Google Analytics users to test the integration with Google Audio Ads. This integration allows Google Audio Ads advertisers to see how their campaign metrics for impressions, ad plays, markets and CPM correlate with their website traffic data within the Google Analytics interface. WeatherBill wanted to use radio ads to reach small businesses in regions of the U.S. hit hard by extreme weather, such as rain in the Southeast and extreme temperatures in the Midwest.
After using Google Audio Ads-recommended producers to create their campaigns, WeatherBill was able to make their media buy themselves. "Google's self-service model allowed us to quickly test and refine to quickly build productive campaigns," says VP of Marketing Brenda Given. "It was exciting to get online and see the stations available in each market. The interactivity of Google Audio Ads and the ability to play with multiple scenarios was fantastic."
WeatherBill was able to make adjustments instantly and frequently based on the Audio Campaign reporting in Google Analytics. "We cut our cost-per-response in half in a couple of weeks," says Given. WeatherBill also gained valuable insights about what type of campaigns converted for them. Country stations, for example, proved to be outstanding performers, while smaller markets had better cost-per-actions than larger ones.
So just who were those small-market, high-converting, country music aficionados? Probably growers and other agricultural business owners, surmises Given. Constant testing and optimisation allowed WeatherBill to experiment with, identify and pursue these highly targeted audiences. "Google Audio Ads and Analytics allow you to iterate so quickly and easily, as well as being cost-efficient," says Given.