World First uses Google tools to initiate international expansion and double its business

February 2014

Whenever World First enters a new market, Google's global expansion team provides country-specific insights and search engine marketing plays a central role. In its always-on AdWords campaigns the company uses location targeting as well as longtail and negative keywords, while remarketing through the Google Display Network propels further performance. The launch of a new mobile site — promoted through mobile search marketing — delivers optimal experience to a growing base of smartphone users.


Enabled AdWords campaigns to run as "always-on"

Introduced longtail keyword strategy and implemented negative keywords

Launched smartphone-specific site alongside mobile search marketing


Improve lead quality and drive new client registrations

Measure profitability of marketing efforts

Expand into new markets and countries


Profitably doubled the paid search business

Increased click-through rate over 300% and monthly conversions over 200%

Decreased cost per conversion by over 40%

World First is the third largest foreign exchange company in the UK, with offices around the world. It provides services in currency exchange and international payments to both private individuals and businesses. The company's website enables customers to register, create an account and make transactions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

World First's marketing activity encompasses search, print, outdoor, email, PR, social media, inbound content creation, affiliate marketing and thought leadership. Success is measured in terms of new client registrations, as well as the profitability of each registration.

A search-centric approach

Google AdWords has been a part of the marketing plan since the company's launch in 2004. "Adwords can be easily tracked so we can assess the profitability of the spend to a very high level of detail," explains World First's marketing director Karen Eisen. To get the most out of the channel, World First relies on its agency Periscopix. "AdWords requires constant optimisation and tweaking," Karen says. "Periscopix has been instrumental in helping us maintain our campaigns at the optimum level."

To drive performance and efficiency, Periscopix made generic keywords more efficient by mapping the bid strategy directly to ROI. The agency also expanded World First's AdWords keywords into the longtail. In this way World First targets more specific keywords, an approach that not only produces lower costs per click than generic words, but also means advertising creatives can be tailored more specifically to the user's needs, which in turn increases click-through rates. In addition, the strategy now consists of specifically targeted ad positions ensuring ROI remains positive and consistent.

The Periscopix strategy considers negative keywords as well. This prevents World First ads from appearing to users searching for websites about products that the company does not offer. The result is that ads are shown to people who are more likely to click on them. Meanwhile, excluding keywords where World First might be spending money but not getting a return promotes cost efficiency.

The agency also advised World First to run its AdWords campaigns on an always-on basis. The rationale behind this is that a business should be "open" all the time as long as traffic is profitable. Not limiting traffic that is profitable allows Periscopix to discover where the demand is and how it can be captured, wherever and whenever it's occurring.

More recently new AdWords features have been utilised to improve location targeting efficiency and optimise for ROI at a much more granular level, encompassing not only market sectors but also differing performance from county to county.

Onwards and upwards

Whenever World First expands into a new market, Google's global expansion team provides country-specific insights to pave the way and search engine marketing with AdWords is used as a primary tool. The company has also implemented a mobile site to ensure users accessing from smartphones receive an optimal experience, so measuring the impact of search on phone conversions is a now a key consideration. New developments include conducting remarketing through the Google Display Network and using AdWords in measuring and optimising post-registration profitability. In addition, the company plans to take advantage of the DoubleClick platform to discover new ways of advertising and to perform attribution modelling.

World First has seen tremendous growth since its launch back in 2004. Periscopix reports that its work has delivered an increase in click-through rate of over 300%, an increase in monthly conversions of over 200% and a decrease in cost per conversion of more than 40%.1 In the last six years alone, World First has grown over 1,000%, and the company believes much of this success has been driven by search. "We have seen revenues increase dramatically via AdWords, particularly for our private business," Karen says. "We can reach a much larger, more relevant audience via AdWords. We are confident that it is bringing in valuable business that we would not otherwise find. And the benefit of AdWords is you can clearly track your spend down to the last penny, which is a very useful tool in today's data-driven arena."

As consumer decision-making gets more complex, automation helps to simplify