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In the june 2017 Edition of Tire Review, which was all about building the store of your dreams, I shared a marketing cheat sheet for tire dealers. This “cheat sheet” provided a list of the marketing channels currently available on the market. The article described the level of effort, expertise and budget, as well as the expected payback time for each of the listed channels. Throughout 2018, I will expand on several of the previously mentioned channels and provide you with details on helping answer key questions:
• Is the specific marketing channel the right investment for your tire and automotive service business?
• What can you get out of it?
• How to optimize the performance of the chosen channel?
• What’s the right budget?
• How will you measure success?
• What questions should you ask your marketing consultant or agency about this channel?
In this month’s Marketing Matters column, I’m focusing on Search Engine Marketing, aka SEM. Alternatively, this channel is commonly referred to as Pay Per Click (PPC) Marketing.
SEM, PPC and etc.
Most customer buying journeys start with research. Whether or not you already invest in search engine marketing as a channel, I often hear from business operators that they don’t know exactly what search marketing is or how it actually works. If you’ve been in business, even for a short time, it’s a safe bet that marketing companies have contacted you to discuss advertising on Google through their SEM product called “Adwords”.
Google launched Adwords over 17 years ago with around 350 advertisers. The Adwords product gives you, as a customer, the ability to pay for “keywords”. Think of yourself at an auction. Instead of bidding on this vintage Ford Mustang, you’re bidding against your competition for the privilege of showing your business ad or search list to a potential buyer who types a keyword or keyphrase into their browser. The fact that they are looking shows their interest in your product or service. Search examples: “need brake repair” or “tire store near me”.
Today, over a million advertisers use the product. Google is the 100 pound gorilla in this space. But Yahoo, Bing, and Yelp are all important platforms to consider for your store’s SEM strategy. So let’s get started.
What exactly is SEM (PPC) and how does it work?
SEM is a method of generating “clicks” and traffic to your website and / or calls to your business by buying ads on search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. You, the customer, only pay for each click that leads to a visit to your website or a call to your store.
SEM is one of the fastest ways to generate qualified leads and increase your average car count. In other words, rather than running ads to everyone and hoping you catch them when they need your product or service (e.g. in newspapers, on radio, and on TV), SEM allows store owners to digitally target shoppers who are actively looking for auto service and new tires. Doesn’t that make more sense?
Here are some of the top reasons to consider SEM for your tire and auto service business:
• Search engines are the # 1 search tool for automotive service customers;
• Over 100 million tire searches are performed each month in the United States;
• SEM is 20 times more likely to attract a new customer to your store than other marketing channels.
The results of SEM marketing can be tremendous for tire and automotive companies (if done right). This type of marketing can quickly put your business in front of the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who raise their proverbial hands online and say they need your services.
SEM can be even more important for businesses that don’t appear high in organic (unpaid) rankings. For example, if your business isn’t in the top 5 for services you offer in your area, you should definitely consider a better SEM strategy for your business.
Think about it – wouldn’t you want your business to always be in front of people who need and ask for the services you offer instead of talking to everyone and hoping they remember your business when? they might need you?
Important metrics and KPIs
Based on my conversations with store owners and operators, I often hear that they would like to try advertising on Google (or they have done so in the past) but don’t know how it works or what ‘they couldn’t determine if (or how well) it was working for them.
If you fall into that category, here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) that I recommend you use to familiarize yourself with before trying SEM (PPC) advertising again. You can use all or part of it to assess the effectiveness of your current approach and as a way to compare and measure future improvements.
Again, you should use these KPIs to evaluate your SEM campaigns. Now let’s see how you can tell if they are working for your business.
How to know if your SEM campaign is working
Whether or not an SEM campaign works for your business depends on the money and the results. At the end of the day, it’s all about cost per good lead. Anytime you can generate a quality lead for less than the average earned per order price, that’s a great start.
For example, let’s say you are advertising a specific type of tire. If your store makes an average of $ 500 per customer for a typical tire order and installation, and your cost per good lead is $ 61.54, there’s a good chance you’ll make money.
However, if your cost per good lead is $ 61.54 to advertise a conventional oil change where your average income is $ 25 per oil change order, then you would be wasting money on every order. The second example shows that you will get this order at a loss, which may not be a good idea for your business. You need to know your numbers to be able to be strategic in your spending.
It’s important to remember that any new SEM campaign can take three or four months to begin to bear fruit. Patience is the key!
In Part 2 of The ABCs of SEM in May, we’ll look at the best ways to assess the effectiveness of your SEM campaigns and the factors that have a direct impact on your campaign performance.