In March, I shared the basics of Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and how it can drive desirable, intent-based users to your website (see the March 2018 issue of Tire Review). In this month’s Marketing Matters, I’d like to share some tools and strategies that can help you assess the effectiveness of your current SEM effort and provide tips on how to improve the performance of such campaigns.
Before you can even begin to know whether your SEM advertising efforts are paying off, you have to be able to track how much of your business orders are coming from the SEM effort and how much is coming in from some other method, say for example, personal referral. So, after reading the first part of this article in the March issue, you may be asking yourself, how can a marketer actually identify which orders are a product of the SEM effort? Or whether the order is generated on the web or through a telephone call? The short answer is – TECHNOLOGY!
A few ways to accomplish this:
Website Order Tracking – This is done with help of a small computer code (it can be as little as a few lines) that is loaded on to each page of the website and a small piece of code that is installed on top of each button that leads to an order on the website. Your marketing agency and/or consultant should normally provide this code for installation on your website.
Phone Tracking – The mechanism for phone tracking is a bit more complicated. In order to implement phone tracking, a unique phone number is assigned to each of your ads. This number follows the user across your website and overlays on top of any existing phone numbers on the website once the user is directed to it by an SEM ad. So, when someone dials the number, it can be traced back to the ad itself. New phone numbers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from various providers. I recommend that you check with your phone service or marketing provider about procuring and using such numbers.
Items that Directly Impact SEM Performance
SEM performance can vary significantly across industries. In fact, it can even vary by category within an industry. For example, the performance of SEM campaigns for car dealers (those selling cars) is different than performance of campaigns for tire and auto service organizations.
The following can have a measurable impact on SEM performance for tire and auto service providers:
• Ad Quality – How much the ad appeals to the searcher that is shown the ad of your business and how often they click on it.
• Keyword Match Type – Which keywords should the ad be shown for your business.
• Landing Page Content – How well the content of the page connects with a user and how relevant/informative the page is once the user clicks an ad and lands on the page.
• User Time On Site– Amount of time a user spends on a page once redirected to it through an SEM ad. Tip: The more time they spend on the page/site, the better!
• Bounce Rate – How often does a user land on a page without clicking to visit other pages. This generally indicates that the information wasn’t useful to the user so they decided to land and then leave the website instead of digging deeper to learn more about the business. Tip: High bounce rate is not always bad! A very well created landing page with all the necessary information can actually have a high bounce rate.
• Page Load Speed – How quickly a page loads once a user clicks an ad and is redirected to it. Fast loading pages are important. A page that takes more than three seconds to load can start to see users leaving the page before its even done loading! Tip: You can test your site’s speed and/or find ways to improve it by utilizing a service such as Pingdom (https://tools.pingdom.com) or Google’s Pagespeed Insights (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insight).
If you didn’t immediately figure it out, a good website can have a significant impact on how well a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign performs.
Why does this matter, you ask?
Well, I’d recommend that you to consider your website to be a salesperson. Once a person looking for tires lands on the site, it’s the job of the website (just like a salesperson in a store) to answer all of the users’ questions, provide all the information about the products they may be interested in and talk about specials and about your business in order to convince them to purchase from you.
Just as a less-than-knowledgeable salesperson can have a hard time selling, the same can be true for a less-than-helpful website. Gone are the days when a website could be a glorified brochure. Today’s websites need to be highly engaging, informative and interactive.
So, it is my recommendation, that auto businesses consider investing in their website just as they would a salesperson. If your average salesperson costs you $50,000 to $60,000 or more, then don’t invest a mere $3,000 in your website and expect the same results.
Also, remember that just like a good salesperson that needs ongoing training, a good website needs to be constantly upgraded and tweaked so it can continue to provide the best results.
How to Decide the Best Budget for Your Campaign
At a very basic level, it’s about impression share (calculated in percentage). Impression share tells an advertiser what percent of searchers are typing in their selected keywords (within their target area) are seeing their ads.
Let’s say your campaign currently has a 10% impression share. This means that only 10 out of 100 people searching for your target keywords are currently seeing your ads.
You may ask why all 100 of them are not seeing your ad? Well, this is because of budgets. Search engines know that given your monthly budget, they can’t show your ads to everyone because that will spend out your
overall monthly budget very quickly.
So, if your business is enjoying a good return on investment (ROI) from your paid search-engine marketing, then I’d recommend increasing your budget.
This generally leads to the following question: What is the maximum amount I should invest in PPC?
I recommend raising your budgets slowly until your campaign reaches a 70-75% impression share, as long as you continue to see a positive ROI.
Questions to Ask a Current or Prospective PPC Consultant
A good agency and/or consultant should make you aware of all the above listed items. If your consultant hasn’t been sharing this kind of information, or if this the first time you are considering investing in SEM, then here are some questions I’d recommend asking your agency or consultant:
• How familiar are they with your industry and your type of business? Don’t be afraid to test their knowledge a bit!
• Can they share their historical performance metrics for your industry?
• What software do they use to run their campaigns?
• How do they come up with a budget recommendation for your business?
• Do they offer lead tracking (across inbound phone calls and web)?
• How can they prove for sure that the leads that are being generated are actually meaningful to your business (and not just calls that have no value)?
• How many calls and web leads can you expect to receive with your budget?
If they don’t have much experience in the tire or auto service industry and try to claim that most industries are similar, then you should be concerned. You should also consider it a red flag when they can’t or won’t share reports and metrics that showcase their successes and/or average performance across the industry.
Search engine marketing is an important part of marketing for tire and auto service businesses. It’s one of the best and fastest ways of putting your business in front of buyers that are actively looking for your services. This type of marketing can offer great results when implemented properly.
The key is to work with a provider that has a very strong understanding of the industry and has data to confirm that their clients can really benefit by using their services. It is important to understand that providers who don’t have experience running SEM campaigns in the tire or auto service industry can possibly waste a lot of your hard earned money while they learn.
Lastly, if you are concerned about performance of your SEM/Google campaign(s), I’m happy to provide you with a free analysis. Email me at [email protected].
Taran Sodhi is the founder and CEO of automotive marketing consulting group Conceptual Minds. He can be reached at [email protected] or 877-524-7696.