When consumers search for vehicle service options in your area, does your dealership’s website appear on the search engine results page (SERP)? For most dealers, ranking organically for search terms is difficult because their websites are optimized for sales and not necessarily for service. Additionally, it’s difficult to compete with aftermarket service centers that have websites filled with pages of service-related content.
The best way to ensure that your dealership appears in search results is with pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns designed to rank for service search terms. If you’re wondering whether display ads may be a better option, it depends on what your goal is.
PPC vs. Display
Search/PPC campaigns capture customer attention at the exact moment they show intent. Campaigns are optimized to pull consumers into the business. Meaning: the customer seeks out your company in an online search.
Display advertising pushes content to the user and is better suited for brand awareness. In our experience, display ads seem to work best as part of an omni-channel approach and can significantly boost response rates for the overall campaign. For example, if you’re promoting a spring service special using email, mailers and social media, adding a display ad campaign will improve overall campaign results.
Ideally, a strategic display campaign will fuel your PPC advertising efforts with people converting from general awareness to intent. But, if you’re just starting your digital service marketing strategy, we recommend starting with PPC and applying any remaining budget to display. After all, PPC campaigns connect you with your customers that are closest to their purchase decision.
Setting up your PPC campaign
PPC service campaign management works best when coordinated with your sales PPC efforts. When running search marketing for service, negative keywords should be applied in the sales strategy to prevent bidding against yourself, thus driving up the cost.
Before you start running PPC campaigns, check with your website and marketing vendors to ensure you don’t have any current PPC campaigns running that might overlap with new campaigns you set up. It’s against Google’s policy to let you run two campaigns going after the same search terms.
To ensure your ads show up in all relevant searches, your service PPC campaign should include search terms for services, brand services, parts and accessories.
Your ad content should be straight to the point. Consumers need to see your dealership name, the name of the service they were searching for and a price. Include a statement encouraging consumers to check out all your service offers and to schedule an appointment online.
Prepare for Landing
Link the ad to a landing page that features appealing visuals and your service department’s value propositions. One effective strategy is to create a chart comparing all the benefits that you offer and independent chains don’t.
It’s also helpful to have three or four strong service offers for the consumer to select from. Think beyond oil changes to wheel alignments, 20 percent off coupons and A/C performance checks. If your goal is to fill service bays on Wednesdays, include a “Wednesday-only” offer.
Be sure to include a link to your online scheduler.
Data Analysis is Key
Once your campaign is underway, analyzing performance is important. There may be keywords that trigger a lot of impressions but not very many CTRs, and vice versa. Knowing how to optimize your PPC campaign is critical for keeping costs in line.
With PPC campaigns the primary metrics to monitor include:
- Number of clicks
- Average Daily Impression Share
- Click Through Rate (CTR)
- Average cost per click
- Average position
For each of these metrics, your service marketing vendor should be able to provide you with average benchmarks for your location and your brand. Metrics vary widely depending on a number of factors.
The vast majority of consumers search for vehicle services using their computers or mobile phones. Dealers can’t afford to sit back and let aftermarket service centers claim the top positions on SERPs. Claim your digital real estate and move from lost to found with a targeted service PPC campaign.
Author: Scot Eisenfelder
Scot Eisenfelder is a 25+ automotive market veteran who has driven innovation across multiple auto sectors. Previously, Scot was Senior Vice President Strategy at AutoNation, responsible for major change initiatives in eCommerce, pricing, IT and creating a blueprint for auto retail transformation and before that served as acting CMO, focused on realigning marketing spending. Before that, Scot led JM Family’s dealer software business and was Senior Vice President Product Management, Strategy and Marketing at Reynolds and Reynolds, leading both companies through value creating sales. Scot is a Board member of Quorum, a public dealer software company. He has an MBA from Wharton School, graduating with distinction and is a Palmer Scholar. He attended Mannheim University in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar and graduated summa cum laude in Economics from Princeton.