PPC advertising is arguably the best way to spend your auto parts (and accessories) advertising dollar. Pay-per-click is easy to track, easy to optimize for efficiency, and easy to budget for. At Spork, we help everyone in the auto parts and accessories industry manage pay-per-click advertising:
- For ecommerce companies and retailers, PPC advertising is all about generating sales
- For distributors and manufacturers, PPC ads can be used to generate wholesale business and leads for salespeople
- For manufacturers, PPC ads can be used to promote the brand with consumers, as well as promote new products
While the specific strategies we employ for each type of advertiser are a little different, the following list of tips and best practices is universally applicable.
NOTE: This article is for businesses that are not paying for professional PPC ads management. We suggest professional PPC ad management to any business with a monthly ad budget of more than a few hundred dollars – we explain why professional ad management is important here.
Know Your Audience and Measure Everything
Before advertising, it’s essential to understand:
- Who you want to reach (consumers, jobbers/installers, distributors, etc.)
- What one thing you want this audience to understand
- How you’re going to determine if your message is getting through
Facebook ads, for example, can be a great way to raise awareness of a new product, a brand, or even to reach B2B prospects. However, Facebook isn’t a great platform for reaching people who are ready to buy.
Likewise, Google’s search network ads are great for targeting consumers who are going to buy today, while their display network is more for brand level ads.
Finally, it’s important to have metrics for ad success that go beyond whatever you can track in analytics. It’s good to track things like phone calls, unsolicited leads via email, referrals from existing clients who might be seeing your ads and influenced accordingly, or even interactions at events and trade shows. Tracking all of these things is tedious, but doing so gives you a lot of different ways to measure how your ads are doing.
A lot of PPC ad campaigns target people very generically, e.g. anyone searching for “car parts”, anyone who Facebook says is a car owner that has bought parts, etc. While advertising can be targeted very generally, it usually requires a big budget to be effective (to say nothing of careful analysis and management).
Instead, businesses with smaller ad budgets should focus very narrowly. If, for example, your company sells lift kits, you should create an ad strategy around selling lift kits for the Ram 1500 only. The benefits to being this targeted are numerous:
- By targeting a specific product and a specific vehicle, ad creative is simplified
- Generally speaking, the more targeted your ads get, the more affordable (and cost effective) they become
- It’s easier to track performance…if you sell more Ram 1500 lift kits this month than last month, you know something is working
Implement An Ad Testing Process
All professional ad management companies implement a pretty standard “champ vs. challenger” process for optimizing ad creative. Basically, you want to start with two ads (or more, if your ads are getting a lot of looks), and run them concurrently. The ad that performs better in terms of click thru rate and/or conversion rate is your ‘champ.’ You keep that ad running.
The losing ad, on the other hand, is paused, and a new challenger is written. The competition is repeated, with the winner kept and the loser paused.
If your company isn’t going to be investing in professional PPC ad management services anytime soon, you might consider spending some time learning about PPC ad management. Some of the best places to learn include:
- The Google AdWords help section, which has videos, case studies, and more
- Google AdWords training from Cardinal Path (which is excellent and well worth the fee)
- JonLoomer.com, which has both some good Facebook ad courses and a great blog
- Books and other resources by Brad Geddes – see his website CertifiedKnowledge.org
Finally, keep in mind that the best way to learn the ins-and-outs of pay-per-click advertising is to do it daily. Don’t just setup some ads and throw money at things. Take the time to understand everything that’s happening, and use training and tools to figure out how to respond.