When considering where to allocate your marketing resources, consider that local online awareness of your business, makes, models and services is critical to sales success. In a previous piece, I mentioned a BIA/Kelsey study that shows that more than 90 percent of consumers research online prior to buying from a local shop.
Add in the fact that 94% of retail sales occur in brick and mortar stores (Forrester Research), and it’s more important than ever to be found online with the right message at the right time to connect qualified buyers to your shop.
Formula for online success
I wrote this thought leadership piece for a national cycling retailer magazine (Bicycle Dealer) to be useful to owners and marketing team members to share my mantra of online marketing success: With $5 to spend on marketing, you should put $3 into search engine marketing, $1 into display ads, and $1 into mobile targeting.
The combination of search and display is the cornerstone of a successful integrated campaign, but you need to start with search. Search marketers average a 7:1 return on their marketing investment (McKinney 2012).
In general, purchasing specific local search terms is cheaper than launching right into buying display ads. The key is “local” since most general make and model terms have probably been purchased by the manufacturers. You won’t be able to afford purchasing terms like “Specialized” or “Giant Bicycles” but you can purchase specific terms like “Wilier Bikes Portland” or “Specialized Body Geometry Fit Boston.”
To make sure your store show up in online searches that have purchase intent, bid on keywords based around your unique product and service lineup. With analytics, you can see what search terms your prospects are already using to find your website. Leverage this information and be the top bidder for those specific and related long-tail search terms.
Adding display ads to the mix
After you’ve established a solid search campaign, next, layer on display ads. This is a tactic we've been using since 2009 to help clients win the Zero Moment of Truth online and enhance their qualified clicks and foot traffic by up to 25% over just doing search alone.
Think of it as covering both proactive and reactive bases. Search is an active process that prospects undertake to gather information. Display ads, on the other hand, are more like purchased online real estate on websites that are relevant to your ideal customers.
Traditionally, people think of display ads primarily for brand or store awareness, similar to “image” ads that promote brands rather than specific products. These ads are still important, but today display ads also set the stage for the sales funnel – so they should push people down the funnel from awareness to consideration to, ultimately, sales.
Display works at all of those levels to visually represent your product and brands, co-branded and – most importantly – localized with your store name, location and custom, tracked phone number. You should direct every click to a conversion-optimized landing (or lead) page.
Display ads generally are available in six primary sizes and also can be sized to show up over relevant YouTube videos (known as InVideo Ads). A good web designer can easily produce correctly sized ads for you.
Work with a trusted online marketing partner to purchase display ads on contextually relevant websites, whether they are focused on bicycles, or local news and weather. That hits both Web shoppers who are interested in your product, and those drawn to popular local websites with a lot of traffic. Your local ads can also be served up on national websites but just to the local geography of your choice.
Search and display working in tandem
Independently, both a search campaign and display campaign can generate results for you, but how they work together can win your local market online. Targeting for both search and display is critical and produces more conversions.
According to iProspect, 50% of all Internet users react to a display ad by conducting a search related to the brand, product or service described in the ad. More specifically, exposure to display ads increases the number of relevant search queries by 5% to 25%. Not only can display ads lead directly to your landing page, but they can also trigger search activity that leads the prospect back to your website if your search campaign is active.
There is additional evidence that display ads can impact behavior even if the prospect doesn’t click on the ad. A University of Maryland study showed how consumers exposed to a display ad (even if they don’t click on it) will change their online shopping behavior to include searches for the brand featured in the ad (Rutz and Bucklin 2009).
Although direct click-throughs via display ads provide trackable data, a 2012 study by comScore found that ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions (defined as purchases and requests for information) than clicks or total impressions. In other words, your ad being seen is more important than your ad being clicked.
West End Bikes gets results
As co-owner of the only Specialized Concept Store in the Pacific Northwest, Mike France of West End Bikes knows how critical it is for his business to be found by cyclists and would-be cyclists alike in the cycling-passionate city of Portland, Ore., where choices abound.
Prior to hiring online ad technology company Netsertive, France said that not only was West End Bikes not showing up at or near the top of the page of search results for key product, brand and service categories, often they were nowhere to be found on the first page at all. Knowing that nearly two-thirds of consumers click on one of the first three results, he knew that to grow his relatively new business, he had to first take the lead online in his market.
In addition to Specialized, West End is the area’s authorized dealer for Wilier, Colnago, Santana and Beloved bicycles, as well as being a Specialized Body Geometry Fit center. France wanted to take the lead in the Portland market West End Bikes seeks to serve, so he hired an online marketing company to design, configure, launch and manage an integrated online search, display and mobile marketing campaign focused on the categories that drive his business and for which West End wanted to be found and known.
France now gets detailed data every week about how many people are seeing West End’s search and display ads, how many people have clicked through to their website, and what keywords and phrases prospects are using to search, which allows them to continually optimize the campaign to reach the targeted audience most beneficial to their business.
“Our online campaigns have increased our reach in our market two- to three-fold,” says France, “and the best part is the results were almost immediate and when our search or display ads are shown, they are always in the first or second position.”
West End has seen a direct correlation between increased Web traffic and sales. “The campaign is driving more consumers to our website and into the store, which has noticeably increased sales since we launched our online program,” added France.
Selecting the right online advertising partner is critical. Work with a Google Premier partner like Netsertive who offers great technology along with hand-crafted search and display ads. Together they proactively tune up your campaign 400-600 times per month to deliver a 70% share of local advertising voice.
The best partners like Netsertive collaborate with independent bicycle dealers, rather than following a script and “setting and forgetting” their digital marketing.