Auto parts manufacturers and resellers in the automotive aftermarket spend a lot of money to keep their brand in front of parts shoppers.
Here are three ways to have a free brand advertising campaign when combined with paid search.
If you’re already doing PPC advertising using these ideas can boost your brand awareness online for free.
When we say “online brand advertising campaign” we mean showing ads for your brand (or your products) using online banner ads.
Free ad campaign idea #1: A basic PPC display campaign
At the most basic level, here’s how to have a free online brand advertising campaign for your company. The secret is to set up a targeted pay per click (PPC) campaign with display advertising. With a PPC campaign you only pay for clicks, you don’t pay a thing for impressions. By targeting automotive enthusiasts across thousands of websites and forums you reach a very specific group of potential customers.
It’s possible to target car, truck and racing enthusiasts on automotive or racing websites or even on general websites. We first covered these online targeting methods with this post on targeting last year. Your ads would appear either on specific automotive websites and forums, or, they could be triggered to appear on any website or forum that is connected to the Google Display Network, where the text or a discussion includes specific keywords, such as “4 barrel carb” or “BMW engine modifications.” These are automotive websites like CarDomain.com, DragRaceCentral.com or JalopyJournal.com, or general websites that may have specific text appear in a story, like CNN.com.
There are five basic banner ads to create for online brand advertising. We create these display ads for our clients based on our testing of colors, call to action, layout/design and other elements.
Here’s the catch: You’re only paying for clicks, not impressions, so you will pay whenever someone clicks on a banner ad and comes to your website. Typically these clicks are not expensive and if a shopper ends up directly on your website that’s what you want anyway. With this basic approach to PPC display advertising, the click through rate for banner ads is not very high but your banner ads will appear to tens of thousands of auto enthusiasts per month.
So to be technically correct, you are running display ads online, which show for free, and only cost you when someone clicks on an ad.
We recently did this for a client and got over 1 million impressions in a single month with a total cost under $1,000. The math makes this very attractive: if you price this using a cost per impression (usually called “CPM” and sometimes “CPI”) model, it works out to less than $1 per thousand impressions. Compare a $1 CPM to any other online display advertising proposal you look at.
Plus, with this type of online campaign, you’re not limited to one or more websites owned by a specific publisher or forum network, your ad appears everywhere your customers are.
Free ad campaign idea #2: Combine PPC remarketing with prospect emails
Here’s a good way to stretch your “free” online brand campaign, get more exposure, and bring more people back to your website. Activate a remarketing campaign on your website, then deploy a prospect email campaign (our email campaign pricing is on this page) and reach 50,000 to 1 million enthusiasts pulled from our database of over 50 million vehicle owner opt-in email addresses.
“Remarketing” campaigns (also called retargeting) plant a cookie on a visitor’s computer when they come to your website. That cookie triggers your ads on over a million websites so that once a visitor has been on your site, your brand is automatically remarketed to them many times. These ads are triggered over the next 30 to 60 days. To maximize effectiveness we often create multiple remarketing segments to make the ads as targeted as possible.
Here’s the catch: As with Idea #1 above, you’re paying for clicks, so you will pay when someone clicks through to your site but you also get a free branding campaign that follows your website visitors around the Internet. Plus you’ll have the cost of the email marketing campaign.
We recently sent 25,000 new visitors to a client website using prospect emails, giving them the biggest single week ever for online sales. Over the next 30 days they had another $7,000 in online sales that came from a remarketing campaign triggered by this email campaign, while getting an additional 500,000 brand impressions at no extra cost.
Free advertising campaign idea #3: Dynamic remarketing using a Google Merchant Center product data feed
This uses a more sophisticated approach to a remarketing campaign. We take your product data and create a feed to a Google Merchant Center account. At the same time we set up a dynamic remarketing campaign on your website.
This feed triggers a more specific remarketing ad that displays the exact product your web visitor was looking at. You’ve probably seen these remarketing ads follow you around the Internet after you visit other websites.
This Merchant Center feed also is used to trigger Google Shopping ads (formerly Product Listing Ads, or PLAs) which are the thumbnail photos you’ve probably seen before. A screenshot of Google Shopping is shown here.
Here’s the catch: As with both ideas above, you’re paying for clicks. You also will need to have a product data feed set up, which we can do for you. The upside is you still get a free brand campaign, plus you get the added benefit of running Shopping campaigns on Google which tend to have a much lower cost per click (CPC) and lower overall cost, and a good conversion rate.
Conclusion on free advertising ideas and a shameless plug
Online advertising is a very cost-effective way to reach millions of car and truck enthusiasts, and racing enthusiasts, and using these three ideas you can have a brand campaign that uses precision targeting at a low cost. We also like to combine PPC with SEO marketing to maximize exposure for clients. If you’d like to discuss these ideas please give us a call in the office.
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