Editor’s Note: In this article we will be discussing SEM: SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing and refers to any paid advertisement that businesses use to gain visibility in search results, like Google Ads, Bing Ads, etc.
What PSG’s Collision Customer Research is Telling Us
According to our voice of customer research, when customers want to find a body shop, they normally use search terms that include the name of a specific collision center they’ve been referred to by either their insurance company, a dealership, or one of their friends or family. These branded keyword searches are typical when it’s business as usual.
However, things have changed since the pandemic started, and organic search queries such as “body shop in my area that is open” have begun to increase. We attribute this increase to the constantly changing COVID-19 restrictions and because customers aren’t sure when individual businesses are open or if they can stop by without an appointment.
Recognizing this shift in the collision customers’ search behaviors to a more intent-based search prompted us to leverage Search Engine Marketing to capture the increase in general organic searches for our digital marketing clients. Through the combination of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and paid ads, we’ve been able to drive more new customers to collision websites and ultimately to the shop.
Let’s take a look at how implementing a dynamic SEM strategy can help you achieve similar results.
Boost Visibility for Organic Search via Search Ads
When people get into an accident, our CSI research shows they’ll trust a recommended repair facility rather than a random body shop. But for those without a referral from their friends and relatives or those who are unsure whom to trust, this is where search engines come to the rescue.
With or without the pandemic in the mix, a holistic digital strategy that includes both SEO and SEM has proven to be the best way for a shop to improve their website ranking in organic search. As such, integrating a consistent and ongoing keyword research strategy is the only way to be prepared for changes in customer behavior, such as shifting from branded to intent-based search. This is why implementing a well-rounded approach to your shop’s digital marketing will go a long way to encourage Google to trust your business, which in turn will help your shop rank higher for more organic keywords.
What this ultimately means is, when done correctly, you should start to see your site rank better for organic search phrases, such as “collision center near me”, or “body shop open for estimate”, resulting in a greater opportunity to capture customers who are uncertain on where to go.
Tailor-make Your Pay Per Click Ads
This is one of the reasons why we believe our Google Ads campaigns have been so successful for body shops currently using our digital marketing services. SEM allows us to do just that: create dynamic ads that match your customers’ specific needs.
For example, many parts of the US have seen weather-related or “deer” related events in their markets due to the seasons changing. Therefore, the ability to create specific ads at a moment’s notice, showing your customers that your body shop is paying attention to your local market, provides you with a leg up over your competitors.
We’ve also noticed a significant increase in the number of search queries for manufacturer-approved shops by specific brand names (i.e. Tesla approved body shop). If your shop is certified and follows OEM guidelines, you can use your tailor-made SEM campaigns to attract those particular customers to your website.
With all of that in mind, it’s important to customize your text ads for the searcher’s intent and the terms currently being used. SEM allows PSG to micro-manage this element of your shop’s online advertising, and tailor your ad copy and message to appeal to the specific needs of your customers.
The Bottom Line
For potential customers to find you when they are searching for any local collision repair facility through organic search, you need relevant, well-optimized ad campaigns tailored to this industry and aligned to the searchers’ intent. To put this in perspective, while the average click-through rate for this industry is around 4%, shops that work with PSG see an average CTR of close to 8% and an ROI of around 225%, clearly showing just how effective SEM can be for the collision repair industry when done correctly.
The key is placing these ads in front of the right online audience, which will not only drive more traffic to your website but also bring more customers to your door.