You’re Leaving Leads On The Table With Google And Facebook
It’s a strange time to be in business. Residual supply chain issues caused by the COVID pandemic and the worst inflation in 40 years have created unique challenges for small businesses, but these factors have also created opportunities.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, small businesses and new entrepreneurial endeavors are now key drivers of the economy. In 2021, more than five million Americans applied to start a new business. That’s more than 20% greater than any other year.
As a small business owner myself, I know that such companies are constantly on the hunt for new customers to grow their sales and profits. I believe that they often overlook the most powerful and ubiquitous tools at their disposal: Google and Facebook.
Get it With Google
Unsurprisingly, Google is the most-used search engine in the United States, accounting for approximately 60% of all search queries. Google Ads is always where we recommend our customers start with digital marketing because it’s where most shoppers search.
Google Ad campaigns are perfect for low-funnel traffic, reaching those who are most ready to buy. These are ads that you see when you search with a specific keyword or words. There are normally three to four search ads displayed at the top of the search engine results page or SERP and these have the small word “AD” next to them (see image 1).
For example, if you search “black ladies coat,” you get millions of results, with ads from Athleta, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and others showing up on the search engine results page (SERP). Or at least I do because Google is serving me relevant ads (they know I bought my wife a black coat last year because I used Google for that, too).
There are two strategies in search engine marketing:
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is about creating content that will show up organically in search results. Traditional SEO works (especially locally) but it’s a slow-growth strategy. Results can take months or years of consistent effort to pay off.
PPC (Pay Per Click) is a Google Ads strategy in which you bid on (and pay for) certain search terms to show up for specific keywords.
Google Ads can be very effective, but also very costly if you cast too broad a net in the search terms you bid on. Why? Big, generic searches return so many results that it’s expensive to compete, by trying to jump to the front of the line and show up in a meaningful search result.
Catch the Tiger By the Long-Tail
At AutoSweet, we love PPC as a strategy but find it much more affordable to bid on very specific search terms vs. broad terms. This specificity means you’re using more words in your search to narrow down your results.
These searches are called “long-tail” because of their length. For example, “black ladies coat” returns millions of results, but “black ladies swing coat boiled wool” significantly narrows it down.
In our business, we recommend long-tail searches to our clients frequently, using similar examples. If you paid to rank with “Honda Civic” you’d have a lot of competition for that term due to its popularity and it would be very expensive. Likely only the Honda Motor Company will want to afford that. But if you’re a small used auto dealership with a black 2019 Honda Civic LX with a leather interior, it would be more affordable and effective to bid for “2019 black Honda Civic LX leather seats.”
Why? Not only are these “long-tail search” terms often less inexpensive and less competitive because they are more niche (fewer people are bidding on them), but they’re also more effective because customers searching with this level of specificity know exactly what they want and are therefore further down in the purchase funnel.
In short, Google’s long-tail search words are a powerful way to drive potential customers to your website, and conversion, by narrowing your target audience.
How do you know which long-tail to search for and bid on? In the automotive space, it’s fairly simple; products lend themselves to long-tail search terms. Whether you’re selling a product or service, research is essential. Here are a few ideas:
- Google Suggestions Just type your keywords into the Google search box and see what other variations people look for.
- Google Related Searches Google provides similar searches at the bottom of each SERP that can also give guidance to other search terms.
- Google Ads Reports If you’re already using a PPC campaign in Google Ad words, look at your keyword reports to see what search terms people are using to find you.
- Google Ads Keyword Planner Google’s keyword planner lets you research keywords, find new words, and get bid estimates.
- Other Keyword Research Tools There are plenty of additional keyword research tools out there, some free, which offer rankings of popular search terms you can incorporate into a long-tail search.
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Find Them On Facebook
With nearly three billion global users, Facebook is a social media mammoth. While its user growth has slowed slightly in the last two years, its dominance as a marketing tool cannot be understated. Navigating the platform’s marketing and advertising opportunities can get overwhelming quickly and many small businesses may not be using its tools effectively.
In our business, we talk to hundreds of auto dealers who think they’re using Facebook properly, but who are missing out on reaping huge benefits from their Facebook accounts. Here are a few of our takeaways.
There are three essential elements when marketing on Facebook:
Your Facebook Business Page Before you start advertising or uploading vehicles to Facebook Marketplace, you need a Facebook business page. While businesses don’t generate many leads from this page, it’s necessary to keep updated for a professional look. Some industries (like auto dealers) can integrate their inventory right on their business page, allowing potential customers the ability to view cars immediately. Other businesses can also manage inventory through Facebook/Meta’s “Commerce Manager” platform. at the very least, make sure that your phone number, website, and other contact information are listed so that Facebook users can easily get in touch with you.
Facebook Marketplace This is a classifieds website (like Craigslist) where individuals and businesses can post items for sale in their local area. If you’ve got a big inventory, Facebook allows you or a partner to upload a database directly, ensuring inventory is always up to date.
Facebook (and Instagram) Ads Standard Facebook ads (and by extension, Instagram, which is owned by Meta) are shown on users’ Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds, in the same place where you see updates from friends.
Get Leads with Facebook Ads
Facebook (and Instagram) ads are the biggest missed marketing opportunity for most businesses. They’re targeted, relatively inexpensive, and connect you to one of the biggest sources of new leads on the planet.
You can run campaigns to find new customers by demographics (conquest), tell potential customers or clients about your (branding), or find people who have already visited your website, app, store, or Facebook Page using the Facebook pixel (retargeting).
Businesses with their customer database can leverage that information to market to those customers on Facebook. They can also build a custom lookalike audience that shares your current customer demographics (location, age, interests) based on data from your CRM (like Hubspot or Salesforce). The power of this first-party data in marketing on Facebook is immense.
At AutoSweet, we specialize in integrating automotive Dealership Management Systems (databases, essentially) with Facebook to build these custom lists for dealerships. This allows our clients to reach their existing customers on Facebook. Any business can do this by uploading customer data (like email) to Facebook Ads Manager and creating loyalty and lookalike audiences. Then you can target your ad messaging to those audiences, netting higher conversion rates with them than you would with a broad local audience.
You can also link your ads right to a lead form on Facebook. Meta has made this very simple with a lead generation goal right in their Ad Manager tool. Once potential customers start filling out the lead form linked to your ad, you can download all this golden lead information from the Meta Ads Manager.
Businesses can run interactive ads in multiple formats, building brand awareness and casting a wide net to generate leads and sell more. (Pro tip: With the help of a good service provider, you can also track interested buyers who click through to your landing page from an ad and continue advertising to them with Facebook and Instagram ads).
With any marketing strategy, your goal should be a steady flow of advertising about your business to interested buyers.
Facebook offers a host of tools to help businesses navigate their sophisticated platform (though having a great agency partner takes all the guesswork out) as well as robust reporting tools to ensure a return on your investment.
Note: Facebook/Meta constantly updates its tools and rules, so businesses must keep up to date or work with a partner that is always tracking the latest news to ensure effective advertising.
Try It, You’ll Like It
Marketing and advertising can feel overwhelming and complicated but remember, in times of uncertainty and flux there is opportunity. To build your business, no matter how big or small, new or established, it’s critical to introduce your brand using these powerful social tools. Give long-tail search on Google and Facebook lead ads a try. For a relatively modest investment, you could see your business take off in ways you’ve only dreamed.