Working with tens of OEMs and hundreds of capital equipment locations, we’ve seen just how far buyers are willing to travel for the right equipment. And through digital advertising, we’ve helped equipment dealers effectively reach these interested buyers who may not find them otherwise.
Digital advertising allows equipment dealerships to reach new prospects and take their hard-earned local reputation to new markets. Making sure they’re targeting the right markets and reaching the right prospects who will actually convert is where geotargeting comes in. To take advantage of this expansive search market and ensure you’re at the top of search results for prospective customers, here are our tips for geotargeting heavy equipment campaigns.
What is Geotargeting?
Geotargeting is the practice of actually defining the geographic area(s) you want to advertise in. Most search engine marketing platforms offer a variety of targeting methods, including radii around specific addresses, postal codes, cities, etc. Geotargeting is layered on top of traditional targeting criteria (keywords, demographics, behaviors, interests, etc.) to ensure your ads only show for relevant audiences, in relevant locations. The minimum radius for geotargeting is one mile, but geotargeting works best for larger geographical areas because ads can be more specifically defined by demographics and keywords.
Geotargeting is one of the few components in a digital advertising strategy that can make or break your success. Keep your geotargeting too tight and you might overlook “hot zones” right in your own backyard. Expand your reach too far and you might exhaust your daily budget on prospects outside of your area of record, at the expense of those within it. Closely monitoring and adjusting your geotargeting until you find the ‘just right’ balance will give you the highest return.
To be clear, geotargeting and geofencing are different advertising strategies. Geofencing is the practice of serving marketing messages to a user (typically display advertisements or push notifications via mobile apps) once that user falls within a predefined location. This works best for tightly defined locations like universities or stadiums that may have an audience with similar interest in local sales or services around the same time.
While both are both powerful targeting options for digital advertising generally, we do not recommend geofencing for equipment dealers.
In the equipment industry, geofencing is often pitched as a means to target customers physically at or near competing dealerships, and serve them ads. In practice, this strategy often falls short because it reaches a very small portion of the target population. For geofencing to actually be successful, the intended audience must have their mobile device out, with some sort of web browser or eligible app open, all while actively browsing equipment or passing by. In addition to these limitations, we know that the vast majority of equipment buying decisions aren't made on a whim, which is why we recommend sticking to more traditional digital approaches.
Throughout the years, we’ve developed our own geotargeting “secret sauce” for equipment dealers. However, at the end of the day, there’s still one fundamental truth – each dealer’s situation is unique. Variations in equipment offerings, markets served, and a variety of other factors all play into what geotargeting strategy will work best.
To find the right geotargeting strategy for your business, we always recommend starting with your sales data. Use 12 months of ‘closed sales by zip code’ to build an initial heat map. This aligns your geotargeting strategy with historical sales data. The more granular the data you have available in your CRM (e.g. sales by zip code vs. sales by county), the more insightful the resulting heat map will be.
If you’re not using a CRM, or feel like you’re not using yours effectively, find insight into CRM adoption and how it can affect sales here: https://adpearance.com/blog/how-crm-adoption-fuels-equipment-sales
Next, layer in OEM territory boundaries. For new equipment sales, heavy equipment dealers are often restricted to predefined territories by their OEM(s). Prior to launching geotargeted digital campaigns, make sure you and your digital advertising partner understand any restrictions your dealership may have, and ensure those boundaries are continually respected.
Combining your sales data and territory boundaries will give you an initial map for geotargeting.
Once you’ve achieved complete coverage where users have traditionally purchased from, it’s time to expand into new areas. When geotargeting, you can choose where (and where not) to target – here are some of the variables to consider when expanding your geotargeting strategy:
Competition: The number of dealers actively advertising within a given market and in the surrounding areas is important to keep in mind. Most dealers will service all makes and models of equipment. If you are running service campaigns, map your competitors and weigh how likely prospects are to go the extra mile, knowing there are dealers closer in proximity.
Urban vs. Rural: Advertising in a metropolitan area doesn’t always mean you’re going to have to spend more. On the flip side, advertising in relatively rural areas doesn’t guarantee a low monthly spend. It all comes down to demand. As an example, we’ve seen that material handling dealers see a stronger correlation between population size and search demand than agricultural equipment dealers. Pallet jacks can be used for applications in everything from small corner stores to large warehousing facilities, so you’ll see higher search demand in more densely populated areas, while monthly searches for “tractor” related terms in a cluster of rural cities across Iowa far outnumber the entire Austin, TX metropolitan area. Keep your specific industry in mind when considering targeting and spend.
How Far Is Too Far?
At the end of the day, it’s completely up to you how aggressive your heavy equipment dealership should be with geotargeting. If territory boundaries and overall marketing budget isn’t a concern, we’ve seen some dealers push geotargeting as far out as 100+ miles around each location.
In general, we recommend keeping New Equipment, Rentals, and Parts & Service campaigns within 60-80 miles around each location. It's important to keep in mind the additional competitors in surrounding territories, and the corresponding trade-off between drive time and the product or services offered.
The one campaign where this is not true is Used Equipment. Some buyers have very specific criteria and will travel considerable distances to acquire the exact inventory they’re looking for. We’ve see this reflected in sales by zip data. For used equipment, you can push geotargeting out to 80+ miles, especially if you’re bidding on inventory specific terms (e.g. “2007 john deere tractor”) and see results.
It’s important to find the sweet spot that’s best for your business and remember that each location may require a different approach or customization. Duplicating campaigns and customizing geotargeting for each location is recommended.
Get Started with Geotargeted Digital Advertising Campaigns
For nearly a decade, Adpearance has optimized geotargeting and digital advertising tactics to deliver results for the capital equipment industry. Our average capital equipment Google Ads account has:
- 30+ campaigns
- 200+ ad groups
- 100,000+ keywords
- 650+ ad variations
We’re driven by helping heavy equipment dealers sell more, and we would love to chat about a unique geotargeting strategy for your business. Request a free digital analysis to start the conversation. We’ll be sharing strategies and best practices specific to the unique needs of equipment dealers, and discussing ways to capture your market with digital advertising.