Paid search is one of the most cost-effective ways for you to generate and close quality leads, especially in the ag and farm equipment industry. Here are some insider tips that we’ve built over the last decade to help get you there. And now is the best season to get started and start seeing results immediately.
Consider your current opportunity for growth in the market: according to Farm Equipment’s Annual Dealer Business Outlook & Trends Survey, it’s been five years since North American farm and ag equipment dealers expressed as much optimism about their revenue prospects as they have in 2018. Nearly half (46.5%) of dealers expect revenue growth in 2018. This confidence for revenue growth has more than doubled: last year’s survey reported that only 22.4% expected revenue growth from dealers.
How can you set yourself up for success, to attract and close on all these leads? My recommendation is to start by filling your funnel properly so that they can easily find you, learn more about you, and eventually buy from you.
Insider Tip #1: Always be closing.
Just like any sales and marketing investment you make, your goal in digital marketing should always be to generate sales. Paid search helps you do that by filling your funnel with quality sales leads.
Knowing that closing the deal is at the bottom of your funnel, let’s work our way up through the remaining stages each prospect needs to take beforehand:
- Stage 5 of funnel: Deal closed. Sale made.
- Stage 4 of funnel: Sales-qualified lead. Consider your average close rate: How many sales-qualified leads do you need to normally meet your sales goals?
- Stage 3 of funnel: Conversion. You need people to convert (form-fills, phone calls, etc.) in order to identify them as leads intent on buying your equipment. How many conversions do you need to meet your target number of sales-qualified leads?
- Stage 2 of funnel: Website visit. To drive a conversion, you need people to visit your website first. Out of all the visitors to your website, how many completed a Contact Us form or any other conversion-related activity? Based on that, how many visitors do you need to visit your website to meet your target number of conversions?
- Stage 1 of funnel: Digital marketing. To hit your target number of website visitors, you need paid search to generate the necessary traffic.
Paid search keeps your funnel full, and therefore it provides the strongest indicator that your sales and marketing team is set up for proper growth and success. Increasing your investment in paid search is one of the easiest ways to take your traffic up a notch overnight, and as a best practice, it should account for 20-35% of your overall site traffic depending on your other marketing efforts.
Insider Tip #2: Keep tabs on major changes that impact search results.
With online search being the most popular way new customers find equipment dealers now, you always want to appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). For the sake of leading as many potential customers as possible to your website and online inventory pages, it is very important that you stay up to date with major changes affecting Google’s SERP and digital advertising best practices.
There are two types of changes you should keep tabs on:
- Major changes to ad formats, which impacts the messaging you are able to deliver to your audience.
- Major changes to the SERP layout or design, which impact how organic and paid search results appear after a user searches.
Over time, it's become harder to differentiate between paid and organic search results. By being aware of the changes mentioned above, you can better understand how to most effectively reach your audience and deliver the right message as they are searching. This is an ever-evolving process as Google releases new ad betas and changes the SERP multiple times per year. Look at how drastically it has evolved from 2008 to today:
Insider Tip #3: Don’t overlook keyword targeting.
You are losing out on potential high-quality leads if you don’t establish a comprehensive keyword targeting strategy. The size of that opportunity is also growing: Google has seen the number of searches for key equipment industry terms grow every year for 10 years straight.
Why is keyword targeting such a big deal?
Any terms entered into the Google search bar are intent-based searches, so people searching for terms ranging from “tractor” to “John Deere 9620RX for sale” are all exhibiting signs that they have some sort of intent. Generally, this is an intent to purchase. Because of this, it’s important to ensure that you are targeting the most relevant intent-based keywords from more generic to hyper-specific:
- More generic keywords like “tractor” or “tractors for sale” will yield the highest traffic and impressions, which is great for searchers in the consideration-level of the buying journey. They can continue to your website and learn more about the new and/or used equipment models you carry, features, financing options, etc.
- Specific keywords like “John Deere 9620RX for sale” will yield very few searches, but they still serve a very important purpose. Users lower down the sales funnel will make these searches, because they know exactly what manufacturer and model they want to purchase. You want your company to appear in the results every single time for these types of keywords.
Note that when users type more specific search terms, the intent behind their search is much clearer and their intent to buy is therefore higher. They are generally a higher quality lead as a result.
Insider Tip #3.5: Negative keywords are just as important as keyword targeting.
For example, you don’t want your ads showing for terms like, “John Deere tractor recall” or “John Deere stickers.”
In the agriculture and farm equipment industry, there are many negative keywords that you need to ensure are added to your advertising accounts. Continuing growing your negative keyword library to exclude bad-match keywords and use your budget most effectively. This ensures that you generate only the highest quality leads for your dealership.
Insider Tip #4: Spending more money won’t magically make your ads appear at the top of the search results.
There are actually three factors that affect how you rank in the search results. Just bidding more won’t do the trick, because all of them together affect how you rank on the page. Answer these questions before publishing your ads to get to the top of SERP.
- Maximum Cost-per-Click (CPC) Bid: Are you bidding enough to rank in the top position? This one is pretty simple; bid high enough so that you aren’t missing out on the potential to rank in the number one spot.
- Quality Score: Does your ad copy match what the user typed into the search bar? Is your landing page relevant to the user’s search? These two components rely on a granular account structure and high-quality landing pages. Another factor to consider is the expected CTR, which is determined by your ads’ past click-through performance. You’re “rewarded” for doing well in the past, so ensure that you have high-quality ads and landing pages out of the gate.
- Format Impact: Did you set up every possible relevant ad extension set up in your account? These are taken into consideration when your ad rank is determined. If you’re missing one or many, you may not be able to show in the top position for relevant searches.
You can learn more about these items in our article, The Best Ad Position for Your Dealership.
Insider Tip #5: Consider impression share, geo-targeting and budget at all times.
In digital marketing, these three terms make up what we call the “Golden Triangle of Paid Search.” Within this triangle, two of the metrics must be held at a constant, while one can be a variable at any given time.
For example, if you have a fixed monthly budget, and want to target four specific states, then your impression share will need to vary depending on search volume. Or if you want to target a 50-mile radius with 90% impression share, you need to be willing to be flexible on budget. If your digital marketing provider asks for more budget, it isn’t a sales pitch. It is necessary to meet your goal.
Digital marketing is such a powerful tool because it fills your sales funnel and helps drive closed equipment deals for you.
Keep in mind these five insider tips to increase the number of quality leads generated by digital marketing:
- Always be closing.
- Keep tabs on new ad types and changes to the SERP throughout the year. Test new ad types when possible.
- Don’t overlook keyword targeting (or negative keywords).
- Spending more money or increasing your bids won’t magically make your ads appear at the top of the search results.
- Consider impression share, geo-targeting, and budget at all times.
For the past decade, Adpearance has tested and optimized the above digital advertising strategies for ag and farm equipment dealers.
From 2017 to 2018, on average we saw:
- An average conversion increase of 61.5%
- An average cost-per-lead decrease of 33.5%
As an ag and farm equipment industry expert in digital marketing, Adpearance wants to work with you. Let’s talk about digital advertising for your business.