PPC For Dealers & Distributors

We have had the fortune of working with a variety of different companies, both large and small, across many different sectors. Within this, we have worked both with large manufacturers who do not sell directly but only look to generate traffic to build product awareness and route visitors to their nearest dealer. Conversely, we have worked on the other side of the supply chain, helping dealers/distributors who are on the regional or local level trying to get the end customer.

We have been on both sides of this supply chain equation, working with manufacturers that do not sell direct as well as those at the ground floor level selling those products. Verticals have included pool supplies, logistics equipment, retail, boats and others. Often times, those at the dealer or distributor level are small businesses, with a small business owner being typically overwhelmed with trying to create and manage a successful PPC campaign on top of managing staff, taking care of product and running payroll.

Those at the dealer level often times face SERP pressure from competing dealers of the same brand, other brand competitors and often times the larger brand or manufacturer themselves. A few tips and tactics to help navigate the often difficult waters of paid search as a small business going up against large brands.

Know your product price points. If your products are going to be more expensive then that of the manufacturer, then be careful when using prices in your search ad copy. Use the Google Ad Preview Tool to see if and how the price is being used. If you can’t compete on price due to dealer mark up or MAP rules, then perhaps use other attributes such as product knowledge or service to try to get the click.

Use geography to your advantage. Depending on what you are selling, often times your proximity can be a selling point. Potential customers might be looking for a local dealer to purchase the product, so make sure to key in the geographic area that you serve and your location. With this, be sure to use Location Extensions within your ad groups if you are able.

Keep a close eye on competing ads around you. This includes both other dealer competitors, but also the manufacturer themselves. A number of years ago we were running a successful campaign for workwear. A few months in, the campaign performance suffered. The lead culprit? The end manufacturer was selling direct and was being aggressive with PPC. It was hard to compete against the price difference and larger PPC budgets. We worked with our client to focus on offers and shipping advantages to get the click.

Keyword selection and testing with brand names. Be sure to monitor your Actual Search Query reports for what queries are driving clicks and what your click-through rates look like. Within this, you may discover that your best keywords are product-centric, however, you may also see that your keywords are brand-centric. Based on what you find, be sure to tailor your ad copy. You may want to use that product name for keyword saturation in ad copy, and/or you may want to use your manufacturer’s brand name, which leads to my next point.

Trademark terms in ad copy. If you are featuring your manufacturer’s brand name in your ad copy, you may see your ad disapproved or a get an “Approved, Limited Status” warning. This may be because of trademark issues. If you have this issue, be sure to go back to your manufacturer and point them in the direction of this trademark authorization form to get the use of their name approved in ads.

Use your extensions. While I feel like I say this in every blog post about every subject, it is critical to use extensions. Getting clicks continues to be a relevancy and real estate game. It is important to gobble up as much real estate on search engine result pages as possible. Do this with sitelink extensions, callout extensions, structured snippets (where possible), location extensions and phone extensions.

The normal fundamentals. Of course, make sure you are doing all the normal checkbox things you would do to run a high performing campaign too. Items to double check include:

Small ad groups

Focused keyword matching

Monitoring actual search queries

A/B ad copy testing

Sending visitors to the most useful and relevant landing page

Joseph Ford

Joe Ford is a Managing Partner at Netvantage Marketing. In addition to overseeing day to day business operations of Netvantage, he directs paid search strategy and management. Ford is on the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Board of Directors, the Marketing Committee for Impression 5 Science Museum, and the Executive Board of the Capital Area IT Council. Additionally, Ford is an adjunct faculty member in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

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