Seventy percent of U.S. households use the Internet to shop locally for products and services, according to a 2005 study by The Kelsey Group, a Princeton, N.J., market-consulting firm that focuses on Yellow Pages, electronic directories, small-business advertising and search-engine marketing. This puts the Internet on par with newspapers and print Yellow Pages as an information resource for consumers.
There are two primary ways to get your company’s name in front of consumers using Internet search engines such as Google or Yahoo to locate a local auto glass company: Perfect your Web site copy and code so that your company is among the listings that naturally appear when Internet users enter “auto glass repair or replacement” in the search field; and buy your way into paid listings, using pay-per-click, or PPC, services. To ensure success, understand and use both channels effectively.
With pay-per-click services, a company pays a fee per keyword each time a person clicks on its Web site link within the search results. For example, when you choose the words “auto,” “glass” and “New York City” as your company’s keywords, each time a consumer enters those words in the search field, a link to your company’s Web site will appear in the results. You then pay a fee if the consumer links to your site. Most paid engines, including Google and Yahoo, have a bidding process, where companies that want the same search term compete for a selected word or phrase by paying a higher price than their competition. The company’s link appears in the search results relative to how much it bid for that position. Google also rewards ads that are popular with searchers.
Executing a paid placement campaign in Yahoo and Google alone will position your Web site in front of about 95 percent of the Internet search population.
Google and Yahoo also offer the ability to target local customers by incorporating cities, states or regions into keyword buys. In addition, you can target ads using searchers’ IP addresses, whether by ZIP code or latitude and longitudinal coordinates.
For companies looking to target a specific neighborhood or city, pay-per-click is a great fit. To compare terms and services, go to www.google.com/local and click on “Business owners: Add/edit your business,” and www.local.yahoo.com and click on “Add/edit a business” at the bottom of the page.
Internet Yellow Pages
Internet Yellow Pages, or IYP, do not require companies to have a Web site, an advantage for many small businesses. IYP promoters also claim their users are statistically more likely to be buyers compared to local search users, who tend to be researchers instead of purchasers. For example, 75 percent of consumers who use Verizon’s SuperPages contact a listed business; 45 percent of users make a purchase, according to the New York-based communications services provider.
Most IYPs use highly structured categories containing simple business contact information from traditional direct-marketing data companies. Two IYP leaders are www.superpages.com and www.yellowpages.com. To obtain information on advertising, visit the “Business advertising” section on the superpages.com home page, or click on “Advertise with us” at the bottom of the yellowpages.com home page.
Another solution for companies that want to generate online leads but don’t have a Web site is pay-per-call advertising. Pay-per-call advertising works similarly to pay-per-click programs, except when users click on a company’s Internet listing, they are directed to a page providing the company’s contact information and perhaps a logo or coupon. Rather than paying a fee each time a consumer clicks on your company’s link, you pay a fee each time a consumer calls your business.
Pay-per-call ads, priced at more than $2 per call, are generally more expensive than pay-per-click advertisements. To get more information on pay-per-call service, go to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section at www.ingenio.com.
The most bang for your buck
On average, pay-per-click services range in price from 10 cents to $15 per click, according to Scott Orth, director, Internet marketing strategies for GTS Services, Portland, Ore. To ensure you get the most bang for your buck, Orth recommends the following:
• Get into the heads of many different types of customers when choosing your keywords or phrases. What words will your customer type into a search engine when looking for auto glass replacement services? Consider all of the possibilities, including misspellings, before making a selection.
• Come up with great ad copy. When your company’s Web site appears in the search results, make sure the description of your company and its services grabs the consumer so he or she clicks on your link.
• Direct consumers to the specific information they need within your Web site. Treat your Web site like your retail store. Tell the consumer what the next step in the process is. People want to be told what they need to do in order to make a purchase. In almost all cases, do not just send people to your home page. If, for example, a person types in “rock chip repair” in the search field, make sure to link him or her to a page within your site on rock chip repair.
• Lastly, consider hiring an agency that specializes in Internet advertising. Select a provider that has experience in a variety of Internet advertising mediums, understands your business needs and offers customizable campaigns that fit your goals.