How to Form a PPC Campaign
When Jason Dupree, owner of Xtreme Auto Collision, moved his collision repair shop to a larger location in Raleigh, N.C., he quickly realized the area was densely populated—not only with people, but by more than 100 collision repair shops.
Ten years had passed since Dupree had to tackle a new marketing area. Within those ten years, the phone book had become almost obsolete, and smartphones were on their way into everyone’s hands. Dupree was worried he would be stuck back in the era of the two-way radio.
He wanted to be competitive in the new market, he says. Eventually, after spending years deliberating if he was meant for the collision repair industry, he wanted to commit to giving it his all.
Xtreme Auto Collision opened in 2002 as a small, 3,000-square-foot location. Ten years later, Dupree expanded by purchasing a nearby 12,000-square-foot facility.
However, for years, Dupree’s shop lagged when it came to an online presence and marketing. His website was rudimentary, at best, and did little to actively attract customers and retain them.
As a result, his business’ growth was slow.
But Dupree was observant. He saw how other businesses, including other body shops in his area, leveraged the power of the Internet and how that created even more referrals than word-of-mouth could.
That’s when he decided to make dedicated changes to the shop’s online presence and its marketing. One of the most effective aspects? A pay-per-click campaign, which is a way of marketing that directs your customers or potential customers to your website based on the information they are searching for.
In fact, Dupree soon learned that PPC campaigns are an especially good investment in the collision repair industry: According to Moving Targets, click-through rates from the ad to the website or landing page are around 4 percent, the average cost per click is roughly $2.46, and the average conversion rate is around 6.03 percent (according to Google, across industries, the average is only 2.35 percent). In terms of dollar amounts, cost per action for the auto industry is around $33.52.
As a result, Dupree went from producing $120,000 in annual revenue in his first year of business to $1.4 million today.
Dupree says that while his father owned a collision repair shop before him and he spent his years in school also working at the shop, it took a long time before he felt the industry was the right career path for him.
So, when he finally took the risk of opening his own shop in 2002, he started small and simple—and stayed there.
“It was a fine line of business where at any minute I could change my mind and try something different,” Dupree says.
As a result, he did not add a website for the business until roughly five years after opening, and when he did, a family friend created a very simple template site for him.
After moving into the bigger location, Dupree decided the shop needed a marketing approach that relied on more than just word-of-mouth referrals. He noticed businesses around him were turning to outside marketing companies.
To be competitive in the new market, he says he wanted to start focusing on the digital side of his own business.
At the time, the shop had an average monthly car count of about 50–75 cars and for the space and size of the new location, Dupree wanted to increase those numbers.
“I wanted to get on board and get online where people could find me,” he says.
Dupree hired a marketing company to freshen the shop’s website and set up a PPC campaign. The new website focused on specific services the shop offered, offering more content under categories like the insurance process and specialized repairs.
The first step for Dupree was finding the company that best fit his shop. While the process could be done in-house, Dupree says he decided to hire outside because the cost would result in better exposure for his shop and he had little experience himself in computers and technology. He researched two companies and sat down with each for a type of initial “interview.”
Dupree says he chose Autoshop Solutions over the other companies because during his interview, he was asked what he wanted for his shop in the end and they didn’t throw big financial figures at him right away. And, the company specialized in the automotive and collision repair fields.
“That was a plus, that speciality,” Dupree says. “They can understand and target the clients we’re going after.”
That’s exactly what Dupree needed. The reality was, he didn’t know how to create a PPC campaign—and he didn’t want to either. He wanted to find a partner who could handle the logistics of setting up and running the campaign, as well as keep on top of trends and have the ability to tweak unsuccessful campaigns. He wanted a basic understanding, to be sure, but the reality is, he says, he doesn’t believe that shops need to handle every aspect of their marketing themselves.
After the company was hired, Dupree worked to complete his portion of setting up the PPC campaign. Namely, he sent a list of keywords to them. He used the approach of reverse thinking and thought, “What customers and business do I want to attract?” and, “How would that customer search for me online?” The first list he sent was more general but included phrases that referred to the purpose of his business. For example, he used key phrases like “collision repair near me,” “body shop” and “dents.”
As time passes, Dupree periodically updates the list of keywords. Most recently, he submitted phrases like “insurance claims,” “collision repair shop,” “bumper repair” and “headlight restoration.”
From there, his marketing company took over and worked with him to tweak those keywords to avoid purchasing needlessly expensive words.
Now, Dupree receives analytics reports about once per month from his marketing agent. He says he will monitor the progress of the analytics and then meet with the company at least once per quarter
During the meetings, he will talk with the company about how often phones are ringing, how many people are viewing photos posted online, SEO keywords and other aspects of marketing like geofencing.
Month over month, Xtreme receives 35 percent of its website traffic from the campaign and Google Ads. If a shop runs a professionally managed campaign, on average, it can expect 20–38 percent more website traffic. Dupree now sees that Google Ads produces the highest volume of calls to the shop over any other source.
“I’ll generally see if the report is trending up or down and then if the phone is not ringing,” he says.
At the end of focusing on his digital advertising, Dupree says average monthly car count has increased to an average of 115–130 cars. And, while he pays around $1,200 per month to have the company maintain the site and the process, he has seen a steady stream of sales since last year.
He says he realizes that the key to gaining more customers is exposure. Now, the shop receives more online reviews and getting more calls into the shop from organic Google searches.
SHOP STATS: Xtreme Auto Collision Location: Raleigh, N.C. Operator: Jason Dupree Average Monthly Car Count: 130 Staff Size: 7 Shop Size: 12,000 sq ft; Annual Revenue;$1.4 million