How to compete with national retailers by utilising the power of PPC: a guide for small retailers

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What is PPC? Pay-Per-Click advertising is a form of online advertising in which you pay a certain fee each time someone clicks on one of your ads. In simple terms, if you create ad copy that contains the word “summer shoes”, and your target audience is women, PPC can enable your ad to show up as the top result in Google for someone searching “summer shoes for women”.

Most national retailers are well aware of PPC advertising and integrate it into their marketing campaigns. By doing so, they are able to dominate local listings and effectively leave local retailers behind. This also blocks local retailers from gaining access to a national audience.

Having a PPC strategy is essential to generate traffic to your website and thus, boost your sales. To ensure your PPC strategy is effective, you need to have certain practices in place.

So, what can be done to compete with national retailers who have a huge advertising budget, nationwide presence and brand awareness at a local level?

Utilise the power of location-based advertising

All the main search engines and social media platforms allow you to display ads (both text and image) in specific locations. This can be done at city or town level (such as “Oxford” or “Abingdon”) or by using a radius around a location such as “10 miles around Abingdon” or “5 miles around OX1”.

Because the message can be specifically targeted at a chosen location, it can be tailored to that audience. National retailers rarely push out local messages, focusing on a more general approach. This gives local retailers an advantage.

A few examples include:

  1. Using localised keywords as part of your PPC keyword selection, such as:
    • “Washing Machines Skipton”
    • “Dishwashers Portishead”
    • “Hair Dryers Oxford”

These searches are hyper localised and predominantly performed by people in the local area looking for a local retailer. Thus, Click Through Rates and Conversion Rates are likely to be high.

  1. Using localised messages in your ad copy to advertise your local presence. These could be:
    • “Washing machines Oxford”
    • “Local washing machine shop in Oxford”
    • “In stock in Oxford right now”
    • “Oxford’s number 1 washing machine centre”
    • “Get advice, drop in to our Warrington branch or call”
  1. Using the display URL in AdWords to advertise your location: www.example.com/oxford or www.hooversbuxton.co.uk.
  2. Promoting your local phone numbers in your ads and onsite, which increases local relevancy and can drive increases in calls, sales and revenue.

Mobile is everything

Imagine this: you are out and about, and suddenly realise you have completely forgotten about a birthday party your daughter is going to later in the day. What’s your first instinct?

Pull out your smartphone and search for “kid’s birthday presents”. Go to the nearest store that pops up. Job done.

Mobile has completely dominated the way we search, which opens a variety of opportunities for retailers. However, it can be a challenge. Local businesses often don’t recognise the importance of making their sites mobile-friendly.

Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means mobile-friendly pages are more likely to be found, as they will show up higher in search engine rankings. Use that to your advantage!

Make it easy for people to find you

The above-mentioned scenario relies heavily on a customer being able to find you easily. The first step to achieving that is by setting up a Google My Business account. By getting your business listed, and including all the relevant (and up to date) details, such as your address, phone number, website etc. you make sure customers will be able to find you quickly and easily.

When using Google Maps, and searching for a particular product, we are often shown a box which contains three listings in the local area which match our query and supply the product or service we are looking for. This box is called the “Google Local pack” – and it’s very convenient to be a part of it!

Ensuring your Google My Business account is set up properly, and linked to your advertising account will help you get the top spot and thus your address will show up for people who are searching for your products locally. 

Rank higher in Google, so people find you more often

It is universally known, that people rarely venture past the first two pages of Google (or Bing) search results. This means, as a retailer, it should be your goal to rank as high as possible.

You can achieve that by doing one of two things (or, for best effects, by a combination of both):

Create high-quality content for your website. Whether it be blogs, case studies, ‘How to?’ guides – the possibilities are endless. What matters is that it shows expertise, is comprehensive, goes deep into the subject and of course, focuses on the keywords you are targeting.

Even if you think your niche or specialism is not something you can create engaging content about – think again. Curiosity is deeply embedded in human nature and therefore you can be confident that the more quality content you create, the more people will want to read more.

The second part of ranking high is by bidding on certain keywords, which will help position your website higher in search results. For example, if you choose to bid on “Christmas gifts Durham”, a link to your page will be displayed to people searching for that term.

However, even if your listing shows up first, but the ad isn’t very enticing, they might choose a different website. Therefore, make sure you invest in good quality ad copy as well.

Plan for seasonality

You probably won’t run all your AdWords accounts all year round. It is important to look at trends data to ensure you are planning for product seasonality.

If you have been managing your account for a while, the data available to you is invaluable and can be used for more accurate creation of future campaigns. However, bear in mind that if you have a wide range of products, the seasonality of different products will be varied as well.

For more insight on how to plan for seasonality in retail have a look at our guide on how to get a PPC account ready for Christmas-time sales

Believe in yourself!

Finally, never forget to believe in yourself and your business’s potential. Being a small, local business doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance with national retailers.

Remember, people love what they know – and being a local business means there’s a bigger chance your potential consumers will form an emotional connection with you.

Increasing your online presence is bound to increase your brand awareness. Whether you are a kid’s goods supplier or a car dealership, the end goal is for people to associate your area of activity with your brand.

For some initial ideas on how to utilise PPC for retail, head over to our Top 10 Tips for a pay-per-click strategy in retail.

info@circusppc.com | 0113 88 77 285 | circusppc.com | Twitter: @CircusPPC

(A Retail Times’ sponsored article)