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CJ Pony Parts races for conversions

  Article , Automotive , Success stories

Auto parts dealer converts enthusiasts into customers using Bing Ads

March 9, 1964 means very little to most of us. Just another ho-hum yesterday. To car lovers, however, that date stands out as a seminal moment in the automotive bible. That’s the day the first Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line. 

More than 50 years and 9 million sold cars later, the Mustang stands as an icon of American mechanical ingenuity with a huge and rabid fan base. And that fan base has needs — mainly automotive parts. CJ Pony Parts understands this more than, perhaps, anyone else. Since 1985, the central Pennsylvania-based company has served as a Mustang owner’s mecca, housing more than 50,000 products on a 7-acre campus. 

The employees at CJ Pony Parts take great pride in being one of the oldest Mustang parts retailers in the world. Do not label them as parts sellers though. They’re automotive enthusiasts to the core. “Everyone at CJ’s loves the products they sell,” says Scott Redgate, search engine marketing manager for CJ Pony Parts. “They’re just so passionate.”

That includes Redgate, although not necessarily with classic cars. He considers himself a techie as his passion comes from digital marketing.
We’re hitting new markets quicker through targeted campaigns.

— Rich Boone, Senior Vice President of Operations, CJ Pony Parts

The economies of scale

Photo of Scott Redgate, Search Engine Marketing Manager, CJ Pony Parts.

Scott Redgate, Search Engine Marketing Manager, CJ Pony Parts

Back in 2012, Redgate turned his marketing degree into a managerial job at a digital agency, one that assisted with the CJ Pony Parts account. His strategy then involved adding a Bing Ads presence. “Bing's audience is a little bit more targeted than Google's, as well as slightly older and more affluent,” says Redgate. “I didn’t want to lose the possibility of reaching a significant number of potential customers.”

Initially, he mirrored his Bing Ads strategy to his Google AdWords one. However, the transition from platform to platform was often time-consuming. Today, he no longer finds that to be the case. “The integration between the two platforms is so easy to manage in terms of carrying over changes,” says Redgate. Redgate even credits the integration with enabling him to update his Bing Ads account more frequently, resulting in Bing Ads per-session value jumping from $2.87 in 2014 to $4.25 in 2015.

Results such as these have made Redgate and his team strong advocates of pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns aimed at Mustang hobbyists. “We’re hitting new markets quicker through targeted campaigns,” says Rich Boone, senior vice president of operations at CJ Pony Parts. Much of that comes from annually doubling the Bing Ads budget. And because of Bing’s lower cost per click, the dollars stretch farther than Google AdWords. “The advantage we gain in cost per click gives us a great return on investment — more than 35% better than Google AdWords,” says Redgate.

Accelerating growth

In his line of work, Redgate finds that Google AdWords and Bing Ads tell very different stories. The Google AdWords plot revolves around volume, whereas Bing Ads weaves a tale of value. For example, that Bing per-session value we quoted for 2015 ($4.50) is twice as much as the $2.25 earned by Google AdWords the same year.

In addition, Bing Ads has significantly outperformed Google AdWords in value on several other fronts:
List of ways Bing Ads outperformed Google AdWords.
Even in competition with itself, Bing Ads shines. From 2014 to 2015, Bing Ads revenue jumped 55%. Those kind of numbers sound like the blissful hum of a Mustang engine running in peak condition.

Accessorizing Bing Ads campaigns

When it comes to Bing Ads features, Redgate likes Sitelink Extensions, which enable him to add extra links to his ads to take searchers directly to specific pages of the website. “It helps our overall visibility on the search page by taking up more real estate,” says Redgate. Because CJ Pony Parts customers tend to search for a car’s year before the part, Redgate breaks down the Sitelink Extensions into generational years. “So, if you’re doing a broad search for a specific generational category, you’ll get there faster,” he adds.

For example, if someone with a 2013 Mustang searches for floor mats, the ad will display floor mats but the Sitelink Extension will show ranges of years. “We have thousands of ads that we make very specific,” explains Redgate. “Whatever part or category you're looking for, you're greeted with an ad that satisfies that query.”

Redgate continues to refine the Sitelink Extensions based on search history data. “We’re looking at what people are actually searching for,” says Redgate. “We then go in and customize our extensions based on that data.”

Redgate recently added Image Extensions to his repertoire. He likes the attention-grabbing aspect of adding images to the ads. “So many times when you're doing searches, ads can look alike,” says Redgate. “These images are an eye-catcher and help differentiate us from other websites.” Because the image appears next to the text ad, most people still tend to click the ad. Redgate considers them a success anyway. With the company’s brand name, for example, the average cost per click of a recent month was 11 cents. When the ad ran with an Image Extension, that cost dropped to 7 cents per click.

In terms of devices, Redgate spends more money and gets more value from desktop clicks. He also uses mobile and tablet formats. As any marketer worth their spit will tell you, in today’s world, you can’t put all your eggs in one device basket. “We continue to push the envelope with new technology to grow our business. We never stand still,” says Boone.

The advantage we gain in cost per click gives us a great return on investment -- more than 35% better than Google Adwords.

--Scott Redgate, Search Engine Marketing Manager, CJ Pony Parts

Recapturing neutral shoppers

Screenshot of CJ Pony Parts website.

Redgate has recently been increasing his budget with Product Ads, which showcase a retailer’s new, used or refurbished products with an image, price and company name. He uses Bing Shopping Campaigns to manage the ads. “When I was searching, I noticed more and more product advertisements popping up on a search page,” says Redgate. “It got me thinking, maybe we should add that aspect to our account.” Product Ads typically appear when someone searches for something specific. So, if someone wants a Mustang shift knob, Bing will recognize the search and display a set of relevant products.

Redgate freely admits that his Product Ads don’t perform as well as other ads in his account. So, why bother at all? “It gives us more visibility and allows us to get into that space where someone is searching for something specific,” says Redgate.

Remarketing in Paid Search helps in a similar way, helping advertisers reach high-value users who’ve previously visited their website. Redgate often increases his bid for people who’ve already qualified and visited the website or a specific section of the website. This technique helps him refine his targeting. “Bing's audience, right off the bat, is a little bit more targeted than Google's,” explains Redgate. “When you add in the ability to do Remarketing in Paid Search, it just adds a whole other layer to it.”

Speaking of layers, CJ Pony Parts continues to add more and more of them to what it does. The company recently expanded beyond its core Mustang audience to sell parts for Chevy, Dodge, Toyota and other Ford models. “Our passion for the automotive performance and restoration hobby fuels us every day to never settle and always move forward,” says Boone.

Redgate foresees Bing Ads continuing to play a huge rule in the company’s digital marketing strategy. “Roughly 50% of our clicks on Bing Ads are from people who have never visited our site before,” says Redgate. “Bing does a fantastic job of serving the right ad to the right person. Who wouldn’t want that?”

Keep reading

See a quick summary of how CJ Pony Parts uses Bing Ads features like Image Extensions and Sitelink Extensions to convert customers and beat its competition.

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