A Digital Solution to a Local Problem


This client provides both retail and service functions in the Auto vertical and has had a presence in Australia for over 120 years. With such length and depth of history this client has developed a very large retail footprint across the full extent of the country, over 600 stores nationwide. The size of this footprint has meant that the job of managing localised marketing for all these stores has been logistically difficult and left to individual store owners to control.


Over time, certain locations have become saturated with retailers offering similar products and services, creating a highly competitive local market that traditional media struggled to cut through. With a legacy of using highly traditional media channels at a localised level it would require a certain amount of education and ‘proof’ to get any traction with a digital solution.


As a valued partner of Columbus we wanted to support these highly competitive locations with some localised paid search to drive people in store either directly or via online and telephone bookings. Being present in the online research process would ensure customers were not being lost to competitors ‘shouting louder’ or in more premium physical locations.

As a result of a successful test Columbus would hope to push this example out across the full network of dealers to help them understand the importance of paid search to a local business and generate incremental business as a result.


Columbus decided to pilot this initiative with 6 specific dealers all within 30km of the centre of Melbourne. The aim would be to build out location based keywords specific to each dealer, with each location heavily negatived out from all the others to prevent crossover. The pilot would be run across all devices to ensure all intent was being captured. It was decided to be run over a period of 12 weeks because the volume of location specific keyword searches was relatively small and therefore would need to collect enough data to be deemed effective.


Columbus ran the localised search campaigns for the full period of 12 weeks using a combination of standard text ads, location and call extension ads. Google Analytics was used to track views of the dealership pages on the main brand website and Google AdWords was used to measure the number of mobile calls that were generated.


The results of the pilot were excellent and far exceeded the expectations of the individual dealerships. The paid search ads themselves achieved a 98% reach for searches specific to the product/service in the targeted areas and resulted in 795 views of individual dealer pages on the main website and also 109 mobile calls direct to dealers. In total the campaign generated an overall cost-per-lead of $3.31 which was deemed to be very cost effective.

This pilot was heralded as a great success by the dealers themselves and provided Columbus with the substance to take this initiative to the wider dealer group by attending their national conference. By conducting workshops and seminars at the conference Columbus have been able to take this case study to the wider group and highlight the importance and benefits of being present in local search.

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