New transport operators often wonder whether they should start out by investing in SEO or go all in with PPC advertising instead. Today’s post is a continuation of my previous discussion on PPC vs SEO lead cost for limo companies.
To illustrate the different trajectories new operators can expect with each marketing strategy, I’ve included a graph. This is a great way to visualize how the return on investment changes over a span of 3 years.
Limo Company Marketing Strategies
In this example, we’ll look at a limo company operating in a medium-sized market, like Sacramento, CA. We’ll assume this is a brand new operator who does not have a website yet but has $1,500 a month to invest in either PPC advertising or SEO services.
To recap, here’s the difference between these two marketing strategies:
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising — PPC is an online marketing model where you pay a certain amount of money each time your ad is clicked on
- SEO Services — SEO refers to a range of improvements you can make to your website in order to rank higher in search results and to drive more traffic to your website
To illustrate the different rates at which an operator might see returns, check out this graph (which I’ll discuss in detail below):
PPC Lead Cost for Limo Company
Following the chart for PPC leads, we can see that in the first month, our operator gets roughly 100 leads before their campaign is optimized. The lead count goes up initially as the PPC campaign is finetuned and optimized over time, which means our operator gets more leads for the same amount of money.
Six months into the PPC campaign, the operator still gets around 100 leads, but by the one-year mark, they are up to 180 leads per month. As time goes on, however, you’ll notice how this upward trend slows down, levels out, and eventually begins to taper off.
Why does this happen?
Google Ads get more expensive over time. Assuming the operator consistently invests $1,500 a month into PPC advertising, as the cost per click increases, so does the cost per lead. Eventually, the operator will begin to see diminishing returns on their investment.
A PPC ad campaign typically reaches its best cost per lead somewhere between 6–12 months. After it peaks, efficiency will slowly go down over time as prices increase. In 2005, a limo operator could spend as little as 10 cents per click. Today, the cost comes in between $1–5 per click for most vehicles.
SEO Lead Cost for Limo Company
When it comes to SEO services, it can be hard to illustrate an example with hard and fast numbers. There are so many variables with SEO, from the size of the market you’re operating in to the point you are at with your company.
Remember, in this example, we’re assuming the operator is brand new and did not have a website. If they start from scratch, pay an SEO expert to set up their website, and then continue investing $1,500 into SEO services each month, rather than into PPC advertising, you’ll notice that their lead trajectory looks quite different.
SEO is a long term strategy that builds over time. Initially, the operator will hardly get any leads. As their rankings improve in this example, they start getting roughly 50 leads per month by the six-month mark. One year into their campaign, they reach 100 leads per month, and by the eighteen-month mark, they reach 150 leads per month.
Referencing the chart, you’ll notice that right around this time, the number of leads from PPC and SEO — given that the operator is spending the same amount on each — is about even. This is where things get interesting. Rather than leveling out and tapering off the way PPC returns eventually do, SEO returns continue to grow, and at a faster rate. SEO builds upon itself, and while it initially takes a long time to see returns, once you start to gain traction, SEO growth can become exponential and sustainable.
This intersection point where SEO overtakes PPC returns can happen at the one-year mark or at the three-year mark — it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when — but this gives us a great framework when it comes to thinking about SEO vs PPC marketing for limo companies.
Long Term ROI: SEO vs PPC Advertising
Another interesting point to consider if you’re weighing SEO against PPC marketing is what happens when you stop investing in them.
Let’s say that around the two-year mark, our operator shuts down their PPC campaign. The number of leads they’ll get after pulling out their investment will drop precipitously, straight down to zero.
If the operator stops investing in SEO, they might see a gentle slow-down in the number of leads they’ll get, but there will still be an overall upward trend as their website continues to rank. Eventually, this number will slowly go down as competitors who are actively investing in SEO begin to outrank our operator’s website.
Should Limo Companies Start with PPC or SEO?
My advice to new operators is always to start with PPC advertising. Typically, a brand new limo company can’t afford to spend $1,500 a month on SEO services for 6–12 months before they start getting enough lead volume to at least cover the cost.
By starting with a PPC campaign, operators can garner leads and establish enough cash flow to cover the cost of building an SEO optimized website. At this point, it’s wise to make the switch to investing in SEO services instead of PPC advertising.
Remember, when you invest in SEO, you are investing in your website, which is a huge business asset that you own in the long term.
Limo Company Marketing Services
PPC advertising and SEO both require time, investment, and expertise. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t sweat it — you don’t have to become a marketing expert overnight.
Limo Marketer specializes in online marketing and professional SEO services specifically tailored to the transportation industry. Limo operators looking to sharpen their own marketing skills can check out our marketing training services.