In nearly every instance dealership Google PPC is a no brainer. Yes, there are some situations where margins are really low when PPC doesn’t make sense, however, it can be easily managed. If you understand your margins, dealership PPC becomes pretty clear cut.
This article is designed for anyone at a dealership where PPC is used or being considered. This article will provide insight so you can better understand the ins and outs of Google PPC. Most importantly, this knowledge will allow you to maximize your ROI. NOTE: If you are already doing Google PPC you may want to skip to the section below entitled, “How Much Should I Do”.
Quick & Dirty Dealership Google PPC Primer
Keywords Drive the Process
The concept of Google PPC (aka Adwords) is simple. When a search is done on Google there are displayed website results that are both paid and not paid. The paid listings appear in order based upon a powerful bid system known as Adwords. One of the keys to search is that longer keyword phrases indicate “buying intent”.
For example, searches such as “2018 Jayco Jay Flight 32BHDS”, as opposed to “buy a Jayco RV” reveal different buying intentions. Even though the second search includes the word “buy”, it still isn’t as specific as the first search. Thus, the first indicates a higher degree of intention to purchase. There are obvious exclusions, which are based upon the words utilized. For example this simple change takes this from a potential search for purchase to something completely different, “sell 2018 Jayco Jay Flight 32BHDS”. Or replace the word “sell” with “fix”. As you can see, as soon as we start getting into a PPC discussion keyword management becomes a deep discussion.
There are many other aspects to Adwords campaign management beyond keywords. These all tie to the art and science of Google’s keywords as well as PPC campaign creation.
PPC Appears to be Simple But….
PPC can quickly become scary. It requires skilled management to be done successfully. It is not difficult to blow a bunch of money without correct implementation. However, when done properly PPC can be an extreme method of lead generation. For a dealership it means working with an agency that’s advanced in their techniques and methods. The best approach is to ask questions that are thoughtful to determine how your funds will be managed, and most importantly, how campaigns will be tuned.
Aside from knowledge on how to navigate the Adwords interface, there are numerous components to PPC. All of these elements need to be thought through. Also, how effective campaigns are designed, as well as tuning, has a significant impact on your ROI. Here are a few of the elements:
- Keyword and negative keyword management
- Bid management
- Placement, ranking, and competitors
- Ad writing and management
- Landing/destination page design and conversion
- CTAs (call to action), conversion optimization and tracking
Dealership PPC is different from other industries due primarily to landing pages (frequently leveraging inventory pages), conversions (typically tied to actions like calling), and tracking (integrated into your inventory). Here at NetSource we take care of all of these items to ensure that customer campaigns are well designed, managed, and optimized. Understanding keywords and ads in the context of the buyer’s journey is a critical component of how we approach PPC. Again, this is a good question to anyone you consider working with (i.e. “How do you leverage the buyer’s journey or any other models in the structure of your PPC campaigns?”).
Why PPC Is So Great
The most compelling thing about PPC for dealerships is the immediacy of measuring ROI. PPC is highly manageable (budget, timing, keyword, placement, etc.), and if the design is done properly it easy to track each action taken. Tracking is what provides for tuning and improved ROI.
Even if your web pages rank highly in organic search results, PPC listings can appear above them. This can be especially handy if you want to presence on general keywords that are very difficult to rank for. This alone makes PPC a very powerful tool to reinforce your messaging and reach your desired audience. In addition, it can also be used creatively for events, competitor targeting, and other strategies.
Most dealerships who are unfamiliar with Google’s PPC may find it very difficult to getting used to the idea of variable cost advertising without guaranteed leads. However, for dealerships this should not be unfamiliar. Print advertising has had unknown returns along with variable costs for a long time. Fortunately, as opposed to print, PPC can deliver leads in real-time that are trackable/measurable and immediately optimized.
How Much Should My Dealership Budget/Spend on PPC?
As a business decision, if a dealership can spend $2000 in advertising and get back 10x or more in revenue, it seems logical to keep increasing spending. Yet, it’s important to note that there is a point of diminishing returns for PPC. Normally there’s a maximum amount of traffic for keywords. And by adding more keywords results in a lower percentage of conversion.
The idea of the sweet spot is not well understood by many dealerships who are paying for PPC campaigns. They frequently do not fully understand that a low spend can be as inefficient as a very high spend.
It’s also worth mentioning that all long keywords do not guarantee conversion. This is why PPC management is so critical. It’s essential to monitor keywords that convert and identify at what rate that takes place. This should be followed by tuning your budget/spend. This entire process is what separates positive ROI from PPC becoming an expensive branding exercise.
So, there is a sweet spot when it comes to PPC (imagine a bell curve) where keywords, conversions (leads) and costs are optimized. The goal should be obtaining maximum conversions per dollar. As mentioned, there is a point where more spend does not generate more conversions. Yet, PPC is a fluid marketing tactic. This is due to a wide range of variables. Some of the variables change continually. some change occasional, and others change rarely. For example, think about the implications of a viral media event, buying seasonality, or something like the COVID-19 pandemic. Each of these events impacts buying patterns, price for keywords, and keywords searched. By being attuned to such items one can adjust keywords, landing pages, and bid to garner more leads per dollar.
Funding and Payment
Agencies do not receive any percentages or refunds from Google PPC advertising. Typically management costs are based upon your advertising spend. Thus, campaign size impacts overall cost as management of large campaigns is more time consuming.
Just like with advertising spend, there is an optimum sweet spot for campaign management. Small campaigns can be costly to manage as there is no ability to scale. Also, once campaigns are up and running, the difference between managing small campaigns and mid-sized ones can be nominal.
Also, the labor involved in optimizing small campaigns just isn’t affordable. Thus small campaigns tend to not be very cost effective. However, if you spend $1000 and get 15 leads then convert 1 to sale it still may be very effective. Still, be aware it is difficult to get quality conversion with small budgets. This is why nearly all professional PPC agencies require a minimum spend of at least $2000 (while many start at spend of $5000).
Agencies have found generally that dealerships unfamiliar with PPC can be challenging. Warning signs for agencies include dealerships who aren’t clear on their finances, required ROI, and/or where they do not want to budget. These are all factors that increase management labor reducing agency profitability and ultimately negatively impacting dealership goals.
Is PPC is About Winners and Losers?
As noted above, PPC requires continuous tuning. Yet, even when this is in place, campaigns have to be viewed in aggregate, often with high performing/converting efforts funding losers during continual refining, testing, and tuning process.
Enhance PPC Effectiveness
Two big components to ads are ad copy and destination page design.
Building compelling ads is important to get visitors engaged. However, destination pages is where lead conversion happens. Poorly designed campaigns often dump visitors onto pages that are not at all or only partially relevant to the compelling ad.
PPC isn’t merely placing ads. it’s also about conversion. To achieve that compelling and destination pages need to be available. Unfortunately, many dealerships do not wish to spend the time (labor) and effort of optimizing landing pages. However, this is frequently a big issue with poor lead conversion. It is especially the case when shorter, more generalized, higher trafficked keywords are used. For example, the keyword phrase “alternative family vacation”. Sending that kind of traffic to a product or even category page is very unlikely to ever convert. However, customized content can be constructed along with an appropriate call to action for engagement which could turn an otherwise failed effort into a success.
Your agency should work to maximize conversion and provide a plan to take those who aren’t ready to buy through a process to prepare them for purchase.
Persistence to Move Engagement to Conversion
Fortunately, even if the messages are not totally on target there is a way to re-engage with non-converted (no form filled out) visitors. It is called remarketing.
Google’s remarketing allows for ads to be shown after someone leaves your website (from an ad or any other method of arriving at your site). What happens is that after being on your site the visitor can be presented with ads for your company, product, or services. Remarketing can be highly tuned (based upon the page they visited) so that ads match visitors’ desires and enforce messaging thus leading to re-engagement and ultimately to conversion.
Typically, remarketing ads are sales oriented, or at least have strong attempts at conversion. This is not only due to the cost of remarketing (which has to be managed like PPC) but also because their behavior and interest has demonstrated a high buying intent. There is a time window in which converting those leads is of the essence and remarketing is a great way to stay present.
Google PPC for Dealerships Needs Help for Success
PPC works much better when considered as part of a package of digital marketing. Remarketing is a good example of how two different marketing tactics can be used together to maximize intended results. When multiple tactics are used in unison there is a synergistic effect. This is the reason why we developed our REACH program. It’s designed as an integrated marketing program that takes a holistic approach.
When it comes to marketing, conversion, as well as other things are rarely binary. This means that there are typically not clear cut “yes” and “no’s”. Usually there are a sequence of micro decisions made along the way in a process.
A key is that your dealership needs to be present and communicating with prospects. If you are absent then you are basing your entire hopes upon a Goldie Lox idea that all elements have to be right and present at the perfect time and place. That’s not really a viable approach.
Establishing communication to assist buyers is a helpful and non salesy fashion is critical. This is why NetSource encourages our clients to utilize email nurturing. The idea is to focus upon conversion (obtaining contact information) so that a sequence of emails can go to a prospect to help them make a better buying decision. There are many benefits to this model and I have explored it in numerous blog articles and even on webinars/videos on our blog.
Dealership Google PPC
Fortunately, tuning really is not a big deal. With some minor adjustments, your dealership can actually be more efficient in your sales process and prosper. The biggest gain is thinking in terms of a longer pipeline that has a continual flow rather than just the end of the pipeline populated with shoppers all of whom are ready to purchase now. This actually provides your dealership with more stability.
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