CommentaryAug 26th, 2014

What Your Dealership Needs to Know to Drive More Traffic Without Driving Up Your PPC Budget


In the competitive world of automotive marketing, there are a few quick tips that could give you an advantage over your online competition. With a greater emphasis on digital marketing in the automotive space, the more efficient you buy, the more cars you will be able to sell with the same budget.

Over the years Google’s paid search ad auction has changed a great deal. This has impacted how quality score is calculated, which will have a direct effect on your cost per click (CPC). The lower your cost per click, the more traffic you will be able to drive to your site without spending a penny over your current budget.

In the past there were a couple of strategies out there that focused on driving down costs by decreasing your clickthrough rate (CTR) in an effort to get more qualified clicks and/or to increase exposure while keeping costs as low as possible. While these strategies may have worked in some cases, they are no longer viable and should be avoided at all costs.

The true focus should be on identifying the most relevant keywords and using enticing ad copy. If you are also looking to increase exposure and overall impressions, using alternatives such as in-market display ads can be a better solution. For automotive dealerships, this has worked very well as compared to traditional display advertising.

In the current Google environment, tightening your keyword list to the top 2/3 of your existing list will eliminate the dead weight in your account, which will free up your budget to focus on core terms and/or to expand to in-market or traditional display advertising.

Your primary goal (in addition to increasing leads and sales), should be to have a higher than average clickthrough rate when compared to your competitors and others in your industry. This is accomplished through account optimization, a clean account structure, themed ad copy, and overall relevancy for the searcher. Top positions will help to raise your clickthrough rates as well. The below graph, courtesy of WordStream, shows the relationship between average ad position and expected clickthrough rates.

A recent article from Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream, shows estimates on how quality score can directly impact your cost per click. The goal is to have a higher quality score when compared to your industry benchmark. This will decrease your costs while still maintaining high ad positions.

I know that it can be tempting to bid aggressively on automotive conquest campaigns for other vehicle brands and/or to test general keywords in an effort to get more leads for your sales team, but there are less costly alternatives that will get you high quality traffic for a similar cost.

Be sure to have a conversation with your paid search strategy team to better understand their current process, recommendations, and any planned changes based on performance as Google continues to place a greater weight on quality scores and clickthrough rates.

Stick with tried and true strategies whenever possible. Aim for top positions and decrease your keyword list to those terms that have the highest quality scores. For the other terms, re-investing this portion of your budget to other initiatives could make a lot of sense for your dealership.

For more on improving your dealership’s PPC campaigns, download our free eBook, The 7 Most Common and Costly PPC Advertising Mistakes Businesses Make... And How To Avoid Them!

Michelle Kelly is a Sr. PPC Consultant at Stream Companies, a full-service Philadelphia area advertising agency.

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Michelle Kelly

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