If your dealership struggles to keep your digital ad costs costs down, this article is for you. Use the following tips and best practices to organize your Google Analytics account better, eliminate wasted digital ad spend and create better ads that target in-market vehicle shoppers.
1. Set-up Conversion Tracking
When setting up conversion tracking on your Google Analytics account, it’s vital that you choose and measure conversion metrics correctly. Divide your conversions into high, mid and low-funnels. Each funnel represents key stages of the vehicle buying journey.
Vehicle buyers in this funnel are in the research phase of the buying process. As a result, your high-funnel conversion metrics should include metrics that indicate an interested researcher. These include metrics like two times pages per session (visitors who viewed two times as many pages compared to the average), VDP views and page views to name a few.
Buyers in this part of the buying process are now narrowing down which vehicle they want to purchase. It’s important to use conversion metrics such as, viewed your Finance App, viewed Value Your Trade and viewed Payment calculator.
In this stage, buyers have narrowed down their desired vehicle and are ready to buy. Track conversion metrics like store visits, phone calls, click to chat and form fills. When you have better conversions in place, it’s easier to know which ads and campaigns are successful.
2. Focus Your Targeting
Did you know that 92% of car buyers research online before they purchase a vehicle? It’s more important than ever to have effective campaign targeting when using Google Ads. That’s why it’s necessary to make sure you’re using location targeting and audience targeting.
While every dealership is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, it’s important to ask yourself questions about who your dealership’s target audience is. Are you going after vehicle buyers in your backyard? Further out? Does your OEM have targeting restrictions in place that would impact your targeting? These are just a few questions to keep in mind when narrowing down your target audience.
You also need to consider how your ads serve your target market and if they’re relevant to those people. Make sure you exclude areas you don’t want to focus on and include ones that matter to your dealership.
When choosing which audience to target, make sure you factor in demographic information like income, age, etc. Additionally, don’t miss the opportunity to retarget people who visited your website. But, don’t just retarget homepage visitors. Target people who visit specific sections of your website. This can include people who visited specific vehicle model pages or people who viewed used or new vehicle pages. Decide what sections of your site are most valuable to your dealership and target those pages.
Lastly, it’s crucial that you don’t forget about your existing customers! This can include previous customers or had service work done at your dealership. You can upload customer lists and target those people. Doing this can bring great returns by providing continuous branding for your dealership. It can also increase customer retention and generate more repeat customers to create incremental revenue.
3. Clean-up Campaign Structure
At Dealer Teamwork, we believe in the one page, one purpose philosophy. That means every one of your landing pages should be dedicated to one purpose. The same is true for your Google campaign structure. Here’s a sample campaign structure you can reference:
As a rule of thumb, group all related content in each campaign level together. In the example above, all ads and keywords are related to Ford F-150 lease searches.
You wouldn’t want to put ads and keywords related to Used Honda Civics in a campaign focusing on Ford F-150 lease offers because it doesn’t belong!
Instead, you’d want to create a separate campaign for Honda Civics, with your ad group focusing on only used vehicle offers. Your ads and keywords should also relate to your used Honda Civic offers. Here’s what that campaign structure should look like:
Organizing your Google Ads account will make it easier to keep track of how well your campaigns are doing. With an accurate picture of how each campaign is performing, you’ll be able to make adjustments accordingly and track your overall ROI more effectively.
4. Make Campaigns Relevant
When your ads are relevant, you’ll pay less. That’s because ad relevance is one of the key factors that Google considers in determining your cost-per-click (CPC). Google measures the quality of your ads and landing page by looking at how relevant and useful your ad and the website it links to are to the person who’ll see it.
The score Google gives you is called your Quality Score. Your Quality Score helps factor into your overall Ad Rank, which determines your CPC.
Here’s a good example of an ad that matches the corresponding landing page:
Notice how the ad (left) matches the landing page offer (right)? The shopper is searching for a lease offer for a Ford F-150. The first ad result they get is for a Ford F-150 lease and it includes relevant information like monthly lease payment amount ($268/month).
The top ad result gives the searcher all the initial information they need in one spot. When they click on that ad, they’re taken to a relevant landing page showing that exact offer.
This ad would likely receive a higher quality score and ad ranking, which would increase your chance of paying less for your ad.
To help keep your costs down, ensure your ads are always matching your landing pages and show relevant information for the vehicle buyer.
5. Leverage Ad Extensions
Another way to lower your digital ad costs is to utilize Google’s ad extensions. According to DAGMAR marketing, ad extensions are a necessity for good Google Ad Rankings. Remember, the better your Google Ad Ranking, the less you’ll pay for your ads.
When vehicle shoppers click on these ad extensions, you’re getting seamless navigation to your website from your ads.
For example, note the two images below. The ad on the left provides a click-to-call extension for vehicle shoppers looking to call the dealership from the ad directly.
On the right-side ad, a location extension is provided for shoppers looking to visit the dealership to see the vehicle in-person that they’re interested in buying.
In both examples, extensions are utilized to increase Ad Ranking, to help lower digital ad costs and to create a better online shopping experience for the interested vehicle buyer.
6. Manage Negative Keywords
Managing negative keywords is also a necessity for lowering your digital campaign costs and eliminating wasted ad spend. Without a good list of negative keywords, your quality score can be negatively impacted, which means you’ll end up paying more for your ads.
For example, if you have a vehicle offer for a Lincoln Navigator, you might want to consider adding Abraham Lincoln as a phrase match to your negative keyword list.
This will make sure you don’t pay for clicks from non-vehicle shoppers who are instead searching for a topic on the former U.S. president. This is just one example of a negative keyword you might want to include on your list.
All of your campaigns should have negative keywords in place to prevent unwanted clicks and to help eliminate wasted ad spend.
7. Automate Whenever Possible
Automating your dealership’s digital marketing processes is crucial for saving you time and money.
Google provides several automation options to help you cut costs through time-savings and automatic optimization towards your goals.
Dealers can also leverage automation through digital marketing tools. Here at Dealer Teamwork, we have a patented digital marketing platform called the MPOP® (Merchandising, Personalization and Optimization Platform). This unique digital marketing tool saves you significant time and money through automation.
The MPOP® works by taking your inventory details via inventory feeds and pushing that information to the MPOP®. The platform then pushes that data to corresponding Google campaigns, ad groups and ads.
When someone clicks on your ads, they’re taken to a unique MPOP® dynamic landing page. That page matches the vehicle make/model/trim featured in the ad the searcher clicked on.
This means all you have to do is create an offer once in a centralized, easy-to-use platform. Then it publishes your vehicle and service offers to your website and digital marketing channels in real-time.
Other Dealer Teamwork and MPOP® automation features include:
- Automatic creation, pausing and enabling of ad groups, keywords and ads based on the offers you have activated.
- Dashboard view of accounts and ad spend to see which accounts are pacing and which need attention
- Script to adjust daily budget allowances based on how much has been spent. This ensures you don’t go over or under your spend, which can also lower your digital ad costs.
You can read more about the MPOP® here or sign up for an in-person product demonstration of the MPOP® here.
8. Monitor Activity
Another way to lower your digital ad costs is by effectively monitoring your campaign activity. Whether you’re using a digital marketing vendor or not, make sure these five checklist items are followed:
Regular check-ins with your team
If marketing is done in-house, frequently analyze your data, make changes based on those findings, and then rinse and repeat. If you have a vendor, you should be meeting with them on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on your needs.
If you recognize trends or anticipate budgets changing, prepare ahead of time or notify your vendor so they can make changes. Your digital marketing vendor should also proactively identify new trends or other opportunities that could affect your campaigns.
Review opportunities to improve
Always look for opportunities to improve your campaigns. Regularly review your keywords, ads, ad groups and campaigns for performance and for any oddities like unexpected visitor traffic from unknown or irrelevant sources.
If you have a vendor, make sure they’re actively recommending changes to your campaigns to improve performance and eliminate wasted spend.
Make changes in a timely manner
Responsiveness is important for eliminating wasted spend on campaigns that aren’t performing well. Whether you’re manually making changes yourself or using a vendor, it’s vital that you do your best to make changes in a timely manner.
Review Google Ads and Google Analytics activity
Make sure you connect your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts. You can do that yourself by following these instructions or you can ask your vendor for help. With Dealer Teamwork, we’ll automatically connect the two accounts for you.
Connecting the two accounts gives you and your vendor a bigger picture of how car shoppers behave after they’ve clicked on your ads. Without Google Analytics being connected to Google Ads, you won’t be able to identify potential issues or opportunities based on how shoppers behave after an ad click.
Need help deciding if your current PPC vendor makes the cut? Use this “16 Questions to Ask Your PPC Vendor” sheet to audit your vendor on your next call.
9. Create a Game Plan
If you’re using these tips as an audit of your digital marketing, we recommend taking notes of action items. At the end, you’ll need to prioritize your action item list to make it manageable for yourself. You’ll want to address anything that contributes to wasted spend immediately.
If you need to overhaul your account, be sure to set deadlines and milestones for how you’re going to complete them. Other items can follow as time allows (i.e. evaluating the expected impacts vs. the expected effort). But, be sure to prioritize accordingly.
Don’t stop there! Continue measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of your ad campaigns over time. Check-in on how you’re pacing at least once a week. Set your goals at least two weeks ahead of time so you can plan for and implement changes to meet your goals.
Request your personalized website and marketing audit. Learn how to drive more quality leads, eliminate wasted digital ad spend and improve your ROI tracking.
In the audit, we’ll perform an overview of your current digital ad spend and campaign performance. In addition, we’ll point out opportunities for you and your dealership to improve and lower your digital campaign costs. Start your audit here.