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Courtney Evans

Courtney Evans Vice President of Product Marketing

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Making PPC Clicks Count

As many dealership marketers know, search campaigns are a necessary part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. The danger with search campaigns is the potential for pay-per-clicks to become very expensive, which tends to happen when marketing vendors use a single strategy for all dealerships, and set up campaigns as "set-it-and-forget-it."

Your dealership is a unique business with a unique market and unique customers. Therefore, the keywords and strategies used in your PPC campaign should be different than the keywords and strategies used in PPC campaigns of other dealerships.

With the right keywords and strategy, benefits of a well-executed PPC campaign include:

* Real-time measurable results
* Budget & scheduling control
* Target traffic
* Reduced cost due to paying only for clicks,not impressions

PPC campaigns can greatly increase the ROI of your dealership's current Owner Retention Program (ORP) marketing strategy. Here's an example:

Dealership 1 and Dealership 2 were both using email and direct mail for their ORP marketing. Dealership 1 added a multi-channel marketing strategy that included social media, display advertising and phone calls. In one year, Dealership 1 saw a 3.9% RO increase and $168,300 average increase in RO revenue.

Dealership 2 added the same multi-channel marketing strategy with the addition of PPC. In one year, Dealership 2 saw a 7.5% RO increase and $299,200 average increase in RO revenue.

The difference is significant because Dealership 2's strategy targets both passive consumers and active consumers, while Dealership 1's strategy only targets passive consumers.

A passive consumer is one that we identify as ready to take action based on online behavior, lifestyle factors and vehicle history. We target them through multi-channel marketing to reach them with the right message at the right time.

An active consumer has an immediate need; for example, it's time for an oil change or the brakes start squeaking. The consumer turns to a search engine and enters a phrase such as "BMW oil change," or "Silverado brake pads."

If your dealership doesn't have an effective PPC strategy, you risk not showing up in the search engine results, and the consumer will click on another link.

More than 60% of Google's searches are performed on a mobile device, so it's also critical to have your PPC campaign optimized for mobile search.

Customize PPC for Consumer Micro-Moments

Google has identified five key micro-moments that occur during the consumer's road to the sale. These moments are when information is actively acquired, shaping a car shopper's preferences and purchase intent.

An effective strategy is to create a PPC campaign that targets consumers during these micro-moments:

1) Which car is best? These initial research moments focus on collecting general data to understand which cars are recommended by experts and are considered best in class. Information is increasingly collected from YouTube videos featuring trusted reviews and comparisons. The conversion rate for consumers at this stage is just 2%.

2) Is it right for me? This is a critical stage where searches become more personalized. Car buyers want to know whether specific vehicles will suit their lifestyle so it's common to see searches about appearance, safety features and luxury options.

Videos are instrumental in this phase as consumers turn to YouTube to watch vehicle test drives and highlight reels on attributes and configuration options. Static images still play a role in showing how a car looks, but the vast majority of these pictures are now being viewed on mobile devices. The conversion rate for consumers at this stage is 6%.

3) Can I afford it? Once choices have been narrowed down, consumers concentrate on the financials. Information around prices, owning and leasing options are critical at this stage and are increasingly being searched for on smartphones. Conversion rates for consumers at this stage is 13%.

4) Where should I buy it? Once consumers have determined which car to purchase, they seek out dealership locations, hours and inventory. More dealerships are getting the comparison treatment as consumers examine online reviews to obtain the best experience. Conversion rates for consumers in this category are the highest, averaging 40%.

5) Am I getting a deal? Even after consumers get to the dealership and start negotiating packages, their online research continues, with 50% of shoppers consulting mobile phones to ensure they are getting the best price. Conversion rates for consumers at this stage are around 10%.

Owning each of these micro-moments can help steer car shoppers to your dealership. When you create a PPC campaign, it's important to make sure you're in consideration at each stage, as the opportunities to raise brand awareness in the first few stages can help convert shoppers into customers later.

If you're not happy with the ROI of your PPC campaigns, don't be tempted to give up. Adjust your strategy and focus on common search phrases used during the micro-moments. When added to a multi-channel marketing strategy, PPC campaigns have the potential to double your ROI.

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