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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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What if Vendors Paid their Employees on the Campaigns Success?

You can easily run through your PPC budget before lunch if it is not optimized. There are also several critical facets of what makes a PPC campaign successful. Everything from the actual geolocation your campaign is targeting, key-words, negative key-words, headlines, and descriptions, to name a few. The other thing to consider about what makes a successful campaign is as time goes on, your dealership's goals change. Continuing to run the same old ads - simply adding spend - is not always going to increase your results. 

For example, if you need to move the "X" model one month, you should create a Google PPC campaign that reflects this goal. Not to mention, if you have a competitor who is outselling you on that model, then you need to spend more in that geolocation. In addition to retargeting those customers with ads. Where a lot of this strategy planning goes south, however, is either the dealer not reaching out to the vendor. Or the vendor not proactively engaging with the dealer to better understand their needs as they evolve. Either way, it takes continued collaboration to get the most out of your ad spend. 

Given the competitive landscape in the digital marketing arena, it makes one wonder: "what if vendors only paid their digital teams based on the success of their campaigns?" 

The idea that simply getting clicks to the site with a miserable bounce rate is not going to cut it - they have to have hit specific metrics, such as time spent on site and conversion goals. That is how many click-to-call, VDP views, or form-fills completed. The more engaged the vendor's teams are on managing the actual quality of the ad campaign can and will have a positive impact on your results. 

This model could also help reshape vendor reporting, too. While the vendor needs to brand their reporting, it is equally important to be transparent about the content of the report. You will find that most vendors only put the "shiny" numbers on their reporting. Such as Impressions, Clicks, and Click-Rate. And if they do show VDP views, they often do not then disclose how long the customer was on the VDP page. And sure, you can go into Google Analytics and view the campaigns yourself, but how many dealers are actively reviewing their Google Analytics accounts? The other thing vendors often forgo adding total time spent on site, bounce rate, or total conversion goal numbers per each segment: click-to-call, VDP views, form fills, etc. The other key element to consider with your bounce rate is your organic bounce rate (which should be in the low thirties) vs. your "Google PPC" bounce rate. Think about it, if your organic bounce rate is where it should be, but your PPC campaign is in the high to low 80's, and they average the number, you are not getting the full picture. If your Google PPC bounce rate hits the low to mid 80's then the campaign is not performing, whether that is the landing page, key-words, or the relevancy of your campaigns titles/headlines. 

This poses the question: What if your vendors' digital teams are paid on the success of the dealerships campaigns? Could this improve the overall quality of the ad? If their teams are paid on the campaign's success, do you think they would spend more time reviewing and optimizing the campaign? The answer is most likely, yes. But make no mistake, the dealer is just as responsible for working with the vendor! The vendor can only do so much research on your geolocation. As the dealer, you have to understand your market and your core areas of opportunity. There are also several reports available - from the OEM - that can help you outline immediate areas of focus on models you are losing market share on, etc. Lastly, as the dealer, you have to outline your expectations. That's not to say that your expectations can be met - whether that's budget issues, or the ability to execute the strategy - but it does open a dialogue that can help achieve better results. 

How often do you discuss your PPC efforts with your vendors? When is the last time you had an internal strategy meeting to discuss which models you need to sell more of? 





Chris K Leslie

Its a great question and in all honesty should be the way its set up. I mean thats how we pay people for the most part. 

Derrick Woolfson

@Chris, I just think the vendor would be more engaged with your campaigns and work more aggressively to make the most out of your spend. Especially considering that most vendors take 30% right off the top! Depending your budget, that does not leave much on the table to work with. And let's be honest, how active are they in managing your account unless you reach out to them...or take the time to read through the "fluff" that is your monthly report. There is so much more to what makes a good campaign then just looking at the total clicks...

Mark Dubis

While this sound like a potential solution it is a bit naive. Even with specific targeting the nature of the Internet cannot guarantee that only potential customers/prospects will click on an advertisement.

I would want to see more info on a new model vehicle, but have no intention of buying or leasing it. I’m just curious about the car or the deal. Chalk up one non-converting click. 

How do you judge a campaign is a success?  Is it the number of vehicles purchased?  The number of folks who call or walk in the door?  There are so many factors out of the control of the vendor that would make it totally unreasonable to hold them responsible for campaign results. 

It’s like the OEM’s giving the customer a vehicle satisfaction survey where they rate the dealer based on aspects of the vehicle purchased.  The dealer did not build the car, but is being held accountable for something out of their control. It’s idiotic.

I have known vendors that have great insights into what the offer or content should be on the advertisement, but then that idea gets vetoed by the dealer owner. Should the vendor be held accountable for results now?

Good reporting and follow up is critical. VDP views are good, but sometimes the vehicle page is deficient and doesn’t provide details the prospect wants to see. As a result, the prospect leaves for another dealership or calls back later and the dealership is unaware they saw the online ad.

Maybe a custom landing page or custom VDP page targeted to the offer might be more compelling to the prospect.  What about an incentive to sweeten the pot?  I’m not talking about a cash back offer but something else of value to the customer. 

 Like you said the dealer understands their market and needs to be realistic about their expectations.

Derrick Woolfson

@Mark, you made some valid points. As I mentioned, the dealer is just as responsible regarding working with the vendor. As for the campaign note researching a model, I get your response. My point was that instead of just doing a "blanket" campaign on the model(s), instead focus on the model they are having a tough time moving. The dealer could do payment extensions on the PPC campaign on a targeted model, and spend more money in a zip-code they are losing sales in. 

With regards to dealers "vetoing" ideas, and not taking the vendor's advice is a whole other issue – one that is undoubtedly a problem. A lot of the time, the dealers will ask "what is x dealer doing down the road," which is not always the best solution. More so, a lot of the dealers don't know what they don't know. Again, not the vendors problem. 

Several facets are a part of what can make a campaign successful: time on page, conversions, bounce-rate, & click-rate on the conversion rate, to name a few. It is not the vendor's responsibility to sell the vehicle, but it is their responsibility to get quality traffic to your website if they are being paid. And look, the vendor could be getting a lot of high-quality traffic to the site, but if the page is not well built, that is the dealer's responsibility. With the right reports, however, (which they do exist) you can see the break-points in the dealers website. 

The main point of this article was to hone in on the fact that the vendors should be highly engaged with the dealer. Taking the time to check the campaign performance multiple times a month. If the campaign is not performing, then they need to bring it to the dealer's attention. At which point, yes, it's up to the dealer to fix their website or give the appropriate amount of spend per each campaign. But, if the campaign has an 80% + bounce rate, low click-rate, and less than 10 seconds spend on the website, perhaps it's time to go back to the drawing board to make the most of the dealers budget. And if their website is not where it needs to be, let them know.  

Morgan Hardy

A lot of dealers don't see a breakdown of vendor results unless they specifically request it. Even then, a lot of GM's don't fully understand what any of it even means. 

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