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3 Ways Your Automotive PPC Vendor is Wasting Your Dealership’s Budget

Automotive PPC Waste - Featured Image

3 Ways Your Automotive PPC Vendor is Wasting Your Dealership’s Budget

The world of car dealer digital marketing is constantly changing, but one thing has remained constant over the years. Most dealers would still agree that automotive PPC is one of the most effective tools for generating leads and driving qualified car shoppers to your inventory pages.

Automotive PPC Waste - Google CPCs
The problem, however, is that almost every dealership is doing automotive PPC – and they’re doing a lot. As more and more dealers have jumped on the bandwagon and increased their investment (making for a very happy Google), the average cost-per-click has risen and risen. From 2014 to 2015, average Google CPCs rose from $1.02 to $1.58 – a 55% increase! Given how good of a year 2015 was for car sales, we expect dealerships to get even more aggressive with their automotive PPC spend in 2016.

With the competition heating up, it’s now more important than ever for dealerships to be efficient and precise with their budgets.  According to a recent study published on Search Engine Watch, small businesses such as auto dealerships waste roughly 25% of their PPC budgets.

That 25% of your budget could make the difference between exceeding your monthly sales quota, or missing it entirely. To help dealerships re-align their budgets and get the most out of their PPC spend, we’ve compiled the 3 ways your automotive PPC vendor may be wasting your dealership’s marketing budget:


Spending on the Wrong Keywords
The best way to get the most bang for your buck with automotive PPC is to spend as much money as possible on the best performing keywords before you start spending on higher-funnel, lower-converting keywords. Seems pretty obvious, right?Automotive PPC Waste - Funnel 2

Having audited and taken over campaigns for many dealerships, we have had the displeasure of finding that many automotive PPC vendors will blow their client’s budget on very broad, general keywords such as “Ford” or “Toyota”. These consumers are definitely in the market for a car, but they are still very early in the research process. At this point, they haven’t even decided which manufacturer to buy from, or which model they want. And, according to Google, only 20% of shoppers end up buying the brand that they start searching on. This means that a lot of the shoppers searching those keywords will never end up buying a car from your dealership, because somewhere in the research process they’ll decide to go with a different manufacturer than the one you sell.

Let your OEM or your regional dealer association handle these keywords, and instead focus your budget on consumers who are ready to buy – not ones who are still trying to decide what to buy. Making a simple shift of budget towards your lower funnel keywords can drive a massive increase in the number of leads and VDP views you’re getting from your campaign.


Not Serving a Relevant Message

10thAuto_PPC_creative-smEnsuring your message is relevant to what shoppers are looking for is one of the most effective ways of improving the performance of your PPC account. Unfortunately, many automotive PPC vendors are guilty of serving a general message to shoppers who are searching for a very specific thing. This results in a lot of clicks from consumers that end up bouncing because they don’t find what they are looking for.

For example, someone searching for “ford f-150 deals” is in a very different mentality than someone searching “ford f-150 vs chevy silverado”. In the first case, the consumer has decided that they want to buy an F-150, and is now trying to find one for the lowest price possible. Your dealership’s ad copy should promote your special offers and incentives. In the second case, the consumer hasn’t decided between the F-150 and the Silverado. If you want to sway this consumer’s opinion, ad copy should instead focus on the qualitative advantages the F-150 has over the Silverado (horsepower, towing capacity, etc).


Not Reporting on the Things That MatterAutomotive PPC Waste - Speech Bubble

While bad reporting doesn’t necessarily mean you’re wasting your money, it would be impossible for you to determine whether or not you are. You can’t fix what you can’t measure. If your vendor’s reporting is convoluted, difficult to understand, and doesn’t provide you with a clear sense of how much money you’re spending, where it’s being spent, and how effective it’s being at driving valuable conversions, then there’s simply no way to hold your vendor accountable.

In addition to standard PPC metrics such as CTR or CPC, make sure your vendor’s reporting includes the following:

  1. Leads (form fills)
  2. Chats
  3. Phone Calls
  4. VDPs
  5. Map and Directions

The reporting should also calculate ROI metrics such as cost-per-lead (CPL), and cost-per-action (CPA).


The automotive PPC space will continue to get more and more competitive. By tightening up your belt and getting more effective with your PPC spend, you can stave off the competition and improve your dealership’s share of the market. Hold your vendor accountable, and you’ll be sure to reap the rewards.