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IS YOUR PAID SEARCH PAYING OFF?
It’s time for a reality check. I’d like to begin with pointing out the fact that more often than we realize, the correct solution to a problem is both obvious and simple. We live in a common-sense world, but I think people forget that sometimes. From a young age, we’re programed to be “critical thinkers” and to look at a situation from all vantage points. Our encoded mental paradigms tell us we should analyze, over-analyze and over-complicate every possible variable that may contribute to a desired outcome. However, according to Ockham’s Razor, a scientific theory dating back to the 14th century, “the simplest solution is usually the correct one.” Spending my entire career in the auto industry, with much of it in a dealership, we skip most of this — thankfully — but there should be a happy medium. It’s where common sense meets analyzed data. While paid search — or pay-per-click — may appear to be an affordable form of advertising, there is a significant breakdown in the attribution, no matter how transparent and detailed the reporting. Plain and simple, paid search is complicated. As one of the first automotive marketers to use paid search more than 10 years ago, I have “complicated” scars. Yes, you can see the amount of clicks your campaign received. You can see the impressions. You can see the engagements. But can you see, validate and know that a paid click led directly to a showroom visit without any other factors involved? Absolutely not. People simply looking for information don’t translate to a sale. So, how do you measure the true ROI? Think about how much you spend driving people to your Website each month. Thousands upon thousands of dollars are devoted to driving potential customers to your site in hopes of converting a click to a sale. As of today, the vast majority of customers cannot and will not purchase a car on your Website. Therefore, dealers depend on leads to attempt to convert Web traffic into showroom traffic.
lines. If something isn’t working 95 to 99 percent of the time, we need to do something about it. We need to direct our attention towards something we can quantify without a shadow of a doubt that led to a sale. We need to Buyer search terms are specific and measurable. change the game — or more specifically, change Buyers know what they want down to the year, make, model and color. Most will not contact the average lead form.
“Yes, you can see the amount of clicks your campaign received. You can see the impressions. You can see the engagements. But can you see, validate and know that a paid click led directly to a showroom visit without any other factors involved? Absolutely not. People simply looking for information don’t translate to a sale. So, how do you measure the true ROI?”
The stats speak for themselves. There is no arguing that well under 5 percent of Website visitors will complete the standard dealership lead form. Specifically, WardsAuto, DealerRefresh and other industry leaders report 3 to 7 percent of automotive shoppers actually submit leads. CDK’s Digital Business Intelligence study shows only 1 percent of auto shoppers submit email leads from dealer Websites.
In the Bounce Exchange’s latest “Guide to PPC,” they acknowledge the tremendous waste potential of paid search. “Whether you’re a do-it-yourself small business or an agency managing hundreds of thousands of PPC dollars,” the guide states, “you are leaving money on the table right now. Guaranteed.” Even worse, you could unknowingly be creating more opportunities for your competitors or just tossing money straight to Google. Their advice? “Move your budget into something that works.” More importantly, make sure that you have better and bigger nets to catch the fish.
It’s time we stop chasing imaginary attribution
Let’s be clear. I am not saying don’t do paid
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search. It can be a great tool for driving traffic to your Website. It’s not, however, ideal for converting actual sales or showroom visits. The reality is, paid search is not simple, and you can’t draw a straight line from your search campaign to a vehicle sold. A smart PPC provider, and more importantly a smart marketer, knows the difference between “researcher” and “buyer” search terms and online actions. Which do your campaigns target? What about your inventory? Are your search efforts boosting aging units or wasting ad dollars on high demand vehicles that will sell on their own?
you before coming in for a test drive unless your Website provides an experience that gives them something in return for submitting their personal information. Yes, I’m referring to offering incentives just for coming in for a test drive. It’s so simple. Give something to get something. If you are willing to pay for a click why wouldn’t you be willing to pay for a showroom visit? Heck, they probably would have clicked anyway. At the end of the day, you can empty your pockets in attempt to drive the world to your Website. But the real question is, does your Website convert once they arrive?