PPC is an enormously powerful tool for auto dealerships, so you can already tell that this next sentence is going to begin with a qualifier. But it can be full of pitfalls that will trip up even the best and brightest dealerships. We know it’s insanely time consuming and frustrating to go into your automotive PPC campaign and figure out what can be improved, so we listed some of the most common mistakes to help you find ways to improve your PPC that don’t involve 36 hours in front of a computer and a splitting headache.
Too Broad Keywords
Recently, there has been a bit of a debate about using broad keywords in automotive PPC campaigns. Some people feel that ranking for all keywords even remotely associated with the dealership is the best way to reach the widest possible audience. But we respectfully think that’s BS. When we see a new automotive PPC campaign, we can always predict that the biggest source of wasted money and irrelevant clicks come from ads that are set for broad keywords. They’re expensive and highly inefficient, two words that really bum us out when found next to each other. Shoppers use broad keywords when they’re in the very beginning of their buyer’s journey, when they are trying to gather information, and they aren’t necessarily ready to check out individual dealers. You might get clicks from broad keywords, but we bet you’re getting a lot of bounces and very, very few conversions (if any).
Trying to Be #1
This one is a little counterintuitive, but stick with us. Everyone wants to be in first place, it’s natural. If you’re trying to be the top dealership in your area, being #1 is literally one of your goals, but it comes with some issues. If you aren’t paying a ton, and your keywords aren’t broad, it’s safe to go ahead and be in the #1 spot, but if you are paying a lot per click, it might be better to be in the #3 spot. Why? Because people who click the #1 spot ad might not have used the right keyword for their search, or are just beginning their buyer journey, both indicators of someone who is not the hottest lead. This is particularly true for automotive, in which buyers have a long research period. By the time they come to a decision about their purchase, if you were the first resource they clicked, they might not remember you. No need to spend out of your means to get to spot #1. In the case of your automotive PPC campaign, the bronze is actually better than gold.
Not Matching Landing Page and PPC Ads
This is an issue that crops up in many automotive PPC campaigns, and unfortunately, it comes down to some people being a bit lazy with their PPC. Really, what should be happening is that dealers look at the shopping experience from their customer’s perspective. If a shopper clicks on an ad that is offering $1500 off a new Prius, they’re going to be expecting to see something obviously relating to that sale on the landing page. A specific PPC ad that goes straight to a regular homepage without a mention of the car or the sale is going to make shoppers impatient and could very well lead to a bounce.
There’s a reason people scroll past a lot of PPC ads that isn’t related to the common diagnosis of “ad fatigue.” It’s boredom. Boring PPC ads abound in the automotive world, and it’s because so many marketers just look at what the competition says and tweak it to match their dealership. Sooo boring. They’re almost all some variation of “Search Inventory. Brand New Models In Stock. Drive home in a new [insert car here], feature, feature, feature. Other models: [different car], [different car], [different car].” I didn’t even try to fill it out and make it more specific, because they’re all so similar. That similarity is exactly what shoppers will skim right over. Try to stand out, even a little.
Separate Search Results and Content Match
Hundreds of automotive PPC campaigns suffer from Combined Search Results and Content Match, or CSRCM, every day. For just $5 a month, you can support automotive PPC campaigns in their time of need. And when you sign up, you’ll get a complimentary CSRCM T-shirt to show how much you care. Okay, we’re joking around, but in all seriousness, combining search results and content match in an automotive PPC campaign is a common mistake. Luckily it is easily fixed, simply separate your regular search advertising from your content match – same keywords, but one for search and one for content match. You’ll have better reporting, be able to set different costs-per-click (which will save you money), and refine your PPC campaign.
Grouping Your Keywords
One of the most common mistakes we see with automotive PPC campaigns is not grouping keywords correctly, and it makes us sad every time. Such a waste of money. The problem with not grouping keywords is that you risk showing one ad to someone when their search query highlighted a different need entirely. For example, if you have the same ad show up for both “local ford dealer” and “2017 ford f-250 heated seats,” you are serving the same generic ad to two shoppers who are at vastly different places in their shopping journey and are looking for two very different things. With a generic ad, a dealership making this mistake would be lucky to get either of these clicks, much less conversions from them. A good general rule of thumb is to have no more than 20 keywords for an ad group. Add more than that, and you begin to venture into the territory of mis-matched keywords and ads.
You may have noticed that we’ve mentioned the buyer’s journey a few times in this post. That’s because we see a lot of automotive PPC campaigns that ignore the buyer’s journey. They use broad keywords and waste money on shoppers who aren’t even nearly ready to look at specific cars or dealerships. They don’t group their ads and serve the same generic ad to shoppers who are in completely different stages of their journey. Basically, they make the mistake of not paying attention to the shopper’s wants and needs. Like we’ve said before, in the era of the consumer, that’s a deadly mistake.