How often do you click on ads when you’re searching on Google or another search engine? Odds are, you weren’t even aware that the listing you clicked on was a paid advertisement.
According to a Search Engine Land report in 2019, 63 percent of people said they’d click on a Google ad. The same study found that 49 percent of people said they click on text ads, 31 percent on Shopping ads, and 16 percent on video ads.
Paid search advertising is a viable promotional tool for car dealerships looking to improve online conversion rates and overall sales.
However, much like any marketing tactic, your paid search efforts must be strategically targeted to the right audience for the most favorable results.
What Is Paid Search Advertising?
As defined by Search Engine Watch, paid search advertising is “a form of digital marketing where search engines such as Google and Bing permit advertisers to show ads on their search engine results pages (SERPs).”
This advertising model works on a pay-per-click basis, meaning advertisers only pay when a user clicks on their ad. The “per click” fee can range from a few pennies to several dollars, depending on the competitiveness of the keywords or audiences targeted in the campaign.
On search engines, paid search ads are displayed as either text or shopping ads and displayed above or below the organic search results.
Why Should My Car Dealership Consider Paid Search Advertising?
Buying a car is not a split-second decision for most consumers. It requires meticulous planning, research, test drives, and conversations with dealerships. Consumers shop around until they feel confident in their decision to purchase.
Much of this research is conducted online via search engines. When a potential customer searches for a specific vehicle, make, and model, or your car dealership, you want your business to be at the forefront of the search results.
Wordstream found that for high commercial intent searches — such as someone looking to buy a new or used car — paid ads receive 65 percent of all clicks.
While organic search listings are a must for all car dealerships, they take time to accomplish. Paid search advertising puts your dealership in front of the right customer at the right time without weeks upon weeks of effort.
Other benefits of paid search ads include:
- Enhanced brand awareness and recognition
- Easy campaign setup
- In-depth advertising analytics
- Improved website traffic
VIN Specific Advertising Through Paid Search
Car dealerships can also connect their inventory with their paid search advertising campaigns through VIN Specific Advertising technology.
VIN Specific Advertising pairs users with your current inventory, based on their previous searches or online behaviors.
For example, let’s say a prospective buyer searches for a new truck on Google using the keywords “new 2019 Chevy Silverado”. If you have a vehicle in your inventory that matches their search intent, VIN Specific Advertising will create a paid ad for that vehicle and display it in the results.
From there, they can click on your ad and go right to your vehicle listing page, full of the pertinent information needed to make a purchase decision.
By providing customers with the exact vehicle they’re searching for along with all its information, you actively gain their trust and — hopefully — the sale!
Targeting Paid Search Ads for Car Dealerships
As you can imagine, paid search ads provide car dealerships with a wealth of targeting options. As with any online marketing avenue, targeting your campaigns to ready-to-buy customers or those within a specific audience will lead to the best return on your investment.
Failing to do so will result in wasted ad dollars and little to no return.
Fortunately, there are several ways to target consumers in the market for a brand new or used vehicle using paid search efforts.
One of the most common ways to target users is through their search intent and keywords. Through this method, car dealerships can select which keywords should trigger their ads to be displayed.
Car dealerships must bid on the specific keywords their audience is actively using in their searches. When bidding for these keywords, you are competing with other dealerships and accounts bidding on the same keywords with the goal of appearing first in the search engines. For instance, let’s say you’re trying to use paid search advertising to promote your car dealership and bring more customers through the door for a test drive. You could target keywords and phrases such as “cars for sale in [your town]” or “where to buy cars in [your town].”
You can also take advantage of dynamic paid search ads. Instead of selecting keywords, enter your website into the Google Adwords dashboard and let the algorithm work for you. Adwords will review your website content and pair your ads with user searches it deems related to your business.
Of course, it would be foolish to simply guess what your audience is searching for online. You’ll need to take advantage of keyword tools such as:
These keyword tools will provide you with insights about:
- Which keywords and phrases are commonly searched for by your audience
- The topics your audience is searching for
- The search volume of a particular keyword
- How competitive the keyword is (aka, will you spend a lot per click on this keyword?)
- Related keywords to target
- Keyword trends
Use these tools to be strategic about the keywords and phrases you choose to target. Otherwise, you’ll find your campaign spread too thin and running through your advertising budget in no time.
Another way to target consumers via paid search ads is known as audience targeting. This segment of targeting options narrows down who sees your ads based on factors such as:
- Income level
Through these demographic segments, you’re able to target your ideal consumer directly as they’re in the process of searching for a new vehicle. In comparison to content targeting, audience targeting allows you to pinpoint the type of consumer you’re looking to attract with your ads.
With content targeting, you’re also assuming that users searching for a specific query are a part of your target market. In fact, they could very well be part of an entirely different audience segment.
Someone who searches for the 2019 Toyota Corolla may be looking for images of the car rather than information about specific vehicles. Or they might just be a super fan of a particular car brand looking for the latest news about the vehicle model.
If you’re attempting to target a specific audience with your paid search ads, the audience targeting options will give you the tools you need to attract the attention of these users.
Other types of audience targeting include:
Reaching Your DMS Customers Online
Your DMS is the best asset you have to reach customers online. Using offline data and matching it online is so invaluable to reaching your DMS customers and making sure you are staying in front of those customers in their buying cycle.
It’s straightforward to reach your customers through direct mail or one to one. However, reaching customers online through various channels like paid search, display, video, social media, and Gmail is more involved.
Social networks have customer-matched audiences where you can upload data such as first name, last name, email address, and phone number. Google, Gmail, and Facebook usually match up data better than Twitter.
The key is retaining that audience by uploading data in your DMS, sending them specific messaging, and persuading them to visit your website and dealership. You can utilize this data and include or exclude various groups, depending on the audience you want to reach – such as new leads or existing customers.
Separate your dealership from the competition by uploading the DMS audience. You can match against people in your DMS and then bid on broad keywords to retain that subset of customers.
In-Market Audience Targeting
In-market audience targeting capabilities take your paid search campaign to the next level by tailoring your ads to your perfect customer as they’re on the cusp of making a purchase decision. Google identifies these individuals based on their search behaviors, as well as the criteria you select for your campaign.
As Google defines it, using in-market audiences is “a way to connect with consumers who are actively researching or comparing products and services across Google Display Network publisher and partner sites and YouTube.”
Another type of audience targeting is known as remarketing. Remarketing ads are only shown to individuals who have interacted with your website content or other search campaigns previously.
This type of paid search effort is ideal for car dealerships looking to reengage past customers or convert those who have been actively searching for vehicle information on your website.
4 Quick Tips for Targeting a Paid Search Campaign
Naturally, you won’t be able to dive headfirst into a paid search ads campaign and achieve outstanding results. ROI comes through in-depth planning, testing, and constant ad monitoring.
If you’re ready to organize and launch a paid search campaign for your car dealership, keep our quick tips in mind:
1. Define Your Target Audience
Do you know who is buying your cars? Do you have a general idea of who you want to buy your cars?
Meet with your sales team and create buyer personas or examples of your ideal customer. When you create these customer profiles, be sure to include:
- Demographic information such as age, location, and gender
- Ideal income
- Vehicle preferences such as make and model
- General interests
Having specific details about each type of consumer you’d like to target will help you narrow down your audience options when you’re building out your paid search campaigns.
2. Set a Budget
Certain keywords or phrases, along with audience segments, may be more expensive to target than others. Competitiveness, search volume, and other search-related factors affect these costs.
Knowing what your budget is ahead of time will help you craft an ad campaign that targets the right users while staying within your maximum spending amount.
3. Analyze Your Targeting Options
Paid search ads provide car dealerships with a myriad of targeting options. Your dealership can display paid ads to a variety of qualified audiences.
However, not all targeting options will fit your budget or align with your campaign goals.
With this in mind, it’s imperative to take the time to review each of the targeting options within Google Adwords. Look at the estimated cost per click, search volume, and other data points to determine which targeting capabilities will drive the best results for your campaign.
While it’s tempting to place your ads in front of as many audiences as possible, this approach will drain your budget quickly and leave you with lackluster results.
4. Always Be Testing
Pay-per-click campaigns aren’t a simple marketing solution. The best campaigns are analyzed and tweaked continuously to achieve the desired results.
You can’t launch a campaign, sit back, and watch the leads roll in. It takes time and effort to get to that point.
Keep a watchful eye on your campaign, and if things start to falter or become stagnant, look into what you can adjust to generate better results.
Let’s Set Up Your Paid Search Ads Today
Pay-per-click advertising on search engines such as Google can be complex for those with little experience on the platform. Fortunately for you, the team at J&L Marketing has extensive knowledge of and experience with running successful paid search ad campaigns for car dealerships across the country.
When you’re ready to use paid search ads for your business, give us a call at 800.346.9117 or get started by clicking here.