Unicorns are mythical beasts, often synonymous with tales of fantasy and illusion. Digital marketing guru, Larry Kim, relates unicorns with the top 1% of online advertisers – the true elite. These leaders are not only shaping the industry, but their results are blowing everyone else out of the water. And believe it or not, unicorns are real, and we have the data to prove it.

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Source #1 – Our Paid Search Click-through Rate (CTR) for July: 12.53%

Yes, the decimal is in the correct place. We achieved an unbelievable 12.53% click-through rate for our auto dealers in July 2017, nearly 6x the automotive industry average of 2.14%1. These results didn’t happen overnight. We’ve incorporated decades of digital & automotive experience into our account structure and strategy. Each campaign is finely tuned for success.

In Search Engine Journal, Larry Kim stated that the top 1% of digital advertisers have achieved true unicorn status, averaging click-through rates of 10% to 15% – up to 6x higher than expected CTR.2

*Search Engine Journal

I know what you’re thinking, “well, the sample size was probably really small.” Right? Well, in July, we served well over 100,000 impressions on Google Search Network alone; I would say that qualifies as significant. Ultimately, we achieved results in the top 99th percentile by truly understanding our customer – the auto buyer. We analyze both online and offline data, and use it to form decisions, not opinions. We allow the data to drive our decision making, and can rest easily knowing we are heading in the right direction. In fact, over the past year, we have served well over 1 million impressions on Google AdWords’ Paid Search platform and have averaged a very satisfying 10.16% CTR. Even more exciting is that we have improved our monthly CTR for the past four months consecutively!

Source #2 – We Help Dealerships Achieve Record Breaking Results

Back in April of 2017, we teamed up with a Hyundai dealership looking to increase their digital traffic, leads, and ultimately sell more vehicles. By performing a comprehensive offline analysis of the historic sales performance, along with in-depth future forecasting of their market, we were able to circle in on the consumers with the highest propensity of buying. Then, we analyzed the online landscape. We dug deep into the market and uncovered strategies designed to outperform the tightly competitive front page of Google search results, where we would ultimately be waging a digital war with our competition.

We then relied on the data to help drive a winning strategy that would not only align with our dealer’s goals, but also our consumer’s online journey. The average car buying process can take up to 3 months.3 A comprehensive study from Autotrader and Kelly Blue Book showed that car buyers spend 60% of their initial research time online and across multiple devices.4 By targeting our consumers with proper messaging that is aligned with their online journey, we could effectively resonate our messaging as they moved down the sales funnel. This approached allowed our Hyundai dealership to be present throughout the car buying process, and ultimately drove customers into the dealership when they were ready to buy.

Within two months we were already starting to break records at the dealership. In just their second month running our digital program, they had set a record for most vehicles sold in one month. The additional months that followed were just as strong, and far exceeded sales volume for the months prior to April. Our client commented that they had seen a significant and immediate impact in their showroom, and that the quality of online traffic and phone calls were much higher than ever before.

We also teamed up with a Jaguar Land Rover dealership who wanted to generate more of a digital presence, drive more showroom traffic, and increase their sales volume. Within the first two weeks, our program was already impacting their results. After the first month, they have moved up significantly within their dealer group in regards to monthly leads generated. In April of 2017, our client asked us to construct a very unique strategy, which would help them focus on one particular model. Essentially, they had a surplus of this specific vehicle and wanted to move them off of their lot – and in a hurry.

We analyzed the vehicle demand, specifically the keyword competition and volume, the market demographics, and the current online landscape. This allowed us to devise a new customized digital strategy designed specifically to promote the vehicle offer. Between April – June of 2017, we focused our efforts across Google Paid Search, Google Display, Gmail, and Facebook. In July, we received outstanding news from our client – they had outsold their region, and the United States, for volume on that particular model.

Watch Jaguar Land Rover’s testimonial below:

Source #3 – 76% Increase in Conversions, 81% Increase in Phone Leads, 198% Increase in CTR

Real results and we have the proof to back them up.5 I know most people are hesitant to believe anything that sounds too good to be true, but what if we could show you the data to back up our claims?

These incredible improvements didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took us nearly 15 years of digital experience just to optimize our account structures. Even after launch, continuous optimization is necessary, and every client will face their own unique challenges and hurdles. But by constantly refining our keyword buy, bidding, ad copy, negative keywords, targeting, and by constantly staying on top of the latest industry trends, we are able to produce industry leading results for our clients.

Let’s examine how we increased Johnson City Honda’s website conversions from paid search by 76%. Just to clarify here, conversions were defined as phone call leads, contact us form completions, e-price inquiries, and other website hosted form submissions. Ultimately, we focused our efforts on several key elements:

Increasing overall click traffic, as more clicks will ultimately lead to more conversions

Increasing our traffic quality and user engagement

Increasing our overall phone call leads

Utilizing persuasive and relevant ad copy that ties directly to our user intent

Increasing our overall ad position (higher position leads to higher click-through rates)

Within the first month of implementing key changes, our monthly conversions had grown from 202, up to 355! Our phone call leads had grown from 66 to 173 (162% increase) and our e-price inquiries had grown from 118 to 170 (44%).

Another success story we orchestrated was for Cape Girardeau Honda. We were able to increase their click-through rate from paid search ads by 198%! In this instance, it’s important to understand why click-through rate matters for your dealership. Click-through rate directly effects your keyword quality score, which is a major component of the ad auction. The advertiser with the highest Ad Rank will win the ad auction. The higher your Quality Score, the less you can ultimately bid in the ad auction, and still be competitive in the top positions. This means that high click-through rates lead to high quality scores, and less you will have to pay for your positions – concisely, you are getting more but paying less!

* http://www.wordstream.com/images/how-much-does-adwords-cost-how-much-do-you-pay-per-click.png

Increasing our click-through rate essentially came down to focusing on several key elements:

  • Keywords that we are actively bidding on in the ad auction
  • Keywords that we are negatively matching against user search queries
  • Persuasive and compelling ad copy
  • Optimal ad positioning

Within the first month of implementing our enhancements, we had seen remarkable improvement in CTR, up 85.59% month-over-month. Our first month (4.44%) was already more than double the industry average (2.14%), however by December of 2016, our paid search click-through rate had reached 13.22% for the month! In just six short months, we had moved from the top 15% of advertisers, into the top 1%, and in June of 2017 we hit our current peak of 14.97%. Also, accordingly, our average cost per click had shrunk from $3.61 (June 2016) to $2.49 (June 2017), while generating more traffic and leads.

Additionally, we worked with West County Honda in Ellisville, Missouri, and within one month saw an 81% increase in paid search driven phone calls. As any dealer knows, the phone is the heart beat of the dealership. It’s crucial to have a sound strategy in place in order to keep the phones ringing.

By taking advantage of Google AdWords extensions, along with customizing our bids for mobile users and hyper-targeting our customers online, we were able to grow our phone calls from 121 up to 219 in one month! Before, they were averaging around four calls per day from ads, and within a month were receiving up to seven or eight calls from ads per day. Even more significant is that every month since March of 2017 has surpassed the 160 calls that we recorded in December (the monthly record at the time).

So Why Does It Matter to Your Dealership?

Well, for starters, challenge everything.

Expect more out of your digital advertising. Don’t settle for mediocracy.  It’s not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. But worry not, because unicorns are real, and we’d love the chance to show you!



  1. http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2016/02/29/google-adwords-industry-benchmarks
  2. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/highest-lowest-average-ctrs-google-adwords-industry/159351/
  3. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-car-buying-process-reveals-auto-marketing-opportunities/
  4. http://dealerlearningcenter.com/files/insights/pdf/132420CarBuyerJourneyStudyBrochureFinal.pdf
  5. https://www.jandlmarketing.com /case-studies/
  6. http://www.wordstream.com/quality-score