Intro

If you work at an auto dealership, then you already know the importance of inbound phone calls. Current and prospective customers rely on their phone to contact dealerships when in need of immediate response. Whether they are setting service appointments, requesting a test drive, or scheduling a sales appointment, customers trust their phone to connect them in times of need. With the skyrocketing growth of smartphones, having a sound strategy for generating phone leads is increasingly important. But how can your dealership stay competitive? That’s the riddle that J&L Marketing worked closely with West County Honda in Ellisville, MO to solve.

Solution

Because Google is the preferred search engine for nearly 80% of global users, we focused our efforts there.1 A few years back, Google AdWords stopped allowing advertisers to include their phone number in the ad text. But Google AdWords offered advertisers another alternative – call extensions. Call extensions were designed specifically to offer a ‘click-to-call’ option within ads displayed on mobile devices, and will display the phone number alongside the ad text on desktop devices. So, when users in or around Ellisville, Missouri searched for “honda dealer near me” (or other relevant variations), we would prompt an ad with the ability to call the dealership directly.

Additionally, we utilized device specific bid adjustments on relevant campaigns. Because of the increased importance of mobile ad real estate, we knew that we must be relevant in the first two ad positions in order to stay competitive. By increasing our bids for keywords searched on mobile devices, we could increase our average ad position, and ultimately ensure that our ads provided the click-to-call options for mobile users.

Another enhancement that we took advantage of are RLSAs, or Remarketing Lists for Search Ads. What this means is that we could create a segmented audience of previous website visitors, and specifically target that group in our ads. This allowed us to increase our bids for returning users, but also to tailor our overall strategy differently to those users. Numerous studies show that remarketing audiences are the most likely to convert, so we leveraged this capability in efforts to drive more inbound phone leads.

Lastly, we established a connection between Google AdWords and West County’s Google My Business page. By datamining the dealership’s Google My Business data, we could determine which geographic locations were driving the most website traffic, along with other key insights about which days and times were driving the most website and showroom traffic. We implemented location bid adjustments to increase our bids in the zip codes with the highest response, and implemented day bid adjustments to align with the most popular days of the week.

Findings

Within the first month of implementing these changes we were already realizing tremendous growth. Click-to-calls in the first month after the updates (March 2017) were 219, compared to 121 from the previous month (February 2017), up 80.99%! With other key metrics remaining relatively unchanged, we knew that our updates had made a significant impact.
The increase in phone leads does not show any signs of slowing down. Across the previous four months before the updates were implemented (November, December, January & February), we recorded 556 click-to-calls from paid search ads. In the months following the update (March, April, May & June), we have recorded 906 click-to-calls, a 63% lift overall. Considering the previous period includes the two busiest dealership months of the year (November & December), we are extremely pleased with the overall results. Every month since March has surpassed the 160 recorded calls in December, the monthly record at the time.

Conclusion

To stay vigilant in an increasingly competitive online space, it is crucial to plan your strategies around your goals. As we continue to optimize and discover new enhancements, we continue to make strides towards driving qualified calls into our dealership.

1 https://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0&clearaf=1