How to Reduce the Cost of Dealership PPC Marketing
The good news is that PPC marketing, notably search marketing (Google Ads, Microsoft Ads), continues to perform exceptionally well as 2022 comes to a close and 2023 begins. Search marketing is still one of the few pull marketing channels in a world where user attention is sought after. In other words, search marketing enables you to show your advertisement to people who are already seeking the automobiles you offer, your type of dealership, etc., as opposed to forcing banners on audiences you believe would be interested.
The bad news is that paid search marketing, which is naturally dominated by Google Ads, is continuing to get more and more expensive. Since it was introduced, the cost per click, which is how you pay for Google ads, has grown dramatically each year. And no, Google is not merely attempting to defraud you.
Google uses an auction approach, as do other commercial search engines like Microsoft. The maximum amount you’re willing to pay for each click determines your position on paid results. Google costs you by charging you just a penny more than the person below you is prepared to pay for that click, not by the maximum CPC that you choose. In other words, the winning advertiser made a cent more than the runner-up.
Unfortunately, Google’s success is the reason prices keep rising, as more and more money is diverted to Google Ads, driving up everyone’s cost per click. As confident as I was that this year’s CPCs would surpass last year’s, I am equally confident that the following year’s CPCs will be even higher. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to spend money on Google Ads; in fact, it remains the best investment you can make for bringing customers, leads, and eventually sales to your dealership.
You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune, though! There are several excellent PPC marketing strategies that might help you cut costs.
1. Conversion tracking and AI-driven smart bidding – To help you bid more effectively and save money, Google Ads gives you access to highly advanced AI-driven machine learning bidding methods. This enables Google to increase bids for users who are more likely to convert and decrease them for users who won’t. Your cost per click might not necessarily go down, but it will be for your cost per lead and cost per sale.
To employ machine learning, you must, however, ensure that all of your conversion values are recorded. Consider which website acts should be considered conversions to your dealership while you browse the site. The financing application page, trade-in form, new vehicle lead, used car lease, contact form, live-chat start, phone call, service schedule, etc. are some fantastic bottom funnel ones. SRPs are too upper funnel, so I’d stop at something like a VDP for an upper funnel. Once all of your conversions have been established, you must put them up in Google Ads and give them value. In
Dealerships typically stop the process after setting up the conversions but before assigning values in 90% of situations. If values are not provided, Google will treat a VDP conversion like a phone call, which is obviously incorrect. Assigning monetary values is ideal; for instance, how much is a phone call lead worth to you? $100? You can utilize ratios if you don’t have dollar values for every conversion; for example, if a VDP is worth 1, a phone call would be worth 100 (100 times more). This will enable Google’s algorithm to accurately bid based on the anticipated conversions, saving you money.
2. Avoid placing a bid on your dealership’s name! Most of the time, your rivals aren’t allowed to bid on your name, so there’s really no reason for you to do it yourself. Try typing your name into Google and see what results you get. You can probably halt or reduce your expenditure on it if you’re the only bidder. Although bidding on your own name will frequently “goose” results and appear to increase conversion rates, all you are really doing is paying for hits that would have otherwise come from your organic or GMB (now GBP) listing. I’ve seen some agencies bid on a dealership name for as much as 80% of the overall expenditure.
Decide on bid caps! Although I have complete faith in Google’s machine learning system, it occasionally makes highly aggressive bids for clicks that may never have a positive return on investment for you. For instance, even if a user searches for “Mercedes-Benz wiper blades” frequently, you might not want to spend outrageous amounts of money ($50 per click) on that search term because you will never be successful with it, even if they do wind up purchasing wiper blades from you. You can still set bid caps by building portfolio bid strategies and setting them at the portfolio level, even if the majority of Google’s machine-learning methods prohibit doing so. You could wish to set a CPC cap of $10 or even lower on the majority of ads to keep Google in check (depending on your average cost per click).
4. Consistently add negatives! In terms of keyword bidding, Google keeps expanding. In an effort to increase your traffic, Google will automatically bid on terms that are similar to or linked to those for which you are already placing a bid. This frequently results in placing bids on irrelevant terms and paying for them. You might not want to pay for someone to look for a “Porsche 911 watch” or a “Porsche job working on a 911” just because you’re bidding on a new “Porsche 911,” for instance. Ensure that you check your search keywords and create negatives at least once per month (and even more frequently if you can). By doing this, you’ll ensure that less money is wasted while simultaneously raising your campaign’s metrics.
5. Always test, explore, and get better! You can’t just put up your sponsored search ads and forget about them. New ad copy, ad-types, campaigns, and even new platforms (like Microsoft Ads!) are all things you should be trying with. Monitoring, analyzing, testing, and optimizing are the greatest ways to make progress (and hence achieve more outcomes for less money).
Ready to reduce your PPC ad spending? Although they are obviously not the be-all and end-all, the aforementioned five criteria ought to be an excellent place to start. Always communicate with the company or individual managing your PPC ads. The best PPC campaigns involve a relationship and two-way conversion between the dealership and the agency/person managing them. You will always obtain the finest results and spend less when both collaborate.
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