I had the privilege of attending the CBT Conference in Atlanta, GA in early March, as well as the PCG Companies training session that preceded the conference. Much of the conversation in automotive digital marketing is now focused on Google AdWords and the quality of website traffic generated.

We’ve been measuring our Google AdWords outcomes for the past decade by looking at CPC, Bounce Rates, Impression Share, and Click Through Rates. When cars were flying off the shelves, these simple measurements were ideal.


The quality of that traffic has decreased in recent years, and the cost per sold unit has risen dramatically. The fact that every dealership in your market is vying for the same set of customers isn’t helping matters. Now that sales have slowed, it’s time to examine those AdWords budgets more closely.


According to PCG’s study, around 80% of Google AdWords traffic to dealership websites is just consumers searching for the dealership’s name. There is no need to pay for clicks from those who would have found you otherwise. Essentially, your dealership’s Yellow Pages directory at an exorbitant charge.


When you factor in Bot and Service traffic, your AdWords budget is left with very few sales prospects. By installing VistaDash on your website, you can simply assess what is being generated, as well as track engagement and isolate bot traffic. You can score your phone calls as Sales/Service using a service like CallRevu.


When you go further into your AdWords traffic, you’ll rapidly notice that there are very few sales opportunities available. The ones you do have are usually shopping for the best deal, and they anticipate you to lose money while selling them a car. You’ve been informed you must be searching on Google. In the world of digital marketing, Google is the be-all and end-all. Google accounts for the majority of most dealerships’ digital spending. That’s where you’ve heard folks go to look for an automobile. So, what are your options?


The solution is right in front of your eyes. The majority of you use it several times during the day. Facebook! There was a lot of snake oil being marketed when Facebook first entered the market. Vendors informing you that by creating a Facebook page, generating some Fans/Likes, and starting to post some amazing engaging content, they may improve sales by $500-$1,000 per month. It was supposed to be a simple and inexpensive approach to increase car sales.


I was one of the first merchants to jump on board. I switched my focus away from direct mail and toward Facebook marketing. I spent eight years trying to figure out how to assist car dealers sell more cars for less money. The industry, as well as myself, took the incorrect approach to this. Remember, nothing worthwhile in life is free or simple!


Everything we knew about marketing was turned upside down. We’ve even been instructed that you “don’t sell automobiles on social,” and that you should post interesting stuff that isn’t even relevant to your brand. Vendors and dealers did this in order to combat Facebook’s constantly changing algorithms aimed at reducing the quantity of spam content their users were exposed to. They also aimed to push marketers into a Pay-to-Play strategy in order to boost their profits.


Our clients have chosen a different strategy during the last year. Many of our clients have switched major sections of their expenditures from Google to Facebook by investing in “paid” Facebook ads. About a year ago, Facebook launched something called Lead Gen Ads. It gave us a way to create significant volumes of leads from paid ads for the first time.


These adverts, when combined with the appropriate response mechanisms, demonstrated that these are real people interested in discussing car purchases. Many of them aren’t in the market when they see the Facebook ad, allowing the dealership first chance at the customer’s business and avoiding having to compete with every other dealer in town.


Frank Hyundai’s General Manager, John Carlson, spent $10,000 on paid Facebook advertising in February. A large portion of this budget was redirected from Google AdWords. They moved from producing low-conversion clicks and few new sales prospects to receiving over 500 text messages about buying a car. They’ve significantly raised sales and gross margins on each device sold. They’re connecting with customers in ways that their competitors aren’t. This provides them with the competitive advantage they require to dominate their market.

No leads were lost. reduced overhead.
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