A Guide to Automotive PPC Ads in 2024

Last updated April 12, 2023

To ensure success with pay-per-click advertising, you must create a reliable plan centering around high-opportunity keywords, audience targeting, creative ad text, and optimized landing pages. This strategy can be applied to PPC campaigns for auto dealerships too; no matter the size of your business or if it operates solely in person – every automotive dealership has the potential to drive traffic through effective utilization of PPC strategies.

What is automotive PPC advertising?

PPC advertising is one of the biggest up-and-coming automotive marketing trends in 2023 and is a direct-to-consumer method of getting the word out. For example, when an ad hosted by a search engine (such as Bing) receives clicks that lead to its website or app, the advertiser pays a fee to credit their account. Automotive PPC requires strategizing – marketing teams must create ads tailored for their target audience with set budgets and bidding strategies while providing or creating landing pages featuring text, images, and video… You name it! With effective planning and execution of these tasks in motion, automotive PPC ads can be highly successful in reaching your goals.

Benefits of automotive PPC advertising for a car dealer

In-person marketing is no longer sufficient for success in the automotive industry. Your physical locations must also have a strong online presence as customers are now buying vehicles differently than before.

Here’s something to consider: shoppers today spend far less time considering their purchase decisions and usually visit your dealership only twice prior to making a vehicle-related purchase. Thus, it’s essential to comprehend the automotive buyer’s funnel if you wish to have an effective PPC campaign that can capitalize on this change in consumer trends.

You may ask whether you can simply improve your dealership by ruling the search engines and acquiring revenue from organic traffic. Absolutely, however, that just scratches the surface of all possible online marketing opportunities!

The four main types of PPC channels

To understand how car dealerships can best incorporate PPC into their marketing strategies, we must first discuss the different channels that one can advertise on.

screenshot of Google Ads homepage

With more than two billion active users, Google reigns supreme in the world of search ads. However, other search engines such as Yahoo and Bing also offer great PPC opportunities for dealerships.

Either way, check this stat out: Google generated over 61% of all searches in the United States in January 2022, meaning prioritizing the development of a holistic paid search strategy on Google Ads should be the priority for marketers making their way into the automotive industry.

Video ads (YouTube)

screenshot of YouTube ads page

As we transition further and further into the digital era, people are watching more videos online via computers or smartphones in higher and higher amounts. For the ultimate video ad experience, there’s no better place than YouTube!

With multiple billion active users worldwide, it is a haven for advertisers to create engaging content quickly, all while utilizing free channels, tutorials & tools provided by YouTube itself. Not only that, but you’ll also have access to free metrics which help measure PPC campaign performance accurately.

Online display advertising (Banner ads)

screenshot of Google's Display Network homepage

Auto dealerships can capitalize on the power of display ads to target potential customers with pinpoint accuracy. Just imagine, you’ll be able to insert keywords that are linked directly to buyer demographics and profiles! And these banners will appear in various online destinations like Facebook, YouTube, Google’s Display Network, or even while users check their webmails or browse apps—all optimized for mobile viewing. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by; take full advantage of display advertising today!

Social PPC campaigns

screenshot of Twitter Ads homepage

Social PPC is a form of paid advertising, but it only appears on social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. This type of marketing has the potential to drive more engagement than just click-throughs to your website – for example, users can interact with an ad or follow you on social media platforms such as Facebook; similarly, on Twitter they can re-tweet your ads which increases reach even further. Take advantage of this powerful way to promote yourself within automotive circles!

The types of PPC advertising campaigns

Now that we have a solid understanding of the different platforms you can implement an automotive PPC strategy on, let’s discuss the different types of focused campaigns you can use.

Conquest campaigns (Targeting competitor keywords)

black and white picture of a guy holding crutches

A conquest campaign in PPC is a type of focused advertising that targets users who have recently searched for or interacted with competitors’ products and services. This type of campaign allows automotive dealerships to gain an edge over their competition by targeting customers who may already be interested in similar offerings. By leveraging this strategy, automotive dealerships can increase brand awareness and website traffic while also driving more conversions.

The advantages of launching a successful conquest campaign are clear: gain an edge over your competitors, remain top-of-mind for searchers, and experience higher conversion rates. Of course, there can be some drawbacks too if you’re not careful.

Conquest campaigns can typically result in higher cost-per-click due to the likelihood of a lower click-through rate as shoppers are searching for your opposition’s vehicle brand; additionally, specifically for Google Ads, a low Quality Score may be an issue since it is probable that the keywords you are targeting will not appear on your landing page.

Always remember that when it comes to legal considerations, you must never violate another brand’s trademark. Steer clear of their slogans or catchphrases as this is a surefire way to cross the line. As long as you follow protocol and abide by standard practice in the PPC industry with regard to conquest campaigns, then everything should be fine!

General automotive PPC campaigns

To further bolster your dealership’s success, you may want to consider utilizing an automotive PPC campaign that advertises the makes and models currently available. This type of campaign is beneficial for both hiring new personnel and reinforcing your brand reputation, but this is ultimately what you should lean into when you’re not sure what kind of targeted campaign you want to run quite yet.

Branded campaigns

Free Automobile Mercedes photo and picture

These advertisement campaigns specifically target your brand, including the keywords that you want to prioritize in relevance to your company’s name or website. With this tactic, customers become more familiar with your dealership and it pushes you to top rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).

You have better control over how people view your business online and can push down any competitors who may be trying to steal away potential leads by targeting branded keywords related to yours. Utilizing these tactics effectively allows for a greater chance of success when it comes to having an edge against rivals in the market.

What is even more significant, however, is that branded campaigns have a high conversion rate! When shoppers search for your dealership specifically, they are familiar with you since they were likely referred to by a friend or had prior experience with your business. This eliminates any need for them to get acclimated as the relationship has already been established.

Avoid wasting your hard-earned money by taking a “throw it against the wall and see what sticks” approach to PPC campaigns. Make sure you start out smart and utilize concrete data from popular tools like Google Analytics, KeywordTool.io, Moz or SEMRush (if available). These platforms will help you understand how customers are searching for your product or service more effectively so that you can make informed decisions when allocating budget resources in order to maximize success.

Remarketing campaigns

Remarketing ads are designed to reach customers with whom you have already established a relationship. They may have purchased from your dealership before, signed up for your newsletter, watched your YouTube videos, or just stopped by. By targeting those individuals who already know about you and the services that you offer, remarketing ads can be incredibly beneficial in driving leads and sales to your car dealership.

With remarketing campaigns, you can reach target customers on Google Ads and other advertising platforms such as social media sites. You may opt for a more generic display ad with a photo of your dealership or popular car model, or aim to be even more impactful with dynamic ads that feature images and videos related to the vehicles potential buyers have already researched.

Dynamic automotive PPC campaigns

Free Mercedes Daimler photo and picture

Dynamic PPC campaigns are based on the customers’ search behavior. This type of campaign allows you to create ads that automatically adjust to match what each individual customer is looking for. If someone is searching for a specific make and model, your ad will show up with images and videos related to that car. It’s an excellent way to stand out from the competition and create a stronger connection with your target audience.

By taking advantage of dynamic PPC campaigns, you can also craft custom messages based on the searcher’s interests, whether they’re looking for a luxury vehicle, a fuel-efficient car, or something else entirely. This type of personalization is essential if you want to maximize the impact of your ads and secure more leads.

It’s important to remember that PPC campaigns should be tailored to your dealership’s specific offerings and goals. Every campaign needs a unique strategy, so make sure to use the right data and research tactics before you build PPC campaigns.

Bonus: Local PPC ad

screenshot of Nextdoor create a business account page

Auto dealerships have the opportunity to target local audiences with hyper-local websites, such as Nextdoor. With this platform, you can craft and post advertisements that will be seen in three different parts of the site: your sponsored posts on their newsfeeds, “For Sale” marketplace listings, and displays located to the right of their main news feed.

Best practices for running optimized automotive ad campaigns

With all of this information in mind, there is a set of linear steps that you should keep in mind when building out any sort of automotive PPC campaign to develop an effective strategy that optimizes ROAS and targets the right market you want to.

Develop a comprehensive long-tail keyword strategy

screen of Google Ads Keyword Planner

Creating a keyword list of make, models, and variations can be lengthy and difficult to create for any automotive campaign. But it is extremely important if you want your target market to find your ad when searching online. You can use Google Ads’ Keyword Planner to help you start off.

Target your local audience using geo-targeting

Geo-targeting is an important tool for most automotive-related campaigns. Utilizing the available tools to target users in a specific area or city provides more accurate and relevant results for your ads since car buyers often search for dealerships near them.

Create compelling ad copy

Creating ad copy that not only appeals to potential customers but also stands out from the competition is key. Make sure your ads are clear and concise while also captivating and motivating the readers to take action.

Understand your budget and expected ROAS

It’s important to understand your budget and expected ROAS before launching any type of campaign. Make sure you have a clear idea of how much money you want to spend, how many leads or sales you want to generate, and what kind of ROI you are hoping for.

Continuously evolve your automotive PPC campaign

Finally, it is important to keep your campaigns fresh and up-to-date. Make sure you are constantly analyzing your data, adjusting bids and budgets, adding new keywords/targeting, and optimizing ad copy as needed. Keeping your campaigns in tune with the current market conditions is key for performance optimization.

This means understanding and paying close attention to everything mentioned above – your ad copy, what your budget is, the audience you’re targeting – and see which aspects are successful and which ones are not.

Running effective PPC campaigns on any channel is not simply a ‘set it and leave it’ – you must track these metrics to ensure you are actually targeting the correct audiences and that your keyword list is effective.

How to track and measure the performance of your PPC campaign

There are quite a few key metrics that you can access in platforms like Google Analytics and Google Ads that will help inform future strategy, but there are also some other actions you should take to make sure your campaigns are optimized.

When you create the first iteration of your keyword list, there will almost certainly be gaps present where you are missing out on people searching for relevant search terms as well as keywords that are dragging in far too much extraneous, irrelevant searches.

For example, let’s say you bid on the keyword “Ford near me”. If you go directly into the Search Terms section for this keyword on Google Ads, you will likely see a number of searches that are semi-related and even completely unrelated to what you actually want to be spending your ad budget on.

As time goes on, keeping track of this will allow you to add keywords to your negative keyword list so you can avoid targeting unnecessary keywords.

Conversion rate

Calculating campaign success, or the performance of your sales team, can be determined by examining the conversion rate – that is how many customers advance to another stage in their buying processes such as a test drive or purchase.

Cost per click (CPC)

Establishing your Cost Per Click (CPC) is a simple task once you know how many of your PPC ad viewers actually clicked through. All you need to answer are two questions: How much did the advertisement cost? And, how many clicks were generated by said ad? Once you’ve ran ads for a while on different platforms, you should have a good understanding of what the average CPC is on each one, and you can optimize each individually after that has been ascertained.

Common mistakes to avoid when running a car ad campaign

We’ve discussed a lot of different concepts related to automotive advertising, but what should you keep in mind to avoid when doing so?

Not targeting the right audience

When running a car ad campaign, it’s important to be very specific with your target audience. You should be targeting people with a high intent to buy, such as those who are actively researching and comparing car models.

Not using the right keywords

It’s important to use the right keywords in your PPC campaigns, as this will help ensure that you are targeting the correct audience. Research relevant keywords and craft your ads to target those search terms.

Not optimizing for mobile

In today’s world, most searches are done on mobile devices. It’s important to make sure your ads are optimized for mobile, as this will ensure that you reach the maximum number of potential customers.

Not utilizing retargeting

Retargeting is a great way to keep track of people who have already interacted with your brand in some way and remind them of your product or service. Utilize retargeting for car campaigns to ensure you are targeting the right people.

Not testing your ads regularly

It’s important to keep track of what works and what doesn’t when running a PPC campaign. Regularly test different ad copy, keywords, and creative assets to ensure that your campaign is as effective as possible.

Conclusion about paid ads in the automotive industry

PPC advertising is an integral part of digital marketing for dealerships, offering an effective and targeted way to reach potential customers. It can be daunting to get started with automotive PPC campaigns, but following the best practices outlined above can help ensure that you’re taking full advantage of all the benefits this type of marketing offers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Automotive PPC Advertising

How much should a car dealership spend on PPC?

The amount a car dealership should spend on PPC depends on the size of their budget and their goals. Generally, it is recommended to allocate at least 10% of your overall marketing budget towards PPC efforts in order to get the most out of your campaigns.

What are some tips for optimizing automotive PPC campaigns?

When it comes to optimizing automotive PPC campaigns, it’s important to focus on the right target audience and use the correct keywords. Additionally, you should optimize for mobile and utilize retargeting techniques in order to reach as many potential customers as possible. Finally, be sure to test your ads regularly in order to find the most effective strategies for success.

Does PPC advertising really work?

Yes, PPC advertising can be an effective way to reach potential customers and increase your visibility online. By utilizing the right strategies, PPC can help drive leads, conversions, and overall sales for car dealerships.

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