Automotive PPC: 3 Questions to Ask Before Getting Started

By: Felicia Savage

Automotive dealerships are always on the lookout for the most effective ways to reach new consumers. In order to do so, dealers are tasked with coming up with innovative, new ways to use billboard advertisements, television commercials, direct mail and social media. As of late, however, many internet managers have begun leveraging the power of Pay-Per-Click (or PPC) advertising campaigns. Given the ever-increasing number of leads and in-store traffic received as a result of these PPC campaigns, it isn’t difficult at all to see why.


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Still, as a dealer, you might have a few questions regarding automotive PPC, like: What the heck is Pay-Per-Click Advertising? What does car dealer PPC advertising even look like? And more importantly, “How do I get my first campaign off the ground? How do I get started?”


Well, to get the first question out of the way, PPC Advertising essentially means paying a small fee every time a customer clicks on your dealership’s ads. One of the most popular forms of PPC is Search Engine Advertising; where the internet managers at your dealership bid on particular keywords that they want to show up for (in the sponsored ads section) when people conduct searches on Google or Bing. The other popular option (and this isn’t to say one is better or more popular than the other), is using an advertising placement service network like Google AdSense that allows you to pay for banner ad placements.


Now, onto the next subject: how to get started with automotive PPC. In order for you to sufficiently answer that question, you need to first evaluate your particular scenario — and that means asking you (and your internet manager) a few preliminary questions.


Question #1: Who Should Manage Your Adwords Account?

This is, perhaps, the most important question you’ll likely need to ask yourself prior to initiating your first car dealer PPC advertising campaign. The reason for this is because PPC campaigns require quite a bit of time, money and skill.


If you don’t consider yourself particularly computer savvy (or don’t know anything about PPC), and don’t have the time to devote to monitoring ad campaigns, your best bet is to have a skilled person (like your internet manager) do it.


If everyone else is overextended, you might consider outsourcing some of the work to a contractor. Just remember that on top of paying their fees, you’ll also have a somewhat considerable ad budget. So, make sure you budget wisely.


Also, make sure the person you’re hiring to take on these big responsibilities has a firm grasp of best ad copy practices, keyword research and so on.


Question #2: Who Do You Want to Target? What Ads Do I Show?

The next question you’ll want to ask yourself is “Who do I want to target?” — immediately followed by “What ads do I show to my target audience?” These questions are important because they allow you to set very specific goals. Take some time to really think about the folks who visit your dealership. About what age are they? What’s their income level? What are their typical occupations?


Not only will these questions have you determine the overall messaging, but it’ll help you determine the very type of ad you even want to incorporate in your campaigns. Depending on the audience type, you might either want to leverage display or search — perhaps both!


If you opt for display advertising, you can have an artist (whether internal or external) create banner ads that reflect the personality traits and interests of those people you’re trying to target.


Now, you probably won’t be able to design banner ads for every single type of customer, but it’ll be a great opportunity to narrow down your consumer base with the specific messages in your ads. If, however, you opt for search advertising (or you include it with your display efforts), you’ll need to really think about the keywords they’re searching with — which brings us to our last question.


Question #3: What Keywords Do I Use?

If you opt to include search engine advertising into your marketing strategy, then the next question you’ll need to ask yourself is “what keywords do I want to use?” Keyword selection is, by far, the most important aspects of Adwords management — and it’s not difficult to see why. Folks that are searching for specific terms in Google are typically expecting to discover the very thing they’re searching for.


That being said, you want to make sure that the keywords you want to serve ads for are completely relevant to your dealership’s current promotions. And the other thing worth mentioning, of course, is that some keywords (or search terms) are more difficult to bid on because of the sheer number of brands attempting to compete for those terms.



So, when you’re filtering through all the awesome keywords that you want to bid on, your best bet is to select keywords with medium to low competition, with fairly high search volume.



Not only will you pay less to get those ads served, but the likelihood of those ads being served is much, much higher. Instead of trying to bid on the keyword “automotive dealerships,” try “automotive dealerships in Indianapolis.” Specific terms that are relevant to your dealerships are ideal!
Now, let’s be completely realistic: Not all of your Adgroups or keywords are going to perform as well as you had hoped. Setting up those initial campaigns can be quite challenging — and maintaining those campaigns can be even harder sometimes.



A keyword choice might not be as relevant as you had initially expected — or, you might find that certain ads aren’t performing the way you want them to. Along with supplying internet managers with the ability to better organize their ad campaigns, products like WordStream can also track campaign performance and provide suggestions for ad and keyword changes.