google ads automotive dealers

Google comes up with literally hundreds of new features every year to help advertisers perform better on Google Ads. Unless you’re a Google Premier Partner, it’s very difficult for any individual marketing manager to keep up with all of the new features and identify the ones that are most likely to impact a dealer’s ability to generate quality traffic, leads and sales.

Today, I will list the top-5 Google Ads features that all dealers should try to leverage in 2020. 

1. Save hours of work each month and make less mistakes: Automate your Google ads using the Ads API or Scripts

Having a marketing manager manually configuring automotive ads, keywords, extensions and bids for each model, trim and year is a daunting task at best. Humans often make mistakes and, with all the necessary information already on your website, why reinvent the wheel every time a new model is released? Either use your own scripts or ask your agency to make sure they can connect to your website platform and automatically update your campaigns in real-time based on the models currently available on your site. Being late by a week or two on every new model added throughout the year adds huge and unnecessary opportunity costs to your campaigns. 

2. Increase your click-through rates by 22%: Show OEM incentives in your Ad Titles!

If you have time, at the beginning of each month, make sure to update your ad creatives to include OEM incentives with the lowest payments available for each model and trim along with all disclaimers required by law. Some of the more advanced agencies will automate this process which can otherwise be painful to implement. The effort is however very rewarding given an average increase of 22% in click-through rates! Another important advantage of including OEM incentives is that the quality score on your ads will improve dramatically since Google favours matching content between your ads and your landing page. Of course this assumes your website and your ads payment information need to be perfectly synchronized… are they?

3. Increase your click-through rates by up to 25%:  Dynamically A/B test at least 3 to 5 different ads per ad-group.

Google recommends having at least 3 different responsive search ads running at all times in each of your ad-groups. In my experience, pushing this recommendation to at least 5 ads per ad-group has helped us improve our CTR by up to 25%. Did you know that your ads Click-through-rates are a major part of your ad-quality ranking score (along with ad relevance and landing-page experience) and the higher your quality score is, the higher your ads will rank and the lower your clicks will cost? It is important to make sure that you always let Google decide which of your 5 ads to show based on historical click-through rates. This way, Google will automatically increase the frequency of the best performing ads over time. We recommend that you review your ads at least every 2 to 4 months and replace the lowest performing ads with new ad creatives and let Google test, learn and optimize the new ad titles against the better performing ones to keep improving your campaign performance.

4. Lower your cost-per-lead by up to 18%: Adjust your bids based on individual user in-market segments

Not many people are aware this is even possible, and for those few who know about it, many are just too lazy to implement it, but the ability to adjust your bids based on specific user demographics and in-market segments is a must for all automotive marketers. Let me give you an example to make it easier to understand how this works. Take 2 different people both searching for “2020 Ford F-150” at the same time. Using 18-month historical data from Google Analytics on all users who searched for this keyword, we can tell that Men aged 35 to 45 (Group A) had conversion rates that are 45% higher than Women 18-24 (Group B) searching for the exact same keyword. What if you could increase your bid by 25% for Group A, and lower your bids by 20% for Group B? Additionally doesn’t it make sense for this vehicle to target people ‘Interested in construction’ who are 25% more likely to convert than people ‘also interested in computer software’. Doesn’t it sound amazing to have the ability to increase or lower your bids based on the different in-market segments? Of course! Are you doing it? Not likely! Ask your agency if they’re doing it and if not, insist on them doing this for you. Of course, doing this requires big data and if your agency only handles a handful of Ford dealers, the data samples will be too small with the potential to falsify results. We found that you’ll need at least 18-months of data with at least 10 dealers of the same OEM in order to accurately predict the right demographics and in-market segments with positive or negative impact on bids.

5. Improve your cost-per-sale by up to 35%: Accurately track your in-store visits and sales for each digital campaign you run!

Are you currently measuring your in-store visits and sales for each campaign you run in Google Ads, Facebook or other digital media without any human intervention? Very few agencies like to discuss real results and prefer sticking with vanity metrics such as impressions, click-through rates, cost-per-click, average page views, etc… Cost per lead is already a much better metric, but your business is based on store visits and sales… and we know that not all leads are created equal! So why would you not measure these outcomes when it’s perfectly possible to do in 2020 by simply connecting to your DMS, downloading sales data daily and matching them with leads data? We’ve been doing this for 5 years for our customers and every month I wonder why other agencies are still not being transparent with dealers. Of course this puts an enormous amount of pressure on the agencies to demonstrate real value with their campaigns but, at the end of the day, if the campaigns aren’t selling cars at a reasonable cost, what’s the point of your marketing efforts?

BONUS! Be in the first advertisers using the new Google Lead Form Ads!

This last recommendation is perhaps the most important novelty at Google in 2020. If you’re already familiar with Facebook’s ‘LeadAds’, imagine the same thing but in Google’s search engine! Basically, following the click on the ad, instead of redirecting the client to your website, Google or Facebook directly displays a form with the contact fields pre-filled, the user only having to click ‘Send’ to submit the form (lead). Facebook’s biggest weakness is the targeting and lack of relevance often in LeadAds audiences. The cost per lead is often low, but the sales results are not always there. But on search engines, relevance is always almost perfect because the customer has just searched for your product. As of February 2020, Google is still in ‘Beta’ mode for this feature, but after some testing from us as a Premier partner, I can confirm that this option is likely to gain momentum rapidly. Only downside, as with Facebook, we must create an API with Google to receive leads in real time. If not, you have to manually download the leads several times a day … not very realistic. Fortunately for you, D2C Media has already integrated with the Google Ads API to be able to send your leads quickly and automatically!

I fully realize that most dealer marketing managers won’t have the time or resources to implement all of these recommendations, but if you take the time to do even just one, you may begin to realize that there are advantages to collaboratively working with agencies that have the data and have developed the technologies to enhance the performance of the campaigns that we manage. Continuously maintaining these advanced features has a cost, but as you can see, the oversized rewards are well worth it!