Make Sure Your Dealership Isn’t Making These PPC Mistakes

Paid search — also known as pay-per-click or search engine marketing (SEM) — remains an essential piece to any digital strategy. It promotes your dealership and inventory for searches with keywords that have a buying-intent marker, such as “for sale,” “near me,” and “2018.” A great campaign consists of hundreds of ads created from hundreds of keywords, so putting together an effective one isn’t easy.

It’s time-intensive. It’s strategic. It’s data-driven.

Despite the importance of SEM ads, many dealerships and marketing vendors don’t get them right. So we want to highlight some of the most obvious errors to help you hold your paid search provider accountable.

Pay-per-Waste: Don’t Make These Mistakes with Your Ads

First, let’s be clear: We’re not saying a customer shouldn’t buy at these dealerships. We’re pointing out how they are missing opportunities to connect with potential leads and spending more money than necessary. Now it’s time to take a look.

ReLEASE the Terrible Ads!

If a car shopper wants to lease a Chevy Cruze, he or she can get “Your Next Chevy” (Ad #1), discover “June Deals & Incentives” (Ad #2), and look at a lease offer (Ad #3). Even though the third ad uses the key term, it still has its faults.

SERPs example for PPC of a search for a Chevy Cruze lease

Let’s cluster what’s wrong among the three ads above:

  • 0 ads have key terms in the URL like “lease
  • 0 ads have an option to call
  • 0 headlines use the most important terms (again) like “lease”
  • 1 ad has mediocre ad copy that matches the search
  • 1 ad has the address listed
  • 1 ad has an option to contact

So, a shopper decides to lease from the dealership that put up the third ad. Is the link taking this person to a relevant page? It doesn’t look like it does. That means the dealership’s Quality Score takes a hit, their Ad Rank takes a hit, and their budget takes a hit.

When Almost Nobody Wants to Sell You a Corvette

We have a similar case as the first set of examples. A consumer searches for one thing, but gets delivered what looks to be irrelevant messaging.

Bad PPC example from a Corvette search

Joe and Dave went the stock ad copy route to sell you just any new vehicle.

Voss Auto has over 2,000 cars for you.

Only Jeff has a Corvette. His URL, ad copy, and extensions need some work, but he’s the only one who’s letting you know he has the car you want in stock.

Volkswagen: The German Word for … “Kia”?

Bad PPC example from a VW SUV search

Look at Palmetto57 at the top of this example. What a beauty you create when you put the ads together correctly:

  • Headline, ad copy, and URL match the search
  • Sitelink extensions to view inventory and specials; research models; apply for financing
  • Ability to call the dealership

The second ad is a bit weaker, but it does have directions and an option to call. Still, the headline, URL, and copy are way off the mark.

There’s still a more glaring issue to address.

Kia is trying to steal a customer who, by his or her search, seems determined to purchase a Volkswagen SUV. It’s even worse that the ad itself is bad — really bad. Even if Kia has a logical reason to pursue Volkswagen shoppers, it fell far short of any standard for paid search ads. Here’s why:

  • No address listed
  • No option to text
  • No option to call
  • No sitelink extension for inventory
  • Barely relevant ad copy
  • Irrelevant headline

The best way to combat a competitor’s conquesting is by maintaining a high ad rank because that makes it more likely your extensions show and push other dealerships below the fold.

A Case of Deja View

Bad PPC example from a search for a Chevy in Washington, PA

Bad PPC example of a new Chevy search from Flow Chevrolet

Out of the first 15 words, only five are different between these two ads. In addition to having unoriginal, unclickable ad copy, these are missing nearly every extension and conversion opportunity on a paid search ad.

  • 0 have an address listed
  • 0 have an option to text
  • 0 have sitelink extensions to view inventory
  • 0 have an option to call
  • 0 have unique, engaging ad copy

At least you know that you could call the dealerships.

Subaru Dealership Uses What?

Bad PPC example from a Subaru search

If you’ve been paying attention, you can start listing out everything that the ad gets wrong:

  • No sitelink extensions to view inventory
  • No option to call
  • No ad copy that compels shopping
  • No address listed
  • No option to contact

But that’s not the most unfortunate characteristic about this ad. This Subaru dealership is highlighting for Subaru buyers that they use Genuine Ford Car Parts. Make sure you review your ads before they go live so you can catch mistakes like this one before you pay to promote them.

Google a Lexus, Get a Ford

Bad PPC example from a Lexus search

Kansas City has more than 2 million people in its metro area. If you judge by this search, there is no Lexus dealership. Except there are two, and they certainly aren’t helping consumers understand that the IS250 is now the IS300.

So you perform a Google search for a Lexus, but now you’re looking at Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and used Lexus vehicles. You have local competitors trying to conquest these shoppers and third-party sites like CarMax and CarGurus sending buyers to dealerships with used models. None of which addresses the want for a 2018 Lexus model.

Here was an excellent opportunity to write copy that helps a consumer understand the change and promote their dealership and inventory. The terms these dealerships are bidding on are perfect for a Lexus dealership to acquire more leads with a query like the one above.

Remember: If you’re running paid search ads, it’s important that you preview them by leveraging a few available tools. This gives you additional perspective on the ads that you’ll run.

And be sure to Google yourself. In fact, take a moment to do that right now. If you’re not showing up the way you want and should be, let’s chat.

If you’re not sure how you should be showing up, take a look below.

It’s Obvious When You Get It Right

Bad PPC example from an A6 search

Look at that beauty. It has all the relevance your car shopper needs:

  • Lease pricing
  • Lease end-date
  • “Lease” in the URL
  • End-date clarified in URL
  • “Lease” in the unique, compelling ad copy
  • “Lease” in the extension to view inventory
  • Extension to research the A6
  • Option to call
  • Location identified
  • Hours of operation

When you’re selling cars, training staff, making calls, and much more, it’s easy to make these types of mistakes with your paid search. This isn’t a shaming. It’s an opportunity to learn how you can do better. That is, after all, what we’re here to do.

If you’d like more insights about how we approach paid search, you can check out the details here.

You can also dive into more insights about the importance of Quality Score, earning greater than a 4% CTR, and why you should preview your paid search text ads.