If there has been one constant in the last few years, it’s that paid search remained effective. Well, that and the crushing ennui, but we’ll stick to marketing here for the sake of brevity. After pulling back in 2020, automotive digital ad spending grew over 20% in 2021 and is projected to reach $19 billion by 2023.
The automotive industry lays down about 8% of all U.S. digital advertising spend — and for a good reason. Over three-quarters of all car shoppers start their journey online before buying, and from the first click to getting the keys, the buying process encompasses about 14 hours over three months, on average. This means you need to catch their attention fast and keep it. What better way to do that than paid search ads?
But paid search is only part of the journey. About 60% of car buyers will call a dealership after searching online, so your digital advertising has to be optimized to drive those valuable phone-ups that get buyers in the showroom and keep your service bays full. Here are 10 killer paid search tips to get more hot phone leads pouring into your dealerships.
One of the simplest, sure-fire ways to optimize your paid search bidding is to use Google’s Smart Bidding. Google’s keyword bidding algorithm takes into account factors you might not think of and it can crunch more data than any one marketer can. Google recently rolled out new features like Simulators that can help you understand how Target CPA, Target ROAS, and budget changes may impact performance, allowing you to forecast performance in Search campaigns.
The key benefits of using Smart Bidding include:
Google’s Smart bidding algorithm trains on your conversion data at a vast scale to assure you’re bidding on keywords that drive the most value for your budget and helps assure you’re not throwing money at clicks that don’t result in test drives. By integrating offline conversion data with Google Ads from appointments set at your dealerships, you can further optimize your bidding and significantly reduce your CPA.
In Google Ads, signals are the data points that you use to target your ads. Smart Bidding offers far more contextual signals than manual bidding does, including device type, audience, demographic, location, day of the week, and time of day.
Smart Bidding offers reporting tools that give you deeper insight into your bidding performance and help you quickly troubleshoot any issues including detailed bid strategy statuses, campaign drafts and experiments for Search and Display campaigns, bid simulators, and rich performance reports.
Use multipliers to apply different conversion weights if some call signals are more valuable to your business than others. This helps you define your own type of scoring system. Once you have this set, add the new weighted signals to your automated bidding strategies to ensure the system optimizes towards the actions that help you meet your goals.
The sound of a phone ringing is money-making music to your ears. But make sure you have very specific ad schedules in place for call extensions and call-only ads. Not having someone there to answer the phone is infuriating to the caller. Added bonus: with a tight ad schedule, you can afford to push your Max CPCs so you are getting the most bang for your buck. Here’s how to get the most out of call extensions and call-only ads:
Ensure you only deploy call-only ads on search terms that are most likely to align with a high intent to call. Call extensions, in contrast, can be applied as liberally as possible as they receive more impressions and typically improve overall CTR.
Google Ads has been the leading search engine for years, but it’s not the only way to find customers. Depending on the audience the make or model that you’re advertising appeals to, you may be missing out on an opportunity that will perform better — and potentially have a lower CPC.
Using a bid management platform (such as SA360) is a great way to streamline campaign management across different search engines like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising, and even Pinterest. Invoca call tracking signals can also be applied to these strategies for more holistic optimization.
Placing click-to-call buttons on landing pages will increase conversions from people who want a quote or a test drive and would rather not fill out a form on a small touchscreen.
Ensure sales-focused click-to-call buttons are present on conversion-focused landing pages explicitly used to harvest demand in paid digital campaigns. Applying those buttons on more general pages will often result in an at least equal number of non-sales calls naturally being generated.
Making powerful optimizations that drive results all comes down to data. By integrating your paid media platforms with a conversation intelligence solution like Invoca, you can track all calls that result from your paid media efforts, including calls made directly from an ad or landing page. It also allows you to derive data and track call outcomes across all your dealership locations.
Don’t expect the same performance from calls from ads vs. calls from landing pages. Remember, someone who is calling directly from your ad is less likely to have seen your site or completed their research, so consider these calls more exploratory and less likely to convert directly. It’s important to establish benchmarks for these two types of calls and optimize accordingly.
Keep in mind that keywords which drive high-quality phone-ups to your dealerships may be distinctly different than those that, say, help customers find locations or store hours.
A lot of time is spent developing audiences for remarketing and customization strategies, but don’t forget about the audiences you’d like to suppress. Having negative call signals can be just as important as positive ones to determine the types of callers you want to avoid spending your marketing dollars on.
Call volume for most dealerships fluctuates throughout the day and night. People probably won’t call to schedule a test drive at 11 p.m. on Monday, but they will light up the phones at 9 a.m. on Saturday. If you’re not increasing bids during peak hours, you could be missing out on calls and if you’re bidding during off hours, you could be sending valuable leads to voicemail.
Managing bid multipliers manually can get out of hand quickly. Whenever you can, lean on AI to action this type of optimization. If you are using smart bidding strategies (in Google Ads or SA360, for example), the algorithm will identify call volume trends and automatically adjust bids to maximize performance.
If your dealers only serve customers in Kansas, you don’t want to pay to drive calls from California. Additionally, you can identify areas that you are getting a high volume of calls from and focus targeting on them.
Take it one step further and analyze call tracking data for conversion insights by a target area. If you have a strong case, it might be worth modifying your location targeting and budgets to maximize the volume of calls in certain geographic regions.
Phone conversations provide a wealth of insight into your customers, their needs, and preferences. Platforms like Invoca provide searchable call transcripts in addition to powerful conversation intelligence so you can easily spot areas for improvement and find new opportunities for growth.
While you’re waiting for your AI signals to build in statistical confidence, don’t forget about the signals that are available out of the box. They are extremely powerful and layering specific combinations can make for very precise signals. It’s also very helpful if you know what the possible IVR spoken phrases are, as they may offer valuable clues about what’s transpiring on the call.
AutoNation Case Study: See how Invoca enables AutoNation to optimize media spend, empower contact center agents with insights from phone calls, and connect the full digital-to-call experience.
Schedule a demo to learn more about how Invoca conversation intelligence enables you to drive more leads to every dealership.