This is a transcript of MM Podcast Episode 005: How To Sell Cars Using Search Marketing And Pay-Per-Click With Brock Clauser.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode 5 of the Motorcar Marketing Podcast. In this episode’s main segment, I’m going to be interviewing Brock Clauser. Brock is an expert at Pay Per Click and Search Marketing. If you’ve ever thought about trying to do Pay Per Click or you’re doing it and want to try to maximize your ROI, this interview is for you so stay tuned for that. If you find this episode valuable, please help us out by giving us a review on ITunes or leaving a comment on YouTube or re-tweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread the word about the podcast so it’s very much appreciated. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to improve this podcast so some honest constructive feedback is very much appreciated.
A couple of quick notes. Any websites or links I mention in the podcast can be found on the blog and show notes. I also publish a transcript of every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.motorcarmarketing.com/podcasts. If you’d like to get our free video Selling More Cars on Craigslist, just go to www.motorcarmarketing.com and put in your name and email address in the form on the sidebar. This guide goes through all the recent craigslist changes and shows you some actual statistics from dealerships who post heavily on craigslist, both now and last year before the big changes were rolled out. So if you’re wondering if you should still be posting your cars on craigslist or wondering how to get more value out of craigslist ads, definitely check out this free video.
So now, let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m going to be interviewing Brock Clauser, and we’re talking all about Pay Per Click Marketing for car dealers. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome, Brock, to the Motorcar Marketing Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show.
Brock: Thanks for your time today, Ashley. I appreciate it.
Ashley: So, to start out, I wonder if you can give us a quick overview of your career and how you got into Pay Per Click marketing?
Brock: Yes. Sure. I originally had finished my bachelor’s degree at Penn State, and when I originally went into the advertising marketing field, I really didn’t know much about digital. This was years ago, and what I had been taught traditionally was really focused on history of advertising, traditional media, etc. and really Pay Per Click, digital marketing, that was kind of in its genesis when I started out so a lot of that was really stealth taught. Luckily I had a couple of mentors who kind of helped me through it. My first marketing job they decided to give me the reins on a Pay Per Click account and learn as much as I could and seven years later and several jobs later, I’m still doing it now. I’ve been involved in several facets of A-Search, not just A-Search for automotive but for retail, for B to B, affiliate marketing, mobile marketing, planning page optimization, and that’s really kind of been my career over the last seven years.
Ashley: Perfect. So let’s now take a step back and maybe just define sort of what Pay Per Click is. I know there are a lot of car dealers I’ve dealt with that they literally don’t even know what PPC or Pay Per Click is so maybe just kind of explain what it is and kind of an overview of how it works and how they can maybe just see it on the google.com page.
Brock: I guess to begin with, Pay Per Click heads up all the lots especially over the last three or four years, and usually when we talk about page services, page search, Pay Per Click, it not only involves just—traditionally it’s just been the text ads that show up usually—obviousl7y you see that in Google results, but also Yahoo, AOL, other search partners. It’s changed the way the digitally brought up on a search engine result screen, but then Google, today, usually it’s denoted by a little yellow button that says “ad” next to it, it traditionally appears at the top and on the right-hand side of the page. But I think Page Search as a definition has gotten a lot broader. A lot of people will associated it with any kind of display their image ads that you buy within the Google display network or other search networks so that could be a part of it. It could also be a part of the larger network pertaining to YouTube, and Google owns YouTube and you can put display ads and free-roll video ads on YouTube and our page search team is buying for that. We also do buying on other display networks across the United States. So I think it’s kind of evolved over time. It’s a little bit broader term. Traditionally it’s always been those kinds of core text ads that you see within a search engine result page.
Ashley: And the bottom line is—as someone who wants to get those ads, what sort of—again, in a nutshell, how do you go about getting yourself into being one of the companies that gets displayed there?
Brock: To get started really basically there is someone internally in-house or having a vendor work for you or an agency partner to set up an ad word, what’s called a Google Ad Words account. Ad Words is the platform that Google uses to sell its Pay Per Click or text ad space, and basically it takes kind of a realization of who you’re market is, what area you’re going to target, keyword searches that people would put in to define your business, setting up some biddings, ad copy, and from a very top level standpoint that’s really all it takes to get started in paid search. Once you have that all together, it’s literally a matter of days you can get up and running and have your ad appear in Google.
Ashley: And that’s really the key is that it’s a bidding system. You put in how much you’re willing to pay per click, and you get listed or not listed depending if you’re willing to spend the money on the clicks vs. the other people bidding on those same keywords.
Brock: Not to get too deep, but basically that’s exactly what it is. It works on a bidding system and uses something called Ad Rank, and you’re rank is determined by what you’re able to bid, how high you’re able to bid and what’s called your quality score which has a lot of different factors. Google basically uses what’s called a quality score algorithm to grade the relevancy of the keyword search to your ad copy to your landing page, how high your rate is. There are several factors that are involved in that. Usually when you see the higher quality the scores, the less you pay per click and actually the amount you’ll be able to rise in the ranking, but traditionally it’s all based on a bidding system and you usually only pay on a cost per click basis.
Ashley: You mentioned obviously Google, what are some of the other companies that have similar products?
Brock: There are a lot of other search partners that Google has. I think when people think of bidding within Google, they think of just Google, but Google actually works with a lot of other smaller-tier search engines that still get a fair share of the market. Google at any time is probably around 70 to 80 percent of market share. But there are web sites like aol.com, half.com, that are actually Google search partners. So you can actually hop in when you set up a campaign to not only have your ads appear in Google but also within the search partners that work as well that takes up a small percentage. There are two that were actually thinking about. One is being Yahoo; they have a search alliance together which basically means that if you want to set up a campaign within the Bing system, it will automatically be entered into the Yahoo market as well. They have between them about 15 to 20 percent of market share per search so they’re definitely smaller than Google but nothing to be ignored, and then the other one would be really YouTube. Not everyone really thinks of YouTube as a search network, but a lot of people do their searches, whether it be entertainment-focused or whether it be informational focus. But a lot of searches are being done on YouTube every day. Google owns YouTube as I mentioned, and there are different numbers of advertising options within Google. And now we’re seeing within automotive as well some other smaller search parties that you can work with. Many people are aware of the partnerships you can do with auto trader, cars.com. There is also a company called Lock Lanes that works with just auto search websites, and they pretty much try to take your inventory and put them into these third-party search sites so when someone’s looking up within classified sections for a car, your ads can actually appear there, and you can link back to BDP pages. Like I mentioned, the industry is growing, and it’s not just from a complete retail or total market standpoint but also from an automotive standpoint as well.
Ashley: I think everybody understands Google is obviously the one with the most traffic and Bing is a distant second, but do you see any differences in—and this may be specific to the auto industry—do you see any differences in the quality of traffic from Bing vs. Google? Are the people who click from Bing more likely to buy a car? Do you see any differences from that?
Brock: That’s a great question. From a car buying perspective, we’re still doing a lot within the industry to kind of figure out who is the most qualified shopper, where are they coming from. That equation I think is still being solved right now. I can tell you traditionally from a click standpoint, from a lead standpoint, we see a little bit better quality volumes from Google. That’s not to say that Google and Yahoo should be tested. I have a number of clients who have success with Google but also have success with Bing and Yahoo. Being is kind of behind the times a little bit so to speak on their technology compared to Google. Bing is owned by Microsoft, and the majority of their revenue is not necessarily made in ad dollars where Google the large majority of their revenue is done in paid search display, YouTube. So they’re always trying to come up with new technologies and new ways for their advertisers to take advantage of shoppers and for clicks. But with automotive specifically we’ve seen that the majority of the clicks that we get are with Google and that a lot of the leads that we’ll get are also through Google. Bing has come out with different ways to take advantage of new leads. Google’s had something out for years now called Call Extensions where you’ll actually be able to put your phone number within the ad itself so if someone’s on their mobile phone or even on their PC, and they want to call someone at the dealership right away, the post would be going to their website and maybe looking up different inventory, that’s something that can be done in Google and track. Within the last several months Bing has added that to their arsenal as well. There are still some things I think being worked out on the back end with Bing, but they are allowing Call Extensions be added into their advertising. You can also do conversion tracking with Bing. So it will kind of be interesting to see even though Bing is a little bit behind the times what they will be doing within the next several months to try to make themselves a player and see if these different lead opportunities can pan out for them as far as quality.
Ashley: So now let’s kind of maybe just take a step back and think about that. I think that’s a good overview of what Pay Per Click is and Page Search is. So how can a car dealership get started with automotive Pay per Click. What’s sort of their first step? How do they decide on keywords, and maybe you could even break this down, new car dealers vs. used car dealers.
Brock: As far as new car dealers, a lot of dealerships we work with have both new and used inventory, but if we wanted to kind of divide out, I think for both types of dealerships, the first two things we always want to do is first, who is your target audience? What type of shopper are you looking for? What types of searches do you think they’ll do to find you on the Internet or what types of searches would you like them to do to find you on the Internet? You probably already have a good idea about if you’ve ever done any traditional advertising is who your target market is—and this really goes back to a holistic marketing level. It’s not from a paid search level but just knowing who your audience is, who your competitors are in your area and what makes you different from them and do you have different offers, inventory, etc. that can help you stand out from them. That will help you gain some traction within paid search. I think those are the first big two. From there usually what we do traditionally at stream companies is if we have a dealer that’s interested in starting Pay per Click and maybe getting their feet wet a little bit, they’ll actually come to us and say this is who we are; this is our history. These are the types of vehicles we have in our inventory, and from there we’ve tried to put together what we call just a little proposal. Google has some tools on the back end that different PPC vendors can use to get an idea of maybe what types of keywords would work best for you, what geographic targets would you want to go after and then ultimately how much is it going to cost me? How much do you think I’ll anticipate in Pay per Click? How much budget do I need per month in order to have significant market saturation in my area. So it doesn’t really matter if you’re new or used. I think the profits are pretty similar in both respects. I will mention one thing if you’re strictly a used car dealer, Google does have some things in place, some parameters in place to sometimes try to discourage certain dealerships from bidding on certain keywords. So let me give you an example, if you’re a Ford dealership and you strictly sell Ford cars and you have a lot of used cars on your lot that are not just Ford but also other makes and models, and you start putting advertising online on Google, strictly going after some of these off-brand used, Google could—and I’ve seen this before, it doesn’t happen every time but it does happen sometimes—they’ll actually disapprove your ad because your dealership isn’t directly associated with that brand. So if you’re not a Ford dealer, technically they don’t want you selling anything off brand. You might get disqualified for that brand because your dealership isn’t associated with that brand. So there are some tools in the background which Google uses to kind of associate dealerships by brand so to say that you can—not saying you can’t do all-brand advertising with Google. It’s not that they will necessarily shut your account down, but they do have tools in place to try to keep you focused on the brand that you currently work with then if that makes sense.
Ashley: Yes. So maybe we could even get some specifics. Let’s just talk about like you were mentioning come up with who are your competitors? Who are your customers? Maybe we could just run through how that actually applies to setting up Pay Per Click campaigns. So if you’re just like a used car dealer, you have a hundred cars, maybe you’re more in the upper end of the market—BMW’s, Mercedes, but you’re just a used car dealer so what are those steps? I’m anxious to hear your opinion on this. Is that used car dealer going to bid on 2003 BMW 325 I, what keywords are they specifically going to go after, just some examples.
Brock: If you’re specifically a used car dealer and you’re looking to sell the inventory on your lot, I guess two days I want to answer this. One is if you want to get an idea of who your competition is, you probably know in your area who is selling cars, who is selling specific models related to you, who would be your direct competition, but that always doesn’t equate to paid search. Some of these competitors may be doing paid search; maybe they aren’t. There is something specific you can look up within Google and it’s called Google Ad Preview Tool. If you do a search for that, it will come up and you should be able to see it. When you click on that link, you’ll actually be able to kind of manipulate a search that’s being done. You can put in whatever keywords that might be privy to you so if you know you have a lot of used BMW Preiss series on your lot, you can do a couple of searches related to those cars. You can put in whatever geographic area you’re in, and Google will theoretically give you a preview of what that page will look like and it will show you what advertisers are currently bidding on those keywords at that specific time. What I like to do is kind of do a couple of searches like that throughout the week and see who consistently pops up. And that will really give you kind of a pretty good idea of who your competition is because, like I said, you may know the competitors’ back yard, but you don’t necessarily know which ones are bidding on certain keywords?
Ashley: Knowing your competitors, how does that translate into what you’re going to do with your Pay Per Click campaign?
Brock: Well, from a strategic standpoint at the end of the day, if your account is set up the best way you can, you’re going up with the right keywords, you’re getting all of your targeting and all your account structures set up, great. That’s awesome, but at the end of the day, to get people to click through to your website, really what it consists of is ad copy and making sure that the ads that are coming up on screen for the keywords that qualified for your search, that there is something that you can talk about in your ad that sticks out from the rest. So having the knowledge of what your competitors have on their lots and what kinds of ad copy they’re using in order to drive clicks to their websites, I think is really going to be a great first step for your dealership to try to figure out, this is maybe my competitive advantage for these types of keywords. Maybe they have a lot more Mercedes than I do in stock and that’s something that they have competitively that works really well for them. I know that maybe A, B, and C, I do really well and X Y and Z they do a little bit better than me. Maybe you may want to focus at first on A, B, and C, really speak to that and try to see if you can drive more clicks comparatively because you’re really stronger in that area. So I think that’s really the first step that you want to take is realizing who is my competition and what are they really trying to push out into the market to gain clicks, and how can I kind of peter over or how can I decide what I want to go after vs. maybe what I can kind of leave by the wayside because maybe I’m not as strong in certain models, certain areas. Does that make sense?
Ashley: I see. So on the new dealership site, one of the things that occurs to me is that the used dealers have one or two, maybe five sort of a similar car whereas a new dealership—you know—they’re going to have dozens of basically similar cars so they can go after much broader terms, as you say, like BMW’s three series because they’re going to have tons of these, so do you have some specific keyword recommendations, what you’ve seen actually work. For the used car dealer is it like a year-make-model as a keyword? Is it just the model BMW three series, the make and the model, and then what would maybe work for a new dealership?
Brock: For a used dealership it’s a little bit more tricky because, as you mentioned, with a new dealer if you’re a Ford dealership, for example, you know that over the course of the next six months you’re probably going to have probably your five Ford models that you’re always going to have in stock and have a lot of and got to move off your lot. And then there is probably another five to ten that you know you’re probably going to consistently have. Maybe you don’t want to push them as strongly as others, but you know that certain year-make-models you’re always going to have on your lot so you can always try to find new keywords and test out new keyword ideas with those kinds of core products. With used, it’s kind of a mixed bag, and it’s a little bit more difficult to pin down because like any other product-related website, they’re almost like an E-commerce website. What’s moving out of your website and out of your lot is talking down because your cars can move at any given pace, and you’re not going to have the same base and models on your lot at any given time. So if used, those kinds of core searches that you can go after or keywords that a new dealership would have, you really don’t have that opportunity. A lot of the used dealerships whom I work with don’t have a core five or six makes and models that they have, they might have several different kinds. A lot of dealerships we work with have anywhere from fifty to two hundred used cars on their lots, and they could be anything and everything. So things that we look at from a used perspective, there are different pieces of software which you can use on the back end and also within Google which, basically these software tools are based around what’s called dynamic searches. What that basically entails is at a top level is at any given time having a piece of software that can scan your current inventory or pages, most notably your used pages—to get an idea of what currently is the makes, models, and years you have in your lot. And then when people are doing searches for those years, makes, and models or even if the used Mercedes E600 that was from several years ago if you have that on your lot, what the software tries to do is to match up the search with anything that you might have on your lot. If it qualifies with something you have close to or used within your lot, then this ad will basically dynamically generate in a headline or somewhere in the body what that model is and try to link directly to that page. If the search is being done and it’s not on your lot, well, then, the software does whatever it can to make sure that your ads don’t appear because you’re not qualified. You don’t want someone searching for a 2010 BMW 328I, and your ad appears for a 2006 Super Forester; that’s a horrible user experience. We’re seeing more and more Google and other software providers really try to build up their credibility and the amount of technology they have to put towards what’s called dynamic search or search that’s done on a dynamic basis because your products move in and out so quickly on your lot. I mean, there have been software providers that have been out for a couple years now, but Google’s only really started doing the whole dynamic ads within the last six to nine months. So they’re still testing things out. I know at our agency we’re testing out different software providers, different ways for Google to manipulate the dynamic search and how that works for our clients so this is something that is all very new and they are trying for used dealerships.
Ashley: So let’s turn to the geographic targeting because certainly for car dealerships this is imperative that they only target people who are within a certain distance so maybe you can give us some tips and what you see working in terms of geotargeting.
Brock: That’s a great question. Most vendors whom I work with on the client side when I start with the dealership have a pretty good idea of the geotargeting capabilities that Google has really come out with within the last several years, but usually to start out with, most dealers just pay. I know who my core audience is; they are twenty to twenty-five miles from my dealership. Maybe if they’re really in a tighter VMA at fifteen miles, if they’re more rural it might be 30 to 50 miles, but they have a pretty good idea of where their customers are coming from; that’s on their sales data. They also have other data sources like Polk or Data-M, and what they try to do is try to take that kind of off dealership information and see where I may be losing sales at, I’d like to beef up my advertising to try to steal away some searches and some leads from areas that I should be getting more sales from. But what’s interesting is that Google can actually get really refined with their targeting. So you can not only do radius targeting around the dealership, but you can target by—obviously you don’t want to go by state or maybe by county—but you can target by county, by city, even down to the zip code level. You can do radius targeting around certain zip codes, and you can mix and match all this stuff as well. Like I said, for example, did you know that maybe there were five or six towns that you really wanted to go after, you could bid more aggressively on those particular cities, and you could still have a radius targeting for other areas and maybe less aggressively on others, but you’re not just set at your radius of where you want to be. You can actually get pretty surgical with how you want to go after your potential customers and potential shoppers for your lot. Part two of that is once you’ve gotten started up on paid search and you start collecting leads data and you start collecting some geographic information, on the back end within Google, there are different reports you can generate, one of them being a geographic report. And you can look at it by city down to zip code level by tallying. You can see which areas are you getting the most searches from, what areas are getting you the most clicks, getting you the most website conversions or the most leads, and then you can also take that data and over time refine your marketing base and your geographic targeting. Like I said, if you find that some areas get even more leads, more bang for your buck, you probably maybe want to put more money into that area and bid more aggressively and bid down on other areas. As far as geographic targeting goes, there are a lot of different options with Google. That really works out well for small and medium-sized (inaudible 0:28:40.9 which most car dealerships which we deal with especially from the tier three perspective can take advantage of.
Ashley: For sure. Now what do you think of the time of day options. That’s another option that Google offers. Do you recommend that dealers only show their ads during normal business hours when there is an employee there to answer the phone?
Brock: That’s another great question, at the top level when you’re looking at all of this whether it is keywords, geographic, time of day, day of week, you should never really go off of your gut because the best friend that a paid search person has is data, and with data comes a lot of ROI information, a lot of click information, cost information, and the more information you have and the more data you get over time, the most you’ll be able to kind of get feedback on—like I mentioned—this geographic area, maybe there are areas we can bid more aggressively on than others. There also reports like you mentioned, hour of the day reports, day of week reports where you can create those same metrics as far as clicks, costs, conversions down by hour of the day so I wouldn’t necessarily say to a dealer hey, you shouldn’t be advertising at certain times of the day. I would rather let the campaign run for a little bit, collect the data, and try to get a realization of when those certain times of day that would be most adequate to be broadcast in your ad especially if you’re kind of limited by your budget. If you don’t want to spend a lot at first, there may be hours of the day you completely cut out and not even have your advertising up and running, but you may be surprised. You may find that between eleven and midnight, you’re getting maybe not a ton of searches but your calls for conversions are a little bit lower than other times of day. I wouldn’t always go by your gut and say there is definitely a right or a wrong answer for every dealership. It’s always going to be dependent on the market that you sell to, the competitors that are in your market, and your own data that you can take advantage of to make decisions.
Ashley: Let’s turn a bit and talk about some metrics and the metrics that you think are important to measure. You’ve mentioned these various reports, whether it be the geotargeting or the hour of the day reports, what metrics do you think are important for a car dealership to look at?
Brock: I mean, at the end of the day it’s all about selling cars. Like I mentioned earlier, as an industry we’re growing and getting better and better realizing which traffic sources are driving clicks, leads, phone calls, and then hopefully sales and really starting to hopefully close the loop on all those things. I mean, that’s the ideal situation as what is my ideal ROI for every marketing channel that I have, and it’s not a search of anything but digital and someday hopefully traditional. But the metrics that we really try to look at—there are a few that we really try to speak to with our clients each month. One is things that you probably have heard about before, click your rates of how often someone clicks on your ad after they see it so it’s clicks divided by your ad impressions. The higher clicks your rate is, usually the more relevancy you have to tell the story of how engaged usually audiences are with your ad copy. So if you have a higher click to rate, you’re probably doing some things right at the basic level. There are some other things that you want to look at. One is called impression share. Impression share basically is what’s also known as maybe your search market share or how often your ads are appearing in the search results for a keyword that you’re bidding on. And there could be a number of reasons that your ad does or does not show up. It could not show up due to a limited budget. It could not show up due to a low ad rank for certain keywords or maybe your ad’s appearing at the bottom of the page or on page two so you don’t even have a real chance to be in that auction. That’s one thing that we like to go over with our dealers each month is if you’re having great return in paid search, do you have that adequate amount of budget in order to support the searches that are being done. And this continues on a monthly basis. Search is not a sedative for getting business, it’s all the amount of searches that are being done. So we know that some months and certain times a year you have more searches than others. If you want to have full market penetration, have the budget available for that.
Other metrics that we really kind of concentrate on from a lead standpoint, conversions, phone calls are really the two big ones. Recently we’ve seen over the last eighteen months that web conversions have consistently started to drop off a little bit.
Ashley: On buying a car, what is considered a web conversion, someone signing up for an email list or someone filling out the form saying please contact me? That’s a website conversion?
Brock: Traditionally yes. That’s how we measure it. It could be a form on your contact page. It could be a schedule a test drive form, get a close, any type of form where they ideally at least give you their name and email address and maybe phone number as well, but that’s how we usually denote a conversion. From a mobile standpoint, we’ve also seen some of our dealers want to measure people are coming from their mobile phone, and they’re looking up directions to my dealership. We want to count that as a conversion as well because if you’re driving down the car on the weekend and you’re looking to maybe do some shopping. Your wife’s sitting next to you and you’re trying to look up the dealership and they look up directions on their mobile phone, that’s usually a key indicator that they’re trying to find where you’re at and arrive there. So we may even use that as an indicator, but from a traditional standpoint, usually web conversion is a form that’s filled out and sent to the dealer. What I was saying earlier is that we’re rapidly seeing a trend now that web conversions are starting to decrease by dealership. We’re finding more people are less likely to fill out a web form and fill out a conversion form, give you their contact information and email address or phone number. Five, six, or seven years ago, that was kind of the gold standard of Internet conversions for dealerships and getting as many leads as possible through web conversion. Those lead generation sources have started to fall off. We’re seeing more phone calls, more people doing chat sessions and more people just doing their own research and just showing up to a dealer which is really talk to and try to calculate an ROI form because if they’re just doing a bunch of searches and then showing up, there is really no conversion metric there to trigger ROI. So what we’re looking at are actually ABP views per traffic source, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that someone’s filling out a lead form but there have been studies done by Cobalt and Lock Lanes and some other third-party analytics providers that have seen consistently that the more VDP’s used that a car gets, the less time is spent on the lot. And we’re starting to use that more and more now as a key indicator by traffic source because web leads are falling off a little bit, maybe we can use other types of information to generate who our ideal shopper might be. Those are some of the metrics that we’re looking at as well.
Ashley: Define VDP for us.
Brock: Sure. It’s the kind of industry jargon I guess within auto dealer websites is SRP and VDP. SRP would be a search result page or basically it’s your inventory listing by models. We’ll go back to the Ford dealer example. If you’re a Ford dealer and someone brings up a page of all your 2014 Ford Focuses or Ford Fusions, that total list there would be search results page or an SRP. A VDP would be a vehicle detail page so any time somebody actually ends up on a page that’s specifically speaks to a certain make or model buys in. So I don’t want to maybe necessarily have a list of all the black Ford Focuses that you have in that list; that would be an SRP listing or an SRP page. If they come onto a certain page where it has a specific vehicle, all those pictures, all those details that you have from a vehicle level, that would be considered a vehicle detail page or a VDP.
Ashley: Perfect. Can you give us some rough idea about what people are going to pay per click, and again, give us some keyword examples and then what they would pay if they wanted to get started with Pay Per Click.
Brock: That’s a great question. I guess that’s kind of one of the million dollar questions of how much is this going to cost me at the end of the day? The reason when we start talking to a dealership who wants to get involved with either maybe starting Pay Per Click or maybe even if they can change some things around with their current strategy, we always like to do a proposal for that. And the reason that we do that is—like I mentioned before—Google has tools on the back end where we can look at your website, try to get a best idea of what those keywords or searches are where people would want to come to your website and obviously what customers you might want to gain through different searches and depending on what those keywords are, there are really three factors: Keyword mix, the competitors or how competitive their marketplace is, and then your geographic location. We take those three things and we use the tools that we have at our disposal to try to come up with (1) What are our average costs per click is going to look like and then (2) Based on the amount of searches that are being done each month, what is the ideal budget if I want to get involved. From a cost per click standpoint, if there are not a lot of competitors in your area, if there are a lot of searches being done in your area, those factors can kind of update you and get you a little bit better idea of how much I’m going to pay. The average car dealer we usually see per CPC’s depending on the terms, usually the key terms like dealership-related, geographic, year-make-model, those really core searches—anywhere from $2.50 usually to six dollars is what you’ll expect to pay cost per click. Like I said, it can vary depending on where you’re at, your competition—that sort of thing. From a cost per lead standpoint either web conversion, phone call, search call—that can vary as well. Some dealers are in locations where people are more apt to fill out a lead form so it’s easier to calculate. It also depends on your call tracking situation so if your website is set up to track calls by traffic source, that gives you so much more data to figure out what my idea of ROI’s or call per lead. But usually we see that’s kind of a general number too, but we can see anywhere between twenty-five to—I would say—ninety dollars call per lead, sometimes up even over a hundred dollars. Really depends on your tracking capabilities and also the way your website is set up and how easy it is to fill out either a web form or convert in some other way on the website.
Ashley: Sure. That’s great information. So let’s talk a bit about stream companies for a minute. Can you give us kind of the two-minute elevator pitch for what you guys do.
Brock: Stream Companies is a full-service integrated ad agency. We’re built right outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We’ve been in the advertising business for over seventeen years, and for the large majority of that time focused on auto dealers. We also work in retail as well, but the majority of what we do is focused on automotive. We’re a privately held ad agency. We have over 110 employees currently. We have officers in the Philadelphia area, DC, North Jersey, California, and we’re really focused at the end of the day on building partnerships with different dealerships. We work a lot with tier threes and tier two, and at the end of the day we’re really, like I said, focused on being accountable, being a partner with your dealership, seeing what sets you apart from others, and if you wanted more information, we have a brand new advertising website just for car dealers called streamautomotiveadvertising.com and it gives you a really good overview of dealers that we work with, some case studies, our capabilities and a review of who stream is and who we are from an automotive standpoint.
Ashley: Perfect. And so what is the best way for people to contact you if they want to follow up with a question or might be interested in your services.
Brock: That’s a great question. So if you’re interested in the stream services and what we have, I would say that the best bet is to go to screenautomotiveadvertising.com. We have really easy ways to contact us there to get more information on paid search or digital or anything traditional. If there are any questions you want to ask me specifically about paid search, definitely feel free to email me as well. My email address is email@example.com.
Ashley: Perfect. And I’ll list all that in the show notes so if anybody wants and doesn’t have time to write that down, they can just go to the show notes, and I’ll put a link directly back to streamautomotiveadvertising.com. So, thank you, Brock. You’ve been very generous with your time. This has been very informative. I really appreciate your coming on the show.
Brock: Thank you as well, Ashley. It has been my pleasure.
Ashley: If you’re currently looking for high-quality auto dealer website, check out our sister site motorcarsites.com. We offer high-quality auto dealer websites at a very affordable price. Dealers can typically save between $50 and $150 per month by using our service. You can upload as many cars as you would like at no additional costs. We automatically can export your cars to all the major platforms like cars.com and auto trader so you don’t have to manage your inventory in multiple locations. We can have your new website up and running usually in less than 24 hours. Set-up is free and easy, and there are no long-term contracts so you can cancel at any time. Check out motorcarsites.com to learn more.
Just a couple of comments on today’s interview with Brock. As I listened to the interview again while putting the podcast together, I realized that the things we talked about might seem confusing if you’ve never done Pay Per Click marketing, but it’s really not that confusing to get started. I would really urge you to give this a try if you never have. Just go for the low-hanging fruit, collect data, and get familiar with how pay per click works. Google pay per click is the greatest marketing channel ever created, and I don’t say this lightly. I’ve done a ton of online marketing over the years, and there’s really nothing quite like Google Pay Per Click. It’s great for collecting data once you’re familiar with it. It’s fairly easy to use. New campaigns can be set up in just a few minutes. It’s not easy to get working properly and to get a positive ROI. There is a lot of competition for good keywords, but if you can get it to work, there is a ton of volume so it’s very scalable. If you can figure out a model that works with Google Pay Per Click, you can expand your geographic area. You can add more keywords; you can add more cars to your inventory which gives you more keywords, and there’s just a ton of volume on Google. So if you spend some time and can get it to work, it can really be a great source of leads. And this is one key thing that we didn’t talk about in the interview. If you’re careful, you won’t lose a lot of money. That’s a very important thing I want to talk a bit more about it because we really didn’t discuss it in the interview. One of the keys to Google Pay Per Click is that you can set a max daily budget. So, for instance, when you’re starting out, you can set the max budget to ten dollars per day. That means at most you’ll only lose ten dollars per day. Google’s happy to do it. Once you’ve spent the ten dollars on clicks for the day, they simply automatically stop showing your ads so you won’t get any more charges. There is also a very nice set-up wizard. Google understands that it can be complex and overwhelming so when you sign up for a new account, they’ll actually walk you through the set-up process. They’ll take you through every one of those steps and everything will be explained as you go along. So you really don’t have to remember to set all these complex advanced features that we talked about in the interview. You’ll be walked through the ;process. So just sign up and don’t worry about doing it wrong; just put in some keywords that you think will work and ad some text that you think might work. Don’t get too caught up in making everything perfect. Then set a max budget low enough so that you don’t care if you lose it all. Just consider it money spent on education. What’s going to happen after a week or two is that you’re going to get familiar with the interface and all the things that we talked about today won’t seem quite so complex. Then you can come back and re-listen to this podcast and really start to tweak your campaigns. Slowly you’ll start to get better at it and hopefully start to get some phone calls. Over time you can increase your budget and expand your keywords. Just think about this; just get in there, set your daily budget for ten dollars, turn it off on the weekends so you’re only talking about five days a week. Just let it run and don’t get too caught up in really tweaking, oh, I’ve got to have the perfect keywords or the perfect ad copy, just get in there and get going. And if you run it for a month five days a week at ten dollars a day, you’re only going to lose a couple hundred. And that will be money well-spent just to learn that system.
Brock talked about Bing a little bit. Just don’t even worry about Bing when you’re starting out. Just concentrate on Google for starters. That’s going to be most of the traffic anyway so get that to work before you even bother with Bing. I can set you up with a website that will track phone calls so if you need more information about that, just send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org, and maybe after a while, once you sort of understand Pay Per Click, you might consider bringing an agency like Stream Companies, the one that Brock works for, to help out and really optimize things. If you’ve been working on your own campaign and understand at least the basic of how it all works, it’s going to make working for an agency like Streamcompanies much, much better.
One thing I would like to make clear, though, Brock said in his experience the cost per lead is anywhere from twenty-five dollars upwards to a hundred dollars so make sure your model can support that. You’re not going to be able to get leads much cheaper than at twenty-five dollars. If you’re not able to afford twenty-five dollar leads, you might consider examining your entire sales plan to figure out why other dealers are able to afford a hundred dollar leads while you’re not even able to afford twenty-five dollar leads, but that’s a discussion for another podcast episode.
Anyway, that’s our show. Hope you get some value out of it and it can help you grow.