Dealers live in a world full of choices, and online marketing is no different. Your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign is a good example. You or your Internet manager must choose between paid search, a tool which targets car buyers who use Google and other search engines, and display ads, which can appear wherever online shoppers go.
Both can produce leads on their own, but they’re even better together. The most effective online marketing campaign will drive valuable traffic to your website by using search and display ads to target consumers at different stages of the buying process. Let’s take a closer look at each tool and learn how they can complement each other.

Paid Search
If you have used Google, you have seen the sponsored links that appear at the top of the list of results. Every search you perform is a question, and every pay-per-click ad is the search engine’s attempt to answer it.

Type: Paid search is a form of direct response marketing.

Target: Paid search targets consumers in the early stages of the car-buying process; specifically, those who enter “Cleveland Honda dealer” or similar queries in search engines such as Google.

Content: Searchers are looking for relevant results. Strong ad copy highlighting prices, promotions, features and benefits can help to make your ad the best answer.

Analysis: More relevant ads earn more clicks. Counting clicks is a great way to gauge how successful your campaign is, but you must dig a little deeper than that. When someone converts as a direct response to your pay-per-click advertisement, that is considered a “one-per-click” conversion, and that’s the number to focus on. It is also important to take into consideration how long each car buyer stayed on your site after clicking your ad. Good content will entice visitors to explore further. Your landing page should be well-crafted and working smoothly before you start driving clicks.

Optimization: When optimizing paid search, it is important to focus on several key factors, the first of which is keyword optimization. You must constantly review the performance of your active keywords. Edit or remove keywords that do not perform well or provide the desired results. Also, be sure to include keywords in your ad copy. This helps to ensure your ads are relevant and will appeal to your target audience.

Display Ads
When was the last time you shopped for a particular product online and were then followed by advertisements for that product on every subsequent website you visited? You picked up a code that was added to a “retargeting” list, and the code ensures that a relevant ad will appear on any website that displays them.

Type: Display ads are a form of brand awareness.

Target: Display ads are targeted toward consumers who have begun perusing websites.

Content: These ads can contain graphics as well as text. They should include relevant ad copy as well as a visual connection to your store, including your logo and your website’s color scheme. This will help create connections in customers’ minds, even if they don’t go to your website the first time they see your ad.

Analysis: Your primary goal for display ads should be to increase brand awareness, so you want them to appear as many times as possible. While there are several ways to measure the success of your campaign, the number of “impressions” is key to assessing the success of your campaign. You also must focus on your visitors’ behavior. A “view-through” conversion is earned whenever a shopper visits your website after clicking — or seeing — your display ad and taking further action, such as filling out a lead form, and it’s an important metric.

Optimization: You must constantly re-evaluate your ads to be sure you are targeting the right audience. There are many different targeting methods available, so feel free to experiment or seek guidance from an expert. Consider bidding on the display network by cost per thousand impressions (a.k.a. CPM), which charges by the impression rather than by the click.

The Combination
When deciding whether to allocate resources toward paid search or display ads, you must decide whether your goal is to create a direct response or build brand awareness. For most dealers, both are important, but circumstances can sometimes require a focus on one or the other.

Ultimately, you will want to cover all your bases. You can provide answers to search-engine users and build your brand at the same time — successful Internet dealers of all sizes do it every day. Using paid search and display ads in conjunction will provide for a healthy and successful online marketing strategy.

Sarah Adamo and Renée Benedetti are SEM and digital performance managers, respectively, at Potratz Advertising. They are the co-hosts of “Digital Marketing Dialogue,” a biweekly web series.
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