By Brian Pasch
There are many companies that pitch Google Adwords management services based on the premise that their technology will create a better bidding strategy, lower cost per click, and higher conversion rates.
A case in point is VIN level advertising, offered by a number of vendors, that automatically create ads based on each Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in stock.
In the example below, a consumer searches for a 2011 Toyota Corolla, and two franchise dealers show in the paid search results, shown by the arrows. The website addresses of these two dealers have been erased for privacy concerns.
For the record, the two dealers listed were a Toyota Dealer and a BMW dealer; both had at least one 2011 Corolla in stock. VIN level advertising gives hope for the BMW dealer that they can sell off-make used cars from their store through SEM.
Why? The average consumer is not going to a local BMW dealership website to buy a used Toyota.
If you are not familiar with VIN level advertising, the Google Adwords ads are created based on the current inventory of a dealership . The current inventory is fed to the Adwords vendor each day, and vehicle specific ads are created based on current inventory and consumer searches.
Where Are Vendors Taking Consumers on The Click?
If there is only ONE 2011 Toyota Corolla in stock, the automated Adwords campaigns will normally take a consumer to the specific Vehicle Detail Page (VDP).
However, when multiple cars in stock match the search criteria, consumers are often sent to a Search Results Pages (SRP). The search results page would show all the “2011 Toyota Corolla” vehicles in stock. Search Results Pages are a common feature on retail automotive websites.
However, when I investigated the performance of clicks landing on Search Results Pages (SRP), I have found some very troubling data. It looks like SRP’s are not a great place to land consumers. The data indicates that the majority of consumers are NOT ready to dive into specific Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) from an SRP.
Landing Page Research Indicates THAT Something Is Wrong
I reviewed 20 Adwords VIN Level Advertising Campaigns, that send clicks to Search Results Pages (SRP), and have found that they share similar characteristics:
- High Bounce Rates – 55-80%
- Low VDP Engagement – Only 10-30% click to a VDP from an SRP
- High Cost per VDP View: Over $10 per VDP view
- High Cost Per Conversion: $50 – $250 per phone call or lead submission
The research we have shared in this article should challenge dealers using VIN Level advertising services to inspect their vendor partners that are using Search Results Pages (SRP) and Vehicle Detail Pages (VDP) as landing pages for SEM campaigns.
It is critical for someone at the dealership to inspect Adwords campaigns designed to sell new or used cars to see what percentage of clicks view a VDP and what is the true cost per conversion. Many new car campaigns I have inspected, that send consumers to new car SRP’s, have the worst performance metrics!
Please keep in mind that VIN level advertising can be very effective if it is setup properly. The sad fact is that many campaigns are set on auto-pilot and dealers are not getting the ROI that they were promised.
Dealers Need To Test Alternative Landing Pages
Dealers will likely find that they will need to create custom landing pages to engage the Adwords consumer in a more creative way. Dealers cannot assume that the consumer who clicks on their SEM Ad is ready to dive into a SRP or VDP.
Dealers must test different landing page designs in their Adwords campaigns; this is not a new concept. Give the visitors from your paid search campaigns more options to convert! Provide choices that are attractive throughout the entire lifecycle of the sales process.
Ignoring the click path metrics of your Google Adwords campaigns can be very costly. I hope that you will inspect your VIN Level Adwords campaigns based in % VDP Views, Bounce Rate, and Lead Conversion Costs. Let me know what you find!
Brian Pasch, CEO