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Made you click from the title or the picture, didn't I?  Well, this article is about Pay-Per-Click (PPC), but a short story first to explain my point:  When I had my entertainment company ten years ago, we always laughed at the long-standing joke that naming a band “Free Beer!” would make all the honky-tonk signs read “Free Beer Tonight!”—ensuring strong attendance.  I still grin at it, because it’s so damned true.  And impossible to do, because no bar would book you. 

PPC campaigns that focus only on Click-Thru-Rate (CTR) are a very similar “high click attendance” effort, but they’re no joke.  Just a few years ago, people fought for audience, and anybody clicking your ad was a win:  It was All About the Click. All about yelling "Free Beer!" for attendance.

NOT true any more.  It’s all about “conversion”.  Want to have some PPC companies turn as white as a sheet?  Ask about conversion.  And also know that saying “conversion” is like saying “religion”:  Which one do you mean?  Conversion is divergent the same way. 

What is conversion?  Ultimately, power in retail vehicle sales comes from selling cars, so THAT conversion to a sale is what we ultimately want.  However, a PPC program itself converts to calls, emails, forms, and (more often than we think) visits to the dealership:  Conversion to sales is still on your sales staff.  Calls, emails, and forms from PPC have plenty of tracking tools, but it’s best if a customer prints out and/or knows a “code” that must be presented at time-of-purchase to get the offer.  If we push 100 folks to the floor and sell none, there might be small program problems (the offer was wrong and so led to heat and not sales, for example), but most likely it’s the call/email/form/floor process that failed to sell. 

So, back to the start here, what do we want for a CTR?  I’ve had everything now from one percent to OVER FIVE percent, depending on the line of cars I presented.  And the offer, of course, and the inventory.  So, essentially, for CTR it depends.  If a PPC company trashes another PPC company I’m using based only on CTR, then they get shown the door.  CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is a very handy number, too, but don’t just talk to me about that, either. 

The Click-to-Conversion-Rate (CCR) is now my clearest measurable of the PPC campaign.  Of any PPC campaign I run.   And my PPC vendors know it.  What should a good CCR be?  I'm tracking that data for my campaigns right now, and I'll let you know in a future article.

For conversions, ask yourself and your PPC vendor these questions:  Do you have a compelling text ad relevant to the search you’re targeting?  Once shoppers click to your conversion page, do you have a strong offer for them and show them the inventory—and with real pictures, not stock?  Do you have aggressive pricing (or a clear “Call for Best Price!” might work in your area) on your conversion page inventory, with a sense of urgency to contact and/or print the car they want and bring that with them? 

Ask all that and more.  CTR isn’t the “thing” any more, it’s CCR.  And it sounds very sad to write it, but for PPC, remember . . . 

No More Free Beer!


by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2011
All Rights Reserved,

Views: 254


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Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 17, 2011 at 5:04am

Stan, that's a great idea!  email me please at, and we'll work that out.

Comment by Stan Sher on September 17, 2011 at 2:01am
I have been silently reading this blog and the comments.  I love it.  Let's please connect at DD11.
Comment by Tom Gorham on September 16, 2011 at 4:18pm
I'll buy that blog Keith!
Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 16, 2011 at 2:52pm
Tom, you have commissioned my next blog I'll write:  "Conversion for Dummies".  :)  Maybe I should do a whole series, actually, for the owners/ might help with the problem of those pesky "Get the Check!" vendors you bring up...IF it gets read by the right people, that is.
Comment by Tom Gorham on September 16, 2011 at 2:39pm
Keith I wish I was coming to LV as well.  I agree with everything you said.  Unfortunately, all of these measurements get used for various purposes to confuse the overall picture when sales reps from various companies present their products to a dealer or GM.  They (naturally) present the trees rather than the forest.  But also within a dealership, as you are surely aware, individuals may say, we don't do well with a particular kind of lead, meaning "they" don't do well with that particular kind of lead.  It may mean the leads are sub-par OR it may be that they don't know how to deal with a particular type of customer or a particular stage of customer involvement.  Either way, it is important to recognize more than just whether a company's services aren't equating to sales.  It's also important to realize why.  The weakness may be the source or it may be the dealership.
Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 16, 2011 at 2:14pm

Thanks Tom!  I wish you were coming to LV for DD11.  It will be great.

My conversions are simple:  Did the customer call the store, fill out a form, email us directly, and/or (holy grail) be properly motivated to tell us they come in from the conversion page whenever they just "drive in".

Sales conversion is a problem, has been a problem, and may always be a problem.  Especially if the process is screwed up.  Essentially, we had so much traffic for so long that we could afford to not pay attention to our crop of customers.  Not only has the Internet taken that away by educating the customer and blurring marketing/sales, it has allowed direct competition ON YOUR OWN FLOOR with your market opponents via customers' handheld devices.

So, I measure traffic, conversions, and sales.  The first two are ADVERTISING measures on the work we do on the Internet to drive traffic (actually, ALL the advertising that can be measured SHOULD be measured, not just the digital stuff).  The last one is a SALES stat measure of opportunity divided by sales -- in other words, "closing ratio".

Comment by Tom Gorham on September 16, 2011 at 1:49pm

Keith, if you say Free Beer, I may make the trip to Texas. 
Actually I love your post.  People thow around terms as if they are generic candy.


As far as conversion, I think there are many kinds of conversion.  An initial click is a form of conversion.  Conversion on your website is when a persn takes an action based on a call to action. It is also a conversion when you contact that person and get an appointment and they come in.  The ultimate conversion is when they buy.


You can use any metric you want.  If you measure only "buy" conversion, you may underestimate the value of your SEO/SEM or your website. (Or any other assets)  If your online conversion rate is great but your buy conversion is not, there must be a problem "in-house" that must be addressed with your managers and sales staff.  You would not blame your online sources.


In other words, I think it is important to measure many conversion rates in order to pin-point the problem.  CTRs can be good or bad.  If they result in a high bounce rate, then obvious they are pulling in the wrong crowd.  Any analysis of one depends on an analysis of the other.  Numbers can be distorted and deceptive unless they are looked at in relation to all other statistics or analytics.  Is it the forest or the trees?

Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 12, 2011 at 4:56am
ADM Suite at DD11?
Comment by Ralph Paglia on September 12, 2011 at 4:46am
Where's the free beer????
Comment by Keith Shetterly on September 12, 2011 at 1:51am

Ralph, I like that bidding as described very much!  The thing I have found is that PPC must be truly aimed at conversion from the beginning--from what is the compelling ad text to what is the compelling offer on the landing page.  I look at the ad text as rendering a promise in a "micro-commercial" that gets an in-market click and the landing page as the delivery on that promise.  If you hook that up right, you actually see great results on conversion.


CCR, baby!  It's not just Creedence Clearwater Revival or Cross Canadian Ragweed any more.  :)

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