Author Archive

Chris Burns

I am the owner and Chief Operations Officer of Drive Digital Group. My role is to oversee the operations of the company across all products & Services.

Tracking Digital Results For Car Dealers

As we are starting to get into the rhythm of 2017, it’s critically important that each and every dealership know exactly what they are getting from their marketing strategies. The only way to know how well your strategies are performing is to have a transparent and comprehensive reporting available to you.

There are some providers that try to force you to use their own analytics and tracking tools, we urge you to push back and require any vendor you work with to integrate fully with Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager. Doing this will allow you to standardize all of your KPIs through one reporting platform. Google is the most widely used and trusted source of data on the internet today. There is no good reason that any web provider, SEM company, or other digital vendors that can’t pass data into Google Analytics for your independent review in 2017!

trust data

Like most advanced automotive digital marketing agencies, we have chosen to fully embrace Google Tag Manager. This allows us to only have to add code to your website one time. Any future scripts, third party add on trackers, and even tracking events can be setup at any time in the future without ever having to touch your website code again once it’s already on the site. This is a huge benefit when many of the vendor approved website providers are incredibly slow and unresponsive when trying to manipulate anything on your automotive website. They are built to scale, not for customer service. Having Google Tag Manager greatly reduced the reliance and headaches with having to continually make service request from your unresponsive website vendor.

Through Tag Manager we are able to track anything and everything. This means setting up A/B testing, setting up triggers and tags for conversion tracking, setting up call tracking scripts, etc. Google Tag Manager events allow us to setup goals in Google Analytics for many complicated things that allow you to easily see and utilize data from your website.

An example could be chats. As a website vendor ourselves, it has always been frustrating that we handle the automotive website, automotive SEO, and automotive PPC for a client, but when it comes to reporting we couldn’t paint the full picture of what our results were delivering in the past because of third party integrations with our websites such as chat, finance applications, service schedulers, etc. Now with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics we are able to get a full picture for our customers on what we are truly providing them. We can show not only intent to fill out those third party applications but also how many chat interactions and even chat leads we delivered to them through our Drive Digital Group websites!

analytics goals

Our Account Managers are able to get a comprehensive look at our various digital marketing channel performances and report the full picture to our customers in their monthly strategy calls. This also uncovers very interesting points that, without full tracking, you would never know about. For example we have a client that wanted a very large “schedule test drive” button as the only conversion point on the SRP (Search results Page) and displayed prominently on the VDP (Vehicle Details Page).

As you can see from the graphic above you should be tracking the following

Core Engagements Measured:

  • Lead Form Submissions
  • Phone Call Conversions (Sales & Service)
  • Chat Conversations
  • SMS/Messenger Conversions

Secondary Engagements Measured:

  • Intent for Conversions Not Able to be Tracked
  • Car Fax Downloads, Specials Printouts, and Window Sticker Downloads

One thing to be aware of is that even if you are being provided this level of information from your vendors, are they making any sense of it for you? What I mean by that is these goals are simply measuring all conversions on the site. They are not segmented by source or channel. For that we provide custom dashboards to our customers so that they can easily see all of the above information but only as it relates to the sources of the traffic.

Below is an example to highlight what a dashboard might look like to segment all of that goal tracking only by paid search as the source. The dashboard shows all the relevant information using the Google Analytics Goal data, but only if the conversion originated from a paid search visit to the website.

ppc dashbaord

As a full service automotive digital advertising agency we use many more tools to gather data and make good decisions based on the data we collect. We are also using the Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics tools for much more than just what we have talked about in this article, this is simply a plea to car dealers to make sure that you are being provided with the necessary information you need to make informed decisions about the money you are spending to drive traffic and ultimately sell cars for your dealership.

Too often we see how loyal people have become due to relationships or habits and no one is actually looking at any real data to determine if changes need to take place. Don’t be one of those dealers! You are the customer, even if you are mandated to use certain vendors, it’s your right to get this information to be able to run your business effectively. It’s 2017 and it’s high time you start working with partners that have YOUR best interest in mind and whose livelihood depends on delivering real results that are measurable.


4 Reasons You Should Be Using Bing Ads

Automotive PPC | Car Dealer Digital Advertising

As it stands, Google is king. When bringing in new clients who wish to use SEM to some extent, Google Adwords is always the starting line. With that being said, so many businesses neglect a large portion of the consumer base by only advertising with Google. Lets look at 4 reasons you should be using Bing Ads as part of your digital marketing strategy.

1. Bing Has 30% of the Search Market Share
Google has approximately 68% of the search market share. That means there’s still approximately 30% of the market not seeing your ads if you’re only advertising on Google. If over a quarter of your consumer base is using Bing or Yahoo as their default search engine, you want to make sure they’re going to see your ads. automotive digital advertising

2. Less Competition
For the simple fact that everyone needs to be on Google, you’ll find less competition on Bing/Yahoo. This equates to potential customers seeing your ads and not those of your primary competitors.

3. Lower CPC’s
With less competition on the network, we see much lower Cost-Per-Click’s on Bing when compared to those of the same industry on Google. Lower CPC’s on each ad = more clicks for your money!
automotive seo company
4. Easy To Import Existing Google Campaigns
It takes all of 5 minutes to import campaigns from Google Adwords to Bing Ads. You may have to fix some small issues, such as location extensions or geo-targeting, but it’s still MUCH less time-consuming than creating the campaigns from scratch. A recent update to Bing Ads also added URL auto-tagging, so there’s no need to generate those pesky UTM parameters.

Final Thoughts
Assuming a business has a well-managed website, with an effective SEO plan in place, Search Engine Marketing is the next step to increasing your Digital presence and Brand-awareness. While Google Adwords should be at the forefront of your SEM strategy, be sure to include Bing Ads in any plan-of-attack on the digital war that is PPC.


23 Free Keyword Research Tools To Dominate Your Market

Automotive Digital Advertising | Car Dealer PPC

automotive digital marketing

Effective keyword research is at the core of any successful paid search campaign. Especially if your goal is to produce ROI from your results. Without a solid plan in place, you’re throwing ad dollars into what I call a “money sucking fire pit”. A fire pit that burns your ad dollars with no regard to your investment. No one likes losing money or not getting a return from their investment, am I right? And usually (98% of the time) that’s exactly what I see when performing SEM audits and Discovery’s with new clients. With that said, I realize a certain percentage of you may never become a client of DRIVE—and that’s ok. But if this article helps even just a few of you to dominate your dealership’s PMA (or beyond), then…well, I will have succeeded.

The Top Free Keyword Research Tools

Google Keyword Planner– One of the first places I recommend starting your keyword research. Not only can you compile a list of keywords, but you can also gain competitive insights such as CPC and traffic volume. Enter a few broad keywords related to your business model (new cars, used cars, Makes, models, auto loans, etc) and let Google return new ideas for you. In many cases, you’ll be left with words you’d have never thought of on your own. Also use this to find a huge list of negative keywords to make your ads more relevant.

Search Term/Query Reports – You can find “Search Term Reports”, “Search Query Reports”, or “SQR Reports”, as many PPC specialists call it, if you have historical Adwords data. If you aren’t—or have never—advertised on Google Adwords, then this resource will not help you. It’s one of the most insightful reports within Adwords. It allows you to see the exact search terms that match to your Adwords match types (broad, modified broad, phrase, and exact match). If you do have an Adwords account, navigate to the ‘Keywords’ tab. You’ll then see a smaller tab that reads, “Details”. Left click that and it will reveal “Search Terms”. You can do this by campaign or by adgroup.

Google Trends – Want to know which car models are most popular in your area? Want to know which makes and models to focus on for Conquest campaigns? Google Trends is your go to tool to find the answer. You can also discover what the top rising searches are relevant to your entered keyword.

BingAds Keyword Search Tool – Basically the same tool as Adwords Keyword Planner, but you’ll find new keyword ideas because the data is from Bing (and Yahoo). You can’t perform due diligence keyword research without includinging Bing and Yahoo. As of December 2014, Bing and Yahoo search market share rose considerably, w/ 19.7% going to Bing and Yahoo w/ 11.8% (as reported by comScore). Therefore, this alliance comprises approximately 31.5% of all searches worldwide. Ensure you take a moment to see what data (keywords) you can find.

BingAds Intelligence – If you consider yourself a Microsoft Excel user, try the BingAds Intelligence Tool. It will allow you to quickly find seed keywords relevant to your business model and quickly expand on them in pure Excel fashion. It works with keyword lists up to 200,000 words. Most dealership’s keyword portfolio will never be this expansive, but it’s good to know it’s capable of handling large sets of data.

Your Own Analytics – If you have historical visitor data in your analytics account (Google Analytic’s most likely)—and you’ve been receiving steady and moderate traffic for a while—then you are potentially sitting on a goldmine of keywords. But didn’t Google stop passing organic keyword data into analytics accounts you ask? They did. Google started securing users search terms over an encrypted connection (SSL), which is great for privacy of users, but really sucks for us marketers. Even still, there have been workarounds. One such is by creating an advanced Google Analytics segment to examine which landing pages of your site the “not provided” results point to. You can see more on Avinash Kaushik’s blog.

Internal Site Search – What better way to start keyword research than by knowing exactly what your users are searching for on your own site? Gleaning insights from internal site search can be a goldmine. Especially if you have a search function on your website (Ex: Instant Search). By properly setting up internal site search in Google Analytics, you can start knowing exactly what users want after they get to your site. Or, how to correct issues if users can’t find what they want (UX Design issues)

Google Webmaster Tools – Since October 2011, Google has been encrypting search queries in an effort to “protect users privacy”. As previously stated, there are workarounds, albeit not 100% accurate. Insightful? Yes. However, in Google Webmaster Tools you can see exactly what keywords are getting impressions/clicks and even where these keywords rank in organic search.

Website Surveys – Although a simple suggestion, it could lead to discovering one, two, or more insights that help you gain a new competitive leg in your PMA. Your website users know best and it’s important to listen to them. It will allow you to analyze keywords and phrases that users are trying to find solutions for. One of the best research tools available.

Ubersuggest – One of my favorite keyword discovery tools. Helps you find broad relevant keywords you can use as seed keywords to expand on, ability to discover keyword modifiers, and so much more. You can easily take half a day doing research with this tool to lay the groundwork for a ninja-like search omnipresence. It gets its data from Google keyword suggestion (and other providers) and works like this: Feed it a keyword and it adds a letter or digit in front of it. You can then add all relevant keywords into your “basket”. When done, extract into an Excel file. Manipulate it, add to it, or if you’re comfortable with what you have, add it to your campaigns instantly.

Keyword – Very similar to Ubersuggest. You will benefit by using them both as they each have the potential to give you new keyword sets. On top of that Keyword generates 750+ suggestions per keyword. That’s powerful.

Soovle – What if you want search data from other places than just Google, Bing, and Yahoo? Enter Soovle. Find search suggestion keywords from: Wikipedia,, Youtube, and Amazon. Enter your seed keyword and Soovle will generate suggestions from each source. I especially love using this tool for negative keyword research.

Synonym – Not everyone uses the same words to search. Ex: You’ll want to not only bid on your keywords with the word “Buy” in the phrase, but possibly use the synonym “Purchase” as another keyword as well. Get creative and find as many synonyms as you can and combine them with your commercial intent keywords. Tip: Finding antonyms is also a negative keyword goldmine.

Keyword Tool Dominator – Another keyword auto suggestion tool that pulls data from: Google, Amazon, Bing, and Ebay. Discover long tail keyword opportunities to beef up your existing campaigns or to find new niche markets within your PMA. Free, but also has a paid version as well.

MergeWords – Not as much a keyword discovery tool as it is a word merger. Take a list of seed keywords and paste them into column 1. Take your keyword modifiers and paste them in column 2. Paste your remaining modifiers in column three if applicable. After clicking “Merge”, MergeWords compiles a huge list of merged keywords for you…which you can then immediately use in your Adwords account by applying a bulk match type. A favorite tool of our department.

Internet Marketing Ninjas – Similar to MergeWords, but lacks the many options that MergeWords has. It’s a decent alternative if you need to merge words.

KW Finder – A beautiful user interface combined with intuitive, competitive intelligence data. Enter your search term and sit back as KW Finder returns impressive CI results. Not only will it return a list of relevant keywords for you, but it also provides Google Trends data and SERP results (Pagerank, Trustflow, CitationFlow, etc). The free plans give you 5 searches per 24 hour period. They also have paid plans available.

Screaming Frog SEO Spider – Mostly used as a technical SEO tool, it can also come in handy to see which of your competitor’s keywords are most valuable to them. Just enter your competitor’s URL into SFSS and it will crawl the entire website and give you tons of useful metadata. Keyword metadata that is. And if your competitor’s are still using out of date SEO practices (i.e keyword meta keywords) and they probably are, then SFSS will give that information to you.

Thesaurus – Just as with the suggestion, you will also get invaluable information and suggestions from this source as well. Give it a try.

WordStream – Wordstream is one of the largest SEM agencies in the world. Highly knowledgeable and innovative in the search industry, they have a keyword tool that is worth mentioning. It’s even helped me discover a gold nugget or two in the many campaigns we launch for clients every day. Wouldn’t hurt to try it out.

WordTracker’s Scout – Another cool competitive intelligence tool that gives you easy access to KPM (keyword performance metrics) within your browsers. It’s a Google Chrome extension and when you’re on your target’s website, you can engage the extension and it will give you information such as: the meta keywords on the page (if applicable), includes WordTracker’s extensive database of search terms, and much more.

Keyword Discovery by Trellian – Although a bit outdated (user interface, design, and data), you can’t beat a free source of information. When you’ve exhausted your other sources, it doesn’t hurt to try Trellian.

Misspelled Keyword Generator – Take a list of your keywords, run them through this generator and, viola, you can add them as exact match versions in your search campaigns.

While you play with these new search tools, I’ll be working on my next post which is the top paid keyword research tools. So, keep your eyes open for that!

Do you currently use any of these free tools? Are there any free ones I missed? Let us hear your thoughts


Relevancy Is Key To Paid Search Success

Automotive SEM | Car Dealer PPC

As an owner of an Automotive Digital Advertising agency, I try to stay on top of what is happening with technology and new strategies in our industry. In watching speakers and webinar presenters one thing is becoming abundantly clear to me. Day after day people try to throw buzzwords and big data charts at dealers, but rarely are they covering the basics or talking about how they plan to implement an ongoing targeted strategy to dealers. Why is that? It’s because of a continued push toward over complication, and automation to help vendors streamline profits.

It’s not that automotive SEM isn’t complicated, because it absolutely IS complicated, but when vendors are talking to dealers we shouldn’t play up the complication factor in order to dazzle or confuse. What we need to be doing is reassuring dealer’s that even though the various types of paid search are very complicated, we are still covering some core basics that will ensure that our key performance metrics are being hit with maximum efficiency.

relevant automotive ppc

We are well aware of a push toward programmatic advertising for Automotive SEM, and we are of course utilizing all of these various channels in our own Pay Per Click strategies, however the core traditional PPC of Google & Bing text based advertising is still a huge part of our strategy, as it should be every dealer’s. The thing that has gotten lost in this huge part of the digital budget is laser targeting for relevancy.

What are some of the basics that your digital advertising agency MUST be doing in order to make sure that you are getting the highest quality and volume of clicks for your traditional search based advertising?

  • Use low monthly payments for your new car lease specials in the ad copy
  • Make sure you are sending traffic to custom landing pages that reinforce the messaging in the new car model ads within the copy of the landing page. This low monthly payment and supporting messaging must be visible above the fold along with at least one conversion point.
  • automotive digital marketing
  • Make sure the landing page you send traffic to allows shoppers the opportunity to:

    – research the vehicle model
    – find available new inventory in stock for this model
    – find similar pre-owned inventory in stock for the model
  • Utilize automated bidding strategies that make daily adjustments to make sure your ads are bidding the minimum amount for best ad positioning.
  • Using exploratory MBM (Modified Broad Match) campaigns that can be researched monthly for high traffic keywords to add to your Exact Match campaigns and then excluded through negative keywords in your MBM campaigns.
  • Based on what we have seen from doing many competitive analysis for our dealerships, we can tell you that sadly most digital advertising agencies are not following these very basic steps to make sure that dealers are getting the most out of their digital spend.

    These tactics should only apply to your new car, service, and parts advertising budgets. We highly recommend an automated automotive used car PPC program for all of your pre-owned digital marketing efforts. Used car marketing should be inventory specific, but retain all of the core best practice principles mentioned above, which is why we always recommend DriveMATIC for Used Car Automotive PPC.

    automotive digital marketing


Automotive Marketing Trends Infographic 2015

Automotive Digital Marketing | Responsive Website

Drive Digital Group and Google have worked together to create an interesting infographic for the automotive industry. With statistics taken directly from our account representatives at Google, we have compiled a nice breakdown of marketing trends that dealers should be interested in taking a look at. Below the infographic we break it down in text format.

automotive responsive website

Automotive Digital Marketing Trends

The web is crucial in the automotive path-to-purchase.

Here is a brief recap of the above infographic:

Device Trends

40% of all searches for car dealers are now coming from mobile devices.

Mobile devices include smartphones and tablets.

Auto Queries Over Time

Queries peaked in summer months and reached lows between December and January.

Mobile Use

1 in 3 auto shoppers perform a mobile action while physically on a dealership lot.


46% of auto shoppers visited a dealership after watching a video online.

Vehicle Research

52% of car buyers see search engines as the most important source for vehicle research.

Good Display Network Insights

The Google Display Network reaches 9 out of 10 buyers who consult and average of 24 resources while they are considering a purchase

Brand Insights

Consumers are open to considering new brands. 57% of auto shoppers say a video introduces them to new brands.

Best Practices

  1. Location Extensions – Drive customers from search to your location
  2. Call Extensions – Make your phone ring during business hours from search
  3. Conversion Tracking – Better understand important actions
  4. Call to Action – Give customers specific direction with ad creative
  5. Remarketing – Build loyalty to increase returning customers
  6. Display – Influence customers who are in the market to buy


Limitations of OEM Mandated Automotive PPC

Automotive PPC | Car Dealer Digital Advertising

As a full service digital marketing agency, one of our core focuses is in automotive SEM. We are constantly amazed when we run across dealers that are utilizing OEM mandated automotive PPC companies because they can save a couple thousand dollars a month that is co-oped by the manufacturer. When we have taken a Pepsi challenge against these vendors, we are able to show the dealer that spending a bit more to help sell more cars is actually a better ROI on dollars to dollars spent comparison!

Why Are Some OEM Co-Op vendors costing dealers money?

automotive ppc

You might be surprised to hear this, but OEM’s do not select approved vendors for recommendation because they are the best option. Vendors that make it onto an approved co-op list make it there because they fit more of the OEM needs than other vendors. What are the criteria the OEM’s are looking at when they select vendors to approve for co-op money?

  • Can the vendor scale quickly?
  • Does the vendor have experience with advertising for the brand?
  • Can the vendor provide a significantly reduced cost to the OEM?
  • Will the advertising strategy be consistently administered across all dealers?

If you notice there isn’t a discussion about local markets, customized campaigns or ongoing changes to the strategy and platform.

This is where things often break down for dealers that are utilizing OEM mandated or recommended co-oped vendors. The ability to scale, the consistent strategy, and the reduced price the vendor has to offer all add up to one big problem for dealers. These vendors don’t want to customize the strategy at all. They are built to add as many dealers as possible and crank them out on the same templated strategy as everyone else.

Do you think most dealers want to be utilizing the same exact strategy as every other dealer? Of course not. Dealerships do everything in their power to stand out from the crowd. They thrive by being bold, different, and aggressive. Their digital marketing strategy will not be able to match their core advertising strategy because they are forced to utilize the vanilla strategy offered by the approved OEM SEM vendor.

Would You Rather Save Money Or Sell More Cars?

automotive websites

This is the ultimate goal for your dealership? We hope it’s to sell more cars! What if I told you that if you spent $2K more with us per month than you do with your OEM co-oped PPC vendor, you would get more qualified leads and sell twice as many cars? Would that make you think twice about saving the $2K to sell let’s say 10 more cars per month?

Some dealers just don’t get it and they don’t want to. They see that the OEM vendor can save them some money and they are happy with that savings. They don’t want to look deeply into what they are getting and what they are LOSING by saving that money. Our challenge is to try to show these dealers how to spend their money in a targeted strategic way that is right for their dealership. To utilize local specific tactics that incorporate the things that make them unique into their selling proposition.

We work in an industry where providing bleeding edge technology such as automated used car marketing software and highly aggressive new car PPC campaigns makes your company a “boutique” firm. It should be the industry standard to do the best job possible with the resources and technology available to us, but it’s not! The industry standard is how many of the same exact boring hamburgers can we crank out to keep things consistent and cheap.

As always we are happy to provide a free digital marketing analysis free of charge to your dealership. We also like to speak at 20 group meetings and other events if you would like to invite us!