Give Your SEM Some Love: 4 Tactical Tips.
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Give Your SEM Campaigns a Little Love With These 4 Tactical Tips

As the world celebrates Valentine’s Day with chocolates, flowers, and teddy bears, let’s not forget to send a little love where it matter most – to your dealership’s bottom line. Today we’re going to give a little love to your SEM strategies by sharing 4 tactical tips straight from Cupid’s magic marketing arrow:

Tip #1: Mobile Matters in SEM

Mobile traffic in the automotive space continues to grow. The data below was taken from a large dealer group for Q4 of 2016 and includes an analysis of 1.4 million website sessions. Not surprisingly, over 55% of all users session occurred on mobile devices.

Tip 1 - Mobile Matters.

Figure 1: Device categories


At this point many people shrug their shoulders and say “I get it, mobile is important”, and then they do….nothing.

Don’t be that person. Dig a little deeper. Look at your site’s mobile-specific performance. Spend time with your analytics data. What are the most common screen resolutions? How does your site render on those different sizes?

Are your conversion metrics (performance and costs) consistent, or are there resolution-specific trends? Even within the category of “mobile”, the user experience can vary widely due to different mobile screen sizes. Consider the single most common mobile device suite (Apple’s iPhone) renders at different resolutions.

Tip 1 - Screen Resolutions.

Figure 2: Screen resolutions


Key takeaway: Don’t neglect your mobile data. Spend more time there and make sure your vpv (value per visitor) for mobile is where it needs to be.

Tip #2: Leverage Device Bid Modifiers to Balance the Scales

Armed with insights from tip #1, you’re ready to grab some easy wins with tip #2 by making device bid adjustments.

In the past 8 months both major networks (Google AdWords and Microsoft Bing Ads) have made an about face and returned power to the people.

This story began a few year ago (2013) when Google announced enhanced campaigns. That was a dark day for marketing because by so doing, advertisers lost the ability to target tablet traffic with independent bids. Eventually, Microsoft adopted a similar approach. But in 2016, that changed (again) – both AdWords and Bing Ads reintroduced true device bid segmentation.

Take advantage of that. Once again, pull your data and look at performance by device.

Figure 3 - Bid modifiers

Figure 3: Bid adjustments by device

Any easy win here is to look at things from a contribution perspective. If Tablet is consuming 9% of your spend and only contributing 6% of your conversions…you have an opportunity to modify bids and bring that segment into ROI alignment with your other device types.

Figure 4 - ROI alignment.

Figure 4: ROI alignment


Key takeaway: Reference your mobile data and adjust your bids to bring your access device segments into ROI alignment.

Tip #3: Cascading Cups

Figure 5 - Cascading cups.This is a simple concept but I’m continually surprised by how often it is absent from the strategy employed by many dealers.

We know that different marketing mediums have different set points of performance. Your marketing dollars will yield different ROIs when used in different mediums.

But what many fail to grasp is how within the medium of SEM (which in this context means both paid search and paid display), there are tremendous variances in ROI.

The concept of campaign types illustrates this nicely, and it all boils down to this: Different types of keywords are going to perform differently. They target different audiences, at different stages of the buying process, and the ROI can vary greatly.

Figure 6 - Campaign types.

Figure 6: Campaign types

Where we see a lot of dealer strategies go wrong is in the arbitrary assignment of advertising budget to these different campaign types.

The best way to give your star campaigns some extra love is to simply look at their budgets individually and then adjust based on that campaign’s ability to spend. Hint: Look for campaigns with Impression Share less than 80% and Lost IS (budget) greater than 10%. These are hungry campaigns that can easily drive more volume if properly funded.

These are the cups on the top of the stack that you should consider filling first.

Key takeaway: Nothing is set in stone. Be fluid with your budget allocation practices to ensure your highest ROI campaigns are reaching their full potential.

Tip #4: Take Advantage of Landscape and Environmental Changes

The history of the natural world is full of examples of animals that have gone extinct because they were unprepared in the face of a changing habitat.

Don’t be that animal. Take advantage of the opportunities created by those changes.

The past 12-months have ushered in a number of large, impactful changes. These are just a few…

  • Removal of sidebar ads on the desktop SERP (Search Engine Results Page, see figure 7)
  • More paid search real-estate above the fold on both desktop and mobile SERPs (see figure 8)
  • Organic results being pushed farther and farther down the page (a function of the changes in the list above and also a function of Tip#1 – more prevalent use of mobile devices with small screens, see figures 9 & 10)
  • New ad formats for text ads on both AdWords and Bing Ads (see figure 10)

Each of these impactful changes creates both exposure and opportunities. They’re two sides of the same coin. Dealerships that are embracing the changes will continue to thrive.

Figure 7 - Google SERP before and after.

Figure 7: Google SERP, before & after



Figure 8 - SERP organic results below the fold.

Figure 8: Google SERP viewed on a Large (27”) desktop monitor. In red at the very bottom of the screen you’ll see the 1st organic listing.


Figure 9 - Google SERP on mobile, organic listings 4 swipes down.

Figure 9: Same query and Results page on mobile – the 1st organic listing is 4 swipes below the fold!


Figure 10 - Standard text ads & expanded text ads.

Figure 10: Standard text ads vs. expanded text ads


Key takeaway: Understanding and embracing the SEM opportunities these recent changes present (i.e. more text ads above the fold, expanded text ads for more relevant info, etc.) will put you ahead of the curve – and have you feeling the love.

Your SEM campaigns may be humming right along, but with a little insight and fine-tuning, you can improve campaign performance, your ROI–and your dealership’s bottom line.

Now that you’re basking in the glow of your Valentine’s Day aftermath (or maybe it’s a holiday you like to avoid altogether!), don’t forget to show your SEM campaigns some love today. They might just love you back.

Jake Hoopes, Vice President of Product Development
Jake Hoopes has 15 years of industry experience. Starting in the early 2000’s as a web developer for a digital agency, he has grown up in the nitty gritty of paid search since the days of Overture and Google Cash. Jake joined Showroom Logic in 2012 where his technical marketing background has been put to good use with the ongoing development of Showroom Logic’s innovative automotive digital marketing solutions. He has been a guest speaker at several national marketing events, including SMX West, SMX East, and SLCSEM.