Click-Through Rate: The Building Block of Successful Digital Campaigns - AutoSuccessOnline
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Click-Through Rate: The Building Block of Successful Digital Campaigns

Digital marketing, at its worst, isn’t much better than putting up a billboard next to the highway and hoping that someone who’s interested in your message actually sees it.


Digital marketing, at its worst, isn’t much better than putting up a billboard next to the highway and hoping that someone who’s interested in your message actually sees it.

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Think about it. Your beautiful and expensive billboard is just sitting there. A thousand cars pass by and if you’re lucky, a handful of them might care about what you’re selling. It’s the definition of inefficient advertising.

Sad to say, many digital marketing programs being pushed on dealerships these days aren’t much better. They slap some generic message about your dealership onto a Web banner and paste it all over the Internet, hoping it reaches someone who cares.

The Cure for Haphazard Digital Marketing

Luckily, when it comes to most digital marketing, you have an easy way to gauge whether your message is reaching people who are interested in it. Click-through rate (or CTR) is a standard part of almost every digital marketing report. Unfortunately, its value is often lost in a sea of lesser metrics.


What CTR truly measures is how interesting your digital marketing is to the consumer at the exact time and place it is displayed.

The goal of successful digital marketing for dealerships is to expand leads and sales. The best and most cost-effective way to do this is to make sure you’re showing the right message to the right audience at the right time. Thus, closely monitoring and optimizing your CTRs is crucial.

Google Gets It

Google search, display and video marketing all play an important role in the digital marketing strategy at most successful dealerships. One of the absolute keys to successful Google marketing is CTR.


Google rewards advertisers who have high CTRs by showing their ads more often and elevating their ad positioning. What’s more, dealerships with high CTRs will pay less for comparable positioning than those with average or below-average CTRs. Not surprisingly, Facebook and other large digital players are following suit.

Auto Industry Benchmarks

High CTRs indicate that your message is reaching the right audience, and it’s clear that the rewards of having above-average CTRs are significant. But what constitutes above-average CTR for the automotive industry?

Benchmarking studies conducted by in 2016 indicated that the average CTR is 2.14 percent for automotive search ads and 0.41 percent for automotive display ads. In my experience, I find these numbers to be modest at best; most well-run online dealership efforts have CTRs that are at least double these benchmarks.


Three Ways to Increase Your CTRs

The intricate details of CTR management are beyond the scope of this article, but let’s look at three specific ways you can begin to increase your CTRs today.

  1. Audience is key. If you’re targeting the right audience with your messaging, then your CTRs will naturally be healthy. Think about it this way: Most folks are not in the market for a child car seat, but people expecting a child in the coming months may very well be. In automotive marketing, we call these “intenders,” and there are increasingly sophisticated ways to reach intenders online.
  2. Ad copy and design matter. These days it’s easy to get so caught up in the science of digital marketing that we sometimes forget we’re still connecting with real people. That’s where the art comes in. Compelling ad design that makes use of emotional triggers while conveying a sense of urgency is what we’re after. Test, revise and then test some more.
  3. Optimize and be transparent. Make sure your Website and landing pages are fully optimized and that all your marketing assets reinforce your marketing message — we call this “spiral integration.” Most importantly, think about a digital ad as a promise to the consumer. When a consumer clicks on your ad, you’re promising to provide the consumer with the information they’re looking for. Keep your messaging transparent. Don’t make the consumer dig through fine print for all the details. Keep your promise and bring them directly to all the information they need to take action.

Final Thoughts


Ultimately, we aren’t trying to increase CTRs just for the sake of having solid metrics in a digital report. In the real world with real automotive clients we’ve found that if you double your CTR you can expect a roughly 50 percent increase in leads or conversions from that source. More leads should result in more sales, provided you have your operations in order.

So, forget about the billboard model of digital advertising. Keep a close eye on your click-through rates and gain invaluable insight into how effective your digital advertising spend truly is.

Bob Myhal

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