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Shifting ROI into high gear

  Article , Automotive , Success stories

Douglass Nissan converts car buyers with Bing Ads

Home of the nice guys

Anyone who’s ever bought a car knows the angst that comes along with it. Probably no one understands this situation better than car dealers. Every day, they encounter a sea of anxious faces staring back at them, trying to save every last dollar or get car mats thrown in for free.

Levi Douglass and his two Nissan dealerships in College Station and Waco, Texas, work on calming customers’ nerves and helping them catch their breath. To achieve that, he employs a very basic philosophy, which is captured within Douglass Nissan’s slogan: “home of the nice guys.” “I try and find a win-win situation for the customer and dealership,” Douglass says. “That means being very transparent and low pressure. We want to build a long-term relationship with them that goes well beyond a purchase.” To get that point across, he uses Bing Ads as part of his digital marketing strategy. Forming that strategy, however, took time.
Bing Network users seem to be more direct buyers. They know what they want and just need to find the closest dealership to close the deal.

— Gino Cipperoni, Director of Marketing Sales at Dealer eProcess

All in the family

Screenshot of Douglass Nissan website.

Douglass Nissan -

Douglass represents the third generation of dealership owners in the family. His grandfather started almost 50 years ago, followed by his dad in the late 80s. Back then, Douglass spent a lot of his time working with his dad. “I started out picking up trash and eventually worked my way over to putting pinstripes on cars and installing alarms,” Douglass recalls. “I basically worked in every part of the dealership — service advisor, sales person ― a little bit of everything.”
But rather then settle down, Douglass decided to venture out into the real world. He spent time as a bankruptcy consultant, then moved to Los Angeles and worked at William Morris as a Hollywood agent’s assistant. Like any great Joseph Campbell traveler, however, his experiences and heart led him back home. “I wanted to work with my dad,” he says. 
After earning his MBA at Texas A&M University in 2005, he took over his father’s dealerships in 2007. Today, he oversees more than 80 employees at two locations, selling and servicing cars. His combined lots have an average of about 750 new and used cars onsite every month. About 300 of them get driven off within the same time span and another 2,000 serviced.

Modernizing his marketing world

Douglass sizes up his dealerships as average in size and above average in service. To get the word out about his business, he drives marketing and sales. While he understands the value, he finds running the department his Achilles’ heel. “It’s difficult for me,” Douglass confides. “It's a very different thought process than finance.”

Douglass originally started out with a few newspaper ads and radio spots, but mainly TV commercials on local stations starring himself and his wife.

But then came the internet and digital advertising. Douglass realized he needed to get on board. “It changed the industry and the way that we do business,” he says. “It's better than TV because it’s trackable and has a measurable ROI. I wanted to see how we could turn all of that into a competitive advantage.” That meant updating his website and learning about digital marketing, neither of which Douglass felt qualified to do alone. “I needed somebody who could help me manage it so I could focus on running my dealerships.”

Devising a strategy with Bing

Gino Cipperoni, Director of Marketing Sales at Dealer eProcess

Gino Cipperoni, Director of Marketing Sales at
Dealer eProcess

Douglass started researching highly rated digital agencies online, which led him to Dealer eProcess. “We got on the phone and they started walking me through their product and presentation,” Douglass remembers. “They were able to see things from my perspective and help me identify what was important.”

Dealer eProcess did a makeover of the Douglass Nissan website. Then the agency devised a paid search strategy that aligned with Douglass’ goals. At first, that meant going broad with Google AdWords. But then the agency recommended bringing Bing Ads in to reach a wider and more targeted audience. “We find that, for actual spend, users on the Bing Network tend to convert more than Google AdWords, especially on web forms,” points out Megan Glick, director of marketing at Dealer eProcess. “Part of that comes from Bing skewing to a slightly different demographic.” That demographic reflects a more affluent audience, one that is more willing and able to make large-item purchases.

Gino Cipperoni, director of marketing sales at Dealer eProcess, chimes in with another differentiating factor. “Google users tend to be here, there and everywhere researching car brands as opposed to buying cars. Bing Network users seem to be more direct buyers. They know what they want and just need to find the closest dealership to close the deal.”

With an updated website and a new paid search strategy, Douglass Nissan now gets about 10,000 visitors per month. That number grew 20% after adding Bing Ads to its paid search solution late in 2015. “Our responsive website and the combination of all the different campaigns we run on the different digital platforms has driven more people to our site,” Douglass says.
The bigger the ad, the more information we can provide the car shopper, and the better results we see.

— Megan Glick, Director of Marketing, Dealer eProcess

Taking full advantage of the Bing Ads platform

Douglass talks with the people at Dealer eProcess about once a week. There he can bounce off ideas or see the performance numbers for himself. What he’s seen so far is that Bing Ads is the lowest priced option for paid search. Price per click with Bing Ads has consistently come in at $1.41, about half the price per click of Google AdWords. That enables Douglass to stretch out his budget. Bing also has a higher lead conversion rate, which currently averages 18%. The conversion-to-sales rate also averages an impressive 4.7%.

In terms of features, Dealer eProcess uses the full capabilities of the Bing Ads platform with its own in-house software, which syncs with the Bing Ads API to run customized and dynamic campaigns. “It ends up a mixture of what Bing Ads offers us with what we've built into their system,” Cipperoni says.

In a regular campaign for Douglass, Dealer eProcess takes advantage of all of the Bing Ads ad extensions. “The bigger the ad, the more information we can provide the car shopper, and the better results we see,” Glick says.

Glick works closely with the Bing Ads account team to make sure she’s taking advantage of available features and give her ideas for customer accounts. “We look to ensure we’re taking advantage of everything inside the account,” she says. “So there's not only checks happening with Levi, but also with me and our representative over at Bing.” Glick can back up her efforts with impressive results. To date, the total spend on Bing has brought back a return on investment of 750%.*

When Douglass brought Dealer eProcess aboard in 2012, he was spending about 10% of his marketing budget on digital. Today, he spends 25% of his marketing dollars on digital with more to come in the future. Looking ahead, Douglass expects to keep letting Dealer eProcess and Bing Ads lead the way. “There’s a high level of trust where I can hold them accountable for results and they're very transparent about delivering them,” he says. “With paid search always changing, they both do a great job of taking advantage of the latest advances to stay ahead of the curve.”

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