Local dealership shifts gears from traditional marketing to automated digital strategy

Stephanie Abouatallah, Fareed Siddiqui / August 2018

Budds’ Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC went all-in on digital, working with experts to develop a customer-centric approach that addresses each stage of the car buying journey. The campaign used automated tools and earned Budds’ our 2017 Dealer Digital Excellence Award and a 66% YoY profit increase.

The Challenge

Wayne Carter, general manager of Budds’ Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC in Oakville, Ontario, has worked in the auto industry for more than 30 years, but it wasn’t until this past year that his marketing plan evolved to include automation and a robust testing strategy.

“In previous years, digital marketing was an important part of our plan, but over the course of the last year, we shifted our strategy to put digital at the center of our dealership’s marketing plan,” said Carter.

But that shift didn’t happen overnight. As more and more consumers turned to digital throughout their car-buying journeys, Budds’ realized it had to adapt. “I needed to redefine my approach, and, over time, by measuring the results of online advertising and testing, I saw a clear advantage to re-allocating more of my ad budget over to digital,” Carter explained.

The Approach

Building a partnership

Budds’ and EDealer teamed up to develop a process that allowed them to reach and connect with customers along each stage of the car-buying journey, using Google Analytics, Google Trends, and internal sales data.

“In 2017, our goal was to use digital marketing and Google products to dynamically change our campaign creative and automate key parts of the process to help us meet our monthly sales targets for new and used inventory,” said Carter.

To do this, the team started at the top. “We started by echoing the regional promotional messages that GM was putting into market and then customized our messaging to show specific dealership offers and events that kept our work fresh and relevant,” said Carter. Starting with brand work also added some consistency between consumer touchpoints such as the GM Canada site and the Budds’ site.

“The results speak for themselves. We saw a 66% YoY profit increase, and I have no doubt it directly correlates to our work with EDealer and Google.”

Crafting a customized approach

“EDealer helped us connect our inventory directly to Google Ads so we could build campaigns focused on price, vehicle features, and options and serve more relevant ads to shoppers searching for particular models. We also built in urgency for our clearance sales events and unique inventory models.”

In addition to search initiatives, Budds’ made sure to gain exposure on the Google Display Network, which proved to be an effective awareness driver. “We experimented with different copy and dynamic creative to deliver compelling messages in the thinking and research stages,” said Carter.


And as customers moved further down the purchase funnel, the team turned to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads to reach customers who had previously visited the Budds’ site and were ready to convert. This remarketing strategy kept the brand top-of-mind through the final decision-making stage of the purchase journey.

Thinking digital first

Budds’ saw an almost immediate uptick in floor traffic and mobile click-to-calls. In fact, along with the directions page, Budds’ “contact us” page became the most-visited page on its site.

“In the end, the results speak for themselves. We saw a 66% YoY profit increase, and I have no doubt it directly correlates to our work with EDealer and Google,” said Carter. “We’re proud to have been awarded the Dealer Digital Excellence Award, and we’ll continue to evolve our strategy to think digital first."

The Results

Budds’ Chevrolet Cadillac Buick GMC has been awarded Think with Google Canada’s 2017 Dealer Digital Excellence Award for its digitally-led campaign with Google and EDealer, which resulted in a best-in-class marketing strategy and powerful business results.

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