How I Generated $1,700,000 in Auto Sales Despite a Weak Economy

Posted by Ad Hustler | Posted in Case Studies, Local Online Advertising, Search Engines | Posted on 07-10-2009

So by this point we all know that I handle some local clients.  This is a case study of how I generated $1,700,000 in auto sales for one of these clients despite a weak economy.  Let’s set the stage:

“ABC Motors (fictitious name to protect the innocent) has a significant overstock of a particular model vehicle.  Let’s call the vehicle the ABCmobile.  All of these vehicles are brand new, same options but they do have a variety of colors in stock.  ABC Motors picked these cars up dirt cheap from other dealers around the country.  Here’s the catch.  The ABCmobile is a niche vehicle that does not sell well.  ABC Motors was baffled about how they should sell all of these ABCmobiles that were sitting in their lots collecting dust.  Newspaper Ads, Direct Mail, Billboards, Cable, Radio would all be a waste of money since these cars do not appeal to most anyone.  These cars needed to be moved fast and when you need to move inventory fast, you call Ad Hustler!”

This case study is about the steps I took to generate highly qualified leads and move these vehicles.

After speaking with the owner of ABC Motors I found out that there was some demographics data that I could use to my advantage.  The majority of the prospects who would be interested in purchasing an ABCmobile lived in about 10 states in the U.S..  ABC Motors had a hookup that made it possible to ship these cars affordably to any of these states, meaning that a deal could be closed over the phone.  I proposed that to get the most highly qualified traffic we do some Search Engine Marketing in conjunction with a landing page designed for this campaign.  Since Google Adwords has by far the most advanced regional targeting capabilities, I decided we would concentrate our effort there.

Step 1: I bought a domain.  I wanted something that would make it appear that we were associated with the manufacturer.  Since ABC Motors is a licensed franchisee of the manufacturer this isn’t a huge stretch.  I got lucky and picked up the domain name as the vehicle we are selling is a 2008 ABC mobile.  I liked this domain and felt it would be great for quality score considering the relevancy.

Step 2: I setup wordpress on the main domain  I created a simple blog about the vehicle.  It had 10 posts with vehicle information and details as well as a few articles I found and spun.  I also used wordpress to setup a simple contact page and privacy policy.  At the bottom of each post I linked to which was the page the offer/actual landing page will reside on.  I link spammed this blog a bit to get it indexed into Google before going live with the campaign.

Step 3: needed to be created.  We’ll go into what I did with the landing page a little later.

Step 4: I setup a Google Adwords campaign targeting the geographic areas that I was told were particularly good.  I made 1 ad group and within that ad group bid on a few broad keywords.  Heres the general concept of what I did

08 ABC mobile
ABC mobile

My goal here was to be bidding on only a few very relevant keywords and use negative keywords to get rid of the junk that would be searched for.  I started with the obvious negative keywords and then added to the list as I watched the sitelogs of what searches were leading to the site.  Here are some obvious negative keywords I used:


What this keyword method accomplished was generating large volume traffic that was still relevanct, and increasingly relevant as I got more data of what keywords paired with my main keywords converted.

The ads used in the campaign were pretty straight forward.  Since we were enticing people with a rather large discount off of MSRP, that was mentioned in the text ad.  We split test a bunch of ads to see what got the best click through rates.  Overall the campaign had 5%+ CTRs.

The landing page being used was a “thin” data collection page which is why we setup the wordpress blog earlier.  When I set the ads up, I directed all of the ads to  I then set all the keywords at the keyword level to – This resulted in a stellar quality score.

Those are the 5 main steps used to create this campaign.

Let’s talk a little bit about the landing page.  I can’t show you the landing pages due to an agreement with the client but that doesnt keep me from drawing you a rough diagram of what we did.

Landing Page 1:

My original thought was just to let the visitors get a quote on ABcmobile.  This would leave negotiation leeway between the dealership and prospect.  Here is a rough sketch of the original landing page


We found that a lot of the prospects were not as qualified as we may have hoped.  ie. virtual tire kickers.  The new idea was to just lay all of the information out there and if someone responded, they would surely be qualified:

Landing Page 2:

This was the winning landing page:


The above page is the one that generated the most leads and ran for the majority of the campaign.  Leads were tracked through the form as well as the tracking 800#.

Below are the stats of the campaign:

Total Ad Dollars Spent: $32,133
Clicks: 19,537
Email Leads: 852
Phone Calls: 647
Vehicles Sold: 68
Approximate Vehicle Sale Price: $25,000
Total Revenue: $1,700,000

After all of the negative things I told you guys about local, I wanted to show you a campaign that actually worked out for the client.  Online Advertising is going to be huge for local small to medium sized business in the years to come.  Print is dying and dollars are shifting.  Will you be a part of the action?

Ad Hustler | Subscribe To Ad Hustler


  1. Good read. How do you drum up the local clientele for yourself? Phone calls? Or do they come to you?


  3. Very impressive!

  4. Like Lauren asked. I think that is a big question that I have as well. How are you kicking things off with the clients? Great work BTW! Great post!

  5. My best suggestion to you guys is to use your everyday contacts to drum up business.

  6. Great case study man. Love it.

  7. Good case study Ad Hustler! How did you set up your payment terms and who paid for PPC? Are you getting paid per lead or car sold, flat rate or..?

  8. Amazing but how long did it take to sell all the cars?

  9. @James – This took place over a few months.

  10. Nice work, man. Thanks for the info. The lander is especially food for thought. Conventional marketing is always telling us less is more, but in this case, more was more. Reminds me that there’s always room to test, and never bet you know everything right off the bat.

  11. I really liked this post, specially because I’m trying to convince some local businesses to invest in online advertisement.

  12. @Thiago – Next Meetup202 i’ll help you with whatever you need to know.

  13. Nice read. To easy for the Hustler. Would be interested on knowing how you set up pricing, that’s always a tough one!

  14. Awesome post Hustler. This blog is getting better and better… hope you get some good clients through helping other marketers with quality posts like this one.


  15. Nice post!!! I am wondering how you were paid? Was it percentage of sales? Leads? What?

  16. Oops follow up comment email thingy… 😉

  17. this is fucking amazing. just goes to show what any affiliate can do in a local market. Awesome work, big inspiration!

  18. @Ad Hustler

    Thanks in advance.

  19. Nice write-up!

    Did you or these clients try selling the inventory on Craigslist?

    Seems like you could have saved $32k by posting in the 10 states with Craigslist.

  20. well done sir. Your case studies make your blog 1000x better than other stuff out there.

  21. now thats hustling – I also like the fact that you sketch out designs like I do. My designers love getting my “sketches” and not being able to read a damn thing.

  22. Hats off to you man, I tried something very similar with a local client and ended up calling it off even after generating a ton of revenue. Ended up being a complete pain in the ass with nonstop phone calls and concerns.

  23. Thats awesome!

  24. How do you track the phone calls and what counts as a lead? If the customer calls and the car salesman picks up? Or do you just charge for every call that is made regardless of someone picks up the phone?

  25. so if you link your ad to the full blog at first as opposed to the “thin” landing page, then change it, the quality score doesn’t get changed as well?

  26. @Volk – I can’t go over compensation with this particular campaign. Sorry.

    @Spades – Yes, pain in the ass clients is typically the case. This client though, was a pretty good one and open to making it work.

    @PPCpimps – Yea, my sketches are disasters, artists love me. haha

    @Ben – Phone calls are tracked through tracking 800#s. Just Google it and You’ll find tons of providers. A lead is a phone call or email into the client. There was 1 very good salesguy assigned to these leads and the phone calls were directed to his cell phone. Most of the calls were picked up the first time around.

  27. @David – Your not changing it. With Google, the display domain just has to match the destination URL which it will since your blog and LP are on the same domain. You leave the Ad destination URL pointing at the blog and point the keyword destination URL (where you would normally put a tracking link) at the LP.

  28. It’s a cool case study; especially after that series. But I found it fascinating, anyways!
    Where’s that guy, who was sulking over local clients?
    Btw, how much profit did you get out of it?

  29. Loving the case studies B. This one is a gem.

    @ Chris – Did you now read the part about how “these cars do not appeal to most anyone” because if you did that should explain why craiglist wouldn’t work effectively and he couldn’t have save 32k by marketing there.

  30. What an eye opener!! Congrats for the campaign. I think it is brilliant and shows what IM can do besides promoting Weight Control rebill offers. It had been a long time since I got this much inspiration from an AM post.

  31. @WayneDog

    Did you not read the part about how “Newspaper Ads, Direct Mail, Billboards, Cable, Radio would all be a waste of money since these cars do not appeal to most anyone.”

    All those advertising mediums COST money — Craigslist does not. I simply was wondering if it was used since the vehicles were able to be shipped anywhere and weren’t restricted by location. You could list them in the 10 states he mentioned or blast the ad nationwide to every city since it is free and you really have nothing to lose.

    WayneDog, I’m not sure how you think these cars would not appeal to anyone searching on Craigslist as opposed to someone searching on Google. Unloading cars and boats is incredibly easy with CL — the traffic there is unreal, you don’t have to deal with any stupid quality scores/landing pages and watching your CPC costs.

  32. “@David – Your not changing it. With Google, the display domain just has to match the destination URL which it will since your blog and LP are on the same domain. You leave the Ad destination URL pointing at the blog and point the keyword destination URL (where you would normally put a tracking link) at the LP. ”

    So – ad destination = blog, keyword destination = LP
    How come this works? do all of your ads still go to the LP even though you have it set to go to the blog, because keyword destination URL overwrites ad destination URL?

    thanks for the response, by the way.

  33. @David – You got it.

  34. Saw this on affbuzz and didn’t realize i missed this huge post. Congrats & as always, thanks for sharing your success with the affiliate world

  35. Brandon,

    This is a expert post! Wow!

  36. Great case study. Thanks for putting together this series.

  37. @Chris – You aren’t telling me or adhustler anything we don’t know. He is VERY familiar with craigslist and the volume that is to be had there, especially in the auto niche.

    I think you are missing the point. Obviously he didn’t put it there because as he stated it’s a VERY NICHE car that doesn’t appeal to many people. Even free traffic sources aren’t free if they don’t convert because it’s a waste a time and at the end of the time = money!

    Quality scores are nothing to deal with when you know what you are doing and on adwords he could target the specific highly targeted people who were actively searching for this particular car rather than wasting time putting it on CL where 98% of the people seeing his listing wouldn’t be interested in that car.

  38. Way OT but it may help someone… For quick wireframes, google for protoshare. It’s pay and not as cheap as paper and pencil but I love the utility (not affiliated, blah, blah). Pretty slick for knocking out quick ideas or full blown simulations for inhouse/outsource dev.

    And great blog btw. No nonsense.

  39. @skip – thanks for the recomendation. I’ll have to check that out!

  40. @Wayne dog — no, not missing the point at all about being a niche car not appealing to everyone. I completely understand not wanting to blanket an ad to a wide demographic.

    But the majority of the people who would view the Craigslist ad would only be able to view it if they actually typed in “08ABCmobile” within the search function because within an hour of posting it, it would already be on the 2nd page (due to the shear volume of posts it would be knocked off the first page)

    You would also be able to grab a huge amount of organic search with a CL ad with proper keyword placement in the title.

  41. Love this post! Car dealers are great clients because of the price tag of the product. Hair stylists and pet stores- not so much… haha

  42. […] I was recently re-inspired to try out local internet marketing after reading a REALLY great post / case study on local internet marketing Adhustler’s blog. […]

  43. Thanks for the detail post. I was wondering how did you approach this client or other clients? Thanks.

  44. Great read, very helpful Brandon.


  45. Nice post, I really like local advertising I learned how to use that to my advantage when I found out about using Yahoo and Google’s local search directories. I think it helps alot with organic traffic and if you gear your Adwords campaigns with keywords you used in your directory submissions it can really supercharge your campaigns. See my post about daily routines I made to break affiliate marketing plateaus.

  46. Very interesting. Good stuff man

  47. Brandon,

    I’m sure many prospects probably filled out the lead form and called the toll free number as well.

    What would you do in a case like this? Do you filter this yourself? Wait for the client to say something?

    Would appreciate your feedback. Thanks!

  48. @Ben- I don’t understand your question

  49. The prospect can either fill out the form on the landing page, call the number, or do both right?

    So you charge based on each call made and each form submission, right?

    So what if someone calls the number AND fills out the form too. Would your client pay for both or one or the other?

    And how would you filter this? Leave it up to the client to figure it out?

  50. @Ben – OK I see what your asking. Unfortunately I can’t go into that right now as I’m not talking about compensation in this post.

    However, you could remove duplicates if you wanted because any call tracking platform provides you with details about the caller. You can compare those details with the details in the email leads to remove duplicates if you wanted.

  51. great stuff. keep it coming.

  52. Ad Hustler, I’m about to post some of this and link to your story. Our media clients need to hear this – great stuff. But can you write and tell me who you are? I’d like to include that as well. Maybe a little bio?

  53. Very good.

  54. Do you have any sample contracts for a situation similar to this? Just curious. Thanks.

  55. Hey Brandon – I’m going to catch you on Facebook asap to ask a few questions but for now I’ve got some. First off I just finished reading(rereading parts, reading this one for the first time) of your entire series and it’s absolutely awesome so thanks for these posts.

    I’ve been wanting to get some local marketing clients of my own and you’ve pushed me over the edge to definitely going to do it. I’m revamping my company site now so I can cater to them.

    That ties in with my first question – do you have a company site you show them with all of your services? Do you take in some sort of brochure or briefcase full of stuff or do you just talk to them about it?

    One post I’d love to see added to this is how to sell the clients on online marketing and your services. You’ve been in the industry a lot longer than I have so you have more background to wow them with but I think I can hold my own still. So what exactly do you do to sell them on it? It seems ROI metrics aren’t even enough.

    Like I said great posts and thanks for kicking me into gear on getting this done. Time to go buy some business wardrobe from working for myself isn’t exactly up to par(go go shorts and a t-shirt all day every day).

  56. Great! This is one of the best posts I’ve seen so far!

  57. This is some great stuff. I totally agree with a few others that case studies are SUPERB!

  58. […] 1. How I Generated Over 1 Million in Auto Sales Despite a Weak Economy […]

  59. That tip about keyword URL vs. Landing Page URL is awesome! You use that all the time?

  60. […] Case Study: The Offline To Online Local Media Buy More Fun With Local Online Advertising Clients How I Generated $1,700,000 in Auto Sales Despite a Weak Economy Offline Billboard To Online Affiliate Offer Case […]

  61. I just discovered this today and it is a great article! You were right in predicting the future of local PPC management. This is something I am venturing into.

  62. […] interest was peeked further when Adhustler wrote about how he generated $1,700,000 in auto sales despite a weak economy. […]

  63. You are the man!!! I proud of you..

  64. Very cool. Good job, man!

  65. […] and a Top Secret Tool CS1.6 – Pay Per Click Case Study Part 6 – Stats Recap and Going Forward How I Generated $1,700,000 in Auto Sales Despite a Weak Economy Plenty of Fish Case Study – CPM Bid Effects – Results How I made $7,144.00 using TrafficVance. […]

  66. […] and a Top Secret Tool CS1.6 – Pay Per Click Case Study Part 6 – Stats Recap and Going Forward How I Generated $1,700,000 in Auto Sales Despite a Weak Economy Plenty of Fish Case Study – CPM Bid Effects – Results How I made $7,144.00 using TrafficVance. […]

  67. I am very pleased to find your blog.thanks for sharing this informative post

  68. This is a great post.thank you for sharing this informative post

  69. Great article.thanks for posting it

  70. Seems weird that you’re not prepared to talk about how you were given the money from this client. You totally made up the name of the car model and lots of other stuff in the article, i’m suspecting you created this article for impact and it’s all in fact false information and just pure link-bait.

    I mean, why else would you refuse to talk about how you were compensated (i.e. percentage of sales, per lead etc).

  71. I appreciate the work you do in this site.thanks for sharing this informative post

  72. […] is $1,000! I think the actual sale is $5,000 for a full year of service, so the commission is 20%. Ad Hustler has a great case study where he goes after some big spenders as he sold 68 vehicles for a car […]

  73. AFAIC that’s the best asnewr so far!

  74. Great post! i seen your keynote on this also.
    Are you still doing work for them?

  75. great post and landing page ideas. thanks

  76. good case study, getting into PPC now after years of sticking to free traffic. thanks ad hustler

  77. I just moved to arizona to work at my cousins car lot and i wanna make this thing big. Is there any advice you can give me or anything?

  78. $1.64 per click and $473 in ad cost per unit to attract a customer that has a competitive price another click away!!! I guess if you sell the units in a short period of time and make a decent gross, than it makes sense.

  79. Starting a small used car lot 3-5000d dollar range any ideas for a cheap nice landing page?

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  81. I am wondering how you were able to do deals with customers in other states, did these people pay cash for these vehicles and then they got delivered or what?

  82. Hi there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  83. Hello, can you please explain to me what you mean in this part of the article. I am creating a campaign for my new job, selling high end watches and jewelry and using this case study as the basis to start the firs campaign.

    I then set all the keywords at the keyword level to – This resulted in a stellar quality score.

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  85. To whom it may concern my name is Oscar Chimal i am a new car salesman at a Nissan dealership I am very eagered with a passion to suceed I love the idea of what youve done with the ads and generating new direct leads, I am in great need for some clients sence i am new to this, I need help with making these ads and maybe getting some ideas on how to locallyy attract peple, please contact me through email or cell (504-994-9495) I am willing to invest some money in these ads

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