December 31st, 2008
In the past few months, I have been fielding calls from dealers who are looking for ways to increase revenue to offset declining car sales. Car part sales and extended warranty sales seen to be the hot topic among the dealers that I communicate with. I’ve started a number of great projects to generate revenue from these two sources but part sales are so ripe, I just had to write about it.
For genuine manufacturer car part sales, it seems that only a few choices exist for car dealers who want to compete for online dollars. The car parts website platforms that are the most popular actually score very poorly from an SEO perspective. When I compare these website platforms to what matters in Google they fail miserably in my opinion. This creates an amazing opportunity for dealers who create their own SEO compliant parts website pages or find a work around to these flawed databases.
One of the leading website platforms for car dealer parts websites is Trade Motion who creates “skins” for dealers and then drives parts searches to their own website database. I don’t think dealers understand that buying into this model will always require them to use Google Adwords or SEM to drive traffic and sales. The offsite hosted inventory pages in Trade Motion will never generate natural search rankings for their own main parts website let alone allow them to compete nationally via organic search.
A case in point is a site called www.directhondaparts.com which uses the Trade Motion parts database. This site was chosen at random. As soon as you start searching for parts, you leave the site called www.directhondaparts.com and move to the Trade Motion website. For example, the page that lists 2005 Honda Accord Brake Pads is:
If you look at this long and convoluted URL it obviously is not associated with the sponsoring domain. It also does not comply with Google recommendations about simplifying dynamic URL strings or to utilize a clear set of sub-directory structures. You can read Google’s recommendations in this PDF document:
The reality is that all the page views associated with paying for a consumer via SEM to shop the parts database will never be associated with the car dealer’s parts website domain. Only www.trademotion.com gets credit for the page views and time on site.
Another example is www.infinitipartsonline.com which uses another version of Trade Motion’s database platform, which is better but not ideal. The Infiniti 2007 FX35 brake pads come up as:
In this example, the database pages are tied to the main URL but the length and composition of the URL is not designed to compete for organic search listings. In addition, the META description and HTML title for this page has nothing to do with 2007 FX35 brake parts. This is in violation of Google’s SEO guidelines.
Here are the HTML tags that are on the page for 2007 Infiniti FX35 front brake pads, which are obviously just a generic tagging system:
<META name=”description” content=”A complete line of Infiniti parts & Infiniti Accessories. OEM Infiniti Parts and Aftermarket Performance Infiniti Parts”>
<META name=”KEYWORDS” content=”NISMO, infiniti parts, infinity parts, Infiniti accessories, Infinity accessories, G35 coupe, G35 Sedan, G20 accessories, G20 performance, G35 performance, G35 parts, G20 parts, infiniti parts, infinity parts, nissan parts, nismo parts, G35 accessories ,performance parts, brake pros, stillen, stillen brakes, metal matrix, performance brakes, g35 brakes, g20 brakes, oem nissan parts, oem infiniti parts, oem infinity parts, wholesale nissan, wholesale infiniti, wholesale infinity, nissan, infiniti, infinity, g20, g35, fx35, fx45, g35, q45, i30, j30, qx4, 350z, 300zx, datsun, infiniti factory parts, infinity factory parts, m45, m35, m30, i35, infinity g35, infiniti g35, infiniti fx35, infiniti fx45, infinity fx35, infinity fx45″>
Dealers who want to compete nationally for parts sales need to create an SEO strategy that will build pages rankings and traffic that will not ONLY require SEM. Right now it seems like sites like www.parts.com have an inside track on what web architecture really drives organic sales results.
I’ve been studying parts websites for a while and have solutions to mediate the poor SEO design of many current parts website platforms. If dealers are interested in building a better parts business on the Internet, they are encouraged to share best practices here. Dealers are also invited to give me a call to discuss how we can help better optimize their current efforts in selling parts online. I can be reached at 732-450-8200.
December 21st, 2008
Google Base is a classified advertising system developed by Google. The listings can be displayed on Google related properties at the discretion of Google but most people go directly to Google Base to search and buy goods. Google Base is currently free and allows anyone to post an item for sale. Postings will stay in their system for up to 30 days. All items that are posted are categorized and highly searchable through Google Base’s simple user interface.
Google Base is an ideal SEO tool for selling cars, trucks and other vehicles. Cutting edge car dealers have started to use Google Base as part of their Automotive SEO strategy. Because of how Google Base can be setup, an SEO consultant can use this system to create greater visibility for their car inventory on the Internet.
Adoption of Google Base by auto dealers has been hindered by technology and time constraints. Without special programming, car dealers have to enter their cars one at a time. Dealers did not have off the shelf tools to take their inventory feeds and seamlessly integrate their car data and photos into Google Base until now. Additionally, GB Feeder is designed to maximize the SEO benefit by posting cars on Google Base; a strategy that PCG customers currently benefit from.
The PCG Digital Marketing is now offering a service to capture car dealer new and used car feeds and automatically post them into Google Base. The PCG software called “GB Feeder” accepts over a dozen standard automotive feeds including CSV, XML, ADF and ASCII via FTP. GB Feeder is compatible with third party car inventory management services* like:
The PCG software will accept daily updates from car dealer feeds and post new entries into Google base on a regular schedule. Car dealers will be glad to know that PCG can customize any car inventory data file into their “GB Feeder” system.
In addition to increased visibility, the GB Feeder software provides a new tool in The PCG Digital Marketing Automotive SEO toolkit to help dealers sell cars on the Internet. The Google Base service is now available in addition to their automated listing services for Craigslist, BackPage and MerchantCircle.
For additional information on Google Base car inventory feeds, contact the PCG Digital Marketing at 732-450-8200 or email us at email@example.com
* The automotive vendor compatability is based on existing customers who are feeding data from these vendors into our systems. These vendors are not endorsing or supporting compatability for GB Feeder.
December 16th, 2008
It is clear that search engine optimization (SEO), social networking, and organic search marketing are tools that car dealers need to understand and utilize to compete on the Internet.
There are a good number of articles available to car dealers that advocate automotive digital marketing as an important budgetary item however for some managers it can be difficult to quantify the actual ROI to their dealership in any given week or month.
The work to build consistent cars leads from an SEO campaign is spread over weeks, months and even years. So you can imagine my excitement when I had a chance to measure the short term impact of a proven set of Automotive SEO strategies on a single promotion event for an Infiniti dealer in Arizona.
The event was held December12-14th in Chandler Arizona at the Adesa Auction Grounds; a direct to public sale of used Infiniti and Nissan Cars coordinated by Nissan and a third party marketing company. Eight area Infiniti and Nissan dealers were invited to participate in co-op advertising costs for the event which presented about 650 cars for sale over a three day weekend.
The event was not an auction. It was a factory direct sale of lease end cars, repossessed cars, and demo cars which dealers could sell at the event on a first come basis. The advertising campaign from participant co-op dollars would go into radio, TV, and newspaper ads. The company who organized the event also had a website which included the basic details on the event: date, location, and time.
The marketing strategy set by my client was to secure appointments in advance of the three day weekend event. I was given three weeks’ notice to come up with an Internet marketing plan. We created an action plan to determine what the dealer’s staff would be doing and what my company would be doing.
The dealer would be contacting all unsold prospects in their database as well as starting a small pay-per-click campaign that would send direct leads to a microsite that I was to create.
I was to create the automotive marketing microsite for the event which would load all of the 650 cars into an online searchable database, a concept which no other dealers participating in the event implemented. The event site was http://www.arizonausedinfiniti.com .
An ADF feed was created from an Excel Spreadsheet provided by the event organizers. This ADF feed was also loaded into Infiniti of Scottsdale’s used inventory which in turn was distributed to a number of third party car marketing platforms. This allowed the Infiniti dealer to promote the cars in the event to a very wide audience in a very short period of time.
Since Infiniti of Scottsdale was the only dealer that displayed the event inventory in advance of the sale, they had a distinct advantage on capturing and confirming pre-event interest. The sales staff could walk people through the site on the phone to find cars that met their budget and then book an appointment to see the car.
As part our Internet Marketing strategy, we emailed their entire customer database with a simple text email designed to get in under the spam filters and direct people to the event website. We issued a series of Internet press releases that directed consumer traffic to the site organically. This helped to compliment the buzz that was being created on radio, TV, and newspapers.
Since we knew that the traditional marketing campaign would generate online interest, we made sure that our site would come up in Google searches for a few variations of the event name. If you go into Google and type “Chandler Surplus Sale” or “Arizona car surplus sale” you can see that we dominate the first page of Google which lead to over 300 visits per day in advance of the car event.
In the three week prior to the event, we unleashed the Internet marketing “hounds” at a very reasonable cost to the dealership. We utilized social networking platforms, Craigslist, Google Base, and a few proprietary marketing models. The event site was getting over 300 hits a day from interested parties which were not generated by any of the co-cop advertising dollars for this event.
The results? Infiniti of Scotstdale had the most appointments of all Infiniti dealers at the event and they sold more cars to consumers than any other Infiniti dealer . The bottom line is that the event was very profitable and the ROI on the Internet marketing costs was very high. When the event was over, the General Manager clearly understood that the success at the event was a great partnership between his outstanding sales team and aggressive internet marketing strategies.
The residual benefits are that the 150+ leadsthat came into our marketing microsite are still being pursued and matched up with used cars from their used car inventory. The event created a fresh list of leads of Arizona car shoppers looking for used car values. The ISM is confident that he can turn these unsold event leads into sales this month.
The event marketing website will be repurposed for selling Infiniti used cars in Arizona year round. It has already started to gain some organic ranking for Infiniti used car searches in Arizona. It’s great to know that when the pressure is on, organic search marketing and Automotive digital marketing techniques can make a short term difference and return a fantastic ROI. The long term benefits of SEO have been discussed on this forum at great lengths. In this case, a short term Internet marketing campaign outside of Pay-Per-Click, resulted in outstanding results.
Contact Brian Pasch, CEO to discuss how the PCG Digital Marketing can help energize your new and used cars sales in the year ahead.