Automotive SEO and Social Media ROI

I was inspired by an article by VJ (Volker Jaeckel) from Cobalt Group to detail my thoughts about the ROI of Automotive SEO and Social Media campaigns.  But before you read what I have to say, I would like you to watch this video:

As you know,  PCG is an advocate for both strategies and we are passionate about the return on investment, not cost, that these services provide.

Benefits of A Strong Automotive SEO Strategy

In a nutshell with Automotive SEO, car dealers get:

  • Search Relevance
    • Good Content
    • Good Website Architecture
    • New Content Added To Website
  • External Links
    • From A Diverse Group Of Sites
    • From Authoritative Automotive Sites
    • With Quality Anchor Text
    • And Proper Page Positioning
  • New Sources of Traffic
    • Social Media
    • Content Publishing
    • Automotive Forums
    • Advertising Portals

Car dealers are in the weakest position when it comes to building external links.  Links are the “votes” from other websites and the links authenticate your web site’s value for specific search phrases.  Over time dealers should have THOUSANDS of good links pointing to their websites.

When dealers realize that there are about 25 third party websites that I see on Google Page One every day pushing their website off Page One, the issue of links will become more apparent.  Dealers have given their inventory to free advertising portals that have created sites that rank above them in their OWN TOWN.

I estimate that less than 5% of dealers nationwide understand that if they only have ONE website to market their goods and they are not concerned about links, then they will be at a significant disadvantage.  The disadvantage is getting larger each day.

If you want to validate this claim, type in a year, make and model search for your town and brand of car you sell.  See just how many dealers vs. third party lead collectors/advertisers are on page one that are NOT dealer centric in their ad model.

The days of consumers going to one car advertising website because of a million dollar off-line branding campaign is being diminished by many new paths to searching and researching a car.  Consumers are getting more sophisticated in their search behavior and are more empowered to find their own “best” deal.

Search 2008 Toyota Corolla Downey

There is a Toyota dealership in Downey California. When you look at the Page One search results, the dealer’s website is no where to be found and its their own city.  80% of the page is occupied by third party lead collectors or third party advertising portals.

Check it out yourself:  View Search (shown in photo on right)

Automotive SEO strategies that include microsites, content writing, link building and social media do not make sales and visibility changes overnight.

Most dealers do not have the patience so in the end they spend 2x more on pay-per-click investments over the long-haul.

Automotive SEO is a long-term investment in your multi-million dollar franchise.

In the past 6 months we have seen a 200% increase in competitive search traffic for year, make and model searches and it’s not looking good for dealers who ignore SEO strategies.

AAN Members Can Fight Back

Do a similar search for a member of the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN) which is the first dealer centric advertising network.

Search: 2008 Toyota Camry Englewood

You will see their AAN local advertising page in the 3rd postion on Google Page One, shown in the image below:

2008 toyota camry Englewood

Note: The dealer’s own website is not on Google Page One.  This is not a criticism about their DDC website but rather commonplace from what I can see.  Car dealer websites are under attack and they don’t yet see the problem.

Members of the AAN get both Automotive SEO and Social Media integration benefits that include:

  • Inventory Plugin For Facebook
  • Customer Testimonial Channel Plugin For Facebook
  • Unlimited Blog Posting on the AAN’s Automotive News Network
  • Inventory integration to their own blogs
  • Cars listed on national, regional and local advertising pages
  • Numerous links back to dealer’s primary website
  • Unlimited leads from optimized SEO advertising pages

Social Media ROI

Social media is more than Facebook and Twitter and it includes tasks like Reputation Management, FourSquare, Social Communities and Blogging.  As dealers participate in online communities and social media platforms they can connect and engage with consumers in their marketplace.  As the video points out, if you compare everything in social media with outdated ROI standards you will be missing the point of social media.

PCG’s own advertising budget is primarily based on social media.  We participate in blogs, social networks and communities to get our services and expertise in front of business owners.  Our company’s growth is based on practicing our own SEO strategies and social media participation.

Dealers as a whole are impatient with the process. I understand that impatience but I would not stake my reputation and career on vaporware.

Someone said it best, “Don’t bet against Pasch”.

I took that as a great compliment but it reflects my passion.   I work around the clock testing new ways to assist car dealers increase their search relevance and authority.

The Automotive Advertising Network is a delivery on that passion (SEO and Social) and promise those that participate will be rewarded…just not overnight like a PPC campaign would deliver.

Automotive SEO and Social Media engagement is a critical investment that must be a part of all car dealer budgets.

Automotive Advertising Agencies

The Internet as a communications tool for car dealers is evolving and never before has the changing landscape been more challenging for dealer principals and General Managers.  As car dealers seek to develop online brand messaging their advertising budgets are being pulled in many directions.  Every month a new digital strategy is being presented as the next “big thing”.

Dealers are struggling to validate the benefits and implementation costs of social media, chat, streaming video, reputation management, SEO, SEM and a dozen other digital marketing pitches that come across their desk each month.  With little track records or case studies to help dealers with the education process, seasoned mangers are scratching their heads and looking for advice and support from the companies that they have leaned on in the past.

Unfortunately, these products are coming from more single source vendors and not their current automotive advertising agency.  Most traditional automotive advertising agencies that have delivered success with direct mail, radio, TV and print have stumbled to provide integrated digital marketing offerings.  Automotive advertising agencies clinging to traditional marketing expertise has created a disruption in the marketplace with no clear winners emerging from the chaos. 

Dealers who once had a single call to make for their advertising and marketing strategies now have to make multiple calls and are forced into becoming a General Contractor to build an integrated marketing strategy. Dealers have neither the training, desire nor the sustainable skills to act as a General Contractor.  

Next generation automotive advertising agencies must seamlessly merge the traditional and digital landscape to increase their value to car dealers.  The marketplace is screaming for integrated automotive advertising agencies that offload the burden currently on car dealers who seek to gain market share with the changing of advertising models.

Antiquated Data Exchange Standards and Protectionism

To complicate the integration of traditional marketing with digital marketing strategies, dealers are still tied to vendors that do not embrace open standards for data exchange and collaboration.  For example only two DMS providers serve all new car dealers in the United States.  For some dealers, the distribution of the dealer’s own data is restricted by antiquated data access policies. 

It’s hard to believe that in 2010 a car dealer cannot click on a menu to export a file of their own inventory into an ADF compliant XML file to send the third party advertising sources.   It is hard to believe that some vendors still use modems for data transmission.  Car dealers have allowed the confiscation of their own data and are held captive from creating truly innovating data reporting systems.

Since car dealers are using multiple single source software solutions, it is time to recognize that “lead lifecycle” reporting is one of the last barriers that car dealers need to measure true ROI.  When a dealer has a website provider that is different than their CRM vendor, significant data is lost due to the current way data is exchanged.  Commonly data is transmitted between two different software platforms using a file format call the ADF specification.

The automotive industry needs a revised ADF specification to allow an open source solution to end to end reporting across multiple software platforms.  The current specification is a 1.0 version that was last modified in 2000. A lack of leadership and protectionism is complicating a revised data exchange standard and costing dealers thousands of dollars a year.   

Where are the Leaders?

The automotive advertising agency of the future needs to shepherd vendor integration because it is what their clients truly need.  I truly believe that dealer Principals and General Managers are spending way too much time in the General Contractor role and if asked, they would give up that title in a heartbeat.

Automotive advertising agencies that seek to gain market share must invest in properly trained technical staff that understands SEO, SEM, website design, data communications, data analysis and third party data integration.

Automotive Advertising Agencies that fail to provide integrated traditional and digital marketing strategies are going to be asked an uncomfortable question by the dealer: “And remind me what I am actually paying you to do..”

When that question is asked, you can start the clock on when your account will be replaced by an agency that took the burden of the dealer and didn’t wait to let the market disruption be the last straw.

2010 Driving Sales Executive Summit

The 2010 Driving Sales Executive Summit (DSES) will be held in Las Vegas on October 18-20th.  The second annual conference attracts to the top executives from the automotive retail industry.  The conference is unique in its format and the subject matter that will be discussed.

The event is by invitation only and the Top car dealers across the country will be receiving their invitations in the coming weeks.  The 2010 DrivingSales Executive Summit will be held at the Encore hotel, in Las Vegas Nevada. The organizaers have negotiated an excellent package for all attendees to enjoy the luxury of the Encore, at a very low rate.  When registering for the event, please notify DSES if you will be staying at the Encore and they will book your reservation for you.

2010 DSES Conference Format

The DrivingSales Executive Summit is an exclusive automotive event, laser focused on cutting edge dealership operations.  It features an invitation-only guest list of the most successful and innovative dealership operators in the country and world-renowned speakers to educate and inspire the collaborative process.  This years Executive Summit will be held at the beautiful Encore hotel in the electrifying city of Las Vegas, Nevada.

The event kicks off with a 30,000-foot view of the latest media and economic trends just starting to touch the industry.  These high level discussions are then translated down to the 15,000-foot view of how some of the leading dealership innovators are incorporating these trends into new strategies that drive sales at the dealership level. 

To complete the event are strategy collaboration sessions at the 10-foot dealership view where dealer operators participate with their peers in round table discussions about implementing specific aspects of these newly inspired strategies.  The program will inspire you and leave you with a strategic plan to drive measurable results at your store.

The topics and speakers presented are selected by group of dealer attendees. This insures the topics are timely, relevant and that the speakers are of the highest quality for the audience.  The agenda is not sponsor driven, it is dealer driven.

PCG Digital Marketing

Brian Pasch, CEO of PCG Digital Marketing will be attending the event and summiting a case study of their digital marketing work for the automotive industry.  If you would like to book a private consultation with Brian Pasch out in Vegas, give our office a call at 732.450.8200 x12.


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