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2010 Automotive Internet Marketing Budgets

As 2010 quickly approaches I would like to encourage automotive marketing professionals to carefully review their spending and budgets for the upcoming year.

In the past few months I have received an increase in calls from car dealer internet sales managers asking about how they can wisely increase their online spending. I am getting a feeling that many dealers believe that the worst is over and they want to have a strong Internet presence in 2010.

I agree that dealers who aggressively invest in Automotive SEO, Social Media and carefully designed PPC will have a strategic advantage in 2010. This is not a self-serving statement; it’s where the action is.

Internet Marketing in 2010

So I thought I would offer my 2010 Wish List for Internet Marketing ROI metrics and tools to help dealers. I welcome the dealership community as well as automotive solutions providers to add their own suggestions to help members who want to dominate their local PMA but also want to track the ROI of their online spending.

I hope that one day soon dealers can have near perfect 100% tracking for online lead and sales costs. Dealers will always have the problem with sales being properly accounted for but that is not the topic of this post.

As I speak with Internet sales managers across the country, many still have not even implemented tracking numbers across all of their advertising media. The automotive industry still has a great deal of education to complete at the dealership level in regards to tracking Internet Marketing ROI.

Let’s Get Started

Tracking numbers for all online lead funnels.

If you are not using a call tracking service like “Call Source” or “Who’s Calling” sign up immediately. Depending on the size of your dealership group, I suggest that each brand that you sell has UNIQUE tracking numbers for various online marketing lead funnels. Its easy to do and they provide excellent back-end metrics helping you fully analyze your ROI. These should include one unique tracking number each for:

a. Your Brand Specific Google Maps Listing

b. Review Websites (dealerrater.com, insiderpages.com, yelp.com, etc.)

c. Press Releases that you send out

d. Microsites

e. Blogs

f. Facebook

g. Third Party Lead Providers

h. Local Online Banner Ads / Google AdWords Campaigns

i. Customized Social Communities (ex: Ning.com, Vox)

j. Photos on free distributed inventory feeds

The goal is to track these different audio sources and to evaluate the call and sales volume that come in from each source. The automotive community should also require these call tracking companies to create an industry standardized set of categories for tracking these numbers, as follows:

  • Press Releases
  • Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Microsites
  • 3rd Party Leads
  • Local TV
  • Local Newspaper
  • Local Websites

You will see why this is important as you read further.

Capture of the referring URL with all lead forms.

 This gets a bit tricky so stay with me on this. If you have an integrated single vendor solution for your website and CRM/ILM system then you have a shot at success in 2010.

You will want to demand a report of leads by all the sources listed above. It requires the website vendor to capture the exact URL that referred the visitor to your website and strip that down to the base URL and create a tallied report by source.

It would also be nice to require the website vendors to create a standardized set of categories for tracking these leads, as follows:

  • Press Releases
  • Social Media
  • Blogs
  • Microsites
  • 3rd Party Leads
  • Local TV
  • Local Newspaper
  • Local Websites

Do you see the pattern? What happens when all leads and calls can be rolled up into one consolidated report?

Resolve Ala-Carte Modules and the ADF Issue

If your website platform sends form leads to a third party CRM/ILM system you may have a problem. This is because the data exchange is normally done using the ADF file format; an XML file.

The current ADF specification does not have a field for the referring URL so one platform cannot pass this information to another without a special data exchange partnership. This is SO IMPORTANT and vital for a dealer’s success in 2010. Somehow the ADF specification has to be revised so that dealers who are actively engaged in social media and offsite SEO can capture the true source of the lead.

 Clear Reports that Show Bounce Rate and Conversion by Keyword

 Dealers who are using Google Adwords to drive traffic to their websites do not have executive level reports that show the waste in the PPC spending. Keywords that have high bounce rates can be an indications that:

  1. The landing page is not in line with the value proposition / ad the visitor clicked through from
  2. Your call to action is weak / diluted by too many other items on the page
  3. You are attracting the wrong visitors
  4. Other

Most website platforms don’t make it easy to see the keywords with the highest bounce rates and lowest conversion. Dealers need tools to refine their SEM budgets in terms that a NON-PROGRAMMER can understand.

Clear reports that show the diversity of organic keyword traffic

If dealers took a look at their Google Analytics reports they will probably see the number one source of organic traffic to their website is their brand name. But after that, how many high-value keywords are bringing real traffic to your website?

If the list is very narrow, it is a good sign that your website is not broadly optimized for a larger set of keywords. A broad set of keywords can indicate that your website is actively blogging and adding content on a variety of topics. Keep in mind that service, parts and extended warranty sales have great profit margins and should not be ignored. If your top referring keywords in Google Analytics do NOT include these phrases you are missing a great opportunity for new revenue.

The Benefit

If all Leads submitted by forms could be tracked to a “category” of referring URL’s and if all calls were tracked, then you might be able to get a much closer estimate of your online advertising spending. A simple report could look like this:

sales-report

Looking Ahead

The Automotive SEO world is rapidly changing and dealerships need to quickly adapt or perish. The newest topics to hit the news feed for SEM in 2010 are two-fold from Google. First, an announcement of integrating Social Media into Live search results and second, the implementation of Google Goggles for mobile devices.

As social media has grown, so has Google’s ability to track it, and in 2010 we’ll start to see Google’s attempt to simplify it all in a new, live search results, way. Just how this will effect the current SEM model is yet to be seen but it one thing is clear, Social Media marketing is here to stay and getting stronger.

Second, with the world of mobile-apps growing more integrated into our daily lives, Google “Goggles” will now start to give devices with cameras an “eye” for search. “Goggles” is reported to have the ability to identify pictures taken by a mobile phone and search throughout the web for price comparisons, reviews and more.

Do you have a FlickR account with pictures of your entire line of vehicles yet? If not, you need get moving, because when customers start snapping, you better be on Google Page One!

If you have questions,   call our staff at 732-450-8200 or you can email Brian Pasch at brian@paschconsulting.com.

Car Dealers Need SEO and PPC

As a Automotive social networking advocate and Automotive SEO evangelist, it is important that car dealers understand that often the perfect digital marketing campaign is a blend between SEO and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

Our firm may be known for its work with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) but we have been helping business owners balance their Internet Marketing campaigns with Google Adwords and Yahoo Search Marketing as well.

The need for PPC is very clear when you study the search phrases patterns in Google Adwords to see that consumers are often lazy and do not add a “geo” word in their search phrases that an SEO campaign can pickup.

Boston BMW Searches

For example, you would think that a consumer looking for a BMW X6 in Boston would type “BMW X6 Boston” or “BMW X6 Prices Boston” but in fact that many people will be typing in “BMW X6″, “BMW X6 Prices” or some other non-localized search.

Since we can’t re-educate the nation overnight and until Google search engine includes more local web pages in their search results, PPC is needed.  So, setting a 15-25 mile radius around your dealership, and purchasing some generalized search phrases is a way to attract more local shoppers.

Without PPC, business owners would have to rely on long tail searches which may be high in conversion but very low in volume.  So, SEO is excellent is attracting web surfers who are educated enough to include localizing words in their search phrases and SEM is ideal for capturing the rest of the world.

Managing Your Automotive PPC Campaigns

Of course, evaluating the ROI of PPC for each phrase you bid on is important.  Be careful that the search phrases that you bid on are not too broad which could yield unprofitable conversion ratios.

Auto Dealer Google Adwords Management

If you are not satisfied with how your automotive Google Adwords campaign is being managed, it is well worth your time to give us a call.  We do not markup or hide Google Adwords costs.  All bids and costs are placed in an account that you own and we manage.  Your corporate credit card gets billed each month for your budget so you know exactly how much is being spent.  We only bill you for the time we spend each month adjusting or editing your ads and landing pages.

Other companies charge a monthly fee which includes Adwords costs and management fees.  The line between fees and Adwords costs are often blurred. It has been our experience that a one price fits all Adwords strategy has too many inefficiencies to be the best solution for an auto dealer.

As part of our Google, Yahoo, and MSN advertising campaign management we include our expertise on creating effective landing pages for each ad.  We prefer that each car model specific ad be directed to its own unique landing page.  The landing page should make it easy for the consumer to understand the current offer on the car and then request a call or email quote.  An effective landing page design can make all the difference in a PPC campaign for car dealers.

Some dealer website platforms do not allow for unlimited pages to be created.  On other platforms, teh complexity of the landing pages are limited.  In both cases, PCG has a solution that can optimize your Adwords campaigns.  We can create optimized microsites which can include dealer editable pages with no limitations to the creativity you need included on the landing page.

These automotive SEO and SEM solutions are part of the unique set of services we offer car dealers.  If you want the very best automotive SEO specialists handling your Internet marketing campaigns, you should give us a call.  732-450-8200

 

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