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It's simple. The Internet Sales 20 Group, this 9th installment of it, which is produced by Sean V. Bradley's company, Dealer Synergy, is much more than a "sales conference" or a "training session." This is an all out sensory assault on the Automotive Sales Professionals that are in attendance...
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I sat down recently with one of our Digital Performance Managers, Kelly, to get an inside look an inside look at her daily life and best practices.

Kelly was asked what she feels as the most important aspects of her job, which she stated, “I think the most important part of my job is helping our clients. We play a role in generating leads for them. It's just as important to follow through and help them with their processes so they can close the deal. At the end of the day, leads won't do much if the dealership doesn't handle them correctly.” 

In order to properly help our clients Kelly and our other Digital Performance Managers have instilled best practices, which they follow on a daily basis. “The big picture of best practices for digital is to have an understanding of what's important for each platform and how to implement an appropriate strategy for each. What works on Facebook doesn't necessarily work for AdWords. It is also key to differentiate clients. Much like the different platforms, what works for one may not work for another. Attention to detail is also critical. There are so many moving pieces in what we do and it's critical to not lost track of any of them.”

During their day they are faced with challenges, highs and lows, as well as misconceptions. Kelly let me know that the biggest high for her is “Making conversions and seeing successes. It's gratifying to notice a trend and capitalize on it to get more conversions. Seeing a strategy pay off is a good feeling. At the same time, seeing a successful campaign that a client wants to pull the plug on is a bit of a low.” Although it is a low for us, we move forward with what the customer wants, giving our suggestions and feedback along the way. Retargeting is great for our clients and us, we understand that it can be slightly creepy for someone who is shopping online and then they see an ad on their Facebook page for the car they were just looking at. It isn’t meant to feel like Big Brother watching you, simply a way to stay in the forefront to keep from being forgotten about. Customers are retargeted, or followed, so that the chance of making a conversion becomes higher.

The next time you are shopping online, then later see ads following you around the Internet, keep Kelly in mind and all the hard work she and her team members put into building these campaigns.If you would like to hear more about the campaigns Kelly puts into place, contact us today!

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Turn Your Website Into A Sales Machine!

Even if you can't interact face-to-face with web customers, you still can demonstrate old-fashioned salesmanship. Here are some simple, straight forward ways to turn your website into a revenue producer.

Fully test as a customer - This might sound obvious but if you've got the visitor traffic levels and nobody's calling or buying, then there could be a problem with your site. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer and run through every process that they would, ensuring that everything is fully functional and working as expected.

Is everything simple and easy to use? - With websites, you want to keep it simple. If you offer too many choices and options, then you risk distracting your customer from the most important aspect - actually becoming a customer. Too many sites have confusing text and distracting elements that take the customer's attention away. It is a good usability and web development practice to remove every unnecessary distraction and just keep it simple.

Credibility is everything. Many people are still a bit wary of purchasing from dealership that they haven't used before. You need to inspire confidence in your site and in the service you provide. Many aspects influence the perception of credibility, such as having a professional website design, ensuring you list an actual phone number on the site, clearly displaying address and contact information and displaying customer testimonials.

If your first thought is to direct website visitors to a homepage when they click through an ad on Google, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Success is in the design. There needs to be serious thought and care put into the development of a successful landing page:

  • When considering a title, make sure it is relevant to your call to action
  • Put all of the content "above the fold" on the page
  • Keep content short and sweet; leave the opening and closing paragraphs to around three to five sentences.
  • Use bullet points to direct the visitor’s eye to the most important value propositions
  • Include an image that is relevant to your offer to draw in visitors
  • Leave off the navigation bar of your site while visitors are on the landing page, as it can increase your conversion rate by upwards of 100%

Another great way to gain customers is to start a contest or promotion. An online contest or promotion can help attract attention in social media channels and lure potential customers to your site. Giving away a high value item can stir up the most attention but frequent, simple contests with smaller perks can also be effective. It can also be an excellent way to capture consumer information.

Speaking of gathering visitor information…

When people visit your website, it should be set up to bring them to a targeted landing page that can capture the information necessary to stay in contact with these potential buyers. The pertinent information you should cultivate from their interaction with your landing page would be their name, email address, and possibly even their phone number. This way if the visitor leaves before becoming a customer, you have a way to continue the conversation with them!

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You’ve invested in a website and you’re running a successful dealership. You’ve heard about PPC Advertising, but might be a little bit skeptical. It can be a bit scary to see the dollars start to pileup after as searchers click on your ads. Here are 7 key reasons your dealership simply cannot live without PPC.


You MUST be on Page 1

Studies have found that 93% of consumers begin on a search engine when looking for a vehicle. That’s HUGE. But what’s even more important is that 95% of people never scroll past the first page of search results. This means that in order to get that 95% of business, your site must fall on page one for all of the vehicles that you offer.


Immediate Exposure

Your ads can appear on page one of Google, Yahoo! and bing within minutes! Unlike Search Engine Optimization, it doesn’t take months of content generation and link building to show up on page one. PPC is immediate, and can get that website you invested thousands of dollars on in front of your potential customers as soon as it is turned on.


Increased Visitors

PPC ads provide 50% incremental visitors EVEN when your dealership is first in the organic search results. That’s 50% more opportunities to get a searcher to your site to buy a car from you. Of these visitors, 91% say that they found what they were looking. Simply put, your dealership needs these additional visitors in order to increase revenue.



If done with a professional PPC group, like ReachLocal, your online program will provide 100% track-ability. This means that you will know where each and every one of your dollars is going. We do this by tracking every search term down to the conversion – a phone call, email, form submission, booked appointment, live chat, etc. So unlike traditional advertising like print and radio, you will know exactly what your return-on-investment is.



PPC is highly scalable. Once you find the right approach, you can open the flood gates for new leads and sales opportunities that you wouldn’t otherwise have had before. Your keywords and ads can, and will, become the blueprint to your dealership's success.


Geographical Targeting

So what if you only want to target a certain area? PPC has the ability to reach only your ideal geographical market, making your campaigns super targeted. Let’s say you own a dealership in Charlotte, but you also do work in cities in the Metropolitan area of Huntersville. PPC allows you to only show your ad only in the areas where you service, making each dollar you spend on PPC count.


Your Competition is Doing PPC

Dealerships are now spending more of their advertising budget online. It’s predicted that in 2015, online advertising will grow to be a 35 Billion dollar industry, up 14 Billion from 2011. And in 2012, online advertising surpassed all forms of print advertising. What does this mean for you? More and more of your competitors are spending their advertising budget on the search engines. Unless you shift your dealership's marketing to PPC, you’ll be missing out on that 93% of consumers who search online for a vechicle. What’s worse – your competitors will be getting their business.


Ready to learn more? Contact me today!


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Most Internet marketing experts will agree that driving traffic to your website results in the most valuable leads you can get – if you can convert visitors into leads. Just like the old adage, “volume is vanity, gross is sanity,” your website traffic is only worthwhile if you’re effectively converting it into sales opportunities.


According to an advertising efficacy study by Dataium, an average of 55 percent of dealerships’ online advertising budgets are devoted to paid search engine marketing, but just six percent of dealership website traffic is referred by paid search keywords, and less than one percent of this traffic resulted in email form leads submitted on dealership websites. While effective SEO/SEM campaigns are necessary up to a certain point, eventually the law of diminishing returns kicks in. How much more are you willing to spend for a search term that attracts 100 more unique visitors when only one or two of those visitors will convert into leads?


Compounding the challenge of effective SEM campaigns is the cost. Many website vendors and Internet marketing gurus push dealers to pay more for “their” search terms because other parties-- competitors, independent lead providers, auto shopping websites-- are all buying up the search terms and bidding up prices. To some extent, this is true: it's open competition, and automotive retail isn't the only industry subject to it. Companies in every industry must aggressively compete to attract online customers with increasingly sophisticated SEM campaigns.


Since search is now integrated into the consumer’s everyday experience, it’s also important to pay attention to changing consumer behavior and modify your campaigns accordingly. According to a study by Slingshot SEO, more than 80% of search terms today use five or six keywords. Users are becoming more sophisticated with their search terms and demanding results that deliver exactly what they're looking for. If you are a Toyota dealer in Chicago and you think you can attain a page one search engine ranking simply by paying a lot for the terms "Toyota" and "Chicago," or your website content is the same as it’s been since you optimized it for search 5 years ago, you will be disappointed.


As the competition, sophistication, and challenges increase, your ability to convert precious, valuable search-generated traffic must improve. The average conversion rate for dealership websites is estimated to be between two and four percent. Some dealers claim conversion rates more than double this percentage. What if you could double the number of leads you receive from your dealership website, without spending a penny more on SEO/SEM campaigns? Increasing conversion is the key to achieving this goal.


To convert more visitors, try this three-pronged approach:


1) Content. Keep the content on your website engaging, up-to-date, educational, and include "calls to action" on every page. Also be sure that your content supports your brand consistently. If you're a family-owned business heavily involved in your community, ensure that your website content reflects and promotes this.


2) Conversion Tools. An increasing number of tools are available that are designed to engage visitors and keep them on your website. Chat applications are one of the most successful conversion tools; so are payment marketing tools like trade-in calculators and shop-by-payment tools like Payment Pro. Incentives and coupons have all been shown to increase conversion rates.


3) Marketing. Conversion tools will convert, but only to the extent that your website visitors know about them and use them. Don't expect them to just stumble across the latest tool or gadget on your site and start using it, unless they know what to expect. For instance, if you have a payment marketing tool, create a marketing campaign to educate your customers about their credit score and to let them know they can get accurate payment quotes without affecting their credit score. A full-blown marketing campaign might include the following elements: e-mail, a dedicated area on your website landing page featuring the benefits of shopping by payment, a blog, a video of one of your salespeople explaining the benefits, geo-targeted banner ads, and more.


If you have found that funneling more of your budget into SEO/SEM campaigns isn't getting you a proportional increase in website visitors, try focusing on increasing your conversion rate. Customers will stay on your site if they find what they are looking for, so figure out what that is and provide it to them to increase your website lead count and quality.

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Marketers across the globe are constantly plagued by the question; “should I spend my dollars on social media marketing, or search engine marketing?” To help answer this question, MDGAdvertising has produced a really nice infographic breaking down some of the various campaign components you would generally look at when assessing a marketing campaign. These include:

Lead Generation
Brand Awareness
Local Visibility
MDG’s review of Lead Generation performance included SEO, PPC and Social Media Marketing as the key metrics. The research which included interviews with more than 500 marketing professionals across B2B and B2C companies produced a single clear winner for lead generation; organic SEO. Although difficult to achieve without a lengthy campaign and a number of outside considerations, organic SEO is a clear winner for lead generation. But one must ask the question, at what cost? Because of the time and expenditure involved in achieving quality search rankings, is this a fair assessment when considering the ROI? Maybe long term, but this metric is very interesting none-the-less.

The Brand Awareness component of this infographic produced social media as the winner according to rankings in terms of objectives. Brand Awareness ranked #1 for social media marketing and #3 for search engine marketing. From my experience, this research is pretty undeniable. Search is great for lead generation, but social is excellent for brand awareness, and certainly a great bet for a quick return on your investment.

With this in mind, although there is still great value in using social media for targeting local users, consumers still rely on search for their local information requests. Consumers will almost always use search to locate information on websites as their starting point, and that includes services such as Google Places. Although social media has great potential in this area, search is still the winner at the moment if you’re looking to reach a local consumer base.

However if it’s interactivity and engagement you’re looking for, marketers will choose social media as their preferred platform, but interestingly not by as much as you would think. Although social media was a winner with 65% of marketing professionals stating they would use social media for increased interactivity, SEO scored 54% and Paid Search scored 34% indicating strong value across both of these channels if handled effectively.

Finally, with changes to search engine algorithms constantly in the mix and strong signs that social signals such as likes, tweets and +1′s affect search performance, the good money when comparing social vs search, is actually on a campaign that includes a mix of content marketing for SEO, and some strong social support for that campaign. As marketers survey the social and search landscapes, we are set to see a large shift toward marketing campaigns that comprise both platforms to achieve a well-rounded result for the content owner.


I agree with the conclusion that organic SEO is the clear winner for lead generation. The first thing that came to my mind was the value that video brings to SEO. When your business dominates the first page of natural Google for different searches you don't give the competition an opportunity to market their business. For example, if you have video in place that shows why your brand is better than your competitor when a consumer does do a search for your competitor your video will dominate the search. Equally important, is that like the article states search is great for lead generation but social is great for brand awareness. I've seen way to many owners that are from the "old school" not understand the value of social media for their business. So many still think that if they build these amazing dealerships that buyers will storm through the door however, that strategy may have worked in the 80's but it's a failing strategy today. In today's market we know that we must fish where the fish are.

At the end of the day consumers still rely on search for local information requests. And your mission if you accept it is to utilize SEO/SEM/PPC, social media and VSEO so that you can capture your consumers at the ZMOT or at their point of interest.

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I had the pleasure of watching a very informative webinar last night that really brought home the importance of having a robust dealership presence online.  I truly enjoy studying the shift in advertising from the traditional way of doing business to the modern way of doing business.  I've seen dealerships that had all the right brands under one rooftop but sell 70-90 units a month while their competition sells over 200 units a month; due to the fact of poor leadership, nonexistent online presence, horrible culture and negative online reviews about the dealerships service dept. (a service customer is 7 times more likely to buy at the dealership that he/she uses for service) just to name a few.  The days of just building a multi-million dollar facility and waiting for the customer to come is over!!  We know that by the time the consumer actually gets to your store (unless a real pro made contact during the ZMOT and you never seen the consumer) they are no longer at the point of interest but now at the point of sale.  Look at these alarming numbers:

  1. In 2006 the average consumer visited 4.1 dealerships and conducted 68% Internet research.
  2. In 2011 the average consumer visited 1.3 dealerships and conducted 84% Internet research and some conducted over 90% Internet research depending on the brand.
  3. In 2000 dealer ad spending was newspaper 52%, Internet 4.6%, T.V. 15.5% and radio 14%
  4. In 2010 dealer ad spending was newspaper 22%, Internet 23.7%, T.V. 20.1% and radio 16% (and of course we know that Internet ad spending is much higher now in 2012). 

And when I have sales people that are friends of mine call me and tell me how slow it is and how they only got 5 cars out and it's the 25th of the month; yes some are LAZY however, some are at a store that in 2012 the owner and GM does business like it's 1980. 

SEM and SEO is such a interesting subject that if you want to bring value to your store it's imperative that you study these ideas because when you begin to talk with your owner or GM about what you're studying you will become a valuable asset at your dealership or the competition will hear about you and start calling you.  Good luck and good selling....    

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