Friday, March 28, 2008

PPC Marketing - A Dealerships Answer Affordable Advertising

We all know that floor traffic is down, way down. With gas prices sky high and money getting tighter by the day people are less willing and less able to visit a variety of dealerships before they make a purchase. So the question is how do we get top quality leads into your dealership for less than traditional media costs? The answer is simple, Pay Per Click.

PPC marketing offers you a lot of advantages over traditional marketing outlets. For instance, with Pay Per click you only pay for the ads that people click on, so your ad could receive 200,000 impressions a month and it may never cost you a penny. This varies greatly from traditional media such as radio where you have to pay just for having your ad played, the more it's played the more you pay. In traditional media you are also restricted to a specific publication date or time slot, but on the Internet your ad is working for you whenever the searcher is working. The cost per click is also a lot cheaper with PPC, usually pennies on a dollar. If a keyword is hot, give it more money, if it's not kick it to the curb.

The bottom line for your bottom line is that Internet marketing can reach a greater variety of leads for a lot less money. The average is ~70.00 per person who walks into your dealership or less than 20.00 on average per lead.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Google Adwords Update -Slow Pages Will Hurt You

This week Google announced that they will be making a change to their quality score algorithm. If you are not running your own adwords campaign then call your ad agency and ask them to review and recommend changes to improve load times. Most auto dealers use a template designed to load quickly and are fine, but it never hurts to check.

Here is the full release from Google for your reading pleasure.

PS. Don't forget to celebrate International Day of Awesomeness (maybe with an Awesome special on detailing?)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Pagerank: Why are Dealerships Wasting Their Time?

Every other day I hear from a dealership who wants to use PPC to raise their Page Rank and each time I wonder where they are getting the idea that this is a valid use of their time. To this day I can only guess that they found a blog post or two (or three dozen) touting the need to raise page rank to get more traffic. While that is fine and dandy if your dream of growing up to be Andy Beal or Darren Rowse or even Jason Falls this isn't going to work for you.


Well first off your PPC campaign will not raise your page rank. Page Rank is a vote, and each link to your site counts as a vote. Think of this as voting for your homecoming queen in high school. PPC campaigns by their very nature do not add links to your site, so they don't weigh in on the vote. Page Rank is a great way to measure a bloggers success, or how "trustworthy" a site is. However, it is link based and updated maybe 4 times a year so for your purposes it isn't very relevant.

The second reason this is a waste of your time is because you have a brick and mortar store with actual inventory. You have a reputation not only online but in your communities where it really counts. People are going to buy cars from you because you have a great website that is easy to navigate, a clean show room, helpful sales staff and great prices. The average person wouldn't know a page rank if it bit them in the ankle, and even if they did, the customer would absolutely rather buy their new car from the guy offering 3 free oil changes then the pr 6 website. Guaranteed.

As an aside if you know where people are getting the idea that dealerships should be worried about page rank please let me know in the comments! :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Speak Your Mind At NADA

NADA is just days away and the excitement is building! Everyone I have talked to in the past few days is really excited about what will and won't be discussed/presented this year. So in the spirit of lighthearted NADA fun I offer this advice from my grammy (who probably "borrowed" it from some famous person) "Speak your mind even if your voice shakes". What does this have to do with NADA and your dealership?

Ask questions
Demand results
Don't fall for the hype, get documented proof
If there is something you want ask for it
Demand better delivery
Demand better, more personalized service
Demand solutions that fit your needs, don't bend to your providers mold
and most of all Talk, talk, talk, talk to your vendors and get to know them not only as represenatives of the companies but as people.

Now, go have fun and report back on all the cool things you see.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Reputation Management For Dealership - The Beginning

More and more dealerships are concerned with Reputation Management but the vast majority don't understand the difference between true Reputation Management and damage control. I am not a Reputation Management expert by any stretch of the imagination but this is what I have learned in months of research. I am sharing this in hopes that we can learn how to avoid disasters together. It's always more fun when we can learn together isn't it? If you want to read about this from an expert I highly recommend Andy Beal's new book (mine is on pre order).

First let's take the definition of Reputation Management from Wikipedia. They define it as "the process of tracking an entity's actions and other entities' opinions about those actions; reporting on those actions and opinions; and reacting to that report creating a feedback loop. All entities involved are generally people, but that need not always be the case".

Some SEO providers sell their reputation management services saying " for every negative post we find we will create 10 positive posts.". My fear is what they really mean is that they will go to wherever that negative post is and create 10 fictional user ids so they can make "not me" posts. This tactic was probably fine in 1984 but today's Internet users are far to savvy to fall for this. (In the spirit of full disclosure I don't know if this is how they would handle things or not, but that is what the ad implies.)

High quality reputation management starts long before that angry person starts blogging about how they have been wronged. It starts with creating a positive online presence in a wide variety of online channels. This takes time, it takes hard work and to really be effective long term I feel you should become a quality member of a couple of online communities (Subaru enthusiasts site maybe? Or your local chamber of commerce if they have an online form, and always posting positive customer feedback on all of your websites). The more positive references to your name or your dealership the harder it will be for those negative things to get to the front page of Google and the easier it will be to get rid of them if you do.

No one can guarantee that if something negative is said about you that it will ever leave the front page of the search engines, and trying to bury it is going to cost you thousands of dollars just to try. Isn't it better to hedge your bets and start filling the search engines with positive things today?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fun and Cheap Ways to Advertise w/ Social Networking

Traditional advertising is expensive, and not very engaging compared to all the neat things you could do with your dealerships (or companies) social network. Obviously the more established your social network the more effective the marketing will be, but even if you only have 3 or 4 local people on your friends list with the right offer (and a ingenuity) you could still sell a car or a few snow tires. Here are some ideas on specials and promotions.

1. Network Specific Specials:

This works pretty well if you openly advertise on you home page that you will be running specials for your Facebook, Myspace friends. This will often catch more people who are looking to buy in 3 to 6 months from now range then any other type of promotion.

Sample Special idea:

Offer something simple like 2 free oil changes with the purchase of any new car and occasionally let them extend the offer to their friends. Be very clear on your specials post what rules they have to follow to take advantage of the special (do they have to print off the special? do they have to share their screen name?)

Sample 2 :

Don't forget to share some parts and service love! This isn't costing you anything other then the 30 minutes or so its going to take you to work out the details so ask your parts manager if he or she would like to run a special...after all the guy buying a new set of tires this week will have to buy a new car someday. If you are consistently offering good deals people are more likely to think of you when it comes time to get a good deal on a vehicle purchase.

2. 24 Hour Sales Or Huge Weekend Events

Do you have to get rid of 3 cars by Sunday night so you have room for Monday's delivery? Or maybe sales are just down for the week and you want to kick your sales peoples moral up a notch? Send out the Social Networking alert that you are offering that fantastic deal on any car bought within the next 24 hours!


Offer 500.00 off certain stock numbers that have been around forever. Post the link to the car on Myspace and let your friends tell the whole world. Pick 4 or 5 stock numbers that you really want to get rid of and let the games begin :)

Sample 2:
Is your dealership going to hold a RockBand Concert? Or maybe this is the weekend of your huge tent sale? Spread the word, it will take you less than 10 minutes to augment your existing advertising and spread the buzz.

3. Big Ticket Item Giveaways

Maybe you bought one of the Macbook Air's or you have a car to giveaway but you don't want to do the usual raffle or customer number 333,333 gets the prize just for walking in the door thing. Why not try something revolutionary?


Play a game. You could do something ultra cool like play Twitter Bingo where you send out the number of the day by Tweet, the winner is the first person to bring a completed Bingo card to you.

Sample 2:

Hold a talent contest. Have people create a cool new ad for your dealership, the winner gets the new car and you get the rights to the ad. You can display the top 10 winners submissions on your website and let the 'fans' vote or you can pick the winner yourself. Either way this is a ton of advertising dollars saved.

Honestly, the only limitation on the cool new ways you can advertise with your social network is your imagination. If you find something that works or you have another idea let us know so we can go try it :) Happy Advertising!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Open Ended Questions and Your Dealership

Some people who read this blog regularly have noted that I often ask a question in the title but I don't really answer the questions asked. The reason I do this is because I want you to answer the question for yourselves because ultimately only you can decide what the best answer is for your dealership. Let's be honest, even though I spend countless hours every week testing, researching and screwing things up I don't know anything, and quite frankly I never will (now you have to pinky swear you will *never* tell my husband I admitted to being wrong).

The reality is that in the world of SEO and PPC marketing there are no constants, and no definite right answers. The best service a good SEM firm offers is that they are willing to try new angles to improve your online presence, they have to be willing to test, to try and boldly go where no social network has ever gone before. Conversely you have to be willing to accept that they are going to try things that simply don't work, or maybe they don't work the way you had expected. The scary thing about the SEM landscape is that the idea of absolute ROI has to be abandoned (but we will save that for another day).

~Image from the site

Monday, January 14, 2008

Honda Creates Best Auto Commercial In Years

My guess is by now everyone has seen the Honda Rube Goldberg Commercial on YouTube. This commercial was so well done that Honda executives thought it was done with CGI when they first viewed it.

Reportedly this commercial was done in 606 takes and cost nearly 6 million dollars to get right (that's approximately 3 million bucks a minute) and that's before you factor in the cost of ripping apart two cars.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Socially Responsible Advertising- A New Spin?

2008 is the "Year of Change" according to just about every political analyst and CNN headline, so how are you going to change your marketing strategy for this year? Are you going to finally break into the blogosphere? Maybe try a little Facebook action? Or are you looking for something new and cutting edge such as Video Ads on Youtube?

No matter what your new medium is perhaps its time to fully embrace socially responsible Advertising - or advertising specials that not only benefit the customers you are trying to bring in to your dealership but the world as a whole. Social networking made great leaps last year in unifying the world as one large global community and companies like Apple and Hallmark have not only embraced the idea of socially responsible advertising but they have made it pretty darn cool.

Companies who embrace major fund raising events is not a new idea, after all we were all right there when Oprah when shopping for the first (Product Red) Ipod and have sat through countless Jerry's Kids telethons. With the majority of new car being purchased by younger, more socially conscious people, especially women, these sales tactics (when deployed properly) are having a powerful impact on sales figures.

For instance one dealership that I know of ran a special all last year that for every new car that was sold of a particular make and model (that they usually have trouble moving in their area) they would write a check for 1% of the sale price to the local orphanage. They included this message at the end of every radio, tv and newspaper ad as well as having a huge sign out in front of their store. The results were pretty impressive, they 8 sold more of that particular type of vehicle then they had the year before. While 8 car sales doesn't seem to be a huge deal in the grand scheme of things that is still a nice boost. What if they had run that special on all new cars? Or run it at the same time they ran an ad offering to send 100.00 to Green Peace for each used car they sold?

Have you ever tried a sale like this? Was it successful? Do you have plans like this for 2008?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008 Predictions For Auto Dealerships

Happy New Years!

Let's kick this year off right with a few goals, a few predictions and whole lot of fun. I am now fully back from a fantastic holiday vacation in my not so exotic living room and I am ready to get us started on our next Journey.

First let's start with with an update. As some of you probably already know I have entered the Myspace/Facebook, Stumble Frey. So far my only friends are a dealership and Barbara Walters.. I am not sure what that really says about me but I am afraid to explore it to deeply lol. In that vein my goals this year are pretty simple:

A. Master Twitter
B. Post at least once a week even if it's just an update on new models you should be including in your SEO/SEM campaigns.
C. Share my pitfalls in the worlds of Myspace/Facebook/SEM
D. Keep you up to date on all the fun new ways to increase your websites traffic and help you sell cars.

What do I see as being hot this year?

Video Media will be huge in 2008. The most successful video marketing strategies will combine catchy ads with Americas Funnies Home Videos for an "organic" feel with mass appeal. This is the year to really showcase your dealerships "personality". An effective video marketing strategy combined with Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and blogging will really help to take your online presence to the next level.

I also think that mobile media is going to start playing a more important role in SEM/SEO website designs especially if Google wins their with the FCC and releases Android.

This is shaping up to be an exciting year in SEM/SEO but all work and no play makes Jane a dull girl so check out Code Monkey if you haven't yet.There is also a World of Warcraft Video that is wicked funny. I think I will go buy my husband one of the T-shirts (he is a code monkey too) for all his help in QA'ing my blog posts.