In an ideal situation, your dealership would have an unlimited marketing budget to promote yourself. But we all know it doesn’t work like that. The question you need to ask is, “How do we optimize our limited marketing dollars to produce the best return on investment?”
When considering where to allocate your marketing resources, consider that online awareness of your business, makes, models and services is critical to sales success. In a previous article, I mentioned a BIA/Kelsey study that shows that more than 90 percent of consumers research online prior to buying locally.
Formula for online success
My mantra of online marketing success is this: With $5 to spend on marketing you should put $3 into search engine marketing, $1 into display, and $1 into mobile.
The combination of search and display is the cornerstone of a successful integrated campaign, but you need to start with search. Search marketers average a 7:1 return on their marketing investment (McKinney 2012).
In general, purchasing specific local search terms is cheaper than launching right into buying display ads. The key is “local” since most general make and model terms have probably been purchased by the manufacturers. You won’t be able to afford purchasing terms like “Ford” or “Chevrolet trucks” but you can purchase specific terms like “Buick Santa Barbara” or “Toyota repair Savannah.”
To make sure your dealership shows up in online searches that have purchase intent, bid on keywords based around your unique product and service lineup. With analytics, you can see what search terms your prospects are already using to find your website. Leverage this information and be the top bidder for those specific and related long-tail search terms.
Adding display ads to the mix
After you’ve established a solid search campaign, next, layer on display ads. This is a tactic I’ve been using since 2009 to help clients win the Zero Moment of Truth online and enhance their qualified clicks and foot traffic by up to 25% over just doing search alone.
Think of it as covering both proactive and reactive bases. Search is an active process that prospects undertake to gather information. Display ads, on the other hand, are more like purchased online real estate on websites that are relevant to your customers.
Traditionally, people think of display ads primarily for brand/store awareness, similar to “image” ads that promote brands rather than specific products. These ads are still important, but today display ads also set the stage for the sales funnel – so they should push people down the funnel from awareness to consideration to, ultimately, sales.
Display works at all of those levels to visually represent your product and brands, co-branded and (most importantly) localized with your store name, location and custom, tracked phone number. You should direct every click to a conversion-optimized landing (or lead) page.
Display ads generally are available in six primary sizes and also can be sized to show up over relevant YouTube videos (known as InVideo Ads). A good web designer can easily produce correctly sized ads for you.
Purchase display ads on contextually relevant websites, whether they are focused on automobiles, or local news and weather. That hits both Web shoppers who are interested in your product, and those drawn to popular local websites with a lot of traffic. Your local ads can also be served up on national websites but just to the local geography of your choice.
Search and display working in tandem
Independently, both a search campaign and display campaign can generate results for you, but how they work together can win your local market online. Targeting for both search and display is critical and produces more conversions.
According to iProspect, 50% of all Internet users react to a display ad by conducting a search related to the brand, product or service described in the ad. More specifically, exposure to display ads increases the number of relevant search queries by 5% to 25%. Not only can display ads lead directly to your landing page, but they can also trigger search activity that leads the prospect back to your website if your search campaign is active.
There is additional evidence that display ads can impact behavior even if the prospect doesn’t click on the ad. A University of Maryland study showed how consumers exposed to a display ad (even if they don’t click on it) will change their online shopping behavior to include searches for the brand featured in the ad (Rutz and Bucklin 2009).
Although direct click-throughs via display ads provide trackable data, a 2012 study by comScore found that ad viewability and hover time are more strongly correlated with conversions (defined as purchases and requests for information) than clicks or total impressions. In other words, your ad being seen is more important than your ad being clicked.
Selecting the right online advertising partner is critical. Work with a Google Premier partner with great technology that offers hand-crafted search and display ads, proactively tuning up your campaign 400-600 times per month to deliver a 70% share of local advertising voice. The best partners collaborate with dealerships, rather than following a script and “setting and forgetting” their digital marketing.