Findings: Tiny ad formats with targeted offers drive more than 4 in 5 website leads; Gradually ramping up value of published offers saves $18,000+ a month
Dealers spend a pile of money to drive traffic to their sites, but there has been almost no research on which type of ad formats – and published offer strategies – make the highest number of site visitors actually pull the trigger on an offer, and at what true cost.
Because every inch of real estate, and every ad and published offer on a dealer’s website, needs to be strategized around the true conversion rates, we at Gubagoo decided to do some research.
We recently studied 1,000 dealerships’ websites (for a solid month), to analyze what type of ad formats/tools generated the most number of leads. And then we drilled down to randomly selected dealer sites to study the impact of gradually ramping up the dollar value of published offers to repeat visitors over time, rather than presenting static “best” offers upfront.
Here’s what we found:
With Ad Formats, Small and Targeted is Big and Powerful:
It’s conventional wisdom that large, top-of-the-homepage, splashy billboard ads generate the most action. But studying what happened at the 1,000 dealer sites, we found that much smaller, bottom-of-the-page, minimally intrusive ad formats, which present targeted sales and service offers, converted into leads at much higher rates.
The performance of three, main types of ad formats/tools were studied: 1) a very small “dynamic bar” at the bottom of pages that continuously presents targeted offers; 2) a “page overlay” format, which is also an always-visible, small tab at the bottom of pages that expands when hovered over to show their offers and the claim form; and 3) very large, top-of-the-page billboard ads presenting generic offers, that are regularly visible, but not “always on.”
These dealers could use these tinier ad tools presenting more targeted offers, because they
have put behavioral tracking/analytics technology “behind” their sites, so they were capturing visitors’ click behavior (cars and pages viewed, etc.). And because the two ad formats are so small, they can run non-stop at the bottom of site pages. The results are clear: when it comes to getting people to fill out forms to claim offers (and hence become a lead), these little, targeted ad formats are the most powerful lead generators.
Publishing Tool ————- % of Monthly Site-Driven Leads
Dynamic Bar ————— 46%
Page Overlay ————– 35%
Billboard —————– 14%
Other ———————- 5%
The two, dramatically smaller ad formats generated far more leads (85% of monthly total) than the much larger, prominent billboard ads that displayed generic, static deals (15% of total leads).
The ROI of Ramping Up Published Offers:
Most dealer websites present a variety of static, unchanging offers, whether a $50 gift card for taking a test drive, or $500-$1000 towards a new or used purchase. And they often present the highest deal value out of the gate.
The dealerships studied again used behavioral tracking software to re-identify each shopper at each visit, so that the value of the published offers they displayed (that were initially passed over) could be ramped up over time. For instance, a visitor that was initially presented with $250 towards a new-car purchase would see that offer rise to $500 on the next visit, and then up to $750 after several visits.
The results were again clear: this ramping-up-the-deal strategy resulted in significant cost-savings and more leads for dealers: with more people ultimately filling out forms to claim the deal.
The average dealer studied had over 160 different offer claim forms filled out each month, and the maximum value of the offers “on the table” per dealer was $115,000. But by gradually increasing the offer value to returning visitors over time (rather than displaying the highest-value offer from the get-go), the average dealer saved more than $18,000 a month. That’s $216,000 in savings a year – hardly chump change.
And the research also revealed that had the dealers NOT ramped up the offers from their lowest value, the majority of visitors would not have taken action. The average dealer had 71 offers claimed at the lowest dollar value, but 98 claimed at a second or third higher increment. The lowest offer proved sufficient for roughly 40% of visitors to fill out the claim form, while a ramped-up offer drove roughly 60% to pull the trigger. If they hadn’t ramped up the offer from the lower amount, they would have lost the majority of leads generated.
- When dealers present static, highest-value offers a their sites, they can just be throwing big money away.
- And when they serve up unchanging, lowest-value offers, the majority of their site visitors will not fill out the form to claim the deal, and, hence, turn into an actionable lead. The strategic ramping-up of the value of published offers is the only way to squarely hit more people at their personal “deal threshold” – and the only way to make this happen is by putting tracking software behind your site.
Driving more lead conversion at your website is the most important marketing investment you can make. Dealers need to frequently test which ad formats really convert, and which published offers drive the most leads (the most cost-efficiently). If you’re not doing it – it’s time to start!