Here’s a scene that should have been at the start of Return of the Jedi. Emperor Palpatine reclines as evilly as one can possibly recline in his comfy Coruscant throne. “Get this message to the Rebels. New Death Star under construction near Endor. Not operational. Emperor himself will be there to oversee completion.” A smug grin tugs at the corners of Palpatine’s mouth. “And kill a bunch of Bothans to make it look good.”
The Rebels fell for Palapatine’s trap. Mon Mothma stood before the Rebel leaders and decided their intel was valuable because, “Many Bothans died to bring us this information.”
Your dealership could be falling for a clever trap set by your digital marketing agency. You don’t want to be Admiral Ackbar, pointing out the obvious when it’s far too late. Here are some questions you need to ask to get the most from your dealership digital marketing.
These Aren’t the KPIs You’re Looking for
Digital agencies love to tout KPIs. “Look at all the traffic!” they squeal. “Look at how low the bounce rate is! Are you feeling the engagement?”
No, you’re not, unless that translates into vehicle sales. All traffic is not equal, which is why dealers need to focus on the commercial intent nature of that traffic. Time on site, pages per visit and bounce rates differ drastically depending on the source and quality of the traffic. High pages per visit/time on site isn’t always good (maybe customers can’t find what they want, or your site is slow) and high bounce rates aren’t always bad (if they return to convert, or dialed your phone number).
Getting it right requires reviewing conversion and assisted conversion data to get an understanding of what traffic is actually generating leads. Focusing on the wrong KPIs is a cause for real concern, because it means your marketing agency might be optimizing for the wrong traffic. Did they just filter out a $2.32 cost per click keyword with an 85% bounce rate that was generating 15 phone call leads a day?
Stay on Target
Targeting is the best way to get people who are ready to buy to your dealership site. Every digital agency knows this, but half of them forget it when it’s time to build your campaigns. You should be targeting based on demographics, prior browsing history, location and income. You should also be targeting competing dealerships and brands, because most consumers shift from one brand to another during the decision-making process.
Targeting visitors of automotive third-party sites yields strong ROI. Digital Jedis can target the exact audiences who are shopping the third-party sites for a fraction of what it costs to advertise on them. OEM, co-op approved or “cheap” digital packages do not offer this advanced targeting, which costs you customers.
I Find Your Lack of Speed Disturbing
Check your last Analytics report to see how much traffic you get from mobile devices. Is it 30%? 40%? More? Most dealership sites now get more than half their traffic from mobile; traffic that dealerships ignore at their own peril.
Mobile users expect an experience customized for mobile devices, and Google expects mobile pages to load quickly. One of the key ranking factors for Google results is site speed, which means that slow mobile and desktop sites get buried under competitors who run faster sites. Your digital agency should be optimizing for speed as well as keywords to ensure high rankings. If your website provider can’t improve its mobile site, it’s time to move on.
Judge me by my cost, do you?
Marketing is not a product or a commodity. When you pay less for it, you get less. That $799 monthly package is not going to include audience segmentation, custom keyword research or campaigns that actively target competitors. If your traditional agency offers to “throw in digital for free,” expect to get what you pay for.
There are far too many companies that simply say they are doing what the top agencies are actually doing. Review their performance in Analytics and you will see that they often lack any understanding of the strategies that must underpin digital marketing. Are these plans better than nothing? Maybe, but you wind up wasting money on them to get a trickle of commercial intent traffic when you could be turning on a firehose.
Do. Or Do Not. There Is No Try.
All these traps illustrate a single, common truth: Dealership digital marketing is not easy. Nor is it free. The results you get depend on the sophistication of your digital agency, and sophistication does not come cheap. The benefits far outweigh the cost, however, as dealerships that choose full-service, sophisticated digital agencies get a higher return on investment for their marketing budgets, as well as the most important thing of all: more sales.
Dealers need to pay attention to the business metrics that drive their success. This means they need to evaluate their digital marketing decisions. As the competition increases and the economy begins to shift, one thing is certain: The dealers with the best digital marketing strategies will prevail, and the dealers who do not will go the way of Alderaan.
Don’t miss Justin Cook’s session “It’s a Trap! 10 SEO/SEM Tricks That Trip Up Unwary Dealers” at the Digital Dealer Conference & Expo this April 11-13th in Tampa, FL. After unmasking the top dealership digital marketing traps to avoid, Justin and co-presenter Candace Jordan from Google, will unveil the SEO/SEM strategies used by the most successful dealerships. This is an automotive marketing event you do not want to miss.
Author: Justin Cook
Justin Cook finds truth in numbers and transforms digital marketing through data-driven innovation at C-4 Analytics, an award-winning digital agency. Blending proven marketing practices with the evolving science of analytics, Justin develops next-generation strategies rooted in the psychology of decision-making, yielding results that turn C-4 Analytics’ clients into leaders in their markets.