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It is clear that search engine optimization (SEO), social networking, and organic search marketing are tools that car dealers need to understand and utilize to compete on the Internet.
There are a good number of articles available to car dealers that advocate automotive digital marketing as an important budgetary item however for some managers it can be difficult to quantify the actual ROI to their dealership in any given week or month.
The work to build consistent cars leads from an SEO campaign is spread over weeks, months and even years. So you can imagine my excitement when I had a chance to measure the short term impact of a proven set of Automotive SEO strategies on a single promotion event for an Infiniti dealer in Arizona.
The event was held December12-14th in Chandler Arizona at the Adesa Auction Grounds; a direct to public sale of used Infiniti and Nissan Cars coordinated by Nissan and a third party marketing company. Eight area Infiniti and Nissan dealers were invited to participate in co-op advertising costs for the event which presented about 650 cars for sale over a three day weekend.
The event was not an auction. It was a factory direct sale of lease end cars, repossessed cars, and demo cars which dealers could sell at the event on a first come basis. The advertising campaign from participant co-op dollars would go into radio, TV, and newspaper ads. The company who organized the event also had a website which included the basic details on the event: date, location, and time.
The marketing strategy set by my client was to secure appointments in advance of the three day weekend event. I was given three weeks' notice to come up with an Internet marketing plan. We created an action plan to determine what the dealer's staff would be doing and what my company would be doing.
The dealer would be contacting all unsold prospects in their database as well as starting a small pay-per-click campaign that would send direct leads to a microsite that I was to create.
I was to create the automotive marketing microsite for the event which would load all of the 650 cars into an online searchable database, a concept which no other dealers participating in the event implemented. The event site was http://www.arizonausedinfiniti.com .
An ADF feed was created from an Excel Spreadsheet provided by the event organizers. This ADF feed was also loaded into Infiniti of Scottsdale's used inventory which in turn was distributed to a number of third party car marketing platforms. This allowed the Infiniti dealer to promote the cars in the event to a very wide audience in a very short period of time.
Since Infiniti of Scottsdale was the only dealer that displayed the event inventory in advance of the sale, they had a distinct advantage on capturing and confirming pre-event interest. The sales staff could walk people through the site on the phone to find cars that met their budget and then book an appointment to see the car.
As part our Internet Marketing strategy, we emailed their entire customer database with a simple text email designed to get in under the spam filters and direct people to the event website. We issued a series of Internet press releases that directed consumer traffic to the site organically. This helped to compliment the buzz that was being created on radio, TV, and newspapers.
Since we knew that the traditional marketing campaign would generate online interest, we made sure that our site would come up in Google searches for a few variations of the event name. If you go into Google and type "Chandler Surplus Sale" or "Arizona car surplus sale" you can see that we dominate the first page of Google which lead to over 300 visits per day in advance of the car event.
In the three week prior to the event, we unleashed the Internet marketing "hounds" at a very reasonable cost to the dealership. We utilized social networking platforms, Craigslist, Google Base, and a few proprietary marketing models. The event site was getting over 300 hits a day from interested parties which were not generated by any of the co-cop advertising dollars for this event.
The results? Infiniti of Scotstdale had the most appointments of all Infiniti dealers at the event and they sold more cars to consumers than any other Infiniti dealer . The bottom line is that the event was very profitable and the ROI on the Internet marketing costs was very high. When the event was over, the General Manager clearly understood that the success at the event was a great partnership between his outstanding sales team and aggressive internet marketing strategies.
The residual benefits are that the 150+ leadsthat came into our marketing microsite are still being pursued and matched up with used cars from their used car inventory. The event created a fresh list of leads of Arizona car shoppers looking for used car values. The ISM is confident that he can turn these unsold event leads into sales this month.
The event marketing website will be repurposed for selling Infiniti used cars in Arizona year round. It has already started to gain some organic ranking for Infiniti used car searches in Arizona. It's great to know that when the pressure is on, organic search marketing and Automotive digital marketing techniques can make a short term difference and return a fantastic ROI. The long term benefits of SEO have been discussed on this forum at great lengths. In this case, a short term Internet marketing campaign outside of Pay-Per-Click, resulted in outstanding results.