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For readers that are responsible for car sales, it's time to make a November 1st resolution to apply what you may have learned at recent conferences or what has been shared on automotive communities.
I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with World Record Holding Ultra Marathoner Stu Mittleman who has World and National records in ultra marathon races (6 days) and won a very special 1,000 mile race as part of his hall of fame accomplishments.
We ran 10 miles together, which was the longest I ran since re-starting running back in April. Stu told me a story about how he was hired to train 27 employees of a New York hotel for the New York City Marathon in 9 weeks. The farthest distance 26 of these 27 people ever ran by 3.1 miles, which is a 5K race.
Some would have thought this would be impossible but all 26 "newbies" completed the race. The one experienced runner did not make it. He succeeded by training the runners to look at the race as a New York City street fair with 26 stands, which corresponds to the 26 aide stations that are along the course for water. By looking at the race as 26 one-mile runs, he was able to achieve the goal of getting these runners to finish the race.
The details of this story and Stu's philosophy on running can be found in his book "Slow Burn" a recommended read for anyone who loves to run or anyone who wants to understand how to best utilize the power of your body.
Many car dealers came back from Vegas conference trying to figure out how they are going to implement the 26+ things that they learned and if they do that, they will fail. So, let's look at all the digital marketing opportunities for your dealership and execute them one at a time so we can move forward and not stay fixated at the starting line.
The transformation of traditional automotive advertising to digital marketing is not a sprint but a marathon as new learning, technology, and best practices need time to implement. My suggestion is that you start your Digital Marketing Marathon today by making THREE RESOLUTIONS:
Many people have written about the changes in Google Search results with Google Places taking a much larger portion of Page One Results. (Read my latest post) If you haven't seen this for yourself, search for "Baltimore Honda Dealers" and see how different Page One looks.
Heritage Honda has 152 reviews, Norris Honda has 41 reviews, and Brown's Honda City has 14 reviews and the reviews are rating the dealership less than 2 stars. Google Places and car dealer reviews are now front and center in Google search. When presented with this page of results, whose dealership will most likely get an increase of clicks?
It is TIME to start your Reputation Management Process in November - Make That Commitment. You need to have a process by which customers can post their reviews on the 5-6 primary websites that are consolidated in Google Places. Those sites vary from market to market, but a process is needed. If you don't have a high star count on Page One, your traditional advertising dollars will be assisting your competitors attract more in market shoppers.
Invest in tracking phone numbers for your off site content publishing, blogs, and social media engagement. It's time to stop making excuses that tracking numbers are expensive. Actually the data that these numbers provide can shed light on where you are wasting money.
Tracking numbers can also prevent you from terminating services that are working very well. At DrivingSales Executive Summit Matt Murray from Dealer.com showed that for every LEAD that was submitted on a dealer's website from a Google Adwords campaign, the dealer received FIVE phone calls.
The point is that IF you are measuring the success of Google Adwords on lead form submissions alone, you would be missing the majority of consumer response generated by PPC. This applies to so many other digital marketing strategies as well however I don't have the calls to lead ratio.
By placing tracking numbers on microsites, PDF brochures, and social media profiles you can start to see what marketing channels are attracting consumer calls. If Matt Murray's data does not inspire you to start tracking your calls, you have bigger issues at hand.
Many dealers are using Google Adwords (PPC) to generate traffic to their website and this is a good strategy as long as you are inspecting where these clicks are going and measuring what is happening when they land on those pages. Secondly, we all can agree that designing the perfect landing page design is not a one time design task.
You'll never know if you have a good design until you setup A/B testing.
So I would like to encourage all dealers to make a resolution to inspect their PPC landing pages and to start an A/B testing program to track and measure results based on different designs.
For example, dealers know that the model car a consumer calls about or discusses when they first walk into a dealership is not always the car they purchase. In the same way, give your landing pages a design that provide alternatives to consumers. If you design a 2010 Nissan Altima lease special page, you may want to provide button that also shows your current Nissan Sentra lease specials or a button that shows used Nissan Altima's.
The key is to recognize that you have no idea what is working until you test variations. Many dealers are spending 3K, 5K, 10K, and even 25K a month on Google Adwords yet they have never tested whether their landing pages are achieving the optimal results.
The testing processes takes time, but it is time well spent. The knowledge that you will gain from the experiment will revolutionize your PPC strategies.
So will you start your Digital Marketing Marathon this month? Digital marketing is not a sprint. Take it slow and get comfortable but you have to make the commitment to start the race.
If Stu Mittleman can run 70 miles at a pace of 7 minutes a mile or run 1,000 miles averaging 52 miles a day, transforming your dealership to achieve outstanding digital marketing results is surely achievable.
If you need help with any of these three resolutions, ask in this forum or give me a call.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing