Need advice on getting better online

John Roberts
I have always approached the internet with the thought that the companies I am working with (those doing my SEO, SEM, website, etc.) are doing everything the right way so I leave it in their hands. Now as I am starting to look at things more I begin to wonder am I spending my money the right way, how do I know that they are buying the right keywords, am I missing things that I shouldn't? As I think about these things I realize I do not know near enough about having a great presence online. This leads me to my reason for this post, how does one get more educated about these things? It seems every company I am paying tells me we are spending money in the right place, but how do I know? I guess what I am looking for is does anyone know of a third party that can help someone determine where they should be spending their money and how? Looking for opinions.
Tony Wood
The issue I've run into on more than one occasion is that most companies are going to do as much as necessary to show you a boost in traffic, etc. However, these typically end up being marginal compared to what they could be doing. Do their methods work? Typically yes. However, there's so much more effort that could be put into it. From what I'm seeing, the only way you'll get that effort out of them is if you're showing them that you understand what they're doing and know that you aren't getting that effort at present. I mean, if you're paying them either way and they get to spend less money but show you an increase that makes you smile, why wouldn't they? It's like showing the customer more for their trade, they're all smiles because they think they got everything they wanted while you turn around and start counting the extra duckets. So to answer your question, if you've been letting them do what they want to do in order to take care of your needs. Then they are more than likely not doing anywhere close to what they could be doing with SEO, Facebook, etc. Go to your 3rd party provider with Facebook and ask them if they're doing any dark posting. I guarantee you their answer will be, "Oh, you want us to dark post? What type of promotions do you want to run and what demographics are you wanting to target?" etc. Believe me, there is definitely more they could be doing. As far as educating yourself on that, there are articles about some of it right here on Driving Sales. However, beyond that, you'll probably have to really dig in and learn about the nitty gritty and get right into the meat of it. Once you've done that, who needs a 3rd party? THere's give and take :)
Kevin Kulma
John, Learn, understand and continually educate yourself on Google Analytics. Having a great working knowledge of GA will allow you to draw your own conclusions SEO/SEM/Traditional advertising campaigns. Then in turn you will be able to lead from a digital position, rather being told what is/is not working. Good Digital Marketing starts with great tracking. :)
Carl Maeda
John, there are several consultants out there that can help you choose the right vendors. Some will even manage these vendors for you. Contact me and I can give you some recommendations. For maximum effect, you also need someone that manages your entire digital landscape.That means if you're running a promotion, that same promotion gets setup on SEO, SEM, Traditional, etc. They should also be tracking the ROI on everything and determining how best to invest your ad dollars. -Carl 858-270-9444 x242
Ron Henson
@John Everyone who has commented here has given you good advice. I would also like to let you know that there are several Digital Marketing Certification courses available through DrivingSales University. Once you have that knowledge, you are able to have more productive conversations with your vendors regarding your store's analytics, or start handling your digital marketing in house. I also agree with Carl about having someone that manages your entire digital landscape. Many of our clients seek out training, comp plans, job descriptions, etc, for a rapidly growing position within dealerships, a Digital Marketing Manager. Please feel free to reach out if we can help.
Jason Stum
I'll just add that in addition to understanding how your digital marketing is performing, you also need to evaluate how that translates on the sales floor. Don't fall in to the trap of looking at how much you spent on a particular service, say SEM, and then only judge its performance by car sales. Often times web visits, lead submissions and phones calls increase due to the campaign however the traffic that's generated isn't taken advantage of by the people handling the opportunity. Another way to say it is be prepared to dig deep :)

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