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Larry Bruce

Larry Bruce Founder / President / CEO

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Fixed Ops Marketing - Traditional Or Digital?

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maninchair_loud-music-sm1I just read this post by Chris Brogan “Communication Tools and Levels of Interruption” and I have to say it is a very interesting read. What I find even more interesting is the comments from the people who read the post. Clearly these people were looking at this from the stand point of communication of a co-worker or friend and the interruption impact these had on their daily lives. Me, I looked at this posts and comments through my marketing colored glasses and found some interesting confirmations of our own research. This post will have more meaning for you if you read Chris’s post first and some of the comments then come back to this one. Some years ago I started looking into the ways multiple channels affected certain campaigns and found that there were two types of marketing campaigns: 1. Proactive – these campaigns would target individuals before they would show up on a business’s radar as being “In the market” 2. Reactive – these campaigns would seek to engage the customer based on a “In Market” trigger We then started to look at the different Proactive and Reactive type of campaigns and to score them based on cost, intrusiveness or interruption (I like interruption better, not exactly sure intrusiveness is a word), interactivity, and conversion rate (lead or action). Below is what we found. Score is based on a 1 to 5 system with 5 being the worst and 25 being the best. Proactive Channels: Email - 16 Email by far was the best for overall existing customer marketing, however was the conversion rate was very low and even detramental to the brand for conquest marketing. Email gets a lower mark in Interruption not so much for the interruption level as much as the competition with spam, we also believe spam impacts the overall conversion rate greatly. Direct Mail - 14 High marks for conquest conversion and low interruption, however cost broght it down considerably. Interaction was up some when we introduced microsites and conversion paths with memorable domains to the mix. Text (SMS) - 12 The killer in this channel is t he cost to the customer (possibly), no marketing you do should cost the customer anything for receiving it. Low marks also for conquest as this channel is perceived very intrusive by customers. My conclusions on Text don’t do it for anything other than very high priority notification and even then only with permission. Broadcast Voice - 11 High marks for cost however average conversion rate. This channel is now impacted heavily by law and can only be used for informational purposes. Live Calls - 10 Nothing more interactive, however very intrusive and very expensive with only average conversion rates even with the best customers if you're calling out of the blue. Better channel when used to follow-up on email or direct mail. Newspaper / Magazine (Traditional Media) - 9 Surprisingly this channel scored higher on our scale due to the ability of the customer to just overlook the ads section unless they wanted to buy a car. Again we were able to get some interaction and a good sense of conversion using microsites and conversion paths here as well. I would still not recommend this channel due to cost and declining readership. Television (Traditional Media) - 8 Cost and low conversion just kills this channel in most markets even with cable area targeting. We were able to raise interaction with Microsites and conversion paths some, however which gave us good insight into the converion rate of this channel. Radio (Traditional Media) - 8 Ccost and low conversion just kills this channel as well in most markets. We were able to raise interaction with Microsites and conversion paths here again some which gave us good insight into the converion rate of this channel. Reactive Channels: Search Marketing (SEM) - 17 No doubt the best way to conquest customers for sales and we are starting to see success in service. Cost effective as you only pay when someone sees your ad and clicks but scores somewhat low in conversion due to the competition of 3rd party lead providers. The conversion score went way up on this when we started using Local Post-click-marketing best practices, microsites and conversion paths. Free Listing Sites - 17 Free listing sites are by far and away a great area for car sales in general. Best for used cars under 10K. We saw 30% better results from free listing sites as we started using Post-Click-Marketing best practices, Microsites and Conversion paths. Banner Ads and Affiliate Markeitng - 16 Banner ads are a great way to conquest sales customers. Again here cost was impacted by competition but could be tempered by a good link and banner exchange with local websites like grocery stores, schools ect. We saw 30% better conversion results using Microsites and conversion paths and a good lift in traffic and lower cpi when we combined with and SEM campaign. SMS Short Coding - 15 Short coding is a bit new to rate, however it is a great reactive communication channel. Gets low marks for cost due to the fact that you really need to advertise the short code with another media. At this time this is the only recommendation I would have for the use of SMS in marketing. Social Media - 15 Really too new to rate, although given the buzz we have done so here. This channel is lending itself more as a support channel not a marketing channel. Possibly some banner opportunity as long as you can get it local. Dealerships Main Random Access Website - 15 High marks for interactive and interruption as a reactive channel. Low marks for conversion rate as business owners are still sending paid traffic to these sites and are treating the main website as a marketing catch all. Paid Listing Sites - 14 Sites like cars.com, Trader, eBay Motors ect are great as they have a lot of eyeballs on them however here they get low marks for cost due to the tremendous amount charged for inventory listings. These sites also produce a low conversion rate for the number of eyeballs they capture and the amount of competition for those eyeballs. Billboard Ads (Traditional Media) - 10 Overall can create some brand equity but it is extremely expensive to do so as it takes a lot of billboards 200+ in a medium size market. Low overall conversion although we did see an increase in interactivity and in conversion rate when using microsites and conversion path combinations. 3rd Party Leads - 8 All around lowest score, interruption is a 3 and probably should be a 2 because the customer gets inundated with calls from multiple dealerships all wanting to "sell the appointment". We have seen a decline in quality of this kind of marketing channel for a lot of reasons that will continue. I believe the level of interruption will continue to play key role in the proactive channels clearly supported by the comments in Chris’s post. To reduce this you will need to focus on the timing and the relevancy of the message more than ever before, consumers will continue to get more tools to block your message if they do not see its relevancy to them. We saw big boost in both Proactive and Reactive channels when combining channels and supporting the message with Microsites, Conversion Paths and social media, below are some of the best channel combinations.  Email Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION Message Support - Mircorsite - PURL / Share to Social elements Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # / embeded tracking pixel Supporting the message in email with a PURL (Personalized URL) will typically increase conversion rate 5 X. Direct Mail Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION Message Support - Microsite - memorable domain name / Share to Social element Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # Adding a Microsite with a memorable domain name increased our message depth and customer engagement and allowed us to add a social element to an otherwise traditional medium. Television / Radio / Newspaper Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION Message Support - Microsite - memorable domain name / Share to Social element Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # If you are going to head down the traditional media path these combinations are imperative to assign some accountability to these mediums. Search Marketing (SEM) Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION and Banner ads Message Support - Microsite - memorable domain name / Share to Social element Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # / embeded tracking pixel Whatever you do PLEASE do not send SEM respondents back to your businesses random access main website! If you're not going to use a Microsite or Conversion Path at least deep link them to a landing page. Better than a deep link a microsite or coversion path these will get you 5X better conversion rates. Free Listing Sites Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION Message Support - Microsite - memorable domain name / Share to Social element Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # Most free listing sites limit your ability with content. Using a Microsite or Conversion Path will deepen the message and allow for engagement. SMS Short Codes allow the customer to get what they want when they want it. Paid Listing Sites Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION Message Support - Microsite - memorable domain name / Share to Social element Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # Again using a Microsite or Conversion Path will deepen the message and allow for engagement. SMS Short Codes allow the customer to get what they want when they want it. Billboard Ads Supporting Channel 1 - SMS Short Code Supporting Channel 2 - Live call - to short code customers that did not convert - WITH PERMISSION Message Support - Microsite - memorable domain name / Share to Social element Tracking Support - Toll Free Tracking # Short Codes are Awsome for Bilboards use different codes for different boards to track the best locations. The common threads here are that Microsites and Conversion Paths and dramatically increase your converion rate on just about every channel. Social is a customer dirven thing and your job as the marketer is to give the customer an easy way to share the message and test...test...test what gets shared most from what medium, it will be diffrent for everyone. Finally Short Coding will be the biggest bang in mobile marketing. Another thing to watch out for and its a ways off but start thinking about it right now will be the new Microsoft Tag. This works like a 2D bar code but with any mobile phone wiht a digital camera. If Microsoft gets this right the possibilities become endless even down to making local follow up offers based on your location. I have been engaged in an ongoing SEO discussion recently “Dealerskins Hybrid Sites Claim State of The Art SEO” sparked by a press release. It has reaffirmed my belief that all channels of marketing need to work together and some work together better than others. At the end of the day what is new is old and its kinda funny, it comes down to Reach and Frequency only now the customer reach is very fragmented so if you try to appeal to everyone you will appeal to no one, message match is key and pre-conversion segmentation using microsites and conversion paths are the best ways to get that message match. The frequency has to be more relevant than ever before because if not the customer will just turn you off. Who would have thought 20 years ago you could just skip through the commercials on TV? At the same time marketing is more powerful today than it has ever been, because we have to pay attention to the details and customer worldviews this make the message more subtle and more credible but only if the message is consistently authentic across all channels and we live the stories we tell. Hope this helps,

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