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Larry Bruce

Larry Bruce Founder / President / CEO

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Why Is Conversion More Important Than Lot Traffic

The only thing you’ll will need is crowd control”

That was the tag line I used when I first started “Outside The Box Marketing” in 1997, that business was a direct mail marketing company for event sales, you know these sales we’ve all done them:

·         The Gorilla on the roof

·         Burgers and hotdogs on the grill

·         Greeters in short skirts

·         The red and the blue balloons (do you remember what the blue balloon meant?)

·         100,000 pieces of zipcode saturation mail

All equaled then a mass of people on the lot. I can still remember the look on the faces of the GM’s and dealers we did this with back then…Big smiles on their face, beatin on their chest “look at what I have done” as they looked over the sea of people on the lot.

The problem I kept seeing is that the board wasn’t increasing much over their normal Saturday. For most of my competitors this didn’t bother them they were fulfilling a need for TRAFFIC and they saw this as doing what the dealer wanted them to do and never looked beyond the actual perceived need of the dealer.

My dealer background wouldn’t allow me to do that, I knew there had to be a better way so I sold that business and started AIMData in 1999 and the rest of that story is for another post.

The point is we are repeating this cycle of TRAFFIC only now it is online not on the lot.

I have been challenged by some in the automotive community that say:

“Wouldn’t you rather have the customer on the lot, that is what our service does…get’s them to the lot”

Here is what I have to say to them:

“Until someone invents a brain scan that can tell the thoughts of a customer as they enter the lot, NONE of us know why the customer came on the lot”

“As a marketer or a marketing company in this industry to say that your marketing brought the customer to the lot is a REDICULOUS statement to make.”

More often than not the reason a customer just shows up on the lot is a combination of several messages and you don't know which one of them set the action in motion. This has always been the problem with traditional media and why John Wannamaker first said “I know 50% of my advertising is wasted…I just don't know what 50%”

Enter Conversion Marketing:

With conversion marketing you know exactly what got the response you wanted, whatever that is a form, a call, an email, a friend or follow you know. You know because you can track it down to the page where it happened and you can see the path the customer took to get there.

To a marketer this is more important than lot traffic, why? Because we can see the behavior and test what gets more of that behavior. Then we can take what we have learned and apply it to traditional media making it more effective to get the behavior we want there.

Conversion is the most important thing to your marketing because it is the only thing that is absolutely Trackable down to view of the offer that is being presented. This is why I get so upset when I hear some vendor spinning a dealer up about traffic, when I hear some online marketing company or listing company talking about how they got the customer to the lot. Its just spin to sell more their product its not helping the dealer if you really want to help the dealer, show them and tell them about what you are doing to get more customers to ACT  not LOOK… as a dealer I need action:

“Eyeballs on site, fictional customers that came in maybe because they saw your ad or listing don't help me nor do they interest me.”

In the famous words of a great marketing campaign from the 90’s “Show me the conversions”

I’ll be talking a lot more detail on a Conversion Marketing Strategy, what it is, how you can do it and how it will help you cut your advertising costs and raise sales at the Internet Battle Plan in ATL on the 18th, 19th and 20th of this month Click Here for more info on that event. If you can make it I hope to meet you there. If not stay tuned I will share as much as I can online over the next few months.

Larry Bruce


Arnold Tijerina
Just to play devil's advocate here, I believe most managers would say that they'd rather see a bunch of people on their lot than traffic on their website. It's easier to sell a car to the person standing in front of you than the one hiding behind their computer. Whether the vendor takes credit for it or not, it doesn't matter to me. I remember when I was an Internet Director, EVERY vendor wanted to take credit for (what seemed like)every internet customer and many of the walk-in customers also. Isn't "conversion marketing" simply a fancy word for "closing ratio" from a vendor? If I get 10 leads and close 3 deals, I "converted" 30% - same would go for your "event" or direct mail piece. I would measure an event by subtracting what I would consider my "normal" traffic for that day from my "actual" traffic and then divide by the number of sales. For example, if I estimate I get 50 ups on a Saturday then, during my event, I get 100 that day. I would say that event potentially generated 50 more ups. If my average sold units for a Saturday was 10 and that day I sold 15, I would attribute the extra 5 sales to the event. It's not perfect science or math and yes, maybe the heaven's opened and an angel magically brought the extra people that particular day but it's a way to estimate. If you hold the event more than once, you'd get an even better idea. Anyways, I agree that its less about traffic and more about conversion. Of course I'd rather have less traffic and more conversion. Bottom line is how many cars did I sell from whatever marketing method.
Eric Miltsch
I like trying to grab as much "qualified" traffic as possible, knowing that every person who visits online is going to be at a different point in that buying cycle. So how I do convert - or leave my mark? By making it easy for them to "convert" to some type of activity on every single page. By grabbing more traffic online I have the opportunity to offer a unique experience & provide something memorable. (Return visits/traffic being the key metric)
Larry Bruce
Arnold stop and think from a marketers perspective. As a marketer I can sell a car, I cant learn anything from someone who randomly shows up on the lot, even if my marketing got them there I dont know that or why. The only thing I, as a marketer can count on is that conversion and the behavior I could trck that got it. I can learn from that, do things and test things that get more of that behavior. a marketer the conversion is far more important to me than the lot traffic. I can get more lot traffic from what I learn from convesions but I can't learn anything from lot traffic that will get me more conversions or lot traffic. Make sense? Larry Bruce @pcmguy
Larry Bruce
Agreed Eric and online you can see what gets you what you want from that traffic. On the lot you have nothing you can lear from. Both are impotant and you never want to give up one for the other BUT the good news is you don't have to. Just work harder, test more and get better at converting online you will sell more cars and get more lot traffic because of it.
Bill Simmons
Larry, OK. I'll take a stab at the blue ballon question. The blue ballon was a sysytem for marking the over-aged or spiff units? For the conversion part of the discussion, I view a visitor to my website that I do not try to engage and convert as the same as a customer on my lot that no one bothers to wait on. We do not know what brought them there, or why they showed up. But that is no excuse for not trying to find out. I am currently learning how to engage visitors with online chat. My VinSolutions CRM also has a great feature called VinLens that allows me to "push" coupons and conversion forms to my website visitors. Its kinda cool to see the customer submit a form a few moments after pushing the coupon form. Some may argue that they may have submitted the form anyway, but I feel better knowing that we were involved in the conversion.

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