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You do a lot to drive traffic to your website. Even if you’ve attracted a lot of first-time visitors, a large percentage of them don't come back. However, you can increase the odds of them returning by running a cutting-edge “retargeting” campaign.
"I ask my peers all the time: 'What happens when a customer connects to your website, then leaves?'" says Bobby Jorgenson, dealer principal of Kistler Ford in Toledo, Ohio. "After a long pause, I tell them about my reminder ads. Most dealers I talk to haven't heard of retargeting."
"It's the single most effective digital marketing tool I have to convert visitors into buyers,” continues Jorgenson. “We have customers tell us every day: ‘After I left your website, I saw you guys online everywhere! You were in my Yahoo email box, on The New York Times website, weather.com and more. I had to buy from you! It was a sign!’"
Let’s say customers in your target market search online for “Ford F150.” Your digital marketing vendor – ideally a Google Premier Business (SMB) partner – ensures that your dealership appears in the top two slots in local search results with hand-crafted text ads with strong calls to action, links to your inventory, and more.
When customers click on your ad, you want to be sure to engage them as much as you can to get them to call, set up a test drive, etc.
After a few minutes, your “qualified” customer may leave your site. But not before you’ve dropped a “cookie” into their browser. This little file will remain active for up to 60 days and track every site the customer visits, giving you the ability to make one of your display (banner) ads appear on the page.
In many cases, these retargeting "reminder ads" won't necessarily generate a click. Instead, they'll remind the customer about you and the model they're interested in, triggering another search on Google, bing or Yahoo. When you have them re-engaged in online research, you'll want to appear again in the top three slots of every search, and get them to click back to your website.
How to "Turn On" Retargeting
Your digital marketing vendor can provide you with a special piece of code to install on specific webpages or your entire website. Once 100 “cookies” have been distributed to your potential customers’ browsers, your ads will start appearing to them on the websites you’ve selected.
To optimize results, be sure your campaign has all the popular banner ad sizes locked and loaded. You can control your budget, number of impressions, campaign duration, and more. Resist the urge to send them to your home page. Instead, create landing pages or inventory collections where clicks will "land" to increase conversions.
To avoid diminishing returns, change your creative every 5-10 weeks. At least consider changing the overall messaging, special offer or other text elements.
Also consider embedding a trackable phone number so you'll be able to track retargeting-related phone calls into your BDC.
Your Quality Score
How much will this cost you? The good news: your clicks on retargeting banners may be less than, or equal to, a click on one of your Google AdWords text ads. The key to getting the maximum ROI is to concentrate on the overall customer experience and quality score.
Google assigns a quality score based on the number of times an ad is shown (impressions), the number of people who click it and how relevant the ad is to the user’s intent. Be sure your ads contain the same keywords as what's entered by buyers. If Google sees that your ads match well with the user's search intent, and your ads get clicked and shown often, that boosts your quality score.
The higher your quality score, the higher your ad will appear in search results (or displayed on a website for retargeting), the less you'll pay per click, and the more times your ads will be shown.
Finally, think about this: It takes the average buyer 8-12 impressions before they click and engage with ads. Many dealers today are paying $8-$10 per click doing a SEM campaign, but less than three customers per 100 visitors engage with your website. That's an investment of up to $1,000.
With retargeting, you can pay far less to "remind" the other 97 qualified customers over a 60 day period, increasing your exposure and the chances of them returning to your dealership.
How to Catch 'Em All
In summary, when adding retargeting to an existing digital campaign, consider these tips:
1. Retarget your most popular pages, makes and models. Create separate display ads (and retargeting code) for each of these opportunities. Think call to action, trackable phone number, great art and copy. Keep testing and refining. A qualified digital marketing vendor can handle this for you on request.
2. Target the right websites. Don't target buyers on websites that are completely unrelated to your business of selling vehicles. That said, be sure to target not only auto-related sites, but also news and weather sites, which show highly localized information to buyers in your market.
3. Right-size your budget. Be sure you add marketing dollars to each campaign to generate the best ROI possible, and always link customers back to specific pages, not your home page.
As dealers begin to wake up to this opportunity, competition is bound to increase in your market. Be sure to keep a close eye on your "share of voice," and work with a vendor who's been running digital "reminder" ads for years and knows how to make it produce maximum sales results.