Dealers Asked, Google Listened: Google’s 2017 Dealer Playbook

GOOGLE’S DEALER PLAYBOOK IS HERE!

2017 Dealer Playbook

If you attended any of the Google Think Dealer events this fall, you know that Canadian dealers have been asking for a step-by-step guide on how to advertise on Google for years, and it is finally available. Based on Canadian automotive data, whether you are a beginner looking to do the bare minimum, or a seasoned pro looking for how to stand out online, The Dealer Playbook breaks down exactly where you should be spending your marketing dollars. Continue reading “Dealers Asked, Google Listened: Google’s 2017 Dealer Playbook”

3 Misconceptions About Ad Quality According to Google

In a recent edition of Google Best Practices they laid out the difference between auction-time quality and the 1-10 quality score. Regarding your quality score, here are 3 things that matter:

  1. The User’s Device
  2. Relevance
  3. Performance on Related Keywords

Hands typing on laptop computer - there are several misconceptions about quality score on Google

I don’t think that there is anyone out there that can argue that these factors do not effect your quality score. But here are some factors that, contrary to some opinions, do not matter: Continue reading “3 Misconceptions About Ad Quality According to Google”

HeroConf 2017: Recap On 3 Days Of Non-Stop PPC

T-Shirt from HeroConf 2017 that says PPC Nerd

From April 17th-20th, I had the opportunity to attend one of the largest gatherings of PPC nerds in North America: HeroConf 2017 hosted in Los Angeles.  This was my first PPC conference and I had no idea what to expect, but I couldn’t have felt more at home at the conference among other people who live and breathe PPC.

It was a busy week filled with learning, networking, and free drinks. Despite all the fun, I came home excited to share my new knowledge with the Strathcom team. Here are my key takeaways about what to expect in the world of PPC in the future.

 

It’s Time to Move on From Last Click Attribution

Attribution Modeling was one of the hottest topics discussed at HeroConf. Speakers from all industries agreed that it’s time to ditch the last click model, and focus on other touchpoints that lead to a conversion. However, there is no magical way of knowing which model is right for you. Speaker Jeff Greenfield of C3 Metrics discussed the importance of not waiting around for the perfect model, but to test and test again. The only way to prove the value of attribution models is to test until you become less wrong. Attribution modelling is extremely important in the automotive industry as we move away from the standard sales funnel, to a customer journey with multiple touchpoints. By ignoring the touchpoints a customer reaches today, we may never see them again for another 3 years.

Integrate Your Paid Social & Paid Search Strategies

Continue reading “HeroConf 2017: Recap On 3 Days Of Non-Stop PPC”

Google’s Top 5 Principles from Think Auto

Back in the fall, we attended Google Think Auto and gave you our key takeaways. Now Google has given us their top 5 principles from their 2016 Think Auto research!

Google talked to 5,000 Canadian car buyers while they were in the “thinking”, “researching”, and “buying” stages and found out how Canadians shop for cars and how dealers can reach them in the key moments of their buying journey. We have summarized the results of their research and what these results mean for Canadian car dealers.

customer buying stages

Continue reading “Google’s Top 5 Principles from Think Auto”

Does Your Website Reflect Your Brand?

How do customers remember your brand? What jumps out to your consumers and sets your company apart from your competitors? What are the benefits that set your brand apart from others? These are the types of questions people responsible for positioning brands focus on.

Continue reading “Does Your Website Reflect Your Brand?”

Homepage Elements with the Highest Conversion Rates

Conversion Optimization: probably the most important topic imaginable for building car dealership websites, and a topic we’d like to shed some light on. Here’s what we at Strathcom discovered during our tests for conversion rates!Print

A Call to Action is Like Asking for the Sale

You train your Salespeople to close the deal, and the same kind of logic behind that also applies online. There’s no denying the insane importance of a Call to Action (CTA), and knowing just when and where to ask for the sale is just as important. In our tests, we excluded clicks from top-level menus. Here are the stats:

The Most Clicked-on Webpages

  • New/Used Inventory – people like to browse, so let’s suggest taking a test drive, for example
  • Specials – let’s load this page up with incentives; that’s the idea here anyways, right?
  • Service Appointment

Highest-Performing Design

Button-style CTAs outperformed “image + text” CTAs. Main CTA buttons account on average for almost half of the clicks on a webpage, making them by far the most important CTAs to include.

Best Placement

The higher above the fold, the higher the conversions.

iStock_000070576867_Medium

A Convenient Quick-Search Bar

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Users want to find what they’re looking for right away and if they don’t, they’ll go somewhere else. The stats:

Usage

One of the top-performing homepage elements to encourage conversions – we found in our tests that quick-search bars average around 20% of all site clicks.

Placement

  • Placement on the homepage doesn’t matter, as it’s consistently used wherever we put it – it’s just a matter of making it accessible
  • When placed lower on a page, users will actively scroll down to use it

A Ton of Links

One paragraph on the homepage could contain links to just about every other section of the site, giving readers an easy way of searching for and finding what they need. Stats:

Most Clicked-on Links

  • Contact Info/Location/Directions/Hours – some users are customers already, and they just want to find out where and when they can drop by, so let’s be sure they can find out easily
  • Book Service Appointment
  • View New/Used Inventory

Highest-Performing Design

Links with button styles, but ONLY when used sparingly – let’s be smart about how we use buttons.

For our testing purposes, “conversions” was defined as clicks which took a user to an internal webpage. We tested using heat maps, click maps, and Google Analytics data, and our tests were done over multiple sites with differing designs.

Google Removes Right Side Ads from Desktop SRP

Big changes are coming from the forces over at Google. As of February 19th, 2016, Google has removed the ability to serve ads on the right hand side of the desktop’s search results page. This means ads must place on the top three positions, or fall to the bottom of the page, to be seen on a consumer’s search result page.

Google has removed ads from the right side of the SRP

Continue reading “Google Removes Right Side Ads from Desktop SRP”

Turn Even More Website Visitors into Leads

Advertisers love the ability to follow around potential customers with remarketing ads because it’s a great reminder to customers of their ever growing list of wants, as the advertiser patiently waits until your will power is at its lowest and for you to finally return and make your next purchase. You may even be running these images ads for your own dealership.

Today, this is how most people search for new vehicles.

Now, what if I told you that you could have this same stalking ability but get your business in front of audience that is actively shopping for your products a second time? No more passive approach to remarketing, patiently waiting until a user is ready to continue down the purchase path. You can skip the waiting and now entice previous website visitors when they’re actively on the hunt again. How can this be? Well…

Continue reading “Turn Even More Website Visitors into Leads”

Google’s Changes to Quality Score – What Does It Mean for You?

Quality Score is one of the key attributes in ensuring the success of your AdWords account. At the end of the day Quality Score does two things for you:

  • Enables your keywords to be eligible and tells Google your ads can be shown
  • Lowers your cost of advertising

Quality score can range from 1 through 10, 10 being the highest quality score can be and guarantees eligibility for your ad to be shown. Google wants to make sure that ads are relevant to the user, and a score of 10 proves this.

Continue reading “Google’s Changes to Quality Score – What Does It Mean for You?”

10 Topics to Heat up Your Blog This Summer

Useful and shareable car dealer blog topics for the summer

From a meteorological point of view, there are signs that summer is just around the corner. From a car dealerological point of view, it means greater foot traffic and more vehicles rolling off the lot.

But what’s going to help keep your store top of mind over the competitors down the street? Your blog:

  • 61% of consumers have made a purchase because of blog post
  • Companies that blog get 97% more inbound links
  • Small businesses with blogs receive 126% more leads

To save you the trouble of brainstorming blog subjects in time for summer, we took the time to stockpile some of the most interesting and shareable topics you can write about. Feel free to steal a few ideas and start your summer blogging series on the right foot!

Continue reading “10 Topics to Heat up Your Blog This Summer”

The Art of Creating Compelling PPC Ad Copy

As marketers, we spend countless hours pouring over statistics in AdWords, Google Analytics, and pretty much anywhere we can get our fix of numbers to analyze and interpret. Yes, it’s true that click-through rate, impression share, bounce rate, and average time on site are all important, but we must never lose sight of the goal.

 

Create ad copy that attracts attention and sends an alluring message.

 

That’s all the user sees—nothing else!

 

We are also working with a very limited amount of space: 25 characters for the title and 35 characters for each description line. This limits our options. It forces us to work smarter, and with less.

 

Some ad writing tips are common sense, like having correct spelling, grammar, and a coherent sentence structure. We’ll assume you already have a handle over those. But here I’m going to show you 7 more pointers that apply specifically to your search page ads.

 

Let’s get started! Here’s what leads to a compelling and effective ad:

1.      Use a highly searched keyword in your headline

This could be the primary make of the vehicle, or perhaps the dealership name. Getting creative with your 24-karat keyword can make your ad title look less generic and will also help improve its performance.

2.      Use at least one top keyword in the body of your ad

This helps make the ad relevant to the landing page you’re using. It also improves the quality score, which leads to a higher ad rank and a lower cost per click (CPC). Your ad will now rate much higher in comparison to those with marginal quality scores coming from other advertisers.

3.      Use a punctuation mark at the end of Line 1

This is such a simple and effective tip to implement that it’s inexcusable these days not to be doing it for each and every ad. Why do you need that period, question mark, or exclamation point? Because by doing so, AdWords recognizes your line as a complete thought, so when you land the prime ad space, it will include this first description line immediately underneath your URL, like the “Get More Leads” line in the example below. If your first description line doesn’t end with a punctuation mark, Google sees this as an ongoing sentence, and omits it entirely when it trails off inelegantly.

4.      Use a strong call to action

What do you want your web visitor to do? Where can they go from here? Your call to action should describe a specific activity the user can perform if they follow the steps listed and click on your ad. It can range from something as basic as “Book A Test Drive” or “Ask Us For More Information.” It can also invite the user to partake in a current special, such as “Sign Up Now For A $50 Coupon.”

5.      Use a descriptive display URL

The beauty of display URLs is that while the domain URL needs to be the same as the actual domain of the landing page, with display URLs after the forward slash, you decide what you want displayed. Take this chance to use a top or relevant keyword, such as a specific vehicle model.

6.      Use uppercase in your ad whenever possible

No, we don’t mean abusing your Caps Lock button. Think of it more like title capitalization, but for your body content. Although Typing Every Word In Upper Case Letters is normally not a good writing practice, it is for Google AdWords. It allows your ad to stand out and the words themselves to grab the user’s attention.

7.      Make use of ad extensions

Sitelinks, location extensions, and phone extensions are all extremely useful tools in increasing the ad’s space on the search results page. You can separate yourself from the competition by gaining as much real estate space as possible, and it is well worth the extra few minutes it takes to create the ad extensions.

 

Take away: The quality score of the keyword in that particular AdGroup is dependent on the effectiveness of the words used in the ad.

 

This is what we want to see every time:

 

The final element—landing page experience—is not directly related to how compelling the ad is, but it does stress the importance of choosing the right landing page. Make sure the landing page delivers what the ad promises. When everything is in sync, an effective ad will improve the keyword’s quality score, the ad’s CTR, keyword CTR, and the amount of leads!

 

More tips in our online eBook library

Now that you’ve gotten a handful of helpful tips to add a few more 10-scores to your ad campaigns, why let the momentum stop there! We’ve written a paid search primer that will help remind you of the important basics for your next online ad campaign. Download your free PPC eBook here.

 

And remember, for all your AdWords and PPC questions, our Support and PPC teams are here Monday through Friday to offer you solutions!

Using Everyone's Favourite Website to Get Your Dealership Noticed and Sell Cars!

Ever wonder how to reach both new and existing customers through one website? A few years ago this might not have been possible. However, today, advertisers can reach their customer base all in one place—Facebook.

People spend more time on Facebook consuming content than on any other website. Mark Zuckerberg’s social media networking site has built the largest, most highly-engaged audience on earth.

For advertisers in competitive industries, it is mandatory to reach your customers in the way in which they wish to be communicated with.

This is especially true for the automotive industry. Typically it has been one of the most competitive and difficult industries in which to reach consumers.

And this is exactly where Facebook shines: Facebook advertising is a very cost effective way to reach a qualified audience of car buyers. Car dealers can reap all of their advertising benefits, like driving in-store sales, increasing traffic to their website, and building brand awareness. And you can do it all for less than it costs to market your dealership through other websites!

Capture In-Market Shoppers through Facebook

So you know your customers are on Facebook, but what is the most effective way to reach them? Through Facebook’s “Custom Audience” tool, you can retarget previous customers with Facebook ads, exposing them to your marketing materials long after they have last visited your site. The Custom Audience tool lets you upload a list of customer names and email addresses and Facebook will locate those users to target. These lists can be pulled directly from your DMS system.

Targeting and Retargeting on Facebook

The beauty of advertising on Facebook is that users naturally flock there to consume content. So as long as your ad is of interest to them, consumers will pay close attention to your brand and message.

Retargeting existing customers on Facebook is a great way to ensure that your ads stand out, as these customers are already familiar with your brand. Additionally, for any new customers you are trying to reach, you can target users based on the information in their profiles, like interests and demographics, as well as contextually, by the content they provide in their statuses and comments. Newsfeed ads are designed to blend into the user’s natural, social experience on Facebook, so ads do not appear like normal ads, quickly disregarded in the top or side margins.

Facebook dealership ads

Keep this in mind: Most online advertising reaches only 38% of its intended audience, while Facebook’s average intended reach is 89%. Facebook Advertising is the key to gaining reach and frequency in a digital ecosystem of thousands and thousands of car ads, and Strathcom is here to help your dealership stand out!

If you want to power up your next marketing engine with Facebook ads, contact our Pay-per-Click team at Strathcom Media right away. It’s the difference between having an ad, and having your ad seen.

2014 Paid Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Advanced Recap

Amid the vivid lights and sprawling skyline of Seattle, the brightest minds in search marketing from across the globe gathered for the week of June 9. The home of the Seattle Mariners was host for a team of a different kind: SMX Advanced 2014.

I was there for Advanced Sessions for Paid Search Advertising, and now I’m back to report on what your dealership can take from the latest SMX conference.

Seattle Skyline

Advanced AdWords Workshop

Brad Geddes, Founder of Certified Knowledge and a prominent educator in the PPC industry, led this lecture. Advertisers from a variety of industries joined in discussions about advanced AdWords topics like display advertising, location targeting, quality score, landing page optimization, and the sales cycle.

The key topic was understanding what our customers are looking for and why. People search the web for answers, and it’s your opportunity to use paid ads to answer your customers’ questions. Use your text-based ad to capture a searcher’s attention, and then provide a solution through the landing page. Doing this correctly can lead to higher conversion rates and satisfied customers.

By thinking about the searcher’s needs, and giving them the best solution to their problem, they’ll be more likely to convert and to return in the future.

The lecture went into advanced topics like how to build successful AdWords Campaigns, organizing ideas and topics, and other methods to increase leads. While we won’t go into advanced topics in detail, feel free to contact us if you would like to learn more about how we can improve your paid search account.

Day 1: The Mad Scientist of Paid Search

Bryan Minor, the Chief (and possibly mad—in a good way) Scientist at Acquisio, introduced the first session of the week: Bid & Budget Management. This tool supercharges PPC accounts by fine-tuning budget with real-time accuracy and increasing qualified traffic.

Mad Search ScientistLars Hirsch and Jared Schroder (not to be confused with Schrödinger, although a scientist in his own right) showed us new methods for testing paid search marketing beyond keyword expansion and ad copy testing.

Their work involves testing regression models and analyzing trends to discover the primary secrets of paid search auctions, attributions, and search behaviours.

Strathcom was one of the first companies in Canada to use Acquisio’s Bid & Budget management tool. When Bryan Minor approached me with the idea, I knew that he was on to something. Our test was a huge success, and we now use it across all of our PPC accounts.

We took away some key points from the talk:

Try New Ad Testing Techniques.

Every Paid Search Specialist has different techniques when it comes to testing, but it doesn’t hurt try new ideas. We learned some effective and quick techniques to make testing new ads quick and effective.

Connect Paid and Social Advertising.

Social is here to stay. Whether we like it or not, Facebook and Twitter have moved from the realm of your teenage daughter’s iPhone to the domain of big business. Social advertising mediums represent a big opportunity for the car industry. With new features like Graph Search, Facebook has made it possible to learn more about potential customers with information like interests, location, “likes,” and more. This is a great channel to increase awareness and leads.

Day 2

Conversion Rate Rockstars. This was by far the best session of all. When it comes to improving your conversion rates, it’s all about testing and optimizing your web site. Your PPC account can have the best structure a killer keyword strategy an awesome click through rate but without a great site it will never generate leads.

Paid Search Tactics & Tools. This session was AdWords on steroids. The speakers showed how to leverage analytics and other AdWords tools that are not used to their full potential. There have been 1000+ changes in AdWords and Bing over the past year. Tactics used last year are history.

What’s New?

Yahoo rolled out “Yahoo Gemini,” a new platform that combines mobile search and native advertising into a single marketplace.

Yahoo Gemini

Recent studies found that people were 25% more likely to look at native ads than banner ads, and viewed them 53% more frequently. People were also more likely to share native ads with their contacts and demonstrated greater purchase intent after viewing them.

Yahoo Gemini Native vs Mobile Search

SMX advanced was all it promised to be. I got to meet and learn from great people like Brad Geddes, Larry Kim (Wordstream), Chris Goward, and so many others. I can’t wait for next year’s conference!

Is Your Dealership Leaving Co-Op Money on the Table?

Did you know that your dealership could have access to thousands of dollars in advertising cash that you’re not using?

Money on the TableMost dealers are aware they can get support from their manufacturer for spend on radio ads, print ads, and even television advertising. What some don’t know is that a portion or all of their digital advertising can also be covered too. This cooperative advertising, or co-op advertising, is a partnership between the manufacturer and a local dealership where the manufacturer shares the cost of locally placed advertising with the dealership.

Google Adwords is the new frontier in co-op advertising, and Pay-per-Click ads are powerful weapons in the successful marketer’s arsenal. Many brands were slow to get on board with search engine marketing (SEM) initially, but after seeing huge online advertising pay-offs for progressive companies like Ford, we’re seeing a snowball effect in the market for manufacturers like GM, Chrysler, Mercedes, and others.

“Many dealers are not aware that co-op advertising reimbursements are available not only for traditional media, but for digital marketing as well.” — Ralph Paglia, President at Automotive Media Partners.

In his article “Take a Free Ride,” Paglia notes how many manufacturers report that much of their co-op advertising budget goes unspent each year. Relatively few dealerships take full advantage of these programs.

How do you find out if you qualify for some of this free cash?

  • Contact your local Manufacturer Rep or District Manager. These programs often have very specific guidelines; walking through them in detail before selecting a provider is a must.
  • Some OEMs don’t have a formal policy, and will run co-op programs on a trial or case-by-case basis for well presented proposals. Work with a provider like Strathcom Media to put something together for them to review. The key is showing that this will be working to reduce your inventory and promote national offers, something every brand wants.
  • You won’t know until you ask! We currently submit co-op claims for Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Nissan, Ford, Lincoln, Kia, and Mazda stores. Your competition is definitely getting in on the action if you aren’t.

Contact Strathcom Media today to see if your OEM has a co-op program to take advantage of, and start increasing leads with someone else’s money!

Facebook Advertising for Car Dealerships

Facebook Social Media

Advertising on Facebook is remarkably easy. Setting up a business page is as simple as setting up a personal profile page. Just like with Google+, there’s no reason why a car dealership shouldn’t have a Facebook business page. It’s completely free self-promotion.

In the face of Facebook’s recent announcement that marketers will need to start paying if they want to reach a larger audience (and that organic reach will be dropping off), now is the time to ask whether your car dealership should be investing in paid advertising through Facebook.

If you don’t have an account for your dealership already, you should consider one because Facebook offers many benefits to dealerships:

  • Brand awareness and loyalty
    It’s hugely important for people to recognize your car dealership’s brand. Keeping your customers loyal to the brand and getting return business are two huge benefits of interactions through Facebook.

  • Improved customer service through social media
    Anybody can post feedback or comments on a business’s Facebook page. While positive comments are great, even a negative comment can be turned around depending on how your dealership responds and addresses issues.

  • Soft return on investment (ROI) and increased dealership traffic
    The ultimate goal of a Facebook account is to increase interest and get bodies through the dealership door. Advertising promotions and announcing the arrival of new models to targeted areas will do just that.

  • Product feedback
    A customer buys a new car, loves it and praises it on your Facebook page. Everyone wins!

  • Fast and easy event promotions
    Announcing upcoming specials through Facebook ads reaches audiences faster than through other methods like print or radio – and anyone at your dealership can do it!

Facebook Audience

Facebook Advertising—The GM Story

Back in May 2012, GM decided to stop advertising on Facebook, claiming that paid ads were having little impact on car purchases. They kept their Facebook pages active (which cost nothing), but pulled all of their pay-per-click ads. It was a highly publicized case that cast doubt on the benefits of paid Facebook advertising.

In April 2013, in a comeback of sorts, GM decided to reignite their Facebook PPC strategy with more targeted ads promoting their new Chevrolet Sonic with a focus on mobile marketing.

In a telephone interview with Bloomberg News, Auto industry analyst Thilo Koslowski said that “it shows one thing: Nobody can really ignore Facebook … GM realizes there must be a value proposition for them to go to Facebook.”

What’s the point of all this? Well, in the end it’s up to you to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks of Facebook advertising. However, you need to consider getting your name out in social media, because your competitors are likely doing the same thing.

Remember, nobody can ignore Facebook. Not even GM.

Harness the Power of Automatic Keyword Bidding

Until recently, in the dark days before Bid Management Tools, Pay-per-Click Strategists had the tedious task of manually optimizing Paid Search Accounts across multiple campaigns. As clients’ keyword baskets grew, so did the task of managing optimization tasks. At Strathcom Media, it soon became a heroic challenge to implement optimization.

We needed to make some changes if we were going to continue providing our clients with the best service in the industry. That was when we found Acquisio’s Bid & Budget Management (BBM), a new tool to automatically manage bids and budgets in near real-time with keyword optimizations every 30 minutes.

BBM’s automated bid capabilities significantly improved the performance on our clients’ accounts by allowing us to make multiple optimizations during the day.

What is Automatic Bidding?

Automatic bidding uses a series of rules to manage keyword bids in Paid Search Accounts. You can create various bid rules to control the automatic bidding process in order to meet the goals of each account.

At Strathcom, we still like to keep automatic bidding on a tight leash. Why? Automatic bidding can’t think by itself. Don’t expect to sit back, relax and see conversion rates magically increase after enabling automatic bid rules. Our strategy is to constantly monitor, adjust and manage automatic optimizations according to trends and other factors that the automatic process will never see.

Bid & Budget Management Dog

Leaving automatic bidding unattended is like leaving a juicy steak in front of your dog. If you’re not paying attention, something will definitely go wrong. Don’t let automatic bidding control your accounts!

BBM Case Study: Strathcom

We were amazed by the results that Bid & Budget Management (BBM) delivered. In the time that we have been using this new tool by Acquisio, we found that:

  • Average cost-per-click was reduced
  • Traffic to our clients’ websites increased
  • Budgets are now managed with pinpoint accuracy
  • Conversion rates increased!

By the end of March, average Budget Variance across accounts was -0.20%. The best part is that our clients are getting more bang for their buck.

Budget Variance Dropped -0.20% Across Accounts

BBM Variance Graph

Pre-BBM Checklist

Automated bid & budget optimization won’t deliver great results if the account is set up incorrectly or with a poor account structure to start with. Before turning on automatic optimization, does your account have the following?

  • A killer account structure
  • Awesome campaign/ad group segmentation
  • Appropriate landing pages
  • A strong keyword strategy
  • Relevant and compelling ad copy
  • A great negative keyword list

Consider dealing with any issues that could be holding it back before switching to automated keyword management.

Don’t forget about:
• Campaign Settings
• Location and Device Strategy
• Defining and Understanding your Goals
• Analyzing the Competition

While we still have to set up our clients’ accounts correctly and diligently monitor the bid rules of each account, automatic bidding is a great time saver. A properly set up account, combined with Acquisio’s BBM (Bid & Budget Management), will unleash the full power of automatic bidding – making BBM the online marketer’s best friend.

AAHH Zombies! Why Print Advertising Could Be The New Undead

Print Zombie

OH NO, IT’S A ZOMBIE! Actually, it’s where some people see print advertising in a few years. While print advertising may not actually be dead (or un-dead, as the case may be), there is no doubt that it is rapidly acceding to the push of online advertising in today’s market. There is no easy answer to the debate of print vs. online advertising, yet there remains one unavoidable truth: online advertising can no longer be ignored if you want your business to succeed. Everyone and their grandmother searches online these days, and the statistics show it. In the case of car dealerships, 97% of car buyers now search online before purchasing a vehicle. Sources also project that total online advertising dollars spent will surpass print advertising within just a few years. According to recent IAB reports, the internet is now second only to television in terms of the share of total Canadian advertising revenue:

Online Vs Print Marketing Dollars Spent

Online Advertising Is A No-Brainer!

If you’re not advertising online right now, you might as well be in your basement preparing for the zombie apocalypse. And when I say online advertising, I don’t mean a couple of display ads here and there. Don’t just take my word for it; here are some reasons why Online Advertising should be an important part of your car dealership advertising budget:

1. Results are Easy-To-Measure

David Ogilvy once said that 50% of advertising works, we just don’t know which 50%. Not true with online advertising. Sophisticated tools like Google Analytics allow you to follow your customers through each step of the purchase process and see how they make decisions. This gives you the ability to refine your methods to attain the best Return on Investment (ROI). With online advertising it is easy to run two separate campaigns and see which performs better: This is called split or “A/B testing.

2. Advertise on a Global Scale

Running a print campaign to reach a global audience would be prohibitively expensive. What would be out-of-reach to any but the largest companies and marketing firms becomes accessible to anyone with online advertising. Online ads will reach a global audience without a huge budget.  

3. There Are More Ways to Advertise Online

Websites , Pay Per Click (PPC), Display Advertising, Remarketing, E-newsletters, Social Media, Videos, Mobile websites — the list of online advertising methods continues to grow. Take the example of remarketing, also known as retargeting advertising. If you aren’t taking advantage of retargeting advertising right now, then you are missing out on customers that visit your website and leave to browse the internet. Watch Strathcom’s Duncan Cochrane describe this form of marketing:

4. Lower Advertising Costs

Online advertising can be cheap, but that doesn’t make it any less effective. Take Social Media Marketing: when done in-house, the cost is negligible (unless you pay for advertising on social media networks).  A well-done social media campaign can reach impressive audiences online and while there is no guarantee that a campaign will go “viral,” it’s always worth a try.

5. More People are Researching Online

We have said it before, but we’ll say it again: 97% of potential customers now research online before physically going to a car dealership. After researching online, on average these customers only visit 1 – 2 dealerships before making their purchase. Having a strong online presence will make sure your dealership is visible where it needs to be.

6. The Mobile Marketplace is Growing  

Marketing for online and mobile devices is one of the fastest growing sectors for online marketing, and just having a properly optimized mobile website can give your business a competitive advantage over those who are behind the trend.

Conclusion

While there may still be a place for print advertising in a well-planned budget, current trends suggest that online marketing is the leading method to capture customers and the key to maximizing your advertising ROI. A budget solely focused on print advertising is becoming a thing of the past. So, whatever you do, don’t let the print zombies get you!

Why You Should be Remarketing Right Now in the Automotive Industry

It’s time to demystify remarketing advertising. It’s not magic. Nor is it some new form of alchemy to spawn gold from a few base elements. But it can still spellbind customers who would have otherwise left your website to go onto other exploits.

What is Remarketing?

Remarketing, also known as retargeting, lets you send display ads to users who have visited your website and then left to browse the web. Through remarketing you can develop a personalized campaign that delivers display ads to people who have shown a particular interest on your website. For example, say you own a car dealership and a user is searching your website for a 2013 Nissan Sentra. If they decided to leave your website and browse the web, the same Sentra that they were viewing in your inventory could be delivered in the form of a display ad on another web page. This encourages them to return to your website and make the next step in the purchase process. Now doesn’t vehicle remarketing sound awesome?

Is Remarketing Right for You?

The answer is almost always yes! Remarketing is a great way to shift some of your print advertising budget to the online arena. You could compare it to cold calling a customer versus contacting someone who has recently inquired about one of your services. Users who have already visited your website and shown an interest in your products will be much more open to an advertisement inviting them to return. Statistics show that 95% of customers are likely to leave a site without making a transaction. Statistics also show that users who are the subject of remarketing or retargeting are 70% more likely to complete a purchase.

How Does Remarketing Work?

To start retargeting users on your website you put a piece of code called a re-targeting pixel on a specific part of your web site. As users visit this page, the code sends a tracking cookie to that user’s browser. As they visit other website, the cookie calls up display ads related to an offer or item that they viewed on your website. Google has a nice video description here: A variety of user actions can also be chosen to trigger the remarketing process, whether it’s a specific button or just visiting a particular page. The important thing to remember is that while remarketing will not bring new users to your website, it is still an important part of your online advertising effort. Your best chance for success is using a combination of tools to both bring in traffic and then retarget individuals.

Remarking vs. Retargeting Advertising: What’s The Difference?

Let’s get something straight: the terms “Remarketing” and ‘Retargeting” are essentially interchangeable. While some sources would like to tell you there are notable differences, when it comes down to it they are different titles for the same thing. Google generally refers to this type of advertising as remarketing, and Google’s word is gold.

How to Start your Remarketing Campaign

Strathcom Media offers fully personalized remarketing strategiesfor car dealerships. In our remarketing strategy we target more ‘sales ready’ users that are closer to performing an action on your website (say filling out any sort of form). By targeting users at this point of the buying process you can improve your conversion rates significantly and capture customers who almost have their foot in the door. What we offer:

  • A custom tailored Remarketing Strategy
  • Professional Advertising Design (Flash Ads or Static Images)
  • Monthly Ad Management (update Display Ads to match Dealers Monthly promotions)
  • Budget Management (to maximize traffic to the Site)
  • Lead Tracking

Don’t Frustrate Your Customers!

Remarketing is great, but it can go too far. To keep your customers from showing up on your doorstep with a lynch mob in tow, there are a few things to avoid if you want to keep them happy. Don’t let your ad frequency get out of control. Manage how many times your customers will be exposed to a banner in a 24-hour period. You should maintain a “healthy relationship” with your customers. Don’t let your ads become stalkers, following your customers around the internet wherever they go. It can get creepy. Give users a rest. Anyone can have too much of a good thing. If your customer has already purchased a product from you, give them a break from related ads for similar products and services. While your buyers shouldn’t be forgotten, they shouldn’t feel harassed either. Make it easy to opt out. It should be possible for your users to opt out of a campaign completely. Make an easy one-click solution either right on your ads or on your website.

Search Marketing Expo West – SMX West San Jose 2013

I’m off to the Search Marketing Expo West edition in San Jose California March 11th to 13th, 2013 and I’m ecstatic to be attending my first SEO conference. Having worked in the SEO industry since early 2010, it’s long overdue.

What is SMX?

The Search Marketing Expo is a conference for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) folks who have careers in the online marketing industry. It is three full days of over 50 sessions and keynote presentations. SMX West was created by the editors of Search Engine Land, a website that many search marketers trust to deliver credible information in the online marketing industry.

There are so many interesting sessions that I’m having a hard time deciding which to attend. My goal is to bring back the most benefits for our dealers, and I wish I could take in every single one of the talks!

 

SMX West Sessions

One of the talks I’m most excited for is “How To Groove To The Google Dance.”  It discusses Google’s many algorithim changes which on a near-weekly basis, and will help answer the age-old question of how to keep Google happy and save our dealer sites from the penalty list by using White Hat SEO tactics. The famous (in the SEO and SEM industry) Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land will be moderating this talk.

Another talk that intrigues me is “The Search Police: Matt & Duanes’ Excellent Search Engine Adventure” by the ever so famous Mr. Matt Cutts, the head of Google Spam, and Duane Forester, the manager of Bing Webmaster tools. Matt and Duanne will be sharing examples of what not to do on our sites and why. I’m going to ensure that I get a front seat for this talk, so I can totally nerd out.

 


Stay tuned for more blog posts on the conference and awesome SEO tactics and rules to help get your car dealership to rank and bring in more converting leads.

Google Tag Manager – Web code tracking management

Google Tag Manager to the Rescue!

Have you been drowning in a sea of code overload trying to keep track of your tracking codes on your website? If so, your savior has arrived! Google Tag Manager is a tool Google released this October to help manage tracking codes by keeping them all in one place. With this new tool you can enter and manage all of your tags in one location, and insert them onto your site with one little snippet of JavasScript code.

Monitoring the success of your website or Pay-Per-Click campaign wouldn’t be possible without strategically placed tracking codes placed on your website to see how users are landing on your site and where they visit before – hopefully – making a conversion by clicking a “contact us” button, or buying your product or service.

But implementing tracking codes can be a pain. Improperly implemented code can slow down your website and lead to inaccurate reporting data, and every time a new marketing tool comes out you have to retag many parts of your site. Often the worst frustration is waiting for a request to make it from a marketing department to IT – and by the time your tracking is set up, you could have missed out on valuable statistics that could have been used to improve your site and get valuable leads.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a tool your Marketing department could view and add tracking code themselves? That’s where Google Tag Manager (GTM) comes in. With an intuitive user interface, it makes it easier for marketing managers to get the data they need, and even gives your markets the ability to tag live and publish changes in seconds.

GTM has a number of benefits:

  • You can add tags any time without waiting. It’s easy enough for marketers to make changes without having to bother IT.
  • Automatic error-checking and faster tag load times mean more accurate tracking data.
  • Templates make it easy to copy-past and auto-generate your code.
  • You have the ability to set rules to fire which codes you want.
  • Asynchronus tag loading means tags will load as they’re ready, and in parallel with other page elements. This speeds up your site and prevents the clashing of other tags.
  • Multi-account support and user permissions give large corporations additional flexibility

Learn about all of Google Tag Manager’s current features at Google.

How does Google Tag Manager work?

After you create a Tag Manager account you will be able to create accounts and edit permissions for anyone who will need to access the account. You can work with your IT department to implement the solution on your site, and in some cases all it takes is a single snippet of code.

You can define sets of tags and rules within Google Tag Manager. Once these are made live, users will receive an up-to-date configuration in their browser where the correct tags will fire. Tags are loaded more quickly as the manager loads them asynchronously, and the rest of the page will keep loading independent of the tags. No longer will a single poorly-performing tag limit your page loading performance.

Before you make tags live, you can view them in the preview and debug view of GTM. This allows you to check that tags are firing on the right pages and at the right time.

How to get started:

  1. Get your team involved: Talk to your marketing and IT teams and see if Google Tag Manager could benefit your business.
  2. Implement GTM: either have your IT team install GTM themselves, or hire an outside source to set up your webpage.
  3. Determine your goals for measurement: Decide what key elements you want to measure. With GTM you can easily change these elements in the future.
  4. Migrate to the new platform.

GTM plans to add additional tag templates as well as other elements including reporting on tag firing, support for A/B testing tags, and more.