The Key to Online Marketing

With so much buzz surrounding  two primary "hot buttons" in automotive Internet marketing, it's no wonder that many have lost their way or even forgotten about the most important aspect of advertising online: driving leads. Search engine optimization (SEO) and social media are the buzzwords of the age, the catch phrases that are sending many dealers and most vendors scrambling to find the best solutions.

It doesn't matter how much traffic you drive to a site or how big your Facebook fan page is if they aren't optimized for lead conversion. The process is very simple:

1. Sales are generated by leads.

2. Leads are generated by visitors finding what they are looking for and making inquiries.

3. Visitors are generated by search engine optimization, social media and other forms of Internet marketing.

The problem is that so many are focusing on #1 and #3, but leaving #2 up to chance. The thought is that if you put up a great Web site, microsite, landing page, or squeeze page, and then drive traffic to it, leads and sales will increase. While this is partially true, it’s only by luck. Driving people to a Web site and hoping they’ll find what they want will work, just not as often as it could.

Lead conversion optimization is the process that combines lead-generation techniques with traffic-driving techniques. In simple terms, you send visitors to pages on your Web sites that match with what they were searching. It sounds easy (and in many ways it is), but it is so poorly done by most dealers and vendors today/Now is the time to break the mold. Here’s how:

Know the Traffic Source
Web sites track where their visitors come from. More importantly, Web sites with proper analytics can tell not only where they came from, but why.

If someone types “Boston Nissan Murano” into Google and clicks on a listing, the Web site is aware of that keyword. It makes sense that this information can be used to a dealer’s Web site’s advantage. With the right tools, a Web site can be dynamically generated to present the visitor with something that matches their search query. In other words, when someone types “Boston Nissan Murano” into Google and clicks on your Web site, you can present them with exactly what they’re looking for—a big, shiny Murano on the front page. They click on it and can go straight to the inventory, specials, or some other Murano-related page.

Different Sites for Different Searches
There are three different types of automotive-related searches. General searches are for people who want to find a dealer for whatever reason: “Los Angeles Honda.” Long-tail searches are more specific and have less traffic, but higher conversions: “Los Angeles Honda Accord.” Exact-match or near-match searches are done by people who know exactly what they want, have even lower volume, but very high conversion rates: “2010 Honda Accord EX Los Angeles.”

It’s imperative that dealers target different Web sites or pages for multiple variations and types of searches. A primary Web site’s home page should offer a broad range of options to appeal to the diversity of searchers. A site or page targeting exact-match searches should be laser-focused on delivering on the two goals: the customer’s goal to find what he or she wants and the dealer’s goal to generate a lead. Everything else is just a distraction.

Separate Portals to Get There
So much emphasis is placed on the primary dealer Web site that other Web sites are often missed or disregarded. Sidekick sites, for example, are blog/Web site hybrids that offer the best of both worlds. They have the general ranking power of a blog while offering the lead conversion power of a Web site.

Other variations of microsites work as well. Targeting specific vehicles, needs (such as special finance), and other revenue centers (such as a quick lane) offer online venues for consumers to connect with dealers for specific needs. Most microsites should be used primarily to generate leads and sales. The look, feel, and branding on these sites don’t matter nearly as much as achieving the overall goal of increasing sales.

Diversifying your Portfolio
Advertising on the Internet is not much different than trading investments. There are high-value, high-risk properties, low-value, low-risk properties, and everything in-between. Diversifying your online presence is one of the keys to making certain that you are optimized for lead conversion. At the end of the day, getting more leads that generate more sales is all that really matters.

Vol. 6, Issue 10