• James Grace

More Not Always Better in Digital Marketing

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

This editorial appeared originally in the Industry Voices section of WardsAuto.com

More is better, right?

A two-week vacation is more relaxing than a single week away. A five-course feast is more satisfying than a three-course meal. Conventional wisdom suggests this theory holds true for automotive digital marketing. More website visits mean more leads. More leads mean more sales.

You want to sell more cars? Get more traffic to your website.

The problem is the data doesn’t support this thought process.

Traffic to Dealer.com dealership websites is up 15% over the past 12 months, but car sales are only up 1.5% over the same period.

This difference reveals what I call the automotive digital marketing “quality gap,” where the quantity of traffic to dealership websites increases faster than the quality of that traffic. Why? Increasingly, lots of that traffic isn’t coming from actual people looking to buy a car.

Today, there are automated programs designed to crawl websites to see what’s for sale. Other programs are designed to promote meaningless and irrelevant products or services. These sources bring traffic to websites, but it’s not real human traffic and it’s definitely not high-quality traffic from car shoppers.

A key to successful digital marketing means understanding a gap exists, and that more is not always better. Dealing with it means identifying high-quality traffic that leads to sales and profitability, and investing in products and strategies that deliver higher-quality traffic.

How do you do that? Here are three things to consider.

First, look at your digital advertising strategy.

Digital advertising is a great way of driving quality traffic to your website. Today’s advanced technology allows you to target specific kinds of customers with specific advertising, making it possible to target the right person, with the right message, at the right time. Make sure you’re working with a partner using this kind of technology to maximize the quality of every ad delivered.

Ask whether your advertising partners are signed on to the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) Registry, which specifically focuses on eliminating fraud by driving quality digital advertising traffic, not quantity.

Second, examine your website traffic that’s based on “referrals.”

Referrals are one way traffic gets to a dealer website. Is it coming from Google? Facebook? An OEM’s site? A vendor partner?

Look at the site traffic segmented by referral. Next, analyze the traffic quality indicators such as time on site, bounce rate, and form submission rate to identify high-quality referral channels.

Taking a deep look at referrals ensures time and money are spent on high-quality sources of traffic, while revealing quality problems that merit a closer look.

Third, assess your content strategy.

One of the best ways to drive quality traffic is to make sure it’s full of high-quality content. It shouldn’t be surprising that car shoppers appreciate, value and reward great-quality content as they shop online. What may surprise is that in 2016 one of the most effective ways of having a top-notch content strategy is to focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)

SEO assures online presence is as visible as possible when people use search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to shop for cars. Organic search – traffic driven to websites from search engines – is consistently the highest- quality referral channel across the Dealer.com platform. This makes sense since you’re attracting people who specifically indicate they are shopping for a car.

It used to be SEO was all about optimizing to the algorithms by using backlinks, tags and other techniques that kept search engines happy. This approach has significantly evolved. Today’s search engines can detect quality content specifically designed to bring real value to viewers, and that’s what they reward. Think “resources” instead of “landing pages.” For example, a custom-built page comparing a hot vehicle model with its competition helps people decide which to buy. Better yet, that high-quality content attracts quality organic search visitors that convert better and submit more leads.

Virtually every customer who buys a car today has been online at least once before buying. There’s no such thing as an “internet customer” at your dealership anymore. That’s why successful digital marketing that focuses on products and strategies that filter through the noise drive high-quality, engaged, motivated shoppers to a dealer website.

More is better? Not anymore. Better is better.

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