Archive for April, 2013

Is Your Mobile Website Ready for Google Enhanced Campaigns?

Is Your Mobile Website Ready for Enhanced Campaigns?

Is Your Mobile Website Ready for Enhanced Campaigns?

Today’s car shopper prefers a mobile-responsive experience. Tomorrow’s search ads demand it…

In an attempt to drag all of its advertisers into the new multiscreen reality, willingly or otherwise, Google recently announced the impending switch to Enhanced Campaigns. Ads in all campaigns will have the potential to run across all devices, so whether your prospective buyer is researching a car on a phone, tablet, or desktop, she may be served the same ad. 

If your site isn’t flexible enough to take users directly to the page they want – regardless of the device they are shopping on – then it’s time to start tweaking your stylesheets. Otherwise, you risk wasting thousands on mobile and tablet users who bounce the moment they’re redirected to your homepage instead of the inventory, lease offers, or service coupons advertised.

What’s changing?

Along with disabling the ability to select which devices you want your campaigns to target, Google Enhanced Campaigns usher in greater flexibility in device preference, ad extensions, geographic targeting, and conversion optimization.

In legacy campaigns, AdWords set device targeting and ad extensions at the campaign level. So, all ads in a particular campaign were set to show on phones, tablets, desktops, or a combination thereof, all with the same sitelinks, phone number, or address extension attached. Enhanced Campaigns let you drill down and select devices and ad extensions in a much more granular manner.

Here’s an example of a new Enhanced Campaign in action:

A dealership is ramping up its Service Enhanced Campaign. During business hours, mobile users are served ads with copy boasting quick wait times, an address with one-click directions, and a click-to-call phone number. Desktop users see coupon-focused copy with a tracking phone number and expanded sitelinks to soft-sell service pages. Once the dealership closes, ads with links to service forms go live in place of the phone numbers.

Another big change arriving with Enhanced Campaigns is geographic bid adjustment. Dealerships can now boost bids in zip codes where they sell the most cars. Before, advertisers chose geographic targets for their ads at the campaign level, and you were forced to create different campaigns for every zone in which you wanted to have separate bids. With Enhanced Campaigns, you can easily adjust bids by location without having to create dozens of separate campaigns.

Here’s an example in action: 

Browsing sales reports, a dealership sees that a significant number of their new vehicle sales are coming from users in select zip codes. Using bid adjustments in Enhanced Campaigns, the auto dealer can quickly and easily increase their bids by 50% for targeted keywords in that zip code, leading to a greater market share in an already receptive area, while decreasing bids in zips known to have a weaker return.

Four things dealers can do right now:

1. Ensure that you have Google Analytics installed on your site, and link your AdWords and Analytics so that you can measure the effectiveness of your ad traffic.

Before you begin upgrading your account, make sure that you know what’s happening with the traffic you’re paying for. If you’re not looking at what’s happening after a user clicks on your ad, then you’re flying half-blind.

Linking accounts is easy – just make sure you’re an administrator on both your AdWords and Analytics accounts, and you’re halfway there. Follow the instructionshere to close the loop.

2. Make sure the destination URLs on ads for inventory or other deep links won’t redirect mobile users to the homepage.

If you have a responsive-mobile site – that is, a singular site for all devices that doesn’t redirect mobile users to a mobile.yourdealership.com or yourdealership.com/mobile/ version of your site – then you’re already ahead of the game. 

Otherwise, contact your PPC provider and make sure that they create new Enhanced Campaign mobile ads with destination URLs that go right to the relevant page. Even if they have separate mobile campaigns right now, once they’re upgraded to Enhanced, those ads will show on any device.

3. Adjust bids based on location to make sure you dominate in zip codes you know have high sales numbers.

Take a look at your sales data over the last 12 months and send your PPC provider a list of the zip codes where you know you do well. Start with those locations, and concentrate on building out more sophisticated targeting in the future.  Focus on areas aren’t ranking well Organically.

4. Use upgraded call extensions to get free call tracking on your search ads.

Upgraded call extensions on Enhanced Campaigns no longer charge $1 per call, so take advantage of that free call tracking by adding it to any ads where a phone number will make a difference. You can also set up conversion tracking through AdWords to register any call greater than a specific duration to count as a conversion. That extra data will help guide on where the call extensions are most effective.

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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My Response to the Many Concerns I’ve Received Regarding Craigslist Block on Mass Posting Tools

My Response to the Many Concerns I’ve Received Regarding Craigslist Block on Mass Posting Tools

 

My Response to the Many Concerns I’ve Received Regarding Craigslist Block on Mass Posting Tools

Craigslist blocks on auto uploads, mass population tools and templates.  A system of checks and balances in software ‘law’ – Terms of Use http://www.craigslist.org/about/terms.of.use

I have no desire to build an automated posting tool that violates the terms of use of another software company (Craigslist). Keep in mind, Craigslist is not a lead source provider, it is a mostly free, “bottom up” oriented classified website. That being said, do we want dealers to be able to sell their products and services on Craigslist? Sure – Our entire philosophy is to make it easier for buyers and sellers to connect. However, just like Auto Dealers know that we can never replace the emotional aspect of buying a vehicle, so does Craigslist about their advertising. There’s a personal touch aspect that the developers of Craigslist do not want to lose to automation and mass posting mechanisms. Each time that a software company develops a way to violate Craigslist Terms of Use, Craigslist will fire back with a block; a means to protect the virtue of their product.

It is very unethical to violate Craigslist terms of use. I don’t believe in free lunch; no pain no gain.

   

So what does this means to auto dealers? It means that they may need to put a little elbow grease into posting their inventory on Craigslist; this could mean adding a staff member or allocating this responsibility to an Internet or BDC manager. Our most valuable assets are our integrity and the integrity of our staff, vendors and advertising sources.

I’ve decided to take an alternate path and train our dealership personnel to properly upload their vehicles to Craigslist and abide by their terms and conditions. We will always ask this question and decide: is it just, fair, and right to do what we intend to do and put ourselves in their (Craigslist) position. The answer is obvious. We will prosper and grow when we obey their ‘laws’ even if we don’t like them.

 

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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Should Managed Chat Be Part of a Lead Acquisition Budget?

Should Managed Chat Be Part of a Lead Acquisition Budget?

 

Lead Acquisition Budget: Are Managed Chat Service Providers A Lead Source?

I was speaking with an Internet Sales Manager a few days ago and we were discussing the budget she managed for purchasing leads from the traditional 3rd party lead providers such as Dealix, Autobytel, Automotive.com, CarsDirect, etc. The question arose as to which lead providers should be considered reasonably eligible for allocation from a budget category earmarked for acquiring sales leads. It was interesting to me that she seemed to consider AutoTrader.com to be a lead provider, when in fact, AutoTrader has never sold leads, nor will they acknowledge being in the lead selling business… AutoTrader has staked their business model around being an advertising channel whose media is focused on showcasing a dealer’s inventory. So, why do some people incorrectly list AutoTrader as a lead source?

 

The simple answer is that most of us will evaluate our results from AutoTrader based on the number of sales opportunities generated (Leads). Just because that is not what AutoTrader is selling, does not mean that leads are not what we endeavor to buy when we cut a big check each month to ATC.  This raises a few questions about Lead Acquisition budgets for car dealerships… When is a supplier considered eligible to being allocated budget from an Internet Manager, or Marketing Director managed lead acquisition budget? Which types of suppliers should be considered?

  

If there is one category of supplier that has created a whole new source of leads that did not exist ten years ago, it is the services offered by managed chat application providers.  These “Chat” apps can be placed on a dealer’s website, as an email link, on a dealer’s various blog sites and microsites, even in some cases on a dealer’s Facebook Page as well as other social media channels.  In almost every case, suppliers such as Contact At Once, ActiveEngage and CarChat24 will be evaluated based on the number of leads they generate for the dealership as a percentage of total chat sessions and unique visitors to the dealer’s websites, microsites, social media channels and emails opened.  The big difference between advertising channels such as AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, and the major Managed Chat Service providers is that AutoTrader/Cars.com et al has never embraced the leads generated model as their value proposition, yet the Managed Chat Service providers have… So, why would we consider AutoTrader/Cars.com a lead source, and not put the Chat providers in that category of expense?

  

While preparing this article I contacted Shereef Moawad [shereef@carchat24.com] at CarChat24 and asked him for some aggregated performance metrics around Managed Chat Service as a lead generation model. There are two reasons I reached out to CarChat24; the first is that they are the only Managed Chat Service provider that I know of which has worked for dealers on a performance based fee structure that used quantity of leads generated to determine the dealer’s cost for their software and services. The second reason is that CarChat24 has been a sponsor of the ADM Professional Community for longer than any other company, and I am very comfortable with their professional competence, business integrity and the objective validity of their data. Besides that, the company is run by a couple of US Marines (retired) with a remarkably clear focus on exactly what their mission is and the execution of tasks required to deliver measurable results.  

  

Shereef provided me with the following aggregated performance metrics and ratio analysis based on a randomly generated sample of 100 dealers and data collected over a six month time period:

100 CarChat24 Performance Plan Dealers – 6 months of aggregated data

Monthly Dealer Cost Range:

  • Highest Average Monthly Payment for Leads = $2,840.00
  • Lowest Average Monthly Payment for Leads = $85.00

Monthly Average Total Cost for Chat Generated Sales Leads = $489.92

Monthly Average Quantity of Chat Generated Sales Leads per Dealer = 32    
(Note: doesn’t include free service, parts, and query leads)

Monthly Average Cost per Lead = $15.31

 

Taking a look at the above numbers, it is easy to extrapolate comparisons with traditional third party lead providers from a cost/benefit perspective… Since the leads a Managed Chat Service Provider generates are not only exclusive, they are also coming from visitors to the dealer’s various websites and online assets. This means it is reasonable to say they should provide the dealership’s sales team with a higher closing rate than 3rd party leads which are usually being sold to multiple dealerships, and being churned to generate additional leads from the same customers. If the dealer is able to close these exclusive first party Managed Chat generated leads at a 10% average rate, then the resulting cost per sale, based on a $15.31 average cost per lead  is $153.10 Per Vehicle Retailed (PVR).  This is considerably less than the NADA average advertising cost per vehicle retailed (PVR of more that $600.00

 

Of course, we also had to invest advertising in getting traffic to the sites where the managed chat services are provided, but from a pure cost per lead perspective, the use of Managed Chat Services as a lead source looks very viable and fiscally prudent.  

  

It is worth noting how the average cost per lead came in at $15.31 for a performance based model that uses leads generated to invoice the dealership. Here is how that works… CarChat24 uses a variable cost per lead depending on the characteristics of the lead. This is based on the concept that certain lead types have more value to a car dealer.  In the case of CarChat24, the lead types and costs are:

  • Email Leads @ $10.00 each
  • Phone Leads @ $20.00 each (they usually get an email address as well)
  • VIP Appointment Leads @ $25.00 each (they usually get email and phone number, requires a set date and time to be at the dealership)

 

The average cost of $15.31 for the 100 dealers in our aggregate is the result of the following lead type averages:

  • 62% of Leads generated were phone leads
  • 31% of Leads generated were email leads
  • 7% of Leads generated were VIP Appointments.

 

When analyzing lead generation, there are always questions about whether or not these leads are “incremental” and do they come at the expense of other forms these very same customers would have used to contact a dealership if the chat service was not provided.  In almost every case, research and marketing studies have found that leads generated via Managed Chat Applications on websites are indeed incrementally additional leads.  In other words, the leads provided by Managed Chat Services do not come at the expense of the original website’s form fill conversion… They are a net gain in overall volume of leads the site is generating… It is safe to say that Managed Chat increases every web site’s overall visitor-to-lead conversion rate.

 

When the facts are considered and a performance based model is available, it is difficult NOT to justify allocating lead acquisition budget for Managed Chat Service Providers as a valid lead source. If you examine the logic in a little deeper detail, there is a strong case to be made that Managed Chat Services are NOT advertising and are in fact a lead generation source. You could even say that one of the outcomes from a dealership’s advertising should be increased chat sessions handled by your chat service provider, along with an uptick in leads generated.  So, consider allocating a portion of your lead generation budget to a Managed Chat Service provider… It makes sense and will help you generate more dollars of profit for your dealership by providing additional lead volume from the most valuable type of leads you can get… Exclusive First Party Leads!  

 

 

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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