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Edmunds Releases 2013 Car Shopping Trends Study – Automotive Marketing Professionals

Edmunds 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report

There are many dealers who have strong criticisms regarding Edmunds.com, but regardless of whether you consider Edmunds an asset or a liability to the retail auto industry there is little debate about their unique position within the vehicle buying process for many millions of automotive consumers…

The stark reality for car dealers seeking greater understanding of how car buyers shop online in 2013 is that Edmunds.com has the ability to paint a vivid portrait of today’s online car shopper… Which includes 9 out of 10 new and used vehicle buyers!

About 18 million visitors use the Edmunds.com site every month to shop for their next new or used car, and this gives the Edmunds team an unparalleled insight into the car buyer’s research and shopping process.  For as many years as I can remember, Edmunds has used the online automotive consumer activity to generate extensive research data and analysis to drive the sort of car buying insights that would establish itself as one of the more valuable resources for car companies and dealers to better understand car shopping and the way buyers use automotive information.  Historically, Edmunds has made the analysis and insights available to their business partners and to the public through academic inquiries and media requests.  However, Edmunds has not previously assembled together the complete volume of current time period data and the analysis and insights gleaned in one coherent piece.

By publishing and making available the 2013 Edmunds.com Car Shopping Trends Report, they have provided the auto industry and especially dealers and automotive marketers with a true gem of a document.  The report which ADM Professional Community members can download using the link at the bottom of this blog post, shows the results of extensive data mining within the Edmunds.com’s extensive database to reveal the most relevant car shopping and purchasing trends in America today.  These trends offer direct clues toward ways that the automotive industry can move forward by empowering a more engaging car shopping experience.

Throughout the 2013 Edmunds.com Car Shopping Trends Report, you’ll also find references to a 2011 survey conducted by “Added Value” on behalf of Edmunds.com that asked 2,476 online car shoppers representing the U.S. car shopper population to describe their expectations for their next car purchase.  Edmunds correlated these responses to real-world buying data to see if shopper expectations match reality. In preparing their analysis and conclusions, the Edmunds market research team found many striking consistencies between the two sets of market research data. These surprisingly strong correlations between the two reports suggest that car shoppers have a strong sense of the automotive marketplace and that they know how to set reasonable expectations around price, availability and product performance.


By evaluating this wealth of data provided by the Edmunds team, you will find a story about car shoppers that is often surprising and counter-intuitive to many dealers and automotive professionals.  While at other times, the Edmunds data reinforces critical theories held by car dealers, automotive sales professionals and throughout the auto industry. Some of the key findings in the 2013 Edmunds.com Car Shopping Trends Report include:

  • Two out of every three car shoppers consider themselves highly engaged in the car shopping process, and they turn to a variety of information to help them decide on a new or used car. Time spent on Edmunds.com is up 2 percent from 2011 to 2012. And the most-viewed elements by new car shoppers on Edmunds.com are reviews, pricing information and photos.
  • Mobile access is becoming a powerful tool for car buyers. Traffic to Edmunds.com’s mobile site spikes on the weekends – and especially on Saturdays – when the bulk of car buying takes place.
  • Shoppers are very good at anticipating how much they’ll pay for a new car. New car shoppers told us in 2011 that they plan to spend $30,500, on average, for their next vehicle. In fact the average transaction price for a new car the following year was $30,803.
  • The average age of a new car buyer is about four years older than the average age of a used car buyer.

  • Shoppers are turning to leases now more than ever. And the difference between the average monthly lease payment ($433) and the average monthly finance payment ($468) is greater than at any time since Edmunds.com started keeping records.

  • About 44 percent of all trade-in vehicles last year went toward a new car by the same brand, which is consistent with our 2011 survey that found that 49 percent of shoppers say they “plan to stick with a brand that has worked in the past.”
  • Luxury car owners and shoppers are buying and considering more nonluxury cars. The trend speaks to the improved quality of non-luxury vehicles.

  • Many shoppers say they want just the basics in a new car, but emotions can drive buyers to add options. New car buyers are willing to spend an average of $2,200 – or about seven percent – above base model and trim prices to add more options on their cars. 

The Edmunds.com’s 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report is intended to be a free resource for ADM Professional Community members who are interested in creating a better car buying experience. This is just the first in a series of reports that the Edmunds Research team hopes will shed more light on car shopping behavior.  The team intends these findings to open up a dialogue which will contribute to the ongoing improvements within the automotive retail industry. They also want to encourage ADM Professional Community members to contact Edmunds at any time to discuss more ways that Edmunds.com can help you better understand today’s car shopper.

Here is a link to download a PDF version of the Edmunds.com’s 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report: http://static.ed.edmunds-media.com/unversioned/img/industry-center/… 

Edmunds Points of Contact

For Dealer Inquiries: 855-EDMUNDS
For Press Inquiries: 310-309-4900

Source: http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/car-shopping-trends/

Edmunds Annual New Vehicle Sales Forecast for 2013 and Historical Actual Sales:

via Edmunds 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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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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CRM Triggered Personalized Customer Emails Outperform Bulk Email Campaigns for Car Dealers

CRM Triggered Personalized Customer Emails Outperform Bulk Email Campaigns for Car Dealers

 

Personalized Promotional Offers and Event/Time CRM Triggered Emails Seen Delivering Stronger Results than Mass Email Campaigns for Car Dealers and Automotive Marketers

The results stand in apparent contrast to study findings from MailerMailer last year. That study found that emails with the subject line personalized had lower open and click rates than those without personalization. The difference could be attributable to the sample set analyzed. The MailerMailer study took a broad view, looking at opt-in emails as a whole, while the Experian study analyzed promotional and triggered emails only.

I have seen where time spent detailing out the email templates that are triggered by lead status changes in a dealership CRM system creates a highly effective sales and marketing automation strategy. In my own personal experience, the many hours invested in creating custom email templates that are specific for such CRM activities as leaving a voice mail, trade-in estimate, payment quotes, changes in program interest rates for the specific vehicle the customer is interested in, or sending a price quote will pay off with a robust ROI. Customers receive a steady stream of personalized messages that are triggered by an event or timing that is predetermined and logically expected by the customer… When done properly, these automated highly personalized CRM triggered emails will elicit a thank you from customers for the diligence a salesperson has exercised in staying in contact with them. Quite simply, there are few other sales automation systems appropriate for car dealerships with as positive a result as robustly customized CRM implementations.

   

For CRM system triggered emails, those with the subject line personalized had an average open rate of 29.2%, about 25% higher than the rate for those broadcast email campaigns without personalization (23.3%).

  

As for unique click rates, personalized emails outperformed their counterparts for both promotional emails (3.2% vs. 2.3%) and triggered emails (6.7% vs. 4.4%).

   

The Experian study also finds personalization providing a significant lift in transaction rates and revenue per email:

  • For broadcast type promotional mailings, transaction rates were 7 times higher (0.35% vs. 0.05%), while for CRM triggered mailings, they were more than twice as large (0.62% vs. 0.25%)
  • For promotional mailings, revenue per email was more than 6 times higher ($0.26 vs. $0.04), and for triggered messages, they were 63% higher ($0.31 vs. $0.19).

Source 1: MarketingCharts.com/personalized-promotional-and-triggered-emails-s…

Dealer-to-Customer Emails:
Data Shows Longer Subject Lines Get More Clicks

These emails have a CTOR 94.7% above the average (and click and open rates 276.4% and 93.2% above-average, respectively). B2B emails show a similar trend, though not quite as clear cut. Emails with subject line length of 20 characters performed above-average for all 3 metrics, though the rates generally dipped after that until recovering from 90 characters in length and up. The peak for open rate was 20 characters (24.6% above-average), while the peak for click rate was for 140 characters (82.7% above-average) and for CTOR was also 140 characters (72% above-average).

E-commerce Emails Show Mixed Trends

Data from Adestra’s subject line study indicates that when it comes to the e-commerce sector, the results are fairly mixed. Subject lines 110 characters in length performed best for open rates (122.4% above-average), but those 70-characters-long did best for click rates (91.1% above-average), while those with 30 characters achieved the best CTOR (17.4% above-average), despite the latter having below-average open and click rates. Overall, subject lines with 70 characters appeared to do the best, with above-average performance in each metric.
  

For the events sector, short subject lines (20-30 characters) got the highest open rates, while longer subject lines (120-150 characters) got the best click rates and CTOR. Publishing emails displayed the same pattern as events emails, though for charity emails, short subject lines had the highest open, click, and click-to-open rates.
  

Overall, across the 6 sectors studied, despite an open rate peak for emails with 20 characters, longer subject lines (100+ characters) appeared to deliver better open, click, and click-to-open rates. This compares with recent studies from MailerMailer and Informz, which found shorter subject lines to clearly have the best open rates, though with mixed results for click rates.
  

Word Count Results Similar

Further results from the Adestra show that word count length has a similar effect to that of character count, but is amplified. Email subject lines that are a single word have a spike in open, click, and click-to-open rates relative to the average, though all metrics dip in response rates alongside increasing word length, until 15 words and longer, when they begin to rise and hit new peaks.
  

Looking at the results by sector, some interesting patterns emerge. For e-commerce emails, 1-word subject lines had the highest open rate, but 4-word lines had the best highest CTOR relative to the average. For events emails, shorter word counts (2-5) delivered the best open rates relative to the average, but longer word counts (19 and up) delivered both the best click and click-to-open rates relative to the average.
   

For the publishing sector, the results were clearer: longer subject lines delivered generally higher-than-average open, click, and click-to-open rates, aside from a spike at 2 words. For the charity sector, short subject lines did well for open and click rates, and longer counts (14 words and up) performed worst for click-to-open rates.
  

In the B2B and B2C sectors, open, click, and click-to-open rates were generally better for longer word counts, though 2-word subject lines performed best overall in the B2B sector.

“Coupon” Fares Worst Among Offer Terms

Notably, the study finds that for the e-commerce sector, the word “coupon” has open rates that are 55.6% below the average for offers emails, with click rates also 85.8% below-average and CTOR 68.1% below-average. This appears to be in direct contradiction to results from an Epsilon study also released in July, which found that the keyword “coupon” was tops for email opens. However, that study only measured the 2011 holiday season, which may explain the discrepancy in results.

  

According to Adestra, the words “sale” and “% off” performed best in click rates and CTOR relative to the average for offer emails, and also perform among the best for open rates.

   

Other Findings:

  • For the events sector, using currency (particularly $ signs), first names, “thousands,” or “millions” can have an uplift for all 3 metrics.
       
  • For the publishing sector, “video” and “exclusive” perform very well relative to the average, while the terms “newsletter,” “research”, “report,” “forecast,” and “intelligence,” all perform significantly below-average.
       
  • For the charity sector, the words “appeal” and “donate” fare poorly compared to the average, while “give” has above-average results.
       
  • For the B2B sector, currency symbols, as well as words such as “profit,” “revenue,” “turnover,” and “referral” perform markedly above-average, while the term “B2B” shows very poor response rates.
       
  • For the B2C sector, “sale,” “% off,” “video,” “exclusive,” and “new” perform best, while “coupon,” “half price,” “free,” and currency symbols are below-average.
       
  • According to a July 2012 report [pdf] from Experian, including the word “exclusive” in the subject line can provide a lift of 14% in promotion mailings (15.9% with vs. 14% without). Similarly, subject lines including “top 10″ or “top 5″ deliver open rates 13% higher than promotional emails without them (16.1% vs. 14.3%).
        
  • Also per the Experian findings, emails asking customers to rate and review purchased items generate 2 times higher open rates, 39% higher click rates, 22% higher transaction rates, and 32% higher revenue per email.

About the Data: The Adestra study campaigns had more than 5,000 recipients per campaign, but were not limited to large campaigns. The study was conducted across the client basis without regard to list size.

 

via  Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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9 Million Reasons Why VDP Views Are The Metric That Matters – Automotive Marketing

9 Million Reasons Why VDP Views Are The Metric That Matters

Posted by Cobalt

Shaun Kehrberg

by Shaun Kehrberg, Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising

VDP Views Decrease Inventory Time On Lot

Just 12+ more VIN views could mean 44% LESS time on your lot

The verdict is in: if they view the highlights, you’ll view the taillights. In other words, the more car shoppers engage with your Vehicle Details Pages (VDPs), the quicker your cars will move off your lot— and that’s a fact.

Based on an eight month study of 9 million VDP’s, 125 million website visits, and 250 million online actions, our automotive consumer research conclusively shows that:

  • VDP views and time spent on VDP’s are 2 of the top 4 online sales predictors

  • VDP’s with 20-30 pageviews spend 29% less time on the lot

  • VDP’s with more than 30 pageviews spend 44% less time on the lot

So how do you best position your automotive digital marketing strategy to be a VIN factory? We’ll address just that in an all-new Cobalt series: The Down & Dirty on Dynamic Inventory Merchandising. In this series, we’ll tell you how to harness the power of multichannel marketing to turn your dealer website into a VDP hot spot.

Stay tuned for Part 1, when we look at the impact of Dynamic Inventory Merchandising in your dealership’s retargeting ads.

Source: Cobalt Business Intelligence VDP Study, 2012

About the Author
Shaun Kehrberg

Shaun Kehrberg is the Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising at Cobalt. He is focused on helping dealers understand the power of today’s advertising technology and the collective value of the Cobalt digital marketing experience. Shaun can be reached

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community.

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Google Declares Web Metrics Obsolete: Strategic Change in Dealer Website Analytics – Automotive Digital Marketing

Google Declares Existing Dealer Website Metrics Obsolete: Announces Strategic Change in Site Tracking Analytics

Google Analytics Certified Partner Conference

Google Analytics Certified Partner Conference

The 2012 Google Analytics Summit theme was; “Next Generation Measurement” Considering the bombshell Google dropped on day one, the theme title couldn’t have been more appropriate. Google Analytics is set to make a seismic change to its very core, shifting from sessions to users.  “Sessions don’t spend money,” as Google Analytics Principal Engineer Sagnik Nandy put it, “users do.”  For too many years, dealer website reporting systems have looked at visits in a vacuum, focusing on single visitor sessions in a short-sighted attempt to understand customer behavior and falling out of touch with today’s automotive consumer who jumps from one web device to another, desktop to mobile, mobile to tablet, and reaches dozens of touch points before purchasing a vehicle or getting one serviced.

With the release of “Universal Analytics”, Google is set to redefine automotive marketing’s relationship with web data to accurately capture customer behavior across every device, every visit, and every action – even when new and used vehicle shoppers go offline. Gone are the days of looking at Internet sales leads and service appointment requests as the primary goal; showroom traffic and sales are what matters, and that’s exactly what this next generation of dealer website measurement targets.

Win Moments That Matter

Win Moments That Matter

With Google’s new Universal Analytics, visitors are given a clean and simple User ID that replaces the current mountainous number of tracking cookies packed with reams of confusing variables and micro formatted data. This unique User ID is like a customer number in your DMS, but it is stored on Google’s end, and is identifiable across any number of devices and locations. So if your customer first visits your dealership’s website on her home desktop after receiving a promotional email, then returns a week later on her iPhone, but waits a month before seeing a display ad from your store’s online advertising and finally converting by pulling turn-by-turn directions from work to the dealership on her work laptop, all of those interactions will be attributed to a single visitor. And that initial, month-old email will be given credit, along with the last-touch display ad, and any other touch points in the sales process.

Dealer Website Business Objectives

Dealer Website Business Objectives

For businesses with the right technology, User IDs will be sent directly to your CRM software. When customers walk in after visiting virtually, you will be able to log every visit and view them in Google Analytics. You now track all customer points of contact – online and offline – and finally get the complete picture of a customer’s journey from seeing an article your dealership published, researching your make and models, to purchasing on your showroom. A reporting trail that provides the insights and metrics for car dealers to learn which marketing channels actually bring you sales… While ignoring those that generate leads to nowhere!

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Marketing and Advertising Channel Attribution Gets More Accurate

Google’s Universal Analytics includes a new attribution modeling tool that uses a data-driven model to assign value to touch points in the sales process. Every interaction is now weighted according to its frequency and position in the purchase process, instead of always being given equal credit. And a more complete picture of every sale can now be more accurately configured with cost data that users upload directly into Google Analytics and update daily. Track the effectiveness of your dealership’s entire ad spend to realize the true profit on every sale – all without leaving Google Analytics and wrestling with dozens of media and advertising reports.

Google Analytics no longer begins with a single online session only to end with a disconnected form submission that depends on an email address that blocks messages from your dealership as spam. It begins the moment a customer first engages with your dealership’s websites, blogs and online assets. And it never stops… Welcome to the new marketing reality of Universal Analytics from Google.

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About the Author: 

Matthew Kolodziej is the Director of Analytics at String Automotive Solutions, which is the only Google Analytics Certified Partner supplying dealership websites in the automotive space.

About String Automotive Solutions:

www.StringAutomotive.com  –  877-227-8525  –  Auburndale, MA  –  http://twitter.com/stringauto 

String Automotive provides North America’s most innovative auto dealers with highly effective and uniquely customer focused dealership websites. Based in Massachusetts and having been many car dealer’s “best kept secret” for automotive digital marketing over the past 7 years, String has developed a reputation for being focused on driving dealership sales and profits.

String Automotive creates custom websites designed for your dealership

We don’t do templates, and we don’t follow the industry. We look outside the automotive industry and take inspiration from empirical data, experiments and enterprises that are on the cutting edge of web design and technology.

Yet, your dealership is distinctive and your website should differentiate you at first glance.

Your dealership is focused on attracting and retaining customers. Your showroom is spotless. Your sales force is attentive and informative. And your customer care representatives are courteous and knowledgeable. In other words, you ensure that your customers have a great experience at your dealership and that they would recommend your dealership to others.

Before visiting your showroom, most of your customers visit your website and interact with your business – often without your knowledge. They form an opinion of you and get a first impression. Your website should be elegant and easy to use, yet rich with informative content. We study our designs carefully and constantly improve them by observing car shoppers using them in blind tests. We observe in study after study, year after year, what impresses visitors and what turns them off.

Most dealer website are busy, confusing and designed to compete with their competitors’ websites. Our clients don’t compete with or follow their competitors, and they don’t mimic the next door neighbor’s website that is designed to scream messages at visitors and keep them on the site as long as they can. Our clients play a different game. Click here and we’ll explain…

What is a Google Analytics Certified Partner?

A Google Analytics Certified Partner, or GACP, is an accredited web analysis and optimization expert. Google awards the partnership only after a rigorous application and interview process, and few companies make the grade. String Automotive is the only GACP web provider geared specifically to car dealers.

Why is Google Analytics Important?

Google Analytics provides unbiased, actionable insights into how users reach your site, how they engage with it, and who they are.

GA takes the guesswork out of search engine exposure, third-party lead provider effectiveness, and accurate lead attribution. With Analytics, you know exactly how much traffic comes from organic and paid search and your third-party referrers, as well as which traffic sources are actually generating leads.

Analytics also unlocks valuable information on where your customers live, the devices they use to navigate your site, and which pages receive the most visits. This just scratches the surface of the data that Google Analytics delivers. Let String Automotive be your guide on deep dives into the data to help grow and evolve your business.

Image representing Google Analytics as depicte...

Image via CrunchBase

What Google Analytics Services Does String Automotive Provide?

String Automotive provides best-in-class Google Analytics deployment with advanced technical implementation and easily digestible reports. GA tracking code is automatically inserted into every dynamically generated webpage, complete with custom variables to track more granular data, and event tracking to monitor conversions.

We provide management with direct access to GA site profiles, along with custom reports and advanced segments tailored to present you with exactly the KPIs you want to track most. And our Analytics experts are available to help you parse and examine data that requires a deeper dive.

Drawing upon our past partnership with Google as a Google Website Optimizer Authorized Consultant, String Automotive has also been awarded the Content Experiments Specialization.

In 2012, Analytics absorbed Google Website Optimizer, enhanced its features, and renamed it Google Analytics Content Experiments. Its core function of conversion rate optimization remains the same in Content Experiments, which means that String Automotive is also the only web provider for car dealers with a proven track record of Google-partnered conversion optimization. We test and improve our page designs constantly to maximize conversions and bring you more leads.

via Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community 

Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Comm...

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Using Your Website As Your Content Hub

Using Your Website As Your Content Hub – Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

I have been a proponent of “Hub and Spoke” and “Content Marketing” components within automotive digital marketing strategy for many years and have written, published and created entire teams of people to deliver what is essential a hub and spoke social media marketing strategy.  HOWEVER, I may be in disagreement with several points in this article and the comments made beneath it… Or, at least having a different perspective.

 

Because most dealership websites are provided by Cobalt (an ADP Company), Dealer.com, Clickmotive, KPA/TK, Dominion, or any number of other established providers, in many cases the result of an OEM mandate or endorsement, I do not recommend and have not seen much noteworthy success with using one of these fairly “standardized” dealer website platforms as the dealer’s “Content Hub” of choice.  I believe that a different type of site platform should be put into service by car dealers as a content hub within their “Hub and Spoke” social media marketing strategy, at least the part that is focused on content marketing.

 

As all three of you and many others know, I once created over 600 dealership content hub sites for use in an extensive and for the most part grossly over-reaching “Hub and Spoke” strategy when my team launched the ADP Social Media managed services solution for ADP Dealer Services in 2008… By the end of 2010 we had 660 dealerships on the program, and there was a whole lot of learning during that 2 years development and launch program.

 

Please believe me when I say that even as far back as 2009 there were many people within the ADP Digital Marketing team that wanted and insisted that content for marketing purposes should all be published on the dealer websites supplied by various ADP dealer website solution teams.  Even before the latest changes to Google’s SERP generating algorithms and subsequent updates, we found that trying to take website platforms designed primarily for promoting dealership inventory and not built for frequent content postings, and sharing of that content by all visitors to the site, was simply not very effective.

 

What we found a couple years ago, and what I still find to this day, is that the compromises required by the OEM mandated dealer website providers for the 10,000 of 17,000 or so total number of franchised dealers who are even remotely willing to consider content publishing for marketing purposes, so reduces the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy as to neuter it.  Yet, when we use a website platform that is optimized and designed to be used as a “Content Hub” with application layers syndication to the major social media networks, easily and readily adapted to multiple content sharing and appending apps, such as “If you like this article, you may want to check out these related posts…” type of technologies, along with Google verified authorship compliance, category and tagging features and other more social media 2013 type technologies… THEN the hub and spoke concept simply rocks and drives so much traffic, engagement, marketing communications objectives and SEO benefits to both the hub and the dealer’s eCommerce random access website (RAW – Larry Bruce) when appropriate reference and citations are implemented specific to relevant content posted and distributed from the hub, that we have a WINNING CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY.

 

So what types of platforms make good “Content Hubs”? Well, let’s start with the Ning Network platform that the ADM Professional Community, dealerELITE.net, AutomotiveSocial.comAutomotiveReputation.com and several other Content Hub purposed sites targeted to car business people have been built on by professionals such as myself, Brian Pasch, J.D. Rucker (@0boy), David Kain, Chris Saraceno and several others have done.  Not saying it is perfect, far from it, I have monthly meetings with the development team at Glam Media and they can be quite frustrating, but it does work, as shown by the success of the ADM Professional Community and over 30,000 monthly visitors from SEO alone.

 

Then there is WordPress and all the various “Theme” builds and templates designed to make it function as a great “Content Hub”.  Joomla, Drupal and many other platforms are all far better designed to serve as a content hub than any of the top 5 dealer website platforms that I am familiar with.

 

As for how to manage the schizo appearing strategy of having more than one website… That has been covered so many times I do not feel the need to repeat it in a comment.  But, once again let me state that due to the low costs involved and the increased effectiveness of purpose specific platform selection, along with the marketing reality of not wanting to take a “Buying Today” car shopper and send him/her right back up-funnel and into the research and info gathering mode by thrusting all sorts of content in front of their faces, which may distract them from their initial purchase intent that brought them to the website… ONE WEBSITE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR AN OPTIMIZED AUTOMOTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY at the dealership level. 

 

A Content Hub strategy requires a site platform optimized for its use as a centralized publishing point and a high frequency of such publishing in order to be as effective as possible.  And… Publishing a steady stream of content, much of which is relevant to customers focused on research and info gathering to a dealer’s eCommerce site may not be in the best interest of that site’s role as a lead, phone call and showroom traffic generator.

 

via Using Your Website As Your Content Hub.

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Google On The Verge Of Anit-Trust Lawsuit – Automotive Marketing Community

Written by Tim Martell of Wikimotive


The United States FTC is looking into the possibility of pursuing an anti-trust case against search engine giant Google.  

Sources close to the FTC say that four FTC commissioners: “have become convinced after more than a year of investigation that Google illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals.” A decision to file a law suit against Google could have major implications for the future ofSearch Engine Optimization SEO and the search industry in general.

In 1998 a similar lawsuit was filed against Microsoft alleging that they abused their monopoly position. If Microsoft had lost they may have been forced to split into two parts. They ended up settling for an extremely large sum of money and, although they did not get convicted, they still lost. Many believe the case forced Bill Gates to resign as CEO and the company has never been the same since.

According to sources close to the FTC, it appears likely that they will pursue a case against Google. They won’t have to work very hard either, to come up with a good reason. They’ve been inundated with complaints about how Google is conducting itself. A lot of complaints have to do with Google favoring their own properties in vertical search results, but surprisingly that may not be what the FTC chooses to go after. One source said the FTC commissioners have given weight to… “complaints that Google refuses to share data that would allow advertisers and developers to create software to compare the value they get on Google to advertising spending on Microsoft’s Bing or Yahoo.

In a related issue, the FTC is looking at Google’s handling of valuable patents, which are determined to be essential to smartphones. The agency is trying to determine if they are licensed fairly and whether patent infringement lawsuits are used to hamper innovation.”

If the FTC does decide to go after Google for anti-trust violations you can bet on one outcome with absolute confidence: Google will never be the same. And that will almost certainly mean a massive shake up in the world of SEO and digital marketing in general.

 

via Google On The Verge Of Anit-Trust Lawsuit – Automotive Marketing Community.

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