In our previous article, we talked about the importance of website visits. Here are five methods that you can implement today at your dealership to increase quality website traffic:
1) Stay cool, my babies!
It’s simple. Review your Google Analytics for the past 6-12 months. You’ll want to start by figuring out which sources are your top five. Chances are these five sources will be pulling in the majority of your traffic and anything below those will be giving you minimal website visits (less than 300 per month). This will tell you where to focus your efforts. There is no point in spending advertising dollars on initiatives that are not sending you more in-market shoppers to your website.
If it is anything like I’ve seen in the past, those top five will be comprised of a combination of Direct, SEM, SEO, and Social.
Now, if you are following the philosophies of our previous post then you’ll understand that quality visits directly correlate with vehicle sales. So, when you are analyzing your top five sources make sure they are comprised of behaviors to quality such as low bounce rates, over a minute on time per page, over 3 minutes on-site, etc.
Also, and I can’t stress this enough, please make sure your Google Analytics Goals are set up to measure behaviors that you have identified are indicative of quality visits.
If you don’t have those goals set up, or you don’t know how to set them up, then you need to spend time focusing on the basics before you begin to attempt to analyze traffic. If you need help understanding how where to start feel free to contact me.
Traffic for the sake of traffic is no good.
There are many ways that a marketing agency, website provider, or individual working at your dealership can inflate traffic on your site. This is not good. Quality makes all the difference and is indicative of consumer intent.
Look, the market is going to do what the market is going to do. There is one pie and it’s not going to get bigger. The sales you are trying to increase are comprised of what the market can handle. You can’t add to this, but you can take a slice away from your competitors, and the most effective way to do this is by capturing consumer intent and driving them to your website.
2) Stop wasting money on third party’s
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a presence on cars.com, Cargurus, AutoTrader, etc. Shoppers are in those places, and you should be too. The biggest value these “solutions” offer is validation. Unfortunately, we are in an industry of distrust consumers are apprehensive to do business with a dealer, and they rely on these sites to verify their information and compare it with other alternatives available in the market.
Make no mistake these third parties are not in the business of delivering a consumer to your site. Their entire premise is to keep customers on theirs. If third-party’s were to send a customer to dealer sites, then they would be losing their customer and rendering their platform less valuable.
Want a test? Go to any of these sites, spend 10 minutes or more searching inventory, and notice a few things: remnant ad space, anti-dealership verbiage (good deal/bad deal), cumbersome connections to dealership portals, etc.
While I currently recommend having a presence on these sites, I would suggest the lowest packages offered. Let your inventory win for you. Trust me, if you have the right cars consumers will find them on these platforms without you having to pay extra for placement, spotlights, or special boosts.
Instead, take those extra dollars and go directly to the sources where most of those customers end up anyway—Google and Facebook.
3) SEO, SEO, SEO
The best investment for long-term success is found in creating sound SEO strategies. Because this is a long-term play, please don’t expect results overnight. With SEO your goal, as a dealership, is to grab consumer intent from the most trafficked platform currently out there—Google. By utilizing SEO you are speaking directly to the consumer’s queries. They are telling you what they are looking for. You can leverage customer intent and pull them into your sandbox. If you did the exercise I suggested earlier, and you listed your top 5 sources then you will know that organic traffic is on that list. In fact, I would be shocked if your organic traffic–aside from direct–wasn’t the highest consumer behavior pattern channel driving shoppers to your site. It shocks me to my core how many dealers will spend thousands and thousands of dollars a month on endemics—third-party sites—yet zero dollars on SEO strategy.
Your objective should be comprehensive. People should be able to find you. If someone is looking for a lug-nut in your backyard your dealership should rank.
4) If SEO is for long term success, then SEM is for now
SEM gives you the ability to connect with customers that are ready to buy now.
Here is a problem I often see with SEM strategies–the setup is done incorrectly.
There are plenty of consumers in your backyard that are in the market. Focus on them. Focus your method from smallest to highest—from nearest to farthest. Always target your SEM to a 10-mile radius and expand from there. Doing 10 miles at a time will allow you to maximize and master each area before you add more.
Because of the borderless aspect of the internet, oftentimes, and especially in this used car-focused landscape, we have an urge to start with strategies farther out. If we had unlimited funds, I would support that, but we don’t so focus on in-market 10 miles, 20 miles, 30 miles. Casting a wide net will eat up your budget quickly and potentially lose you the opportunities directly in your backyard. Grow into a larger market.
5) Social media
Social media is a critical component. It has quickly become one of my favorite ways to drive traffic to dealership websites, for a couple of different reasons:
a) it’s still very cost-effective.
This will not always be the case, and eventually, the cost will catch up. If you didn’t notice, there was a significant price spike in February for Facebook AIA ads. We are getting closer and closer to a situation where your online presence will be a choice between social media and third-party sites such as AutoTrader and Cargurus.
b) tailored campaigns
with social media, although becoming more and more restricted, you can do specific campaigns tailored to far more specified groupings such as DMS marketing, cold audiences, lookalike audiences, etc. This ultimately means you have more control over to whom you are displaying your information. Now please understand the difference—social media marketing for dealerships is NOT social media. It is an interruption to the experience a person is wanting to have on these platforms. I don’t know anyone that has ever said:
“Hey, I’m going to look at Instagram because I’m trying to find a car.”
Facebook Marketplace is the obvious exception, but I am talking about your day-to-day use of any social media platform. Because it is an interruption you are going to get a lot of waste–especially if you are running Facebook Lead Ads–so don’t be alarmed. The leads will likely have a higher number of ‘bad’ dispositions. Considering cost and control, social media is still a better marketing channel than other platforms. And just as SEO and SEM drive customers to your websites and your VDP’s so does social media marketing. Think about how valuable that is!
When it comes to Facebook strategies there are ways to do this–organic post regularly, boost a post for greater reach, and create ads—lead ads, carousel ads (I highly recommend that you are doing a catalog and creating AIA ads). It is extremely important that you set up conversions and Facebook API as it will help you continue to target customers despite the new iOS restrictions.
By reducing spending from third-party sites, taking control of your inventory, and using these methods to bring customers to your website you should be able to correlate direct traffic to sales–provided everything is in place. When it comes to taking market share from competitors it is incredibly valuable to create a positive customer experience. You can have great methods in place to bring shoppers to your site but if they get to your site and you aren’t prepared then it is all for naught. In next week’s article, I will talk to you about the optimal website experience that will help you leverage those increases in visitors.
Herb Anderson / Charity Ann