(For discussion purposes, this does not relate to multiple DEALER OWNED domains. I am only referring to 3rd party landing pages)
For those of you considering a 3rd party landing page as a part of your SEM/PPC package, think again. I can understand copying your company owned domain into a shadow site so you can promote your online and offline traffic separately and know what you are getting for your money. That’s just smart. After all, SEM is supposed to be about trackability and transparency. But landing pages that are separate from your primary domain and that you have little or no control over just don’t make sense.
What would you think if someone told you this? I am going to design and construct a building. By the way, there will be another building that pretty much looks the same next door that sells cars. I know you already have your own building, but I can make a more “sales friendly” building. Instead of you learning how to construct a similarly “sales friendly” building for yourself, you can just use my building. In my building, I will sell your cars…I will divert all the traffic YOU PAID FOR to my building…where I will represent YOUR brand for you...trust me, I will do you proud. Instead of closing 20% of the people who walk in the door, I promise to close 25%. But when I go out of business…or you terminate your relationship with me…no one who ever before has driven by or come to my building to buy a car from YOU will know where you are now…NO ONE. And you will not have learned how to build a “sales friendly” store so you will have to find someone else to do it after I am gone.
THAT, my friends, is what is happening with landing pages. Dealers need to learn how to speak to their customers and prospects through their websites. Don’t rely on someone else’s landing pages! Don't let them suck you in when they say...I will build you a site and send search traffic to it for $X,000 per month. You need to be in control for the reasons pointed out above and the following:
1. You need to know how to build an effective website that people respond to anyway...why not start TODAY? The internet isn’t going away in 5 years. It will be even more important to your business.
2. 85% of internet users (possibly more) aren’t going to fill out a lead form online...period! Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. No matter how efficient that landing page is or how many plasma TV’s you promise to give away, an overwhelming majority of them just simply won't fill out a lead form. And many would argue that higher end buyers with better credit scores are even less likely to fill out promotionally based lead forms. So why don’t you expend your resources speaking to them in their own language…interacting with them…giving them a good feeling about your store, your staff and your service? That is, after all, what a well designed, effective site will offer you.
There is no magic formula that will make EVERYONE fill out a lead form. For that matter, there isn't even a magic formula that will make A THIRD of everyone fill out a lead form! It’s just not going to happen in a vast, vast majority of cases. So, what is the end goal? Isn't it to get a customer to come to your site...view your inventory…find the car they want…call or walk into your store…ask your well trained, well paid sales person some questions…and then buy the car? Isn't that how it works in an ideal situation?
Don’t get me wrong, I KNOW that some people legitimately fill out lead forms with their real names (not Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck). But by focusing ONLY on those people, we are focused on the smallest portion of visitors (and potential buyers) to our sites. Let's not forget, it’s not just about the leads! It's about selling cars! A strategy and budget that focuses only on sending people to a landing page and turning them into a lead is not a realistic or well balance strategy!
The greatest upside the web offers consumers is that it allows them to do it on their own terms. If you don't let them do that on your site by not offering logical, simple yet comprehensive navigation, they will just simply go somewhere else!