listened to several speakers mention the use of microsites by dealers and attribute their knowledge of microsites to yours truly. I suppose being called the “Microsite King” (see www.MicrositeKing.com) can’t be all bad, but right here and right now I would like to set the record straight about the issue of whether or not using microsites is good or bad… The use of microsites should be considered as one facet of a multi-faceted and full featured digital marketing system. Microsites can have either a positive or negative impact on a dealership’s overall digital marketing results depending on how they are deployed and many other factors. The key to microsite success is the role they play in achieving a balance and synergy within the other components of a dealer’s digital marketing strategy. The goal of this article is to provide a foundational understanding of what microsites are, how they differ from landing pages and to share a few examples of the many uses of microsites that dealers and Internet Sales Managers can consider for potential deployment within their own digital marketing strategies.
During the Digital Dealer conference I was asked many questions about how microsites are used, what they were, where to get them and how much was the right price… I am going to outline a few of the questions and share my opinions as to the right answers. The following questions and my answers to them have been set up within the context of a “how to” and “why” perspective for use in developing a dealership’s digital marketing strategy and ongoing digital advertising campaigns.
1. What is the difference between a landing page, a microsite and a dealer’s normal web site?
I get asked this question all the time, so it must be fairly relevant to many people… First off, let me say that for all practical purposes every web site contains potential landing pages, but not all landing pages are part of a microsite or what I would call a full featured web site, some are just plain old single page “Landing Pages”. A Landing Page is whatever web page that a sponsored link, display ad, click-to-play video ad or any other type of online promotion points to… Single purpose Landing Pages can be a distinctly separate tactic used in addition to a dealer’s primary full featured web sites and microsites. Although a dealer’s primary web site typically has sections devoted to each dealership department, as well as access to the dealer’s full vehicle inventory, a microsite typically displays a limited number of pages primarily focused on a very specific and limited topic, such as a specific model of vehicle or a component of the vehicle buying process… Think of the traditional 4-square dealership worksheet and imagine a web site dedicated to each of the sections within that 4-Square. Each of them would be a microsite.
Now, I’ll describe microsites in terms that would be relevant to today’s sales management professional at a dealership engaged in Digital Marketing activities:
• A microsite index page is attached to a unique URL that is as descriptive of the microsite’s subject matter as possible and available to the dealership.
• The index page within a microsite that is accessed by the root domain of the URL can also be used as a campaign landing page because it is where the consumer “lands” when they click on an advertisement, text based sponsored link or search engine listing of that unique URL.
• In addition to the index page, which we call a home page when applied to a dealership’s full featured primary web site, a microsite has 1 or more daughter pages that are accessible from linked text or images shown on the index page (the microsite’s home page).
• A microsite’s daughter pages must be created within the same root domain structure as the index page’s URL. This is far different than the use of web pages hosted within another root domain structure, as when using links to a different web site’s sections, forms or pages.
• Each daughter page within a microsite will contain additional content relevant to the index page’s primary subject matter and is what qualifies the site as a “microsite” instead of a simple “landing page”.
Obviously, from the first part of my answer you already know that a landing page is a single web page connected to a unique URL, but without any additional pages of relevant content connected to it that are hosted within the same root domain structure. A good example, and the epitome of a “Microsite” (it’s even small in size), including rich media presentations and specific vehicle component sections along with daughter pages containing vehicle information, photographs and specifications can be seen at www.SanDiegoChevySilverado.com.
Conversely, a good example of a true “Landing Page” devoid of any other content within the same root domain structure is: www.ChevyPriceQuote.com. Please note that both landing pages and microsites typically feature multiple links to other web pages that are part of separate and distinct URL domain structures, usually within the dealer’s primary web site, also known as “Deep Links”.
The bottom line is that every microsite contains a landing page, along with one or more additional content pages, while the term landing page is also used to describe a single web page, usually with a form that is linked to advertisements and text based sponsored links and is distinctly separate from any other web site. Technically, any web page connected to outside links, such as banners and other forms of display advertisements shown within published web sites, as well as text based sponsored links and URL listings in SEM campaigns are “Landing Pages” because it is where the consumer lands when they click on the advertisement or listing… However, within the car business today, the most common use of the term landing page is to describe a single web page specially created for a specific advertisement, designed to convert visitors into electronic leads. Alternatively, Microsites require more content to set up properly than solo landing pages, which typically require a limited amount of text and an online form for customers to complete and submit.
2. When and How are Landing Pages and Microsites used?
Both microsites and landing pages are used for a variety of purposes by dealers, 3rd party lead providers, SEM services providers, dealer advertising associations, dealer groups and car companies. Compared to landing pages and depending on the richness of content they contain, automotive microsites usually show increasing levels of effectiveness in generating leads over time. There are 3 prevalent digital marketing campaign objectives that microsites and landing pages are used for within the car business today.
A. Generate sales leads in the form of completed online forms, incoming phone calls and showroom traffic… When used by SEM services providers, landing pages are typically designed to generate electronic leads and are optimized for the highest possible Visitor-to-Lead conversion rates.
B. Attract unique visitors using highly specific and limited subject matter content that is indexed by search engines as relevant to key word searches related to the site’s subject matter. When successful, a microsite’s title and description appear at the top of specific search engine queries based on richness of relevant content.
C. Generate online traffic to other dealership web sites through the use of linked objects displayed within the microsite, or within the text based content of the site. This objective is best met through the use of managed organic content that is search engine optimized around a subject matter that is popular among a targeted audience that will be searching for it. Otherwise, a microsite could be misconstrued as a link farm.
If you are like me, seeing a few examples really helps to clarify a concept. If you visit www.Chevy-Malibu.com you will see a microsite that is focused on the all new 2008 Chevrolet Malibu and nothing else. It has lots of rich content relevant to the all new Malibu, including an interview with the dealership’s New Vehicle Director, Scott Gruwell. At the bottom of the landing page are links to content within the store’s primary full featured web site that supplement the forms and phone numbers within the microsite in seeking to convert visitors into leads and phone calls. 3 months after being launched, a search for “2008 Chevy Malibu” returned a world wide front page listing as follows:
2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid from Phoenix Arizona Chevy Dealer ...
2008 Chevy Malibu. Come and fall in love with the all new 2008 Malibu from chevrolet. Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix offers the best pricing and financing on ...
www.chevy-malibu.com/ - 19k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this
The model specific microsite that has outperformed any other microsite I have ever seen in generating incremental eLeads and unique visitors to the primary web site operated by the dealership, visit www.2008ChevyCamaro.com . A Google search for 2008 Chevy Camaro returns the following listing at the very top of the world wide search results:
The All New 2008 Chevrolet Camaro from Courtesy Chevy in Phoenix ...
2008 Chevy Camaro. Your Valley Chevy Camaro Dealer located in Phoenix, Arizona, The New 2008 Chevy Camaro, Courtesy Chevrolet Camaro, 2008 New Chevy Camaro.
www.2008chevycamaro.com/ - 15k - Cached - Similar pages
In July 2007 the Camaro microsite attracted over 25,000 unique visitors, of which over 1,800 of them submitted an online lead form. This microsite also generated over 2,500 unique visitors to the store’s other web sites, which resulted in over 50 additional leads. Courtesy Chevrolet operates the 2008ChevyCamaro.com microsite and spends less than $100 a month hosting it. There was no paid advertising used to generate traffic, although the Transformers movie seemed to generate a big hike in Camaro related searches.
One of the first microsite’s I created is the popular www.Tahoe-Chevrolet.com. If you Google “2007 Tahoe” it shows up near the top of the search results as follows:
2007 Tahoe at Courtesy Chevrolet- The all new 2007 tahoe! Phoenix ...
2007 Tahoe by Chevy. Come and fall in love with the all new 2007 tahoe from Chevrolet. Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix offers the best pricing and financing ...
www.tahoe-chevrolet.com/ - 20k - Cached - Similar pages
You should click on the photo galleries and specifications pages within each of the above listed microsites to truly understand what differentiates a microsite from a landing page. I have never seen a landing page by itself generate any significant organic site ranking.
3. Who creates the online digital advertising that dealers would use to help drive traffic to microsites and landing pages?
Creating online advertisements that dealers can then place on various web sites or as sponsored links with paid search engine advertising is typically done by the dealership’s vendors. However, all too often vendors generate digital ads in either a size or format that is intentionally designed to prevent the dealer from using them elsewhere. That’s why I give Cars.com a lot of credit because even when they build a Flash based ad for the dealers that advertise on Cars.com, you can ask for the same ad in an animated GIF file format which they will provide. This allows the dealer to use that great looking ad created by Cars.com on other web sites and further leverages ROI from the dealer’s investment in Cars.com advertising. An example of a digital ad created for one of the dealers I work with in San Diego is shown below:
Another example of a dealership’s digital advertising as created by Cars.com is shown below:
In my new position as Director of Digital Marketing for ADP Dealer Services, I am spearheading a project where we will by supplying digital advertising content to dealers. Our first priority will be to provide digital advertising that has already been proven effective for dealers to those who have web sites supplied by an ADP Digital Marketing provider, such as BZ Results and ADP Dynamic Websites. ADP Digital Marketing is now providing digital advertising content for online promotions that comply with industry standards so that they fit into various web sites that a dealer may choose to advertise with. Digital Advertising assets (files) can be created by anyone using a PC with MS Office installed, but there is a ton of work and expertise that goes into making an effective digital advertisement. Here are a few prototype examples of the most basic ADP Digital Marketing dealership ads:
We offer a wide variety of dealership digital advertising files in animated and dynamic versions; we even provide digital advertisements with lead forms built right into the ad itself.
When it comes to paid search advertising, text based sponsored links are usually created by a dealer’s SEM services provider. However, despite the fact that there a lot of very knowledgeable SEM services providers, such as BZ Results Search Engine Marketing, Clickmotive, Jumpstart and others, in my opinion this is a bad practice. Outsourcing the thinking and creative promotional exercises that have historically been done either in-house or in conjunction with a dealer’s ad agency is more likely to result in a failed digital advertising campaign. This happens because separating digital advertising from the other forms of dealership promotional activity leads to a disconnect with the dealership’s marketing strategies. I recommend that each dealer and management team control and monitor their digital advertising with the same diligence and direct participation that they use for TV, Radio, Newspaper, Outdoor, Direct Mail and all other media. Over two thirds of all car shopping is done online, does it really make sense for a dealership’s management team to pay so much attention to the ads placed in media used by a minority of car buyers and then ignore the ads seen by the majority of automotive shoppers?
4. Does a dealer have to use an outside supplier to do this, or is it something dealers can do on their own? How do dealers organize to do this?
All or part of a dealer’s digital marketing activities can be managed in-house. Alternately, a dealer may choose to pick and choose which components are executed in-house and which are to be outsourced, or a combination of both. I am currently engaged in a consulting relationship with a Chevrolet store in Northern California that has never done digital advertising before I started working with them. Their Marketing Manager, who creates all their newspaper advertising and works with their TV and Radio suppliers, is doing a fantastic job of using his skills to create digital advertising campaigns. ADP’s own BZ Results has created a portfolio of microsites and landing pages for their use in online advertising campaigns. Our ADP Digital Marketing Consultants have taught their managers to create online paid search text ads and create campaigns using Google’s AdWords applications (which are free to advertisers) to serve them up to car buyers in their market area. Their training and consulting services were delivered by our ADP Digital Marketing Catalysts over the course of 2 visits, 2 days each. As a result of this consultative engagement, the dealership’s Internet and Marketing Managers place the digital ads they create in over 800 web sites where these ads are seen only when the store’s local residents visit those sites. Of course, these are very successful car guys who know what it takes to get a car shopper’s attention, and they have years of experience using radio and newspaper to sell cars, but wouldn’t you rather have these people managing your digital ad campaign investments than a bunch of geeks that have never sold a car?
Yes, it takes focus, time and effort, and although all of a dealer’s digital advertising needs can be outsourced to save time, this typically results in the managers being disconnected and removed from the store’s digital advertising initiatives. Outsourcing digital advertising concept creation can result in a lack of commitment to making the sales to the leads generated that is required to get the ROI results. I recommend learning how to do it, then doing it long enough so that if the dealer decides to outsource the work, they at least know what it is, how to measure it and what it takes to do a good job. Now that I work for ADP Dealer Services, I would much rather sell Digital Marketing products and services to dealers who know what it is and how it works, than to those that do not know what they are buying. Other considerations are the ability to adjust campaigns daily, even hourly and saving money. Most stores can save thousands of dollars by managing their online campaigns and by knowing how to evaluate a supplier for the portion of the digital ad budget that is outsourced. Generally speaking, I consider a blended approach of both in-house and outsourced digital advertising to be the best of both worlds, and it keeps the vendors honest when you compare their results with the in-house results. The blended approach also allows a dealer to shift dollars from in-house to the out-house as resources and budgets fluctuate.
5. How can dealers manage multiple URLs? How do dealers ensure they get ranked by the major search engines?
As far as acquiring and using domain names (URL’s), although a lot of dealers use low cost domain management service providers such as www.GoDaddy.com and www.PowerPipe.com, I feel most comfortable going directly to the source by using www.NetworkSolutions.com where dealers can buy a domain and web forwarding services (if needed) for less than $47 a year. Significant discounts apply if registering for 3 years or more. Since it can take up to 3 months to get a new microsite organically ranked for free search engine traffic, I recommend creating a Google AdWords account and building a paid search marketing campaign using keyword bidding on text based sponsored links that point to the dealer’s new microsite. This gets traffic going to a microsite right away, and then if the site is built well enough to be considered relevant to the intended sales, parts or service shoppers, you can back down the paid traffic after 3 to 6 months and let the organic relevancy of your microsite do its magic by attracting search engine generated traffic. The people at Google have told me about a 3 month period after a new microsite goes live as being “in the sandbox”, where it will not get organically ranked, but I have seen exceptions made for really good microsites that covered a topic that does not have a lot of competition for relevancy in search results. The Camaro site I previously mentioned is one of those… After your microsite is up and running, copy the actual URL string of characters from your browser’s address bar when viewing the site, then go to http://www.google.com/addurl and paste the microsite’s domain based URL string into the field for the site address. Then type in a description of the site using no more than 20 words into the text field set up for it. Next, try to decipher the garbled up characters that Google displays to keep bots from being able to do this and type these weird looking characters displayed into the indicated form field… If you are successful in translating the garbled up letters, when you hit the submit button you will get a confirmation page that says your site will be queued up for crawling and indexing by Google’s spider bots. I know it sounds like a bunch of hassle, but anyone who can figure out how to use GM’s Dealer World, Honda’s Interactive Network, Toyota’s Dealer Daily or Ford’s FMCDealer.com can ace this stuff.
6. How can the dealer make sure that their landing page/microsite strategy actually delivers desirable content to automotive Internet users, and that the landing page sites deliver on any promises made in the ads themselves?
Dealers should be consistent and transparent in their digital advertising campaign messages. In the case of paid search campaigns, why would you want to attract clicks from people that don’t want to buy a vehicle, order parts or get their vehicle serviced? Only if you are an SEM services vendor who is evaluated by traffic and leads generated! (oops, that one slipped out) When doing it yourself, make sure the ad contains verbiage that describes the landing page’s content that you are linking it to. For example, if your ad says something like “Chevy Price Quotes… Get Discounted Prices on a New Chevy from Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix” and it points to www.ChevyPriceQuote.com you can be pretty certain that the people clicking on the ad are interested in getting a price quote on a new Chevy and that they are willing to buy it in Phoenix, AZ (duh!). The landing page gives them the instructions and the form to complete that are in sync with the ad’s message, so it is a no brainer for the customer to fill it out the form and find out how your store will respond.
A good example of this is a microsite I built for a Free Gas advertising campaign that you can visit at www.ChevyGas.com . This microsite has a built in calculator that asks the customer how many miles they drive every week, then how many miles per gallon their current vehicle gets. It then shows the customer how much money they will spend in a year. The customer is then invited to enter a contest to win a free gas card, or to register to receive a year’s worth of gas at no additional charge when they buy a new Chevy from Courtesy Chevrolet. This is then promoted using the following image ads:
If you look at the ads shown above and then you visit the web site by clicking on the ad, you can’t help but see that the site delivers on the promises made in the ad itself. If the ads were linked to my primary web site’s home page, and the consumer was then expected to find the free gas special offer from there, then it would not be delivering on the promise implied by the ad and it would fail to produce any results. Online advertisements should be directly linked to single click access to the promised content.
7. How does a dealer incorporate the use of microsites into their existing CRM tools and processes to maximize the ability to track and manage results?
Forms, phone numbers and links… This is one of the most important aspects of any microsite because ultimately the volume of forms submitted, phone calls generated and traffic linked to other sites operated by your dealership is how you will evaluate your microsites. The forms used to submit leads from a dealer’s microsite must be set up to be submitted into the dealer’s lead management tool in XML/ADF format. Each form should be tagged to display the lead source as that microsite’s description in the dealer’s lead management tool. Each microsite will have its own source tag so that leads and sales generated can be logged and traced to that source. It is the same process as tracking leads from a third party lead provider, then calculating the ROI… The only thing missing is the profit requirements of the lead provider! When done properly, microsites generate more ROI than when splitting the pot with a lead provider that uses the same methods to generate leads and then sells them to multiple dealers at a profit. It is important that the dealership’s staff that will be handling leads from a microsite be shown the ads and site content used to generate those leads, so they can respond appropriately. A best practice is to have campaign and microsite specific email templates and auto responders. Until recently, if you submitted a lead through www.2008ChevyCamaro.com you would have see that the emails coming back are specific to that microsite. Don’t worry about costing the dealer any money, because incremental leads from microsites don’t cost any money… They make money.
8. How can dealers measure the results of digital ad campaigns that make use of microsites? What are the most common and useful metrics?
As I mentioned in the last section, microsites should be evaluated based on several Key Performance Indicators (KPI), a few examples of these are:
• Lead Forms Submitted + Phone Calls / Unique Visitors = Conversion Rate
• Unique Visitors Referred to Primary Sites / Microsite Visitors = Referral Rate
• Organic Unique Visitors / Total Unique Visitors = Organic Penetration
Be sure to display (big and bold) a unique toll free AdTracker phone number on your microsites to track incoming calls generated, and make sure your microsite supplier embeds site visitor tracking software such as Omniture’s SiteCatalyst into the site. One of the most useful reports is the Referring Domains reports which show how many leads were submitted by the URL used to link an advertisement to the microsite. I use multiple URL’s for each microsite and then monitor each ad group by using distinct URL’s as the pointing web address that then shows up in the Omniture reporting.
Whether it is a microsite, any other site or simply an online advertising campaign to deep links within your primary web site, here’s the metrics I find most useful:
Analysis Subject Cost Unit Description
Advertising Impressions $2.16 Per Thousand People
Microsite Visits $2.43 Per Visitor Session
eLeads and Phone Calls $31.94 Per Lead
Appointments Generated $12.78 Per Dealership Appointment
Vehicles Sold $412.65 Per Vehicle Retailed (PVR)
We then use the above metrics to calculate the following cost effectiveness analysis
Metric Description Actual Case Study Example:
Total Cost of Ad Campaign and Microsite: $71,801.30
Advertising Impressions Generated: 33,257,657
Microsite Visits Generated by Ads: 29,528
eLeads and Phone Calls Generated: 2,248
Appointments Generated from Leads: 562
Vehicles Sold to Site Visitors: 174
9. Will an LP/MS strategy work for both long-term sales campaigns, and short-term promotions? Are there circumstances in which LP/MS might not be an appropriate solution?
Microsites can be used for current promotions and then left intact for long term use in generating organic traffic and leads after the current month’s ad campaign is finished. Sometimes keeping them updated can be a chore, but what isn’t? I have used them for both long and short term campaigns and objectives, as well as modified short term campaign microsites to be relevant after the campaign is over. Usually the monthly hosting fees are low relevant to the set up costs, so why not let your microsites collect organically generated traffic and produce leads as an ongoing yield from their hosting fees? As for when they are or are not appropriate… Plenty of dealers look at other dealer advertisements in every media channel and criticize or applaud those ads. Microsites and their cheaper cousins (landing pages) are the same way. I could show you some truly tacky looking microsites that generate plenty of leads and sales for their dealer, but which other dealers will say “that’s terrible, he shouldn’t be allowed to do that” or “I would never use something that looks that hideous”… Beauty is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to microsites and landing pages. The metrics tend to show whether they should or should not have been used. Keep in mind that microsites are never appropriate without the dealer’s commitment to invest money in marketing and promoting them. Individual results may vary, and runaway successes like www.2008ChevyCamaro.com are only available to those dealers who try multiple microsites. Anyone who tells you that microsites are a “sure thing” or “guaranteed to produce sales” or that they can duplicate the success of some of these microsites on an “at will” basis is either lying or does not have any experience doing it. Microsites are a form of communication and depend upon online advertising and search engines for their success… This means they must be conceived, gestated, born and raised. At the end of the day, some will work better than others. Just remember, nothing is better than rich and relevant content that people are looking for and which search engines can index… Especially when served up free from the clutter and distractions of other subjects, products and services. And THAT is what creates the magic of microsites!
10. What about the costs of creating and hosting microsites? What kind of initial investment is required, and what does it cost to keep them up and running?
Different microsite suppliers charge different fees. At ADP Digital Marketing we have not yet established our microsite pricing matrix, but they will be completed by the time this article is published. We are still assessing the typical costs involved, but we have sold, designed and delivered microsite prototypes to our pilot dealers on the following cost basis:
Design and Setup: 3 microsites package = $1,995.00 one time fee
Monthly Hosting: 3 microsites package = $595.00 monthly
Alternately, we have sold prototype microsites to other dealers as follows:
Design and Setup: 5 microsites package = $0 one time fee
Monthly Hosting: 5 microsites package = $3,000.00 monthly
I have personally used some smaller independent microsite designers that charged $750 per site as a one time set up fee and $75 per month to host them. And, I have seen some of the large enterprise dealer groups purchase microsites from ADP for as little as $295 a month per site with a $595 set up fee. It is safe to say that costs are reasonable for the sites themselves, but it is usually the advertising campaigns are where the real money is spent. As for staff and overhead, well… Tina Pratt, the GSM at People’s Chevrolet in Chula Vista builds her own microsites and uses the store’s digital advertising budget for pure advertising buys, which I taught her to do herself and she does a heck of a job for that store. I have recently been hired on a consulting basis to compete with her and she wins the search engine placement battle quite frequently. But, that is when the teacher shows the student how it’s done and I usually come right back at her with an online ad campaign for Courtesy Chevrolet in San Diego that kicks her butt, until we run out of budget. Ahhh, the car business… You gotta love the competitiveness of it all!
11. How about some Case studies; one or two brief examples (with details) where LP/MS made a difference. What was done, and what were the results?
There are so many examples of microsites being used to make a difference in a store’s success that it is difficult to pick one in particular, but let’s take a look at the www.PHXfinance.com microsite I designed for Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix. After you look at this very basic, and not so elegant special finance site, take a look at the advertisement we placed in over 60 bus shelters around Phoenix in August 2006, which is shown below:
Imagine sitting in a bus shelter, in 100+ degree temperatures and staring at that life sized poster twice a day, five or six days a week… To say it generated a few phone calls and visits to the microsite is an understatement. The bus shelter ads cost about $5,500 per month, and was used as part of the budget previously spent with BarNone for special finance leads. Combined with the online advertising, which was $4,500 per month, we set up a $10,000 a month “eFinance Department” total advertising budget. The PHXfinance.com microsite was, and remains able to receive organic ranking in a highly competitive subject matter area and appears as a first page search engine query result, for “phoenix auto finance” as shown below:
Phoenix Finance, Do you have Bad Credit and want a Used Car? at ...
Courtesy is the Phoenix Valley’s only car dealer that has been nationally recognized for their leadership in the area of credit repair by hiring and ...
www.phxfinance.com/ - 10k - Cached - Similar pages
The astute reader will notice the bus shelters display the URL: www.PHXfinance.com whereas some of the organic search results list PhoenixAutoFinance.com. PhoenixAutoFinance.com was used for the original root domain URL, which was indexed by search engines, and PHXfinance.com was used as a special, shorter and easier to remember URL for specific ad campaigns where we wanted people to go directly to the advertised URL. This allowed us to evaluate the effectiveness of the ad campaigns by looking at the referring domain reports for the microsite. The Courtesy Chevrolet eFinance team really hit its stride in September 2006 when they sold 57 cars. When we examine the metrics around the use of the eFinance microsites, here is what the results were:
PHXfinance.com Results Cost Unit Description
Advertising Impressions $4.57 Per Thousand People
Microsite Visits $3.72 Per Visitor Session
eLeads and Phone Calls $17.71 Per Lead
Appointments Generated $48.10 Per Dealership Appointment
Vehicles Sold $178.07 Per Vehicle Retailed (PVR)
We then use the above metrics to calculate the following cost effectiveness analysis:
eFinance Digital Marketing Metric Description Actual Case Study Example:
Total Cost of Ad Campaign and Microsite: $10,150
Advertising Impressions Generated: 2,221,168
Microsite Visits Generated by Ads: 2,729
eLeads and Phone Calls Generated: 573
Appointments Generated from Leads: 211
Vehicles Sold: 57
Given the low cost per vehicle retailed (PVR) we initially were very excited by these results and by the integrated nature of the promotion with more phone calls generated than electronic leads. However, once we started counting up all the expenses paid in the form of lender fees, we realized that generating special finance leads online is a lot cheaper than getting the deals bought! Our process for handling the incoming phone calls was to get callers to either schedule an appointment to come in right away, or if they wanted to know for sure whether they were pre-approved, we asked them to complete a credit application, such as the one at www.SDCreditApproval.com which is a completely different dynamic online credit application. We set up SDCreditApproval.com to quickly access a deep link connected to an easily remembered URL. The talking credit application is provided by DealerCentric and hosted within a BZ Results web site. So, yes the microsite made a difference in this case study, but it was used in conjunction with online and offline advertising, combined with a very talented crew of automotive professionals made up of Ron Daly, Scott Daly and Barbara Mason. In the interest of proper disclosure, I will also report that by January 2007 we completely reconfigured the eFinance Team because of the high bank fees and the need to properly compensate some of the most talented car people I have ever had the privilege of working with.
Ultimately, a dealer’s use of microsites is not a silver bullet in the world of digital marketing and advertising. It is another tool that savvy dealers can use to get an unfair competitive advantage… Combined with the right people, lead management processes and technology, the use of microsites is one of many digital marketing tactics that separate some of today’s most successful dealers from those that would like to get there.
Director – Digital Marketing
ADP Dealer Services
mpanies implement changes that literately screw over their own customers, and ONLY when the screwing comes to light of the masses...they back pedal, and "Oh, we'll fix it!"...BS, if it wasn't for it coming to light, it would be business as usual... Today it's the credit thing tomorrow it will be some other "special program" that the masses found out about....it's just really bad business, and greed...I don't envy the front line reps for Cars.com...you obviously have incompetent decision makers at the highest level in the organization, and you guys/girls just have to put on the rubber gloves, and wipe up the sh&^ mess the top bosses make!
Friday at 2:42am
James A. Ziegler ToniAnne Lupo, I hold you in high regard, and I know you are in charge of of IT sales for one of the largest retailers in our business. Will you please keep me informed?
James A. Ziegler David DeSantis you have always been a dear friend as well as a mover and shaker in our business, thanks for helping keep me up on vital issues.
Friday at 2:55am
ToniAnne Lupo Thank you Jim I definitely will
Friday at 4:31am
James A. Ziegler Would a representative of Cars.com please come here and answer whether or not Cars.com is fueling data and inventory to CarGurus ?
James A. Ziegler Those who inquired about CarGurus and Cars.com... This is what some of my friends doing research told me.... First of all I believe CarGurus is the most anti-dealer company of them all, my opinion anyway. As for Cars.com and CarGurus, I am told it's it's a "soft pull" these vendors pull from their site, they don't choose what gets pushed out to them... kind of like cars.com reviews, google can pull what reviews they want
they as in cars.com doesn't choose what the vendor (in this case car gurus) picks. That's what we're told, I certainly hope its not a financial arrangement?
Friday at 6:54am
James A. Ziegler The last 20 PMs I got on Twitter concerned this topic.
Alex Vetter Thanks again to you and your readers for bringing this to our attention. As folks like Ralph have pointed out and as Jim and I have discussed, we pride ourselves on our partnership with our dealer customers and take your feedback as a community very seriously. Our product team is actively working with Roadloans to fix technical glitches and to improve the experience we are providing. For background, I want to be sure everyone understands why we position finance partners on our inventory pages. Providing a financing option on our site is nothing new, and this feature has always been transparent to our customers. This is critical for consumers, and ultimately to help dealers drive sales. Allowing shoppers to clear the finance hurdle from our site gives them the confidence they need to continue on with the purchase process. When we recently partnered with Roadloans, our intent was to make this an even better experience for our dealers in the cases where consumers click through to fill out a Roadloans credit app from a VDP by linking the application to the VIN. As we’ve learned here, this was not consistently implemented, and we’re actively addressing this with Roadloans.
We’ll continue to keep you all updated as these fixes go in. More as we have it and I appreciate your patience.
Friday at 11:08am
Linda Bartman Jumping in here...I'm the CMO of Cars.com and wanted to address the questions on CarGurus....because the industry continues to manage value in the form of a lead we do have some distribution partners that help contribute to overall lead delivery and CarGurus is one of those partners. However, when we look at consumer behavior within the car shopping process, their natural tendency is to avoid sending leads, in fact less than 10%. We're focused on building products that help get qualified consumers to the dealership and in order to do that effectively, we need to think beyond the lead and understand the consumer behaviors that matter in oder to give our dealers the most value from our audience.
Friday at 11:25am
Paul Chesher I think it's time for a new dealer listing site. One that actually cares about the dealers. This is getting crazy. How do smaller dealerships keep up?
Friday at 8:49pm
ebsite and a popup makes you accept their policy on cookies before you can proceed. Browsing on Google, ads are displayed that have an uncanny ...
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