Automotive Digital Marketing

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Time For Car Dealers To Reconsider Landing Page Microsites

The tried and true landing page — an automotive marketer’s best friend

In the ‘old’ days of the web, all of a brand’s web traffic would be funneled into their website home page, or to deep links within that site. Sloppy and ineffective digital marketing was soon exemplified by worst practices such as:

  • Drop an email, land those clicks on the home page.
  • Launch a display ad, drive those visitors into the main product category page.
  • Run a print ad with your main website URL.

While this worked at getting lots of ‘hits’ and ‘eyeballs’ to a dealership's website, it wasn’t as efficient at getting those visitors to take an action that turned into sales or service business results. At some point, early in the days of automotive digital marketing, some smart car guys turned marketers (or vice versa) woke up and said to themselves, “Hey, if 1% of our site traffic is converting into a lead or a sale, what’s going on with the other 99%? How can we get more visitors to take action on our site?”

Enter the landing page. Technically, any page a web visitor might land on after clicking any web link, is a landing page. But the term quickly came to mean an offer-specific page created exclusively for a single stream of campaign traffic.

By removing the distraction of main site navigation, and focusing page content on the car, the offer or campaign message, landing pages are effective at getting far more campaign visitors to land and convert into a lead, visit or phone call. Landing pages quickly became the defacto type of digital experience deployed for most paid advertising campaigns — working particularly well for pay-per-click, display ads and affiliate traffic from inventory search sites.

One of those ‘smart’ marketers who first asked how to get more site visitors to take action was Seth Godin. Seth coined the term ‘landing page’, perhaps as far back as 1991, and said of landing pages.

“Landing pages are not wandering generalities. They are specific, measurable offers. You can tell if they’re working or not. You can improve the metrics and make them work better. Landing pages are the new direct marketing, and every one... is a direct marketer.”

- Seth Godin

Infographic shows 18 facts and statistics on how effective landing pages can be:

A landing page is any page you direct campaign traffic to, and it works incredibly well at getting more of your web visitors to land and take action — it’s the mechanism by which you can turn your 1% conversion rate into 2%, or your 15% conversion rate into 30%.

Best practices for landing pages include:

  • Relevant — Specific to the ad or message the visitor clicked on to get there
  • Focused — Without extraneous content, navigation and calls to action, singularly focused on an offer or specific topic, such as a car or truck model line
  • Directional — Visually with content and calls to action, clearly show what action the automotive consumer visitor should take next

In 2006 Seth Godin blogged about using landing pages to increase five possible actions from your visitors. These pretty much hold true today — I've flushed this list out to 7 desirable results. Almost all digital (and non-digital) campaigns seek to have visitors do one of these seven business critical actions.

A landing page (when done properly), will cause one of seven actions:

  1. Get a visitor to click (to another page, deep link into your website or somewhere else)
  2. Get a visitor to physically visit your dealership
  3. Get a visitor to call your dealership
  4. Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc. via a lead form)
  5. Get a visitor to tell a friend, relative or co-worker
  6. Get a visitor to learn something
  7. Get a visitor to communicate (which could include posting comments or giving your dealership some sort of feedback)

As effective as landing pages originally were at converting campaign web traffic into leads and sales, they came to represent a fairly static, formulaic experience. A typical landing page designed to capture leads contains basic elements like headline, sub-headline, content blurbs (and maybe a video), images, calls to action and a lead form. A typical car dealership landing page fares no better with product and specifications information and a ‘Get a Price Quote’ button.

These formulaic pages can be effective, but they only work up to a point. As user expectations on the web rapidly evolve, the landing page hasn’t necessarily always kept up.

So what do automotive consumers want?

What makes their experience with your landing page a positive one?

It’s probably not some text copy and a form hastily slapped together on a web page. Nor is it a big, flashing “get the buy now price” image. Users expect useful, meaningful digital experiences every time they interact with your dealership and the brands you represent.

According to Forrester Research:

“Digital touch-points can drive revenue, lower costs, build brands, and engender customer loyalty. But to achieve these potential benefits, companies must deliver digital interactions that meet their customers’ needs in easy and enjoyable ways.”

~ Top 10 Ways To Improve Digital Experiences, Forrester Research

The marketing campaign landing page is often your dealership's very first digital touchpoint, providing a critical opportunity to meet (or exceed) automotive consumer visitor expectations through easy, enjoyable, useful experiences. The fact that it is so frequently a prospective customer’s first impression of your dealership makes it all the more critical to elevate your landing page into a truly effective digital experience. Interactive content transforms landing pages into engaging, high-conversion experiences...

Several trends are combining to radically raise the expectation of the average visitor to your landing page:


Users are increasingly conditioned to interact with mobile apps, which provide an instant feedback loop. Put in data, get a result. Book an appointment. Play a game and see your stats. There is an inherent interactivity in a mobile app that users are coming to expect with their browser-based experiences as well.



It’s no longer enough to pitch your wares and win the sale. Consumers expect useful experiences from the brands they do business with. A helpful experience will always win the day over a self-serving experience that simply overloads the visitor with information.


Content Overload

With the explosion of content available at every turn, web users are increasingly taking their content in small doses. Consumption becomes about skimming and surfing rather than settling in for a long read. Content chunks are more easily digested than an endless tome of paragraph after paragraph.

Adding app-like, useful, enjoyable interactivity to your digital experiences can significantly elevate your user engagement and conversion rates. That’s where interactive content comes in.

Interactive content can elevate any digital experience, from a home page to deep links to landing pages. In the case of campaign-specific digital landing pages, interactive content is particularly transformative.

Forrester Research identifies 3 types of customer perceptions that a digital experience must align with:

  1. Enjoyable — How enjoyable were they to do business with?
  2. Easy — How easy were they to do business with?
  3. Useful — How effective were they at meeting your needs?

Interactive content can take the form of...

An interactive content experience is a browser-based marketing experience designed for automotive consumer user engagement. It’s not a mobile app that runs on a mobile operating system as an installed application! Rather, it’s an interactive, engaging experience that’s lives within the browser, regardless of device. It’s desktop, mobile, tablet — it’s any device, any time.

Interactive content can take the form of:

  • Quizzes & Assessments
  • Calculators
  • Surveys
  • eBooks
  • Contests
  • Conversion Paths
  • Wizards & Configurators
  • eCatalogs
  • White Papers
  • Pricing Spreadsheets 
  • Messaging Apps
  • Needs Assessment

Getting started with interactive content

In essence, interactive content delivers an app-like, engaging experience within the browser, to visitors to your website and landing pages. The app-like experiences are responsive, and work elegantly across any device from desktop to smart phone.

Great. But...where on earth do you start? How do you actually come up with ideas for interactive content, let alone get one built and deployed?

Transforming static content into a useful, engaging interactive experience is actually easier than it sounds. You likely already have some great content and it’s just a matter of some creative brainstorming to find areas of opportunity to transform that static content into interaction for your visitors. 

“The degree of sophistication of the digital experience that is created is a clear predictor of brand perception.”

- Demand Metric, Digital Marketing Landscape, The Power of Digital Experiences in 2014



Here are some ideas to get started:

Does your dealership have any in-depth white papers? Turn them into an interactive, ‘choose your own adventure’ eBook. Add more interactivity by sprinkling quizzes or surveys throughout.

Do you have a pricing spreadsheet used internally by your Internet sales team to determine pricing? Turn it into an online calculator that automotive consumer visitors can use. Even complex pricing on vehicles that are hard to get can be turned into a pricing range estimator.

Automotive products tend to be complex and require complex configurations to determine the right solution (especially trucks), use a model configurator that walks automotive consumers visiting your sites through a series of questions and then serves up results in a customized solution based on their question responses.

Do you have a set of best practices for automotive consumers that apply to your region and are specific to the automotive products and services they are likely to be seeking?

Turn those recommendations into an online self-assessment. Based on automotive consumer visitor responses to questions you can deliver personalized recommendations for improving their automotive purchase experience and the results they get.

Do you have specific messaging pre-written and ready for new vehicle sales campaigns, used vehicle sales, service department and accessories? Have roles been assigned to qualified employees, or does your dealership need and struggle with getting the right content into the right hands? A conversion path can help automotive consumer visitors step themselves through a series of simple choices to quickly get to the most relevant and targeted information.

The best way to get started with interactive content is to look at your existing assets and re-envision them as interactive experiences. The possibilities are endless! And to ensure they are high-performance and result in more leads and sales, consider experimenting with the presentation and messaging around the apps. It’s great to test content, flow and design when deploying an interactive experience, using real-time A/B testing. 

“A relationship exists between placing a high priority on digital experience marketing and revenue growth. 76% of participants reporting revenue growth in the most recent fiscal year also put a high priority on digital experience creation. For organizations that reported declining revenue growth, only 6% report digital experience creation as a high priority.”

- Demand Metric, Digital Marketing Landscape, The Power of Digital Experiences in 2014

Next steps

Implement an interactive content experience and see how it can improve your campaign results

It’s time to turn your landing pages into interactive, useful, enjoyable experiences. It’s what your web visitors expect, and the technology exists to enable you to rapidly deploy & test interactive content while minimizing development time and costs.

Interactive content can change your campaign results from “so-so” to “wow” by decreasing bounce rate, increasing visitor consumption of your content, and ultimately delivering far more leads & sales to your organization.

Jay Baer, in his New York Times best selling book "Youtility" says:

“In a world where every prospective customer is facing an invita- tion avalanche, where every business is asking people to follow their tweets, read their blog, or watch their videos, you must resist the temptation to communicate solely and endlessly about your company, hoping for a quick sale. Helping can replace selling, or at the very least reduce the friction within that sales transaction. And you can do this. You can help your customers learn...You can help them plan....You can help them enjoy.”

As you evaluate your campaign landing pages — those crucial first impressions of your dealership's digital touch points, ask yourself the following questions:

  •   Is this page useful?

  •   Is this page helpful?

  •   Does this page do more than just ‘pitch’?

  •   Does this page provide meaningful value?

  •   Is it engaging?

  •   Is it responsive across all devices?

  •   It is app-like?  

Evaluating your pages through these lenses will help you see the opportunity in front of you to transform your online marketing results.

Score your landing page

Discover how your landing page stacks up and what you can do to improve it. Ion Interactive asks you 13 multiple choice questions about your dealership's landing pages. Based on your answers, we instantly give you specific recommendations that you can use to improve your automotive consumer user experience and your digital marketing results. It’s free, fast & easy!

Score your landing page!  Discover how your landing pages stack up and what you can do to improve it. Ion asks you to answer 13 multiple choice questions about your dealership's websites and campaign landing pages. It’s free, fast and easy!

Get Started Now...The sooner you complete the questionairre and get their recommendations, the sooner your dealership will be on its way to more sales and service leads... More local dealership branding... More revenue and profits.


Looking for more helpful tips?

Use the link below to jump on over to the ion blog for 13 more landing page best practices...


Bonus Landing Page Toolkit


Get started creating, testing and optimizing campaign-specific landing pages with ion interactive's 
28-page Landing Page Toolkit.

The toolkit includes tools for all levels of expertise, from beginner to landing page rockstar! Register and get instant access to 13 diagnostic exercises, plus a downloadable companion with templates, charts & online tools.  Register to receive the toolkit via email!

About ion Platform and Services

ion is an interactive content marketing platform loved by hundreds of leading brands. It’s used to create and test interactive experiences that generate leads, enhance brands, and drive revenue.

Create engaging interactive experiences in minutes

Pass segmentation and sales enablement data in and out

Test and auto-optimize alternative interactive experiences

Save time, money and resources

According to TechValidate: 73% of Ion customers double their website conversions. 90% get positive ROI. And 95% would recommend Ion.

Views: 2575

Tags: Ad Campaign, Car Dealer, Landing Page, Marketing, Microsite, Reconsider, Website


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Comment by Carl Maeda on May 28, 2015 at 2:24pm

Exactly.  100% agree.  Even if it costs more to do this, I'd bet the conversion rate is much higher than sending traffic to an existing page on the site.

Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 28, 2015 at 2:05pm

Thank you, Carl and Manny... Landing Page Microsites have come a long way overt the past 15 years and are better, more effective and yield a much better automotive consumer experience than ever before. I still say that a Chevy Silverado or Ford F150 buyer is not interested in seeing information about Cruzes, Focus's, Impalas and Taurus's... Giving the online car shopper EXACTLY what the ad or content promises yields a much higher rate of conversion from visitor to sales opportunity.

Comment by Carl Maeda on May 28, 2015 at 12:00am

I completely agree!  Specialized landing pages convert better than even sending traffic to the SRP or VDP. 

The key is to have consistent messaging.  Someone clicking on your ad, email or whatever must be sold on the messaging.  If your landing page delivers on the messaging, the odds that the user will contact the dealer increases substantially.

This is something I'm always preaching.

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