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Automotive Dealers Network Article: So, What's A MicroSite?

So, What's A MicroSite?
Written by: Ralph Paglia
During the 4th Digital Dealer Conference and Exposition in Orlando, Florida in April 2008 I listened to several speakers mention the use of microsites by dealers and attribute their knowledge of microsites to Ralph Paglia (me). I suppose being called the "Microsite King" (hence: 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 generate a positive ROI or not...
Read the ADN Article: http://www.automotivedealersnetwork.com/Articles/RPaglia/MicroSite....

So, What's A MicroSite?

The use of microsites should be considered as just one facet of a holistic strategy to deploy a full featured digital marketing system that is dynamic and designed to generate ever improving volume of business opportunities... In other words, microsites can be used as a strategy to widen the top of a dealership's sales funnel, generating more flow-through into the middle and lower sections, closer to the point of sale. 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.

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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 between 2006 and 2007 returned 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, thanks to the release of the movie "Transformers" 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 model-specific information site to commemorate the launch of the all-new Chevy Tahoe in January 2006. Back then, If you Googled “2007 Tahoe" the site showed 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

If you visit the site, 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.

What's the difference between a landing page, a microsite and a dealer’s website?

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.

By Ralph Paglia
Director – Digital Marketing / ADP Dealer Services
email: RPaglia@AutomotiveDealersNetwork.com

Ralph has held positions such as OEM Partnership Executive for Reynolds and Reynolds, CRM/eBusiness Director, New Car Sales Manager, Used Car Manager, F&I Director, General Sales Manager and General Manager. He led the development and design of nationally implemented CRM and eBusiness programs for Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and other car companies. He also designed Ford’s BDC program Mercedes-Benz StarLeads CRM system and the Mercedes-Benz BDC.

This is Part 1 of a 3 part series...
Part 2 of this 3 Part Series can be viewed by clicking this link: Automotive Dealers Network May 2008 Vol 2
Part 3 of this 3 Part Series can be viewed by clicking this link: Automotive Dealers Network August 2008 Vol 1

APPENDIX A - Examples of Automotive Dealer Microsites currently deployed:

1. http://courtesy.mst.bzresults.net/ou/phoenix-tahoe/custom/2008tahoe...
URL’s forwarded: www.Chevy-Tahoe-Dealers.com www.Chevrolet-Tahoe-Dealer.com www.ChevroletTahoeDealer.com www.Chevy-Tahoe-Dealer.com www.Chevy-Tahoe-SUV.com www.ChevyTahoeSUV.com www.Tahoe-Chevy.com

2. http://courtesy.mst.bzresults.net/ou/phoenix-malibu/custom/2008Chev...
Assigned URL for DNS hosting: www.Chevy-Malibu.com
Owned URL forwarded: www.Chevrolet-Car.com

3. http://courtesy.mst.bzresults.net/ou/phoenix-finance/custom/Phoenix...
Assigned URL for DNS hosting: www.PHXfinance.com

4. http://courtesy.mst.bzresults.net/ou/phoenix-quotes/custom/chevypri...
Assigned URL's for DNS hosting: www.ChevyPriceQuote.com www.ChevyTahoePrice.com www.ChevySilveradoPrice.com www.ChevyImpalaPrice.com www.ChevyCobaltPrice.com
URL's forwarded: www.Silverado-Chevy.com www.Cobalt-Chevy.com

5. http://courtesy.mst.bzresults.net/ou/phoenix-gas/custom/youGotGas.html
Owned URL forwarded: www.ChevyGas.com

6. http://nationalcars.est3.bzresults.net/ou/bronx-finance/index.do This is a great example of a Special Finance Microsite used as a destination for advertising campaigns deployed by the dealership.

7. http://www.CaliforniaCorvetteKing.com/ also available at www.CACorvetteKing.com
This is a Corvette focused microsite used by Courtesy Chevrolet in San Diego, CA to market and promote their sale of Corvettes to buyers that are so different from other Chevy product considerers that the dealership management team believe a dedicated site to be the best way to service that Corvette-specific segment.

8. http://www.Scott-Robinson-Honda.com/
This microsite is used by Scott Robinson Honda's marketing team as a platform to launch other various model-specific landing pages within this microsite. Examples include:
www.TorranceHondaCivic.com
www.TorranceHondaAccord.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaElement.com
www.TorranceHondaCRV.com and several more...

9. Here's an example of an Internet Sales Manager's Introductory page that uses a Video clip to personalize her introduction to customers when a new lead arrives: www.CarissaVette.com

Views: 3

Tags: Article, Automotive, Dealers, MicroSite, Network, automotive, car, dealer, dealership, digital, More…marketing

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