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A few days ago I posted “Good News and Bad News about Microsites and Landing Pages.” In that post I said that many dealers are getting microsites, which is good; however they are getting them for the wrong reasons, and that’s bad. I don't see a lot of strategy behind most microsite initiatives and, to be honest, there are more than a few vendors selling them with no strategy at all, and for all the wrong reasons.
I have had several requests to go into some detail on this so I will in this post.
Microsite and landing page optimization is not a onetime thing; it’s an all-the-time thing. Microsites and landing pages focus traffic on specific offers, promotions, and messages, and are designed to remove distraction and logically lead the visitor to conversion.
To achieve real improvements in your conversion rates, optimization needs to be a part of your marketing culture – it needs to be a habit. In the spirit of Franklin Covey’s book, here are nine habits required to develop a highly effective conversion marketing strategy:
1. First, understand your traffic driver types and how you intend to used microsites or landing pages with them. It takes both traffic drivers and landing conversion to make a good conversion marketing strategy work.
There are three traffic driver types:
a. Continuous: Continuous traffic drivers are ongoing messages. Think of them as your autonomic marketing, like breathing. These messages are the lifeblood of your conversion marketing strategy. Your landing pages for these traffic drivers are the key to success. The higher your conversion rate, the more money you can comfortably spend on these traffic driver channels.
i. Example: Search Marketing
ii. Example: Service Reminders mailings and emails
iii. Example: Declined Service mailings and emails
These marketing messages are ongoing. By using microsites and landing pages for each, you can communicate more, allow the user to get to the content they are looking for quickly, and convert more from each channel.
b. Campaigns: Campaigns are just what you think they are: special offers and promotions. From your dealership and my be in conjunction with other offers going on at the time. Campaigns should be unique to your store, have a clear store-driven value proposition, and most importantly, a single clear call to action. So many times I see email campaigns that are three paragraphs long with no clear value proposition and no call to action, then a link to, of all things, the dealership’s Random Access Website (RAW, I love that acronym) home page. You couldn’t be more irrelevant to the customer you’re interacting with. Please—stop doing this.
Microsites and landing pages make it easy to overview the offer in the channel and then allow the visitor to land and go to the content they want to see, rather than trying to squeeze all the information into the channel, where users read only a small portion and then, not finding what they want, move on. Then, to make matters worse, you deliver them to the home page of your site—which has nothing to do with what you were talking about in the channel—and expect the visitor to somehow just know what to do. Use your landing page to shorten your channel conversation and let the visitor get to the content they want to see fast.
c. Events and Cause Marketing: These usually happen, at most, once per quarter. Examples of these are OEM events, Lexus December to Remember, Toyotathon, Honda Mr. Opportunity, etc.
Cause marketing examples: We are now creating them for clients like Toys for Tots, the Make a Wish Foundation, etc.
Your microsites for these types of clients will connect your unique selling proposition with the event or cause, allowing you to compete for attention at the search marketing level with the OEM and the cause alike, which helps both you and the cause achieve your goals.
2. Not all traffic and clicks are created equal.
There is some traffic you just don't want, particularly when it comes to search marketing. Many times I see vendors bid on generic broad-match terms in an effort to show the dealership that they attract a lot of traffic to their sites, only to end up with a high bounce rate and no more leads than they had before. Conversion marketing isn’t about traffic – it’s about the lead, the sale, or the Facebook friend and/or follow, and everything you do should optimize that conversion.
Make sure you are bidding on converting keywords and phrases, and make sure they are at least phrase matches or, preferably, exact matches. Finally, above all else, make sure your landing page matches your ad and fulfills the promise it makes to the consumer.
3. Inject conversion optimization into your organization’s marketing culture.
Just because you know you need to implement an effective microsite and/or landing page optimization program, it doesn’t mean that everyone is on board. Help your dealer, management team, website vendor, marketing vendors, and other teammates understand that conversion optimization directly impacts the dealership’s bottom line, and that implementation is a top priority. This may not be easy, but if you continuously build the case for conversion optimization, you’ll ensure that nothing gets in the way of your conversion marketing strategy.
4. Begin with the end in mind.
Start every new test, every new program, and every new initiative with the end in mind. What are your goals for the offer and for landing page optimization? What's the conversion funnel going to look like? What kind of conversion rate improvement do you want to achieve? By beginning with the end in mind, you’ll make sure you take all the required steps toward boosting your conversions, and, along the way, you’ll be able to easily evaluate the effectiveness of your programs.
A boost to your work ethic, and a boost to your results.
5. Work in real time.
Online marketing moves at an exhilarating pace, and so should your landing page program. You’ll achieve the best results by minimizing the time in between landing page launch, analysis, and new tests. The longer you drive traffic to ineffective landing pages, the more gross profit you’ll lose. You should work to design and implement Microsite and landing page in a day or less.
6. Think outside the box. Differentiate.
Think beyond single pages and generic experiences. When you’re a visitor clicking on multiple ads, landing page sites can start to look alike: a form here, a headline there, a hero shot over there. But you’ll get noticed in a sea of competition if you start to think outside the box. Add a widget. Test a vehicle selector. Try video. Add a little Flash. Eschew generic. Differentiate.
7. Start with macro tests, then fine tune elements with micro tests.
Begin your testing program with macro-level, A/B tests. Test completely different experiences against each other, and once you find champions, fine tune the elements of your pages (hero shots, headlines, etc.). Start big. Continue small. Don't just test content test offers and price by geography.
8. Don’t wait for perfection. Just get the ball rolling.
The best Microsite/landing page critics are your visitors—not your vendor, your management team, and especially not you or your dealer. Don’t wait to launch a test until you think your landing page is perfect; launch it and let your visitors tell you what works, and what doesn’t.
9. Never settle. Always be testing.
Unless you’re converting at 100%, you must always look for the next opportunity for optimization. Revel in the glory of your wins, but don't be afraid of failure. Learn from it, but move on to the next step. As soon as you’re satisfied with the status quo, your results will suffer. Never stop optimizing, and never stop testing. Always look for the next opportunity for improvement.
We will be going into "7 Deadly Sins" that will kill conversion in a webinar on Thursday 12/16/10
I hope this helps get your dealerships started on a conversion marketing path.
Larry Bruce - @pcmguy