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Is One All-Purpose Web Site Enough for a Dealership to Experience Significant Levels of Digital Marketing Success?
Posted by Ralph Paglia
I would like to start this posting by proposing that the Internet be considered as an environment rather than a communications and advertising media… Think of it this way, if you advertise on the radio, then people have to listen to a radio station to hear your spot. If you advertise on TV, then prospects must be watching TV, in order for your dealership to receive an opportunity. This marketing conundrum situation is the same for newspapers, magazines and outdoor. Well, maybe less so for outdoor advertising… With the Internet, we now have a place where over 75% of car buyers spend far too many hours of their time. A place where over 65% of new car buyers go to look for information that helps them decide what vehicle to buy, and where to get it.
From August 2005 through March 2007 I worked for a very progressive, but old-school values family owned dealership that asked me to maximize their Internet sourced sales opportunities… In August 2005 the store received about 1,200 Internet Leads from all sources combined. In June, 2006 we received well over 3,000 Internet-originated sales inquiries, and we had over 30,000 unique visitors browse through over 15 web-based properties. In January, 2007 we received over 5,000 Internet based sales opportunities, most of which originated from over 120,000 unique visitors to over 30 web sites controlled by the dealership. All this activity was driven by a single-point Chevrolet dealership in the central city area of Phoenix, AZ.
I am not too proud to admit that our Internet Sales Team of 15 salespeople “only” sold 175 Chevrolets to those 3,000 leads in June, 2006 but we worked diligently to improve both our BDC and Internet Sales Teams so that the store could better capitalize on the Internet sales opportunities being generated. In March 2007 the Courtesy Chevrolet eBusiness Department hit their all time peak sales results with over 400 new and used vehicles sold by the Internet Sales Teams and to appointments set by the Business Development Center (BDC). From August of 2005 through March 2007 we increased the store’s Internet sales by over 200% while increasing Interactive marketing expenses by 40%. Process execution improvements contributed about 30% of the sales increases, but marketing efficiency improvements generated far more sales increases than our improved processes did..
Along the way, we have learned that having a single dealership web site is the equivalent of having a single outdoor billboard and calling it a “campaign”. One dealership web site is simply not adequate enough to support a true online marketing campaign. While growing into this highly effective lead generation “monster”, most of us at Courtesy Chevrolet did not intend to create a strategy that included a wide array of various web sites, micro-sites and landing pages… It just became so apparent that multiple web sites were more efficient and cost effective at producing large volumes of high quality exclusive leads than is possible with a single web site. In some ways this effect reminds me of using a multiple choice closing technique… It is always more effective to ask “which one of these terms and payments better fit into your budget” than it is to show a single monthly payment to a car buyer and say “take it, or leave it”.
So, my point is that before you think that your dealership is trapped into a single "all purpose" web site, consider specialized and focused micro sites and landing pages such as the following examples:
About the Author - Ralph Paglia currently serves as ADP Dealer Services’ National Director of Digital Marketing. He has enjoyed a variety of retail management and consulting roles in his automotive sales and marketing career which started in 1981 when he was a salesman at Kearney Mesa VW in San Diego. Ralph started generating emailed auto sales leads by using his CompuServe ISP account and defense contractor Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) in 1986. He states; “I have experimented with more ways to generate car sales using the Internet than most people realize even exist… Some don’t work very well, others are OK and every once in awhile something just blows the roof off the dealership! But, one thing I know for sure, it is a lot easier to make sure a plan to sell cars doesn’t work, than it is to make it work… I have seen managers in dealerships all over the country who go out of their way to ensure some things don’t work in their stores”
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