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Why Is Conversion More Important Than Lot Traffic?

The only thing you’ll will need is crowd control”

That was the tag line I used when I first started “Outside The Box Marketing” in 1997, that business was a direct mail marketing company for event sales, you know these sales we’ve all done them:

·         The Gorilla on the roof

·         Burgers and hotdogs on the grill

·         Greeters in short skirts

·         The red and the blue balloons (do you remember what the blue balloon meant?)

·         100,000 pieces of zipcode saturation mail

All equaled then a mass of people on the lot. I can still remember the look on the faces of the GM’s and dealers we did this with back then…Big smiles on their face, beatin on their chest “look at what I have done” as they looked over the sea of people on the lot.

The problem I kept seeing is that the board wasn’t increasing much over their normal Saturday. For most of my competitors this didn’t bother them they were fulfilling a need for TRAFFIC and they saw this as doing what the dealer wanted them to do and never looked beyond the actual perceived need of the dealer.

My dealer background wouldn’t allow me to do that, I knew there had to be a better way so I sold that business and started AIMData in 1999 and the rest of that story is for another post.

The point is we are repeating this cycle of TRAFFIC only now it is online not on the lot.

I have been challenged by some in the automotive community that say:

“Wouldn’t you rather have the customer on the lot, that is what our service does…get’s them to the lot”

Here is what I have to say to them:

“Until someone invents a brain scan that can tell the thoughts of a customer as they enter the lot, NONE of us know why the customer came on the lot”

“As a marketer or a marketing company in this industry to say that your marketing brought the customer to the lot is a REDICULOUS statement to make.”

More often than not the reason a customer just shows up on the lot is a combination of several messages and you don't know which one of them set the action in motion. This has always been the problem with traditional media and why John Wannamaker first said “I know 50% of my advertising is wasted…I just don't know what 50%”

Enter Conversion Marketing:

With conversion marketing you know exactly what got the response you wanted, whatever that is a form, a call, an email, a friend or follow you know. You know because you can track it down to the page where it happened and you can see the path the customer took to get there.

To a marketer this is more important than lot traffic, why? Because we can see the behavior and test what gets more of that behavior. Then we can take what we have learned and apply it to traditional media making it more effective to get the behavior we want there.

Conversion is the most important thing to your marketing because it is the only thing that is absolutely Trackable down to view of the offer that is being presented. This is why I get so upset when I hear some vendor spinning a dealer up about traffic, when I hear some online marketing company or listing company talking about how they got the customer to the lot. Its just spin to sell more their product its not helping the dealer if you really want to help the dealer, show them and tell them about what you are doing to get more customers to ACT  not LOOK… as a dealer I need action:

“Eyeballs on site, fictional customers that came in maybe because they saw your ad or listing don't help me nor do they interest me.”

In the famous words of a great marketing campaign from the 90’s “Show me the conversions”

I’ll be talking a lot more detail on a Conversion Marketing Strategy, what it is, how you can do it and how it will help you cut your advertising costs and raise sales at the Internet Battle Plan in ATL on the 18th, 19th and 20th of this month Click Here for more info on that event. If you can make it I hope to meet you there. If not stay tuned I will share as much as I can online over the next few months.

Larry Bruce


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Tags: CRM, Post-click-marketing, automotive, bruce, click, dealership, internet, larry, marketing, post, More…sales, sem, seo, site, web


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Comment by Todd Vowell on January 12, 2011 at 6:38am

Larry, you have a sense of humor, thank goodness.  I hear you on the micro-sites believe me, but I will do you one more.  My company, Buy Mail Direct is about to bust out with an integrated “capture, connect, close” type platform that would make Fred Biletnikoff jealous.  (if one was not fortunate enough to see Fred play for the Raiders in the 70’s, then you wont know he had so much “stick’m glue” on him that it dripped off his socks, pants, and jersey).  Those were the days…


We don’t say much on our website because it’s like giving the competition the keys to your office but hang on baby!


 Larry, have a great conference and thanks again for having some fun with me!


Todd Vowell


Comment by Larry Bruce on January 11, 2011 at 4:32pm

LOL Todd I LOVE the gorilla absolutely classic.


The point I was trying to make Todd is that I get more data from online conversions than offline. That data is invaluable because it allows me a peek into the customer behavior and helps me make better decisions with offline media as well as helps me convert more online leads. Plus for direct mail it closes the loop and keeps you out of the age old dealer saying “We would have gotten that guy anyway”.
The scenario you described below is a great result but how do you repeat it, over and over and over again. Selling direct mail as long as we have you know that it those results become increasingly more difficult with every mailing because you don't have enough data to continue a repeat performance time over time.
I would suggest you start looking at building microsites for your direct mail pieces and merging that data with the list data you have to get a 360 degree picture of customer behavior so you can get more mileage out of direct mail. We are doing it for several direct mail companies with great success, but you don't have to use our service if it doesn't make sense for you. You can accomplish almost the same results with wordpress, Google analytics and website optimizer it just takes longer and more resources on your part.
Thanks again for the gorilla, that was funny I don't care who you are!

Comment by Todd Vowell on January 11, 2011 at 10:28am

Hold on Larry!  I have been writing, producing, and selling creative automotive direct mail marketing and on-line solutions to car dealers since 1987 so I may seem partial to that “Gorilla in the sky” (even though we don’t do the blow-up Gorillas).  


I STILL believe that selling cars is far more psychology, not technology…


I also believe that Traffic + Excitement STILL = Sales!


Technology plays a big role, no question, but it is still about people.  Sometimes we forget that a vehicle is the 2nd most expensive investment a family will make in their lifetime.  I saw a logo the other day that had a “car in a shopping cart” and I just don’t think buying a car is the same as buying a camera off Amazon.


All do respect, also don’t believe you need a brain scan to find out why a customer came in to a dealership.  I mean that is the beauty of direct mail marketing. 


If a dealer spends $75,000 on Radio, TV, Newspaper, (or even some Internet options), for the month and sells 125 units, how many would he/she have sold anyway?  We don’t really know. 


But if a dealer invest $7,000 on a 10,000 Piece mailer, prepares all personnel (especially the salespeople who are the BACKBONE to any event) and gets 125 ups, 47 test drives, 28 write ups, and delivers 21 cars at $2,200 a copy, the dealer knows he invested $7 grand on the event, $500 for the Gorilla, and earned $46,200 (Plus some good trades). 


Yes, things have gravitated to the Internet.  When we do direct mail events today, we can (and do) push the event to over 100 Social, Video, Blog, Article, Status, and other sites, plus add SMS Text, Voice Broadcast, Email Broadcast, Lead Generator Pages, Mini-Websites, Slide Shows, and other good stuff, but none of it matters, (IF the dealership is not PREPARED, united, and ready to execute from the dealer to the receptionist)!


In fact, we just did a small database mailer (2,503 customers) for a dealership in LA, one of your customers by the way, (you have one sweet system with AIMdata) and he had 708 customers come in (with letter in hand) and had a record day.  How we did it is not public information. 


But my point is just that I agree with you about how important conversions are. But I also believe that dealers are being hit with so many new technologies, social media, Internet, Search Engine Optimization, Reputation Management, and a ton more, that a lot of them just throw their arms up with frustration, and go back to the basics! 


They just want to go back to being a car dealer, selling cars, helping the community, and throwing a 50 Foot Gorilla up on the roof a few times a year!


I hope your event is a sell out, I would go listen to you speak because I enjoy your post and have always learned a lot.


Take care, good selling and make it a great day!

Todd Vowell

PS -  Gorillas have feelings too...:)

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