Automotive Digital Marketing

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Is Your Digital Marketing Campaign Ready to Implode?

I'm in Paris tonight and on the eve of the 4th of July I wanted to wish everyone in the ADM community a have happy holiday weekend. With that in mind, I wanted to give ADM members a 4th of July gift that can prevent their digital marketing budget from imploding.


In the past month I have had the good fortune to create a digital footprint analysis REPORT for three dealer groups that are in the top 25 in the nation. All had a similar problem. They were heading down a path that would have imploded their digital marketing campaigns and cost them tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.


The gift is the knowledge that these large dealer groups had missed. They became too busy on moving forward to remember a simple basic fact. Without their domains, their digital marketing strategy would run off the tracks. The same domains that they have used in radio, TV and print would go up in smoke.

Today's 4th of July gift is to renew your primary marketing domains for 5 or 10 years. You see, these extremely successful car dealership groups had multiple primary domains that were expiring in 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, and if I didn't alert them, they would have most likely expired.


Expired Domain Names - A Huge Headache


This happens all the time. Why? Because car dealers have a high turnover in IT related careers. The email addresses associated with domain renewals are likely pointing to an employee that doesn't work at the dealership anymore. So the first part of this holiday gift is to setup an email address for domain renewals that is copied to key executives. For example: domains@abcford.com which would go to the dealer principal and key managers.

The second holiday gift is to show you how easy it is to find the expiration dates of all your domains. Once you have audited all your live website domains, go and renew them for at least 5 or 10 years. If you let them expire they will be snatched up by poachers than can redirect all your traffic to any site they want.


Don't Let Your Domains Get Hijacked


If you think you can fix this with your attorney, just ask how much it would cost you to have your primary domain going to a blank page or worse. These domain poachers will extort money from you and you have little recourse if they just park the domain to a blank page. Every month I hear of anyone business who is paying to get their domain back.

While the dealer's domain is under new ownership, email can be cut-off. Imagine the costs.

Am I being a bit dramatic? Yes. Is it justified? Yes

I will not disclose the names of the prominent dealers that had expiring domain names but it can happen to anyone; no matter how big or successful you are. They were extremely grateful that I told them about the problem.

So, what about you? When was the last time you checked all your active website domains. Take this gift and find out right now.


Getting Your Domain Expiration Date


There are some easy ways to get the expiration date of your domain but one free tool I like gives you ALOT more interesting information. This information can detect some other errors that dealers are unaware of like 301 re-direct that are missing. If you don't understand what that means, don't worry because there is a second gift that I will offer ADM members.

Brian Pasch Digital Marketing


For each domain that you have in production, go to www.websitegrader.com and type in your domain name and click on "Generate Report". It will take about 90 seconds to complete the full analysis which has a wealth of information. When the report pops up on your screen take a minute to print it out.

Look on the report for Section E, to see when you domain expires as shown below:

Website Grader SEO


If the domain that you test is a critical domain used for your dealership, renew it for at least 5 years. If you don't know where you purchased the domain, you can lookup the registrar information easy enough.

The report provided by Website Grader has some interesting data but some of it can be misleading because HubSpot is trying to sell you their SEO services.


Your Second July 4th Gift


Once you run your key domains, if you have received low scores for any of your domain names, I'll review your reports and create a full digital footprint report for your dealership or dealer group. We can review my findings together on a conference call. The report will provide some eye-opening data that can help improve your search visibility. Send your reports to brian@pcgdigitalmarketing.com in one email and send me your contact information.

But regardless if you take the second gift, the first gift is a MUST to accept. ADM members cannot afford to allow their critical domains to expire and get hijacked. For those of you who follow this advice, if you have discovered that you owned domains that would expire in less than a year, add your comments below. It will be good to see that this is an industrywide problem that everyone needs to check.

Happy 4th ADM Members!

Brian

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing

http://twitter.com/automotiveseo

http://www.dealer-seo.com

Views: 61

Tags: brian, car, dealer, domain, domains, expiration, pasch, website, websites

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on July 4, 2010 at 1:01pm
@Brian - Thanks for the great insights within this blog post... However, I want to clarify something very specific about dealer website suppliers. After I came on board at ADP Dealer Services, I insisted on several operating policies and was able to get many of them implemented. One such policy is:

1. Any domain name registered by an ADP Dealer Services business unit that contains the name of a dealership or business owned by a dealer shall be transferred at the dealer's written request to the domain registrar and account identified by the dealer principal or authorized General Manager.

2. Domain names registered by an ADP Dealer Services business unit on behalf of a dealer will not be allowed to expire while under ADP control without written authorization (email) by the effected dealer.

These policies have led to numerous occasions where we incur cost to renew a dealer's domain who has since stopped using ADP as the supplier of the website the domain points to. We invoice the dealer for the cost of the domain registration renewal and request that the dealer send us a domain transfer request so we can approve it. We have these policies for several reasons, first and foremost because it is simply "the right thing to do" and secondly, we do not EVER want to be accused of holding a dealer's business name in the form of a domain name as hostage in order to retain a dealer's business.

However, I also want to point out that likewise, I maintain ownership over a fairly good sized inventory of keyword enhanced URL domain names, such as www.ChevyPriceQuote.com and www.ToyotaPriceQuotes.com that we use for dealerships running month-to-month ad campaigns with our ADP and BZ Digital Advertising team... These are provided for use in such campaigns because they help us drive better CTR's, isolate campaign traffic from other sources to same landing page and the higher quality score reduces CPC minimum bids within Google Adwords, allowing us to do a better job for our dealers.

In one such case, we used generic Nissan domains that I had purchased years before doing business with an Austin based dealer group. They discontinued using ADP for Digital Advertising, but asked that the domains be transferred to their ownership. As a compromise, we continue to point those Nissan domains to the dealer group's designated landing pages, but will not transfer actual ownership because the domains were purchased long before the dealer group did business with us.

Here's the bottom line... Ask your dealer website, microsite and digital advertising providers to state their policies regarding domain names used by your dealership IN WRITING. An email is fine... Of course, it is always better to do what I have been assisting my dealership clients do for well over ten years. CREATE A DEALERSHIP CORPORATION OWNED NETWORK SOLUTION ACCOUNT AND OWN ALL DOMAINS USED BY THE DEALERSHIP! With some limited exceptions... What would those be? Well, if you want to invest a significant amount of money into an over integrated marketing campaign for Toyota Trucks, with online advertising and supporting ads appearing on TV, Radio, Newspaper, Outdoor, etc., and I offer to "Lease" your dealership the use and control of www.ToyotaTrucks.com for the 3 month duration of this campaign, then the increased click-through-rate (CTR) and higher quality score is well worth the temporary use of such a specifically relevant domain name for the purposes of that advertising campaign.
Comment by Brian Pasch on July 4, 2010 at 8:39am
@Tim
You were very lucky you got the site back in 24 hours because if it was purchased by a domain poacher it would have been a much longer process. Have a great time in Atlantic City..wish I could be there.
Comment by Tim Jennings on July 4, 2010 at 7:22am
It’s true! Two host providers ago; I got a call from a customer. Did you know your web site was down? Why no I didn’t Mr. Customer. Domain had expired. I was down for about 24 hours. I also had a mix up with the hand off of the domain from that provider to the next, however no down time on that mix up. Yes I have control now. PS the domain alert goes to my personal account ;) Spot on Brian, I have lived this one.

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