Your Dealership’s Digital Marketing Strategy Sucks!

Well… Maybe “Sucks” isn’t exactly the right word but, I promise that you are going about your digital marketing in the wrong order of operations. And, yes, there is a correct, comprehensive and strategic Order of Operations when it comes to all dealership website marketing approaches.

Supercharge You Digital Marketing

Hey, do you know something else that “Sucks”? Car Superchargers!

Building high-performance muscle cars and building a high-performance dealership website is very similar especially when the goal is getting the absolute best output from every dollar spent from your budget. I assume that everyone who reads DealerRefresh is familiar with what SEM is and what it basically does. And, seeing how this is an automotive-audience I will make the same assumption that everyone here knows what a Supercharger is and what it does.

Search Engine Marketing is the Same to a Dealership’s Website as a Supercharger is to a Vehicle’s Engine.

1.) Both are tasked to force-induce more “volume” into their perspective power plant.
2.) As they REV up whether it’s RPMs or dollars spent they increase exponentially.
3.) They both work better when the power plant is built to handle them.

Where superchargers and SEM are completely different is the stage at which they are implemented to increase volume.

Nearly every dealer that wants more leads starts SEM as their first (and sometimes only) modification to their website marketing  and very, very few engine builders select a Supercharger as their first power plant modification and for really good reasons.

5 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Own AdWords Account

You’re likely spending a decent chuck of change each month on PPC at your dealership. Wouldn’t it be great to know you’re doing it correctly? Of course, it would be. I’m extremely excited to welcome Michael Pistell as our newest contributor to DealerRefresh as he has awesome information to share with our community. – Kershner

How many features are you NOT taking advantage of with your dealers Paid Search / Adwords Account – that’s COSTING YOU every day?

Stop Sabotage

Over the last few years, I have worked with hundreds of dealers that are sabotaging their own Paid Search. Here are 5 Best Practices you NEED to employ right away to maximize your campaigns…

#5 Your Display ads annoy your potential customers

Limiting the amount of impressions a users sees per day will keep your CTR under control and your targeted audience happy.

Have you ever been browsing the internet and noticed the same graphic ad being shown to you many times per day across multiple sites? That’s a Re-marketing campaign created by a PPC manager who forgot to set frequency capping. While being shown an ad multiple times per day does have an effect, there’s a diminishing return with each impression you serve to the same user. Those diminishing returns will inflate your impression count and cost you money at the end of the day.

Frequency capping should be done on all campaigns running in the Display network, here’s how we fix this:

How Negativity in Adwords Can Yield Positive Results

The challenge of Paid Search/Adwords can be quickly dismissed once one realizes the incredible possibility of impressive results.


There are many educational resources for “would-be Adwords experts” along with plenty of tutorials, agencies, and expert-trainers who can be hired. However, in my experience, the only real way to master Adwords is to dive right in and start building campaigns yourself.

Mazda Adwords Changes


This tutorial isn’t going to teach you the basics of Adwords, SEM, or any other entry-level approach to Paid Search Marketing. Instead I’m going to focus on the area of Adwords that in my opinion is the most overlooked and can really be the deciding factor between relevancy and completely unrelated traffic.

It can be the difference between generating a lead or generating a bounce. It affects your quality score, ad relevancy, the frequency your ads are shown and perhaps most importantly YOUR WALLET.

2 Strategies to Reduce Your AdWords Cost per VDP View

Dealers are spending more and more money each year on Google AdWords campaigns.

Google Adwords Campaign Report

AdWords can be a very effective way to connect dealers with in-market shoppers.  With budgets increasing, I want to encourage dealers to demand more transparent reporting from their AdWords management agencies.

In particular, I would like dealers to request that each AdWords campaign to have additional metrics documented so that some specific campaigns can be better optimized.  In the example below, adding three columns to standard AdWords reports can be very helpful in campaign optimization for online advertising strategies that are designed to connect consumers with in-stock cars.

Not all campaigns are designed to drive consumers to look at in-stock vehicles. However, campaigns like a dynamic inventory campaign based on in-stock VINs, should be driving a high percentage of clicks your dealership website’s most important page(s) – the Vehicle Detail Page (VDP).

The data shown above is from actual dealer campaigns that I recently audited.

6 Predictions That Will Impact Automotive Retailing in 2014

Every year I like to have some fun imaging what’s in store with the future of large scale marketing and technology trends and how it may affect dealerships, consumers and possibly the industry. This is the most exciting list I’ve put together yet – and with that, I give you my Carstrodamus 2014 picks that may have the furthest reaching impact on the industry! 
1. The Semantic web will transform the search engines from keyword index engines to answer engines. Context and relevance are now more important ever. Google wants to create a connection (linked data) between the words on a web page to understand their meaning and your intent. Approximately 20% of organic results are delivered due to this initial wave of structured data added to website content. And the good stuff hasn’t even hit us yet. 
The quickest solution to help accomplish this is the structured data vocabulary called I believe website vendors will scramble for ways to shift their search marketing teams and respond to the need for structured data solutions – unfortunately they will try to scale what I believe is the wrong solution. Their efforts will be slow, inefficient and terribly difficult to scale. Faster, more complex and more efficient solutions will present themselves for all industries – including automotive. This solution will improve the level of context and overall understanding of the content within the vehicle detail pages and improve their overall lead performance – for those who participate in this massive shift with the proper data structure.
You see, the problem that exists is that content isn’t being created for the Semantic web, it’s simply being translated into formats such as A standardized solution, which bypasses this process and populates content dynamically for the Semantic Web, using different data interchanges and libraries, will set off an explosive disruption across the Internet. This will forever change the way search marketing is approached.
Conversational search will be a key element of consumer behavior and will drive newer, more valuable content marketing strategies that play nice with the new semantic/structured data search landscape. This will have a profound impact on search marketing and conventional website solutions the industry has yet to experience. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it throughout 2014 – the Semantic Web will be a massive game changer. Bonus item #1: Google+ will continue to grow. G+ will become an important, active element of dealership social media marketing activities because of it’s ability to contribute linked data to the Knowledge Graph and support valuable links such as the Author and Publisher attributes. Plus, more automotive marketers will realize this is the second most active social network platform with over 340 million users. They’re there for a reason.
2. Social media marketing strategies will shift to include more emotional content in short story format. This approach will be a direct result of savvier content creation teams understanding both the user’s desire for higher quality content and Facebook’s changing ecosystem. Quality, contextual content will reign supreme while memes will be relegated to a barren wasteland of minimal impressions within Facebook. If that’s your social strategy, your newspaper ads may be just as effective – and you know what a waste they can be. Social platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Vine will continue to help businesses tell their stories in short-form video format. 
Organic exposure for Facebook brand pages has dropped upwards of 40% due to the updates to their content algorithm update. Expect to see a small portion (1-5%) of ad budgets move towards paid campaigns with Facebook, and even Twitter, as the platforms are clearly entering a new phase of driving revenue, improved contextual targeting and better overall performance for those who understand the shift. Facebook is clearly a pay to play platform now – and it’s quickly turning into a mobile platform as 60% of it’s users are mobile. Bonus item #2: Facebook buys Foursquare for their location based marketing database. Location activity is a weak spot for Facebook and Foursquare could fill a much need void providing better mobile contextual advertising solutions to it’s user base.
JFK Google Glass
3. Wearable technology including watches, glasses and apparel will become part of millions of people’s lives. This will also include connected devices providing more control of our vehicles, including better communication with them as well. This will create a new, early-adopter layer of consumer behavior and connectivity. Brand relationships and unique experiences will drive a new type of notification economy where brands and their products will have the ability to communicate with you about the things that matter the most on the devices you choose. Think Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watches paired to your phones. One of the biggest news items will be the consumer version of Google Glass – look for this around April, 2014 with a cost of $299. I believe the real opportunity for the industry is for content creation and data collection. Dealers will be able to build valuable libraries of images and virtual test drive videos with platforms such as Google Glass. 
Activities such as notification alerts from companies, messages from your vehicle and the ability to control connected devices such as the lights and thermostat in your home. Hello Internet of Things. It’s here. Other items contributing to changing our mobile behaviors will be shape-shifting mobile devices with bendable glass. Eventually we won’t all be clinging to devices in our hands like cigarettes. How is this going to impact the industry? Massive consumer behavior changes as users will continue to explore new ways of staying connected with the things that are important to them. 
4. Ride sharing will explode into new markets further changing driving habits and ownership expectations of younger drivers. Leaders such as Uber and Lyft will continue to influence large city driving habits as they continue their massive growth, enter mid-size markets and become a mainstream solution for locals and travelers. Both companies are seeing an incredible revenue surge; Uber does $20 million per week in revenue while Lyft is growing 6% per week! Other companies such as Sidecarr, Hailo and Gett will help push this change as well. This could mark the beginning of a cultural shift as their user base grows and the concept of ride sharing becomes an acceptable ownership alternative. 
5. Tesla showrooms will grow more than 60% as their product line continues to expand with the introduction of the SUV, possibly a pickup truck and eventually a lower cost, entry level sedan. Showrooms could swell from 52 to 80+ and provide even more convenience to a specific segment of buyers. State dealership laws will continue to be challenged and test widely accepted standards. The industry infighting will continue for years; a recent ABI Research study indicated the electric car market shouldn’t begin to make a significant impact to the traditional retail market until 2020. 
This equates to the 150,000 estimated EV’s expected to be sold this year globally year increasing to 2.36 million units in 2020 – growing approximately 48% per year. Should traditional dealers be concerned about these numbers in the short term? The biggest sellers are currently the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S. Nissan sold 16K+ units in the 1st nine months of the year and Tesla sold 9900 units. 
old office

6. Internal marketing departments will continue to add specialists who focus on their individual areas of expertise. Highly focused automotive search performance officers will become integral members of the marketing teams. Dedicated social media individuals and/or small content teams will continue to expand and work closely with the marketing department, the search team and even the dealership staff to drive the socially aware ecosystem every store should have in place. 

A State of Word of Mouth Marketing Survey stated that total social media advertising spending will reach $4.6 billion this year, up 35% from $3.4 billion in 2012; looking ahead, they see social media ad spending climbing to $8.22 billion by 2015. This would indicate a total annual growth rate of around 35% over the next two years. This growth will require highly skilled, dedicated professionals who are prepared to manage these efforts effectively.

What do you think? Have any big predictions for 2014? 

What Car Dealers Can Learn From Google Glass

Google Glass Glasshole

I’ve been using Google Glass for a couple of months now and wanted to share my experiences with the automotive community. My hope is to shed some light on where this segment is heading and what our industry can prepare for in the near term.

Google Glass is currently the most popular example of the future of wearable technology. There are plenty of helpful and practical wearable technology solutions currently available. The most popular example falls within the Quantified Self category, this includes health tracking tools such as the Nike Fuel band.

The range of solutions continues to expand as smart watches by Samsung have already been released (Galaxy Gear) Apple and Google are rumored to enter this space with their own solutions as well. There are also other competitors trying to introduce their own version of Google Glass. Many of the competitors are trying to position themselves differently claiming other uses for athletics or specific industries leveraging 3D augmented reality.

Google Glass
So, what can Google Glass do? Here are some of the specific command functions available currently:

The Pros and Cons of Using YouTube at Your Dealership

Video is hot these days, and is a great way to engage your potential customers. When it comes to online video, YouTube is probably the first site that pops into most people’s minds, so I thought it might be a good idea to discuss some of the Pros and Cons of putting your dealership videos on YouTube.

YouTube at Automotive Dealership

The Pros of using YouTube:


When I talk to car dealers about YouTube, invariable one of the first benefits mentioned is search engine optimization (VSEO). Videos hosted on YouTube are indexed well and generally show up highly in search results (after all, YouTube is owned by Google).


Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world? More than 1 Billion unique users visit YouTube each month. Even though 70% of this traffic comes from outside the United States, YouTube still gets over 120 million viewers in the US a month. That’s a lot of eyeballs!

Social Network Integration

Google+, Facebook, Twitter, GMail, and others integrate YouTube embeds into their platform frameworks. That means that when one of your dealership’s YouTube videos is posted to or shared on a social network, a prospect can watch that video directly from his feed or timeline without having to click a link and go to another page

Low Cost

You don’t have to pay YouTube a dime to host your videos. It’s free! You get access to all of those viewers without paying for it. Of course, as one of my former colleagues would say, “YouTube is free if your time isn’t worth anything.” To take full advantage of YouTube, you’ve still got to put the time in to make sure you’re producing compelling content, uploading your videos with good titles, and optimizing the video descriptions with important keywords.

The Cons of using YouTube:

Brand Transition Notes: A Google Timeline

From Suzuki to Subaru

As you might have heard, we’ve been busy here in the land of Oz. On April 1st, 2013, Suzuki of Wichita became Subaru of Wichita, which meant we had a lot of switching to do.

In the digital realm, I was most concerned about our listings across Google properties, and I’ll be the first to admit–I didn’t do everything perfectly. But then again — there’s not a good instruction manual for this. Straight up–changing anything on Google can be a challenge, and I’ll admit I wasn’t very optimistic about what would happen.

At several points in this process, however, Google surprised me.

For the sake of sharing what I learned from this experience, I documented what happened on which days with the hope of gaining some insight into how Google works. Of course, I’m not suggesting that if you do the same things I did, you’ll get the same results–this is just what happened for us. First, here’s what we were working with prior to the transition: