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An Extreme Close-Up on Your Digital Channels. Schaaaawinggggg!

Some people think they’re rock stars when it comes to digital marketing, and I’ll admit— I’ve met a handful of them over the last several years. But sometimes people who think they have digital figured out need to dig a little deeper before they attempt to play that riff on stage solo in front of Pippa Middleton. Schaaawinggggg! (Don’t ask – she just has a great name.)

Hey— let’s hang with the rocker analogy— effective digital marketing is like putting together a great rock show; you want to have a strong percussionist, a talented bassist, a charismatic lead guitarist, and somebody on keys or rhythm guitar. They all have to play well together and link harmonically.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, the same is true for an effective, multi-channel digital marketing effort. It’s not enough to do one or two things well. You have to be an expert at all the instruments and make sure they’re all in tune with one another in order to make sweet marketing music.

Look at some questions and comments I regularly hear from dealers and managers:

  1. Why should I spend money on Paid Search when I almost always appear first in organic results?
  2. I think you guys bid too high for PPC (Pay-Per-Click) placement.
  3. The cost of digital outweighs my ROI.
  4. I want more website traffic, and Company X says they can deliver that.

At first glance, these may seem like sound reasons for cutting or realigning automotive digital ad spend. But before you give away your backstage passes for Alice Cooper, let’s explore these topics in a little more detail to see why you can’t judge each channel as if it were a solo artist.

Game On!

1. Why should I spend money on Paid Search when I almost always appear first in organic results?

waynes world guitar riff

Ex-squeeze me?

The reason you should continue to engage in paid search campaigns even though you’re at the top organically is this: there are a finite number of positions on any search engine results page (SERP), and you want to occupy as many of those slots as possible. Every space, paid and organic, that you fill keeps your competition at bay. If you’re there, they can’t be!

(Insert guitar riff – waaaaoooooiiin!)

2. I think you guys bid too high for PPC placement.

Three things about PPC and bidding:

  • First, if you’re appearing where you want to be, then you’re bidding correctly.
  • Secondly, you only pay if they click your ad. If you’re indeed showing up at or near the top organically, Research from GroupM UK and Nielsen tells us that searchers choose an organic result 94% of the time. Why bother showing up in the paid search listings if they’re rarely clicked? Your appearance there will help you monopolize the SERP, increasing your mind share with searchers and your chances that your organic listing will get clicked— all at no additional cost to you.
  • Third, if you feel you’re paying too much in PPC, perhaps you should examine your keyword choices and consider moving away from short-tail in favor of long-tail keywords. For example, “GMC Washington state” is going to be a lot more expensive than “Downtown GMC sales Tacoma.”

(Insert guitar riff – (rrrrrraaaaoooinnn!)

3. The cost of digital outweighs my ROI…


Advertising is, and always has been, an expenditure. Digital spend is much more trackable than traditional spend. But if you’re demanding a specific return on that spend, you’re probably going to struggle to prove it. Of course, the billboard you’re paying for doesn’t really show any ROI either. Neither do your TV spots or, for that matter, your newspaper ads.

guns n roses

When you listen to the open to Welcome to the Jungle, it’s hard to know if it’s Axl’s screaming vocals, Slash’s screaming guitar or Duff’s mesmerizing baseline that sends chills up and down your spine. And if you can pinpoint one instrument & artist— would they sound the same without the rest of the band?

Digital ad spend spread across all the digital channels in your band should, at its core, deliver quality traffic to your website and to your dealership.

(Insert guitar riff – chittachittachittawaaam!)

4. I want more website traffic, and Company X says they can deliver that.

Speaking of traffic, effective digital marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Company X may indeed be able to deliver more website traffic for you, but what will the quality of that traffic be? It’s great to bring unique visitors, but if that doesn’t convert to inventory views, Hours & Directions page visits and contact opportunities, you’re wasting your money. Think quantity? Yes. But think quality too.

waynes world car

A friend of mine told me how he came to understand the difference between traffic and quality traffic. His dealership partnered with a rock radio station in his community by offering them the use of what they termed their “Rock & Roll Dream Machine,” a customized van provided by the dealership for a period of time. In return, the station gave them multiple radio spots to fill.

Well, the station made a big deal on air about the day they were going to pick up the van and even slated a local rock band to play on site that day. The gist of the story is, on van delivery day, the place was a madhouse! There were people everywhere with so many tattoos and piercings that, to paraphrase Dennis Miller, it looked like half the audience fell down the stairs carrying tackle boxes.

The unfortunate part? They didn’t sell a single vehicle. Half of the sales staff was hunkered down in their offices to guard their stuff from being stolen.

Presto! Traffic! Just not necessarily the type that buys.

(Insert guitar riff – (woooahh-ubbaubba-trik!)

waynes world aerosmith

Remember— effective digital marketing is about performing well across multiple channels. So don’t try to be a one hit wonder when you could be the Aerosmith of digital marketing.

Do you have a front man in your marketing band? Or do all your channels take center stage?

Party on…

And hear more from a dealer who plays all the right notes in his multichannel messaging in our upcoming webinar

automotive_webinar_multichannel_marketing_auburn_vw Featured Webinar

Master Your Marketing Mix – How Auburn Volkswagen Increased Sales by 40%

Thursday September 12, 2013
8:30am PT | 11:30am ET

MultiChannel is a buzzword. But how do you turn it into action? Auburn Volkswagen’s General Manager & Principal Matthew Welch will reveal exact steps for incorporating MultiChannel marketing into your dealership in this informative webinar.

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Jon Quade is a highly recognized trainer in the industry, given his 8000+ hours on camera & years of seminar experience with OEM clients like Fo...
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  • August 28, 2013
ADP_Cobalt PushingWheels DEALERnerd KonigCo VelocitySales dealersocial axsnyder dealerrefresh don't mention it! ;)
  • K
  • August 29, 2013
Love the article and the writing style Jon, great job! As digital marketing attribution gains more traction, I think  you will find a lot more dealers that understand what you are sharing, especially when they look at the entire "digital conversation" before that final click that takes the shopper to the dealer's website.
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  • August 30, 2013
KevinFrye Thanks for the shout out, Kevin - and you're SO right about the digital conversation. Consumers are exposed to so much online that I feel like we're just scratching the surface - it's an exciting time to be in this business!
Jon, loved the article and the Wayne's World references. We need more of you!
You hit the nail on the head for me in a few key areas. Numbers 3+4 especially.
In the auto industry it's tough to show that ever important "ROI" for dealerships. Your points in 3+4 go hand in hand with each other. As with the "Rock & Roll Dream Machine", sure it did not sell you a car that day, but will those people remember you're dealership next week, month, or year from now when you go to buy a new vehicle?
Expectations need to be set with the customer from the beginning when jumping into the wild west of digital advertising. If they are a customer who is looking for a "tangible", maybe they aren't ready for digital advertising. Or maybe it hasn't been explained to them in the right fashion. In order for a campaign to have success, goals and expectations must be measured and discussed. Nothing like a customer steaming mad after spending 10k on a campaign expecting the dealership to be full day in and day out because of a banner or ad they were running online. 
Thanks for the great article and info Jon, look forward to reading more from you.