Dealership Marketing

To Micro-site or not to Micro-site?

Microsites
Micro-sites have been a hot fad amongst many dealers and vendors, and after attending the Digital Dealer Conference I can tell you they’re going to get even hotter.  But are they worth doing?

Before I get started, I should clarify this is Alex writing – not Jeff – so if you have any issues with my opinions see me.

I’m not convinced Micro-sites are the way to go.  Maybe I haven’t spent enough time talking to Ralph Paglia, maybe I just don’t want to throw another set of responsibilities on my already loaded plate, or maybe I think there is another way to do them without the extra hassles, customer confusion, and expense.

Micro-sites make sense! No doubt about it, they are a fantastic way to funnel precise information to a customer.  They are awesome for campaign tracking, and they absolutely rock for SEO!  However, I think they add confusion for a customer and more things to watch to your Internet department’s to-do list…..as if we don’t have enough websites to keep an eye on already.

I know I’m speaking to the more advanced eCommerce crowd here, so I’m going to assume you guys are putting a lot of time and effort into your main dealer website.  You’ve got your value-added programs on your site, all your new & used inventory there, the right phone numbers, all kinds of forms, and maybe some other things that set you apart.  Why build more sites that only convey one message when you can build a single page, under your own domain, that can do the exact same thing?  Let’s call it a “landing page” and direct our campaigning efforts to that page.  If you know how to use your site metrics, you can watch to see how effective the campaign is.  On top of that, the people who come to your main site can also see your “landing page” ….win-win!   Yes, you’re going to lose out on phone call tracking (if you’re assigning a special 1-800 number to the campaign), but you’re not confusing your customers with 500 different phone numbers (this is another beef I have).  Speaking of customer confusion, what happens when all your micro-sites are indexed – how do they know which site is the one they should be clicking on when they’re coming through the organic side?  Is precise tracking worth more than customer frustration?

The part of micro-sites I absolutely love is the SEO benefits of having multiple, relevant, sites pointing back at you.  I can’t come up with a decent argument on this part, but I can tell you I’d rather spend my money on press releases instead of micro-sites.  They’re relatively inexpensive and don’t have to be managed.  If your customers find the release, then it just makes you look better (if written well), and it can be somewhat timeless (again, if written well).

Now you know my take on dealer micro-sites, and I’m interested to hear what you think – GET TO COMMENTING!!!

E
  • E
    Eric
  • April 24, 2008
Dead on Alex. I have yet to bring any stats to the table but most shoppers are looking for some sort of reassurance before they send in their personal info. Microsites do not provide that.
M
Depends whether it's branded or not Eric. Brand recognition is going to payoff for those that have a good one. Those that do not have something else to address prior to Micro-Site marketing.
L
I've looked into micro-sites from several different vendors. I have not been able to justify the cost of another $1,000 per month for a website that is only focused on one vehicle model, and no other links to your actual dealer website. Does anyone know of a website company that has landing pages within your dealer website for each model?

Right now, we have landing pages for each make, and individual vehicle pages for each VIN - which is great for SEO. I just wish we had landing pages for the models - it would be great for PPC campaigns!

I agree with Alex about confusing customers when a dealer has too many websites. We have one for each make we carry, plus a splash page that links all the sites together. We also have "Cobalt" sites as part of the GM requirement. All in all, for three dealerships, we have 10 websites!


B
Well I have some ideas on this when working within a budget.
Check out my site and see what I have done with a Mountain bike race
we sponsor every year. Doesn't cost anything other then time.
100% increase in traffic to the Tundras since going live with the coupon sale and popup.
L
Brian - that is a nice site. What kind of online or offline marketing campaigns do you use to promote the Tundra coupon page?
M
Lindsay, $1,000/mo for a microsite? Wow.

There's obviously value in microsites and landing pages, but It all depends on the content and how it relates to the goal of the promotion.

Obviously the overall goal is to generate a lead, but more specifically, you might want to lure customers away from a competitor, or push some SEO, or improve your online reputation. You're going to do something different for all of those cases, so buying a plug-and-play microsite from some vendor isn't always the way to go... especially if they're charging a g-note for the site. It's like anything else on the net - the best solutions are basically free, as long as you have the expertise to get it done yourself.
F
We have built a few micro sites this year with awesome results. Type into Google "special financing tulsa" you will see that my micro site is #1 and my website is #2 before the micro site we did not show up at all for that search term. For 400.00 and no monthly fees (includes URL and hosting) I am #3 or better for all the search terms I choose. These sites provide me with everything I wanted and a little more with no up keep and no headaches, just more clicks.
J
If you take all the above comments and place them in a blender, then copy n paste them here... that about nails my opinion on it.

Micro-sites
...w/o branding affiliation is a waste.
...Can be duplicated with landing pages.
...create more work
...SERPs can confuse a googler
...should have a unique tel# (more shopper confusion)
...have questionable ROI (gulp, $1k p/mo? I am in the wrong biz!)

All that being said...
I am a micro-site proponent. To me, the battle is for SERP dominance and micro sites help me get there. Allow me to explain.

To me, the center of all car buying is GOOG.
If you see an ad and you want to pursue it, you go to GOOG. If want more info on a hot lil' mini that just wizzed by you at lunch, you GOOG it. If your getting deeper into the process and you want to buy one, you GOOG it. Its HERE -at this search point- '[goog: make/Model/location] that Cars.com and AutoTrader.com STEAL your shoppers! That's right Cars.com and AutoTrader.com are your SERP competitors.

From my seat, if my site and my little army of micro sites can rank 3 of the top10 for "used ford 500 dealer near [city, state]" then thats 3 less spots for dealerrater.com, autotrader.com and the rest.

Because GOOG will only give one URL 2 links for a search, then that means the most your site will see with Landing pages are 2 results per search request. It is possible to have 2 results from your Microsites PLUS your home site, all on the TOP10 (1st Page).

BONUS:
Sometimes, you're going to want microsites just to protect yourself. Want proof?
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rlz=1T5GGLL_enUS262US262&q=jd+byrider
See position #2.

The best offense is rooted in superior defense. Your turn is coming.

just my $0.02 from your ol pal,
Joe

B
@Lindsey
check under the about us tab then check out news.
We use grass roots events to market the web site.
Not as advanced as what I would like but I am a one man show and kinda of hard to manage prices, pics, comments, previous customers, carfax, autotrader, cars.com and taking care of the tech issuses that pop up from time to time, But hey never a dull moment and the days go by fast.

A
Joe - you always make a good argument. You're 100% absolutely right about having to do combat with the people who want our money. Micro-sites are a perfect weapon in the arsenal for that, until they start fighting back with their own Micro-sites. I'm not sure if they would or not, but it would certainly go hand in hand with some of the direct vehicle campaigning they're doing. If they were to start doing something like that (and charging us for it), I could see $1,000/mo. for a micro-site becoming a good deal....especially if AutoTrader.com does it!
M
The way we deal with this opportunity is by testing microsites success in generating leads as compared to the actual dealers pages, (A/B Testing) which ever one over time performs better gets the directed traffic. Microsites can be a very well targeted tool and can often perform better but only when alligned well with the search terms that lead the customers there. More on this later. Great topic.

Mark Bonfigli
President, CEO
Dealer.com, Inc
www.dealer.com
R
I have personally designed, deployed, managed and monitored ROI on well over 100 microsites and various other sites that may or may not fit everyone's definition of what a microsite is, or is not. I can personally attest that some of my microsites generated nothing more than a bunch of work getting them built and launched... followed by a big yawn and "so what" from any car buyers that found them. However, many other microsites I have produced have been huge ROI successes... Far beyond anything else I have seen in over 20 years of developing digital marketing tactics (yes, I was writing text ads on BBS's when most readers of this blog were still in diapers or grade school). I have enjoyed the same feeling that I imagine musicians get when they produce a hot record that becomes a runaway hit when a microsite gets indexed to the top organic position for search queries on a make and model, and then becomes the subject of viral marketing acceleration with what seems like unsolicited spontaneously induced links from blogs and enthusiast sites on a worldwide basis... And, THEN found out (like rockstars do the morning after) what a headache 100,000+ unique visitors and 1,200+ lead forms submitted monthly can be when they come in from 35 states and 4 countries! However, once you hit the jackpot with microsites they become like crack to an addict and you start scraping budgets and finding funding with creativity that makes a junky looking for money for his next fix seem less motivated... And then you have to deal with the pebble in the pond syndrome. Yes, you have to hire more Internet Sales Specialists (you think a web site is tough to manage?!?!?!), hire contractors to build more offices... Expand your BDC... Handle more heat and unwinds... Chase more stips... Do more dealer trades... Settle more commission disputes... Broker more split-deal and skating allegation dispute resolutions between your team and the salespeople on the floor... Yup, microsites can really suck! Heck, the microsites I conceived and produced white at Courtesy Chevrolet just about killed me! I was working on many days from 8AM till 11PM handling 5,000+ leads and phone calls each month and had to grow my staff to over 30 people on 5 teams, selling between 340 to 420 cars a month. Anyways... I am NOT BEING SARCASTIC! Be careful what you wish for and understand that out of every 10 microsites, 5 will probably be flops, 3 will generate a decent ROI and more than pay for the 5 duds, 1 will be notable and make you want to brag about it... And, if you are very lucky, brilliant or both, 1 will explode with traffic and leads beyond your ability to handle it and only then will you realize that chasing SEO stardom looks great until you get it!

Just remember this... Mircosites should be as unique as people's ideas, desires, wants and needs. Otherwise, you are probably better off with landing pages, deep links and subdomains within your primary web sites.

Pricing? In my opinion a good single micro site with photo galleries, specification pages, news stories, reviews and plenty of links into your main site's inventory and form pages should cost no more than $1,000 up front for design and production and no more than $200 a month for hosting, maintenance and support that includes updating and revisions. Without any support, a microsite should be had for less than $100 a month. Or, simply build them yourself using 1and1.com, NetSol, Yahoo or any of the other cheapies and then frame in or link to your forms and inventory from your primary sites. It really is a question of how valuable your time is and how much money you can beg, borrow or steal from everybody else's budget in the dealership!

Lastly, if you are not creative and do not ENJOY coming up with marketing concepts, deploying them and then spending a LOT OF TIME monitoring the results and making countless changes and adjustments... Then a microsite strategy is probably not for you. In fact, microsites are simply not the right way to go for every dealership... You gotta want to be a Digital Marketing Rock Star with a BURNING FIRE IN YOUR BELLY! I lobe watching an expert use a chainsaw to create a sculpture out of the remains of a tree felled by lightning, but you won't see me with a chainsaw... I like keeping my legs and arms attached! Don't mess with microsites unless you know what your doing and are willing to commit to learning ninja-level digital marketing management skills.

Here's my contact information:

Ralph Paglia
Director - Digital Marketing
ADP Dealer Services
cell: 505-301-6369
email: [email protected]

Also, there are many articles and forum posts on this subject at the professional community site www.AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com
R
The context of micro-site being used here is that of your domain-based, static, generic, impersonal template-produced website that links or directs visitors to your website.

While the idea behind this has promise, the application of such micro-sites ignores an important ingredient in today's marketplace - Consumer Engagement.

Squidoo Lenses make for a good use of what these allured to "micro-sites" are out to accomplish. For example...

http://www.squidoo.com/2008-mercedes-benz-c63-amg

The page in and of itself is only a member to a greater message. For instance, the page that lens directs visitors...

http://www.yourmercedes.com/your-mercedes-benz-newsletter.htm

Similar in concept to micro site, but applied in a way more in step with many of today's customers.

-Ryan

R
Here's a few microsites worth checking out:

www.ChevyPride.com - A good example of a microsite covering topics you may not want on your primary site.

www.WeBuyChevys.com - Branded buy back campaigns work very well.

www.PHXfinance.com - A secondary finance microsite, probably better kept off your primary site. Another SpiFi example: http://nationalcars.est3.bzresults.net/ou/bronx-finance/index.do

www.Chevy-Malibu.com - This domain is available and the microsite shown is simply an example. The concept, URL and a custom design is available to the right Chevy dealer that would be willing to engage in a digital marketing research partnership and case study.

www.Tahoe-Chevy.com - This domain is available and the microsite shown is simply an example. The concept, URL and a custom design is available to the right Chevy dealer that would be willing to engage in a digital marketing research partnership and case study.

www.ChevyPriceQuote.com - This domain is available and the microsite shown is simply an example. The concept, URL and a custom design is available to the right Chevy dealer that would be willing to engage in a digital marketing research partnership and case study.

www.ChevyGas.com - This domain is available and the microsite shown is simply an example. The concept, URL and a custom design is available to the right Chevy dealer that would be willing to engage in a digital marketing research partnership and case study.

www.Tucson-Chevy.com - This is an example of a stealth microsite used to aggressively go after another market.

www.Phoenix-Chevrolet-Dealers.com - This is another stealth site designed to take market share from third party lead providers.

If anyone wants to see an example of a microsite with model specific landing pages, here you go:

Microsite index page: www.Scott-Robinson-Honda.com
Model specific landing pages:
www.TorrnaceHondaAccord.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaCivic.com
www.TorranceHondaCivicGX.com
www.TorranceHondaCivicSI.com
www.TorranceHondaCRV.com
www.TorranceHondaElement.com
www.TorranceHondaFit.com
www.TorranceHondaOdyssey.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaS2000.com

All of the above cost Scott Robinson Honda a one time $1000 setup fee and $595 a month for full hosting, support, updates, daily inventory data pulls and having Omniture SiteCatalyst hooked up to the back end... And, I provide consulting services to them as well.


R
Ryan's tactical application looks very interesting and may solve the maintenance and cost issues.
J
  • J
    Jon Groenig
  • April 24, 2008
Ralph, I am more convinced than ever that you never sleep, we were out late last night, I know you had an early flight, and yet here you are on dealer refresh posting. You've gotta tell me your secret!

Hi to Jeff and Alex, it was great meeting you at the AAISP conference, I always have to check in on dealer refresh and ADM before I go to bed at night, there is always great information.

Jon
A
Ryan - I like Squidoo for doing stealthed stuff like you showed. We've got a few of those going on. Plus Seth Godin is behind Squidoo, and Seth is the marketing king!

Ralph - great comments, and they're so Ralphesque - lol. You had me laughing a few times. I think what you're trying to say is these micro-sites have been mishandled in some cases, but at the end of the day they're just a small part of the big puzzle. But, just like anything else, when they're not done right it can screw you up.

And Ralph - you never do anything small do you? ....I think you now hold the record for the longest Dealer Refresh post when adding up all the back-to-back comments you made....too funny. Thanks for posting, and I hope you stick around.

Jon - it was a good time and nice to meet you too.
B
quote of the day "ninja-level digital marketing management skills"
I would say I am about a yellow belt
great post by the way!
R
Alex is right... The reality is that the most effective digital marketing strategies for dealers are those that balance a blend of many different types of online marketing, web sites and lead generation sources with the right processes and people. Today's role of "Digital Marketing Manager" is a new one in dealerships and will continue to evolve and take on different shapes and scope at each dealership. The managers who weave the best tapestry of strategy, processes and tactics within their given budgets will be the top performers that get promoted and become more successful in their automotive careers. I know it has worked well for me so far, and for many others who have embraced the willingness to experiment, measure, review, make adjustments and monitor so the process can be repeated as an onging management practice leading to continuous improvement... There is a minor player out there that for many years has used this exact "kaizen" strategy. I think their name begins with a T and they make a few cars and trucks.
A
Use Micro Sites Combined with SEM For Best Results from Dollars Spent:

It is true these days with all the different car dealers using SEM as a way to advertise and drive more clicks to there websites is costing more and more every month. You have to be smart about the way you use your monthly budget for SEM.
Micro Sites and SEM combined, is What I find to work best at Courtesy Chevrolet in San Diego Ca. First of all having Micro Sites, and More Micro Sites is going to set you apart from the competition over a period of time. Where I am going with this is get into the idea of having Micro Sites to help generate more online leads, incoming phone calls, and walk-in traffic to your dealership. Micro Sites are all about branding your name and dealership. Micro Sites are very low over head, usally consits of a build fee, and yearly hosting cost. Once they are built they are yours and with good content, you well get good SEO over time and they will do the advertising for you with out any SEM.

SEM campaigns and Micro Sites are what I have been practicing for a couple of months now. For example GM came out with the GM Military Discount Program this month. I built a GM Military Discount Micro Site and used some of my SEM Budget to drive prospects to the site. From April 9th - April 23rd I Have received 46 leads from this use of SEM and Micro Site. Example of Micro Site: www.GMMilitary-Discount.com Out of the 46 leads we have made 3 deals, and 1 working with a closing ratio of 6.5%. We spent $748.00 on that campaign at an average of %16.00 per lead that we own and not a third party. Cost per unit sold was $249.00. To make this work you have to be on your game. Another campaign I do that works well for us is our Courtesy Tent Sale Micro Site. We have a tent sale once a month so the week of the tent sale I create an SEM campaign to that Micro Site tha generates 20-30 leads for the tent sale event. Example of Tent Sale Micro Site: www.CourtesyTentSale.com. Please feel free to contact me for more information on this result driven practice.

Micro Sites by NewtonDigitalMarketing.com

Special Pricing for ADM Members!!
e-mail me mailto:[email protected]
J
WOW, I'm not even sure if there is anything I can add here other than my opinion. Great post and some awesome feedback from everyone.

I just was just talking about micro sites yesterday, so the conversation is fresh in my head.

One angle we were discussing, was the micro site for driven traffic and conversion only. Using traditional marketing and URL placement in your campaign marketing to drive traffic to the microsite while being able to track its effectiveness and ROI for that specific campaign. SEO would not be an element with this Micro site. It is used as part of a complete stand alone marketing campaign.

I like the direct measurement you get with a micro site and campaign like this BUT I think in long run you're missing out on so much more for the sake of campaign tracking and measurement.

If you are going to do the micro site thing, I say you take every angle into consideration..Branding, Marketing, Conversion, SEO and even Social. Ryan touched on the social element and engaging the customer, this is something that most micro sites in our industry fail to do.

So...right now, I'm coining "MicroMedia Sites". Ha!! I even registered the URL. micromediasites.com. Great, another idea and URL I'll never get around to using. That's number 263. LOL.

If you are going to take the time to build or have a micro site built, take full advantage of it. Allow it to climb the search engines, allow it to target keywords phrases your dealer website is unable to reach, allow it to help saturate the first page for your dealers name as well.

Use the site to brand your dealer and market your message. Convert the customer, allow them to voyage and gather the information they desire.

But wait...there's more!!

Engage the customer with social media and watch your micro site jump in the SERPS.

Humm, starting to sound like what our dealer websites should be doing?

I agree with Alex in the the advantage of your dealers website is providing the customer with more options. What about the customer that is interested in the Honda Civic but would also consider the pre-owned Mazda 3 that you have displayed on your dealer website but NOT on your model targeted micro site??

Could you be loosing out on more chances to convert with a micro site or does the direct model specific message speak so much volume on the micro site that it overvalues landing that customer on your dealer website?

I don't know and I don't think there is a way of knowing. Do what works for you and track your ROI as best as possible.

Confusing the customer...

People are already confused. I don't care if I have 20 websites..as long as they all have a consistent image and message that my dealer uses. Try to incorporate the same message, color schemes, buttons, images and of course your logo. People stumble on sites all the time and don't even know what website they are on. How many times do you ask a customer "what website did you find this car on?" and they say the "the internet"? I would get phone calls from customers that I KNEW for a FACT were on Cars.com (call whisper and call measurement) but would swear to me they were on AutoTrader looking at my vehicle for sale.

Phone Numbers..I don't care if I have 1000 different phone numbers. I don't care if there are 5 different phone numbers on 1 site as long as they are being directed to the right department. I was looking for some statistics on this but no luck so I'll have to make my own judgment. I don't think customers care what number they call as long as they get their questions answered right away. Case in point..how many people call your sales line for service, even though you have it clearly defined.

I also think there might be some confusion between mirco sites and landing pages.

Alex - thanks for a great post
Ralph - thanks for your expertise and links to the numerous sites and plug
Jon - great meeting you as well
Alvin - <i>thanks</i> for your plug

A great example of one to follow.

I am the KING of MicroMedia websites!! <a href="http://www.micromediasites.com/" rel="nofollow">
http://www.micromediasites.com/</a>


Jeff
R
Wow... Micromedia Sites... Very cool. The URL and landing page you constructed remind me of some of the ones Alvin puts together based on video clips.
E
I can see where having a micro-site may help a dealer index additional pages in the SERPS, add a few extra incoming links and possibly grab a few extra leads.

My opinion is much like Alex's; its going to create a lot of extra work - especially for those who don't have an organized online strategy already in place. The micro-site is not going to be your panacea.

Lindsay - stay away from anyone pitching you a 2k/mo. micro-site. For that price, it should prospect, close & deliver the car for you. The whole site shouldn't cost you more than ~$2500 - and that includes design, 1yr. hosting and key word optimization.

Frank - are you actually getting clicks for that search phrase? I see so many dealers being shown how "successful" their site is for a particular phrase. Its great to be #1 for a search term - but only if that phrase is ever searched by more than the just the company optimizing for it...

If you're going to spend the $$, I suggest putting it back into your main site to improve the style, functionality & overall usability. I'm sure everyone can find at least one or two pages within their site that isn't as effective as it should be. (I know I've got 'em)

Alex, good post...way to get people thinking.

Eric

F
Hello Eric

"are you actually getting clicks for that search phrase?" Wow, Yes yes yes, I actually get clicks for that search phrase. Not hundreds of course but enough to make it worth my time and dollars and it is just not just one search term, I have five micro sites (I will be building more) all of them are optimized for 3 to 5 keywords which show up in top three in those results. Also what is more important I think is the fact they are all linked together and linked to our main website. In doing this it has brought the website up in rankings on all search engines for search terms that we never showed for. For instance I wanted Jim Glover Chevrolet to show up when someone typed that phrase or close to it and now Jim Glover Chevrolet shows up right at the top.

These Micro sites are just a small part in a big picture and they play an important role in that they generate clicks and are key in SEO. They cost me very little money (less than 400.00) and the pay back is quick, now its just pure profit.

I am pretty sure I know what I am doing as I have been involved in internet sales for over nine years. Currently our store does not purchase any third party leads and our website had over 11,000 unique visitors in March 2008. This month we will have generated over six hundred leads from our website, with three hundred plus credit applications. I have four Internet sales managers and I believe they get to many leads as it has been proven I miss business. In the next couple of months we will add three more Internet managers as we are growing rapidly. But thanks for the advise I will look into adding more to my main website!!!!

There are many opinions here at dealer refreash and I read them all. I think we have some very professional people here and it is great to here from some of the best like Ralph Paglia, Jeff Kershner, etc. Really sorry to have missed the automotive digital marketing in Florida, I probably missed out on some great ideas, I believe that you will always pick up something from training, I was hoping everyone was going to share more here, hint hint. Thank you for the comment and your time.


J
FOR SALE:
Here are some undeveloped URLs in my inventory.

--GMcertifiedSale.com
--GMcertifiedClearance.com
--OfficialGMcertifiedSale.com
--GM-Certified-Dealer.com

--GMauthorizedSale.com

--FORD-VS-CHEVY.COM

--RockSolidChevrolet.com
--RockSolidChevy.com

I am house shopping, so everything has a price! I had plans to turn these into MFA sites (Made For AdSense Sites).

Interested parties can contact me via Jeff K or Alex, or email me: joepistell[at]gmail.com

thnx,
Joe




S
  • S
    SCM
  • April 27, 2008
Hi Everyone,

I'm new with dealerrefresh.com and I have one issue regarding micro sites. Whats does everyone think about the trademark issues regarding these domain names ? For example,

www.TorrnaceHondaAccord.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaCivic.com
www.TorranceHondaCivicGX.com
www.TorranceHondaCivicSI.com
www.TorranceHondaCRV.com
www.TorranceHondaElement.com
www.TorranceHondaFit.com
www.TorranceHondaOdyssey.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaS2000.com

Notice the terms "Honda Accord", "Honda Civic SI" etc.....

Don't those terms belong to Honda Motor Company ?

All comments and opinions are welcomed.

SCM


P
@SCM

Fair use comes in to play. As a dealer of those products they are probably granted a license to use those terms anyway.

Paul


S
  • S
    scm
  • April 27, 2008
"""""@SCM

Fair use comes in to play. As a dealer of those products they are probably granted a license to use those terms anyway.

Paul""""

What if your a used car dealer ?

and

"probably" is a very large word to use ....



P
You cant be stopped from advertising something you have in inventory. If that were the case then a Chevy dealer could not advertise used Fords.

There are so many ways to attack keyword in online marketing. You can actually get sites or pages to show up using competitors names easily. All done in a way that could not cause you any problems other than the phone call from them bitching about it. If you are going to go through the effort to do it.

As far as using trademarks in domain names it is up to the trademark holder to enforce the claim. Then you deal with it when the situation arises.

Paul

S
  • S
    scm
  • April 27, 2008
Hi Paul,

I understand where your coming from. With microsites is it just a "wait and see" type of site ? The reason why I ask is because when I search for "Torrance Honda Pilot" or "Torrance Honda S2000" in google I can't see where these sites are coming up in the google search results. Please advise.
P
Well those example are really an effort to push a product. IMHO

The SEO/SEM are the biggest factors. Just learning how to make a page/site with a point and click tool does not even start to scratch the surface of how to get it in the SERPS.

Paul
S
  • S
    scm
  • April 27, 2008
Whats needed in your opinion ? Is it a lot of anchor links back to your site ?

although if you look at this site

http://www.specialfinancingtulsa.com

there is only 6 anchor links according to Yahoo. So how diffucult can it be ?

https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/advsearch;_ylt=AgFkZDQ2XVBepbq8d1lRfDDal8kF?p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.specialfinancingtulsa.com&bwm=i&bwmf=a&bwms=p


P
Well the term "Special Financing Tulsa" is very non competitive and 6 links is probably all that is needed to get it there. Even the terms you referenced above are super non competitive and are not even worth worrying about going after. All you have to do there is "bait" the spiders to your site to rank for those very low competition search terms.

SEO is not rocket science. Anchor text links in, directory submissions and search engine submissions are the cornerstone of a SEO strategy.
It has to be done in a way to make it appear natural to keep the site out of the "sandbox".

One of the things that is ignored in much of the automotive seo out there is that most sites do not anchor out to authority sites to build search engine trust. But that is a different subject completely off this topic. If you wish to discuss it more it is not hard to find my contact info.
F
I have to disagree with you Paul, Special finance in Tulsa or Oklahoma for that matter is a very competitive market. I think you have again missed the point of what these micro sites do for the main website. You are so correct in that SEO is not rocket science, hence you are able to do it in a limited degree, but you are incorrect with your statement that search engine submissions are the cornerstone of SEO, as I have never submitted any site to search engines, if you have quality links and proper content the spiders for the search engines will find you and rank you higher and find you more relevant than if you submit them. This last statement comes from Google themselves you can hunt for it yourself on you tube if you like, Most of what I do comes directly from Google as I believe that if you follow what they tell you then of course you will succeed as they control what is relevant. In retrospect all of my search terms, links, and websites come from what I have learned directly from Google webmaster tools, analytics and Yahoo search. Also with the amount of visitors I receive on jimgloverchevy.com and the quality leads that are submitted I think I have succeeded were many others fail. Thank you again for you time and comments.
P
If you have listed your site in the "Google Webmaster Tools" then you have submitted it to Google. Also using google analytics may even be a form of submission but that is subjective.

Wordtracker shows no search volume for "Special Finance Tulsa"

The Number 2 listing which is your website is a error page.

A person shopping for a car with bad credit is not going to google "Special Finance Tulsa". "Bad Credit Car Loans in Tulsa" or "Buy a Car in Tulsa with bad Credit" may be more appropriate. Granted the market may be very competitive but the search term is nil except for the few that have been performed after reading your retort.

With that being said I am glad it is working for you well. I hope my competitors try to rank for nil search terms while I go after their name.
P
Correction the number two site is for Riverside Nissan on the Reynolds web app. Not sure it that is related or not. It looks like you helped seo a non existent web application...

My Bad
F
Sorry your smarter than me, my bad
F
you just dont get it, thats ok. you read into it what you want to but just go back and read between the lines. You might be able to fiqure it out. Wait let me help you again, from five websites covering 20 keywords or phrases I rank 1 to 3 for those terms, which are relevant to what Google has told me, not word tracker whew. I have nothing to do with Riverside Nissan as they are sonic automotive. Being involved in Google webmaster tools has nothing to do with submitting sites to search engines, geezzz. Last but not least I will try one more time, Micro sites assist my main website in search engine rankings for search terms that did not rank well for before. Next.

P
You don't get it. Listing a site into "Google's Webmaster Tools" is submitting it to Google. Especially if you listed a site map for them to spider.

Nobody has said that they will not help your site rank for other terms. That should be one of the primary reasons to have one unless it is unbranded to "trick" people into submitting a lead.

You keyed in on "Special Finance Tulsa" not being a high competition keyword and got your feathers ruffled. It may be a very highly competitive part of your business but it just does not have much search volume. You will never get the search numbers out of google for any term. Tools like Word Tracker do help estimate them. Google will help you measure the amount of traffic though for your keywords.

What is the amount of traffic you get for the search term "Special Finance Tulsa" that converts to leads then to sales. That is the real value of having those keywords and it all can be done in Google Analytics. (Measuring ROI on Search Terms)

One of the benefits for having two pages on the front of the serps for that term you will capture most of the traffic from the occasional search. Kudos...
S
  • S
    scm
  • April 28, 2008
How many micro sites does one need to expect to build before they starting seeing results in search engines ?


R
In regards to the post below... During my consulting visit to Scott Robinson Honda when we developed the strategy and acquired the URL's, I had an AHM eBusiness executive with me as an observer. He had no problem with the URL's because they were geographically localized to the community that is in the dealer's primary area of responsibility. The URL acquisition was not the reason I brought Honda management with me, but it sure made the dealer principal more comfortable with the URL acquisitions with the factory guy present. Since 1994 I have bought THOUSANDS of URL's for many dealers, and for my own purposes. In my opinion, the acquisition o keyword laden URL's is an important aspect of an effective microsite strategy. I have been to court, deposed, sued... won and lost several cases. I get attorneys calling me all the time as both an expert witness and to testify on "customs and practices" in the auto industry. I have reviewed nasty, threatening letters from just about every car company in America... And, I have had Mike Devereaux at GM come to my dealership in person, with his entourage to discuss my store's acquisition and use of over 350 URL's that GM decided they wanted us to transfer... When the dust settled We kept them, and used them is a responsible and legitimate manner. I am not sure that all the battles I have fought on the URL issue have been worth the time and energy, but when you win it feels great! When you lose because of intimidation tactics and unfair business practices, it does not. If anyone ever gets in a jam, or a pissing match with an OEM, give me a call or write and I can refer you to an experienced attorney.

Oh yeah, one last thing... We did buy www.TorranceCarMax.com and www.CarMaxTorrance.com while I was at Scott Robinson Honda... One quick visit to the URL's will show you what the dealer decided to do when he got the letter from Carmax's Legal Eagles!

Moral of the story? If you are a Honda dealer selling cars in Torrance, you are VERY OK when acquiring URL's that contain "TorranceHonda" in them! And the same applies to just about every other make and location... BUT... What If you are a Hyundai dealer in Tucson and you already own www.HyundaiTucson.com when Hyundai decides to come out with a new model called a "Tucson"? Yummy... Let me be THAT Dealer!!!!
======================================================
Hi Everyone,

I'm new with dealerrefresh.com and I have one issue regarding micro sites. Whats does everyone think about the trademark issues regarding these domain names ? For example,

www.TorrnaceHondaAccord.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaCivic.com
www.TorranceHondaCivicGX.com
www.TorranceHondaCivicSI.com
www.TorranceHondaCRV.com
www.TorranceHondaElement.com
www.TorranceHondaFit.com
www.TorranceHondaOdyssey.com
www.TorranceHondaPilot.com
www.TorranceHondaS2000.com

Notice the terms "Honda Accord", "Honda Civic SI" etc.....

Don't those terms belong to Honda Motor Company ?

All comments and opinions are welcomed.

SCM

S
  • S
    scm
  • April 28, 2008
Hi Ralph,

Thanks for the reply. Does it matter what the extension is ? .net, .org, .info etc... ?
J
Ralph P. and the group, I’d love your opinion on a microsite project.

Topic: Adjoining Market Microsites.
This whole concept needs one of two "engines" to drive commerce. #1) is large amounts of population in adjoining markets
#2) Enormous inventory

We're a number2 dealer (aka big fish in small pond). I’ve got 3 microsites on the drawing table built specifically for SEO'ing into the rural regions that surround me.

IMO, because we have no brand established in these markets and we're far away, I need to get the surfer comfortable with contemplating a long distance transaction into a strange place. I am thinking that we'll profit from having a "point man" or a go to person assigned to the region (read: microsite). This sales rep should have a personal connection to the region so the rep can demonstrate local authority making our caller more at ease. We'll create an personal intro video and assign the rep a toll free# to a cell phone. We'll make any deal we can to the 1st dozen buyers to create Local Testimonials (with photos/videos) to help that shopper visualize a successful transaction.


I assume that I am not the 1st person with this concept, I'd like to benchmark, can you think of another dealer that has done this? The URLs?


Any other ideas/examples?
Joe

T
"Moral of the story? If you are a Honda dealer selling cars in Torrance, you are VERY OK when acquiring URL's that contain "TorranceHonda" in them!"

What if you are a Ford dealer in a small town 20 minutes from, let's say...Knoxville, TN? Would it be ok, in your opinion, to use KnoxvilleFordF150.com or FordFocusKnoxville.com in order to draw web traffic from a more metropolitan, more heavily populated area??? Does that infringe upon the Ford dealers who are actually INSIDE Knoxville city limits?

I like this thread, I have already learned quite a bit!
W
If microsites can generate a good ROI, its good. If not, don't do it. Generating leads is not enough anymore in this current business climate.

I'm always reminded by dealers - "Wayne, if we're not selling cars, none of what you are doing really matters."
A
Joe - what about offering a delivery service coupled with some kind of "do the deal from your house" ad campaign? Flat bed deliveries aren't that much - we do them all the time with our highline franchises.
S
  • S
    scm
  • April 28, 2008
Hi Everyone,

This question is for the "experienced micro site developers". Have you ever witnessed a site of yours generate a great deal of leads in a short time and then all of a sudden die out ? Do a lot of your micro sites generate a stable amount of leads over time ? Or do you need to keep adding to your portfolio ?

Thanks
J
Great topic Alex.

We have found that the best way to utilize microsites, and to keep the consumer confortable within the confines of your dealer branded site is to incorporate the two. By delivering the consumer directly to the page they asked for, they can still convert at a high rate, or click to another area within the site quickly and easily. We have went beyond A/B testing on this issue and have shown proven results.

Example:

Google - 2008 Chevy Tahoe Cincinnati

The first organic listing is for Jeff Wyler Chevrolet. When you click on the link, you don't go to the home page or inventory, but rather to a page designed specifically for the Chevy Tahoe customer. It includes all of the information on researching/buying a new Tahoe, Tahoe video/pics, plus links to specific pages on Tahoe service or parts. Pages like these convert very well, plus allow consumers to navigate to any other page within the site.

These pages can also be used for SEM campaigns.

James Kovacs
ClickMotive
www.clickmotive.com
L
  • L
    Lao Shi
  • April 28, 2008

This will have an impact on Micro Sites as well as Flash Sites. It is expected we will see more of these types of "Quality Control" solutions added in the future in an atttempt to clean and streamline the web.

"Landing page load time will soon be incorporated into Quality Score"

As part of our continuing efforts to improve the user experience, we will soon incorporate an additional factor into Quality Score: landing page load time. Load time is the amount of time it takes for a user to see the landing page after clicking an ad.

Why are we doing this?
Two reasons: first, users have the best experience when they don't have to wait a long time for landing pages to load. Interstitial pages, multiple redirects, excessively slow servers, and other things that can increase load times only keep users from getting what they want: information about your business. Second, users are more likely to abandon landing pages that load slowly, which can hurt your conversion rate.

When are we making this change?
In the next few weeks, we will add load time evaluations to the Keyword Analysis page (we'll notify you when they are available). You will then have one month to review your site and make necessary adjustments.

After the one month review period, this load time factor will be incorporated into your keywords' Quality Scores. Keywords with landing pages that load very slowly may get lower Quality Scores (and thus higher minimum bids). Conversely, keywords with landing pages that load very quickly may get higher Quality Scores and lower minimum bids.

To learn more about the upcoming change, please see this article in the AdWords Help Center.

Posted by Vivian, Inside AdWords crew

J
Mouse to House Delivery.

Good one Alex!

Thnx,
Joe
E
James -

You say ..."By delivering the consumer directly to the page they asked for..."

Gotta ask...where are you seeing that people are asking (Googling) for "2008 Chevy Tahoe Cincinnati?"


T
  • T
    Tom S.
  • April 29, 2008
Great thread but I'm wondering if I should be selling micro sites instead of cars.
J
Eric,

I was just using that term as an example, but the point was more on where you deliver someone who does search specific terms like that. By taking the comsumer to a "tahoe" specific page we are increasing the chance of converting the customer into a lead (same concept as a microsite), but at the same time giving them the freedom to browse your entire site. I wouldn't expect terms like that to give a dealer an avalanche of traffic, but I sure don't want to ignore the fact that people are typing longer search queries, and if presented with what they ask for with one click, then the odds of them converting go up dramatically. Our CTO just returned from the Goolge Auto Exec conference, and Google now says that the average search term is 4 words. So things are trending towards people typing exactly what they want.

A great non auto example is:

Google - spiderman dvd

The first organic link is Amazon. Do you go to the homepage or directly to the dvd?


J
Eric,

I was just using that term as an example, but the point was more on where you deliver someone who does search specific terms like that. By taking the comsumer to a "tahoe" specific page we are increasing the chance of converting the customer into a lead (same concept as a microsite), but at the same time giving them the freedom to browse your entire site. I wouldn't expect terms like that to give a dealer an avalanche of traffic, but I sure don't want to ignore the fact that people are typing longer search queries, and if presented with what they ask for with one click, then the odds of them converting go up dramatically. Our CTO just returned from the Goolge Auto Exec conference, and Google now says that the average search term is 4 words. So things are trending towards people typing exactly what they want.

A great non auto example is:

Google - spiderman dvd

The first organic link is Amazon. Do you go to the homepage or directly to the dvd?

James Kovacs
ClickMotive
www.clickmotive.com
E
James -

I understand the concept of driving visitors to pages w/content related to their search terms.

However, using a search phrase that isn't a real word example of user behavior as a reference point to your "proven success" may be confusing to dealers who may not be familiar w/this concept.

I've heard so many dealers tell me about how unsatisfied they are with the results their vendors deliver - if automotive vendors want to earn, and retain, more business - they need to explain things in easy to understand language, show case studies and service the hell out of their customers.

If you haven't seen them, check out Ralph P's presentation decks & case studies. (It'll take you the entire month of May, but it'll be worth it)

Eric
J
Eric writes:
"...Gotta ask...where are you seeing that people are asking (Googling) for "2008 Chevy Tahoe Cincinnati?"..."

May I suggest:
http://www.google.com/urchin/
http://www.google.com/analytics/indexu.html
http://www.webtrends.com/products.aspx

Eric's in my back yard, Oh the pain I suffer to be a good DR citizen.
Joe





E
Hey Joe:)

Thx..however, I was trying to drill down further as to where James was getting his info from...

Tone is always a difficult thing to gauge in the written word - but there was a sublte amount of dry sarcasm in my post to James.

Eric
U
Alex excellent post...

Wow micro sites for SEO/SERP... hmm that is a new one for me. Someone point out a micro site that ranks well for any good keyword on any SERP. 4 word keywords don't count.

If you are doing PPC sure special finance micro site makes sense... but why bother... when you can do sub domains (taken as separate sites anyhow). Keeps the brand and less chancing of dupe penalty.

I'm always for sites with personalized URL. So if you are doing a postcard get a personalized URL for each recepient but don't get a micro site to go along with it... single page... site is not really worth it.

Why pay for static micro site... host it on Google for free...

Jeff... ahaha... I am the KING of MicroMedia websites!!
http://www.micromediasites.com/

J
Umer writes:
>>Wow micro sites for SEO/SERP... hmm that is a new one for me. Someone point out a micro site that ranks well for any good keyword on any SERP. 4 word keywords don't count.<<<

ahh... 4 word keywords don't count? ...huh? Umer, did you say 4 word keywords don't count? [much scratching of head here]

To me that like saying "Someone show me a Top Fuel Funny Car that ranks well, but, those soft rubber black things on the corner don't count." huh? Tires? No stinking tires? How silly that is!


Hmm... lets go to google & say we are looking for.... um.... ANYTHING.

Used Saturn VUE dealer near Buffalo, NY.
(6 keywords in that one, heck no one would use that search phrase!)

Real Estate MLS listings near Charlotte NC.
(There's 3 to 5 keywords in 2 different phrases in that one)

inground pool dealer near [city, state]

Keywords string together to make us money!
1). Inground
2). Pool
3). Dealer
--near (usually ignored when associated with location)
4). City
5). State

Umer, your serve has been returned. 4 word keyword phrases are where the moneys at!

Joe




U
Joe do you have any stats to back this up... how many visitors did you really get on these key phrases... 1 or two... in a month. Given you will only convert 3%-6% of your traffic it is a long shot.

I don't think it is worth the money and effort for a micro site for such a long key phrase. When your main site can do the same thing... since you are just competing with less then 5,000 pages.

Now if your micro site ranks well for these...

Used Cars Buffalo
Used saturn buffalo

it's a different game.


S
James,

Why does Click Motive still use landing pages for their PPC? Aren't the new websites being sold as conversion tools?

Also, after 10 years in ASEV (Automotive Search Engine Visibility) I can tell you that having a phrase like the one above is an extremely low percentage of real searches.

Can you show some successful searches that would actually drive traffic to a dealer? I have current SEV reports on several of the Wyler sites.

Steve
ScreenCrafters
J
I am done trying to wake up people about the value of long tail.

If you want real proof, take a good look at the behemoth content monster that our comrade Alex has put together. Here is a man that has seen the back end of his old site and has "doubled down" on his success and attacked the long tail even harder.

personally, I know Long Tail works because I've studied it from the bottom up (like Alex). I've studied our sites LOG FILES, listened to 100's and hundreds of hours of recorded calls coming from our assorted web properties (via CallBright.com). I've trailed shoppers all the way to a post sale surveys and post sale reviews with sales reps.

I am done preaching LT, my conscience is cleared and I hope you remain unconvinced.

Joe

E
Joe -

The Long Tail can in fact be your friend - wondering though if you are relying soley on log files as a measure of your keyword success?

My philosophy has always been to go after the "heavy terms" and get to the 1st page for those terms...go where the people are.

Eventually the long tail can be identified from the site analytics; obviously each store needs to leverage what works for the type of market, customer, dealer type, etc...

Eventually it all comes down to making sure the choices made at the store level are as cost-effective as possible while helping deliver more units.

Doesn't matter If its long tail, targeted 6 word phrases for a micro-site, or broad based 2-3 word phrases for the main site - as long as it works for your store, then work it hard.
U
Not discounting if long tail works... it WORKS... but is it worth putting up a micro site just for that, in my opinion it is not, when you can spend that money on your primary site or a blog by autoconversion.com.


A
Thanks for the props on the new site Joe! Can't wait to see yours, but I'm hoping you don't one-up me :)
J
Alex,
I have plans, big plans, but, nothing as ambitious as yours! ;-)

Plus, I'd like our readers to consider their market size.
If you're within a one hour drive of a very large maket (or in one),
excellent ROI from SEO is far more easy to obtain. SEO construction costs (and level of difficulty) are the same in Philly or in Peoria.

Joe


J
Entertaining Offers:

www.Over30mpg.com
(GM should own this URL)
I bought the URL the day oil broke over $40 a bbl. The current site is just a simple template and has no real value. The value lies in the URL itself.

Send contact info to joepistell-at-gmail.com, or to Jeff K here at DR, he'll get it to me.

thnx,
joe
C
First GM needs to build a 30MPG car, then they can worry about buying the URL! ;) jk. I'd buy www.over75mpg.com, setup a forum and let people talk about how they've modified their hybrids to achieve this goal, and have it all sponsored by "Dealer X".

--

Long tail SEO traffic, while potentially noisy, is extremely important for small, new, websites (micro sites). It's the only type of SE traffic you can go after in the beginning, unless you're lucky enough to have an authority site pointing to you. Plus the more narrow that query is, the better chance of getting some one in-market.

Additionally, SEO success breeds SEO success, so one day you're ranking well for "Used 2007 BMW 535xi, Boston, MA" and the next quarter you're now ranking for "2008 BMW 535xi, Boston, MA" and then in another quarter you're ranking for "BMW 535xi, Boston, MA" and then "BMW, Boston, MA" until you reach something like "Massachusetts BMW Dealers" and you've gone from a very long tail search, to "stealing" traffic away from your competitors in droves. The important thing is to have a clear-cut plan of what your ultimate goal is and prepare your campaign around it. Ideally you want to be ranking for specific vehicles, regardless of the manufacture year, that you can keep building on year after year.

--

While I can use only the tools provided to me, I suspect that search engine traffic for region, specific cars pales in comparison to region, specific dealer queries. By now, I think most shoppers are going straight to autotrader, cars, ebay, craigslist... when they know what car they want and they'll have used non-region specific queries to figure out what that car is. And no micro site is going to be able to compete with the results for "2008 Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Explorer...". So, I think long tail is very important for the success of a micro site.

Is anyone doing conquest micro sites? Building micro sites to rank high for your competitor's name?

Chip-
U
Chip I have some price comparison sites... targeting competitors name and niche... works out nicely...
D
It is always interesting to see how one subject can have so many different opinions on what works and why to do them. Bottom line is they work. All you have to ask yourself is, is it worth me to do them?

I'm glad to see that Micro Sites have caught on so well and that the future is still so hot. Most dealers are finally seeing the huge benefits to using them. When we started designing & building Micro Sites for Courtesy Chevrolet with Ralph Paglia 2.5 years ago, we saw an immediate success rate with leads. Since then their Micro Sites, 26 in all, have generated over 14,000 leads, all at NO COST PER LEAD.

We designed many different types of Micro Sites for Courtesy. We designed the 2008 Chevy Malibu, 2008 Chevy Camaro (I know it's not an 08 but more on this later), we designed a Phx Finance site, special financing sites like bankruptcy, Ok Credit, Price Quote, Bad Credit, Good Credit, Got Gas, Free GM Oil Change, other specific model sites and even generic non branded Chevy sites. We have a Red Carpet and Red Tag Event Micro Site. Oh, and there is even a Chevy Pride site.

Most of these Micro Sites had PPC campaigns driving traffic to them. BTW, if you are going to advertise a specific message on GOOGLE via PPC, then you better deliver a page that supports your ad. If you are going to build a landing page or micro site, they both better deliver the message and what you promised the customer when they clicked on your link. Don't just throw up an ad that says 2008 Chevy Malibu, $200 discount when you click, and all they get is your main dealership homepage. I'll assume you all know the difference between a landing page and a micro site.

So back to the 2008 Chevy Camaro. I know this is not the year it will be released, but my theory is why change something that is already working so well. If you GOOGLE 2008 Chevy Camaro, the micro site will be the #1 position, beating out Chevrolet. This week alone, the site has received 41 leads. Hard to change something that still works so well. This site has generated over 11,000 leads on its own. There has been no PPC driving traffic to the site, it is all organic ranking.

Dealers should branch out and develop eye pleasing organic ranking micro sites to gain widespread exposure. 1 Dealership web site may be enough, or it may not be. Third party vendors provide leads but at what cost per lead? And you all know your not the only dealer to get that lead. Micro Sites are in-house leads and only yours.

One hot topic for customers right now is the gas prices and hybrid vehicles. Check out this page and see for yourself the number of Daily Hybrid Searches going on. This was an email campaign we sent out, so please excuse the marketing messages.

http://www.freshstartstudio.com/microsites/email/hybrid.html

To Wayne...
You asked, if a Micro Site can provide good ROI, then do it. What is your idea of good ROI? 1 lead can pay for the cost of a Micro Site, so is that good? Is there a higher number? 10, 100? What does a dealer consider good ROI? Are you relying on Organic Ranking, or will you combine PPC? Do different dealers have diferent ideas on a good ROI? This would help me understand your expectations of a Micro Site.

To Tim...
Some dealers purchase their competitors name and redirect traffic, while I don't think this is a good idea, buying URL's for areas you are targeting is. The more specific you can be the better. I like the examples you gave.

To Joe...
Great idea. And it works. Phoenix Chevy did a Tucson Micro Site and Tucson is about a 3 hour drive. They received about 25 leads from the Micro Site.

To Ralph...
I like how you have listed these sites as YOUR Micro Site examples. I urge all dealers to take 5 minutes and look at how EXACT these "examples" are to the sites my company designed and built for Courtesy Chevrolet in Phoenix. While I respect Ralph in his achievements, and his self promotion, Ralph does not own any right to the following "examples". Ralph was involved, but only in asking Fresh Start to build a micro site based on a topic for Courtesy Chevrolet who DID pay for them.

"Paglia Example" www.Chevy-Malibu.com - Fresh Start Site www.2008ChevyMalibu.com
Please note the built by at the bottom of the pages.

"Paglia Example" www.tahoe-Chevy.com - Fresh Start Site www.2007Tahoe.com
Please note the built by at the bottom of the pages.

"Paglia Example" www.ChevyPriceQuote.com - Fresh Start Site www.chevypricequotes.com
Please note the built by at the bottom of the pages.

"Paglia Example" www.ChevyGas.com - Fresh Start Site www.yougotgas.com
Please note the built by at the bottom of the pages.

While imitation is the best form of flattery, I think this goes beyond that and is called, stealing code, using someone else’s design to get ahead, and Copyright infringement seeing how we post Copyright notices on all Micro Sites.

To all the dealers thinking about Micro Sites. Just Google "dealer micro sites", or "Micro Sites" and you'll see what all the buzz is about on Micro Sites. We’ll be the first organic listing. Oh and yes, this is even considered a Micro Site. :)

David Jackson
President/CEO
Fresh Start Studio, LLC.
www.FreshMicroSites.com

J
  • J
    Joe
  • May 23, 2008
woa... remind me to not hire Mr Jackson to execute any idea that I have (or would like to share). Talk about hubris! Yuk!

Joe

A
You may not agree with him Joe, but he sure does know how to stick an advertisement into a comment on Dealer Refresh. That's the best under-the-radar solicitation I've seen yet! Nicely done David - it is so good, I think we should leave it up.

I'm not saying I agree with anything you're saying, I'm simply stating that was one hell of a job of sliding an ad message in. Now you get to reap the SEO benefits, so please send some appreciation back to Dealer Refresh.
D
To Joe...
What do you disagree with? I gave information do dealers on how to run a PPC campaign. I gave testimony that Micro Sites do work. I responded to a few comments asking for feedback from a dealer, I believe I even gave you props for reaching out to other areas of your dealership, and I responded to Ralph's claim of owning the design of OUR micro sites as his own. Ralph merely asked us to design those sites while at Courtesy Chevrolet. He is now at a competitor ADP or BZResults and using our designs to sell micro sites. Would you want a competitor to copy your exact web site and use it to compete against you? They are exact. I'm sure you wouldn't.

To Alex...
Did you read Ralph Paglia's posts? He riddles his comment with URL's claiming he designed them and NO ONE says a thing. Not even you had a comment for Ralph. I merely responded to his claim of owning those example sites. He never paid us for those, Courtesy Chevrolet did. He never came up with the design layout, we did. Ralph merely asked us to design and build a site and we did.

I know this forum is not for link posting, but when someone directly takes code, copies it and even copyrights it as their own (BZResults/Ralph Paglia), they should be outed. Dealers I have spoken with that know about this situation even question what he did. I don't think anyone can agree with what Ralph is doing.

David
A
Then I misread your comment David. I apologize. I keep up with Dealer Refresh daily and when there are days (almost a month in this case) between comments it is hard to recollect what exactly has been said before.

URL's are definitely allowed and encouraged - I wish TypaPad was able to convert them into hyperlinks though.
D
to Alex,

Thank you for the followup post and apology. I appreciate it.
J
Mr Jackson,
When I read your post, it was quite clear that you felt that Ralph Paglia’s success is due to you. I happen to think it’s the other way around.

I am a site builder, webmaster, site project manager, marketing director and I am SEO literate. I see all the parts in the puzzle. I will use this analytical method to highlight my opinions.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Internet SEO to this vertical?
>>>answer: 10 <<< (one is not important, ten being very important)

On a scale of 1 to 10, looking at this industry as a whole, how “densely populated and SEO developed” are the dealer sites that connect to this space today?
>>>answer: 3, just 2 years ago it was a 1 <<<

On a scale of difficulty, ranking 1 to 10, how difficult is making a microsite?
>>>answer 1<<< (one is easy, ten being very difficult)

On a scale of difficulty, ranking 1 to 10, how difficult is making a microsite rank well for “Life Insurance Quotes”?
>>>answer 11<<< (11 = damn near impossible)

On a scale of difficulty, ranking 1 to 10, how difficult is making a microsite rank well for “2008 Camaro” when it’s created in 2005??
>>>answer 2<<<

To me it’s simple (and you know this). This vertical is so under-developed that getting excellent SERPs is a walk in the park. Granted, the degree of difficulty is increasing month over month as everyone begins to set aside dollars for SEO, but, anyway you cut it, this industry is a SEO cake-walk.

So let’s take a look at google for 2009 Chevy Camaro. #2 behind GM is http://www.chevy-camaro-2009.com/. A low budget microsite network created by… “Magoo”. Hahahha…. Ahem, sorry about that.

Your success and notoriety in this vertical are due to one individual, Ralph Paglia. I don’t know him, never met him, but this I do know, if you didn’t have Ralph P at the helm, leveraging the leads by building industry 1st management solutions which were followed up by his publicizing his efforts NATIONALLY, then you Mr Jackson… would be another Magoo.

Given the indisputable facts, as time rolls forward, the easy SERPs in this vertical will dry up (due to competition), a small army of microsite wannabes will undercut you and ruin your margins, and the big boys are just starting to move into your space.


Your Tactical Error:
I ask you what’s more important, the microsite builder or the company with inroads into thousands of dealerships that lacks this SIMPLE product? You have the opportunity to leverage your current knowledge and accomplishments by adopting a “partnership” mentality with THE BIG PLAYERS in this space. If RP is now a competitor, that’s fine, but understand there is demand for your knowledge, but not if it comes with a public "burning of the bridges" should the relationship fail.

Joe
D
Joe,

First, I do not claim that Ralphs success is due to us, why would I? I merely claim that Ralph is not the only reason OUR efforts are successful. Like I said, RP asked for a particular site, and it was up to us to design, build, optimize and market the site organically. At the time, RP was one man asking us to build a web site for something and make it successful. It takes a certain skill to rank your site naturally/organically on the first page of Google, especially for multiple brands and multiple markets.

It is always good to hear that a dealer is knowledgeable in SEO. Do you remember when you contacted us for Micro Sites last year in May of 2007? At the time you were working at a dealership. We spoke several times about SEO back then. I am the type of company that remebers its clients or potential clients, and is ALWAYS just an email or phone call away. We provide a valuable solution for dealers at a very affordable cost.

Here are some examples.

Example of a Non Dealer Micro Site 2 pages
One such non-dealer micro site we built is in the mortgage industry. We built a 2 page micro site and in 3 months it has received about 10 leads. It ranks on the first page of Google with no other advertising, not even PPC.

For Example: Keyword M&I Bank Construction Loan
Page #1 - Position #1
For Example: Keyword M&I Financing
Page #1 - Position #3
For Example: Keyword Scottsdale Lot Loans
Page #1 - Position #1
And so on...

Micro Sites work so well for dealers in particular because when a potential customer is researching a new vehicle, they usually type in the following combinations of keywords:

"year, model" or "year, make, model" or "year, model, location".

Take the 2007 Tahoe site we built a couple of years ago. Our statistics show that customers are finding the site by Googling the following terms:

2007 Tahoe: position #3
2008 Chevy Tahoe: position #10
New Tahoe: position #2
2008 Tahoe, Phoenix: position #1
and so on...

McCombs in San Antonio built several micro sites with us, and one of them, RedSaysYes[dot]com has high organic raking for the following:
bankruptcy dealers: position #1
bankruptcy dealerships: position #1

To answer what you claim is my tactical error:
We are just one dealer solution provider in a sea of many many choices dealers have. RP now working at one of the biggest companies in this industry does good for what we provide, but does nothing for me directly. RP promotes what ADP/BZ does not what we do. If RP promotes one of our micro sites, his next sentence is, "We (ADP) or I(RP) can do that". I really don't think it is in RP's best interest to promote another companies wares when he is paid by ADP to promote that same service. Other dealer web site providers have approached us to partner with them in the micro site arena and we have approached others too. ADP is not the only solution provider. Before RP joined ADP, ADP refused to even consider Micro Sites. If any bridges were burned, it was by RP claiming those sites as his own and as a BZ site by ONLY changing the copyright notice and then promoting them to dealers as an ADP/BZ solution. It would be like me taking your site and using every word and image and putting it under a new domain name and copyrighting it as my own. No dealer would want the exact same site being used by a competitor, oh wait, BZ does do that already. ;)

Bottom line Joe, we have been in the web development industry since 1995, and for Dealers, we specialize in building micro sites and provide online marketing via SEO & SEM.

David
O
I have to agree with Alex' initial posting. I have build my own microsites both branded and non branded to see what kind of success they would give me. In addition, we use a dealer ad association with a website. It might be easy to rank well for certain keywords, but conversion is way lower then the 9-12% I get on my main website.

I just do not see the value in them other then creating very focused messages to your potential customers. That is exactly where the problem is. All of the website providers for car dealers are very inflexible and do not allow you to create mini advertising campaigns on your own site.

I would prefer to see a vendor that allows me to build my own marketing messages on my website, and allows me to add a form to this page with the fields I want, and allows me to optimize this page based on what my marketing message is. That is basically what you want with a microsite, but our website providers do not allow us to do with our own website.

Content is King and putting the content on multiple sites instead of one does not help you. Instead of creating multiple micro sites, I see more value in creating one non branded website next to your own dealer site. This way, you can go after traffic that you are not getting now.

Regarding price. In order for a microsite to successfully index organically in the search engines, you need at least 3-6 months, thus you are paying $1000 plus $200 per month. So let's say $2,000 to get started and then you have to maintain your keywords, content and keep track of your results. I created the sites myself with a cost of about $90 per year and I still did not see the value. It is too much work. As for the person that commented about getting 5,000+ leads a month from microsites (don't believe it). Please show me what you did and I will give you a big fat check!!!





J
Oscar writes:

---I would prefer to see a vendor that allows me to build my own marketing messages on my website, and allows me to add a form to this page with the fields I want, and allows me to optimize this page based on what my marketing message is. That is basically what you want with a microsite, but our website providers do not allow us to do with our own website.---

Ahhh... music to my ears. We speak the same language! This is one of my pet rants. It's July dammit, why can't I have a July sales theme? Why does my site look the same when we're running a huge campaign and when we're not?

What you (and I want) is a CMS site (Content Management System). It has been done to near perfection by Alex at CheckeredFlag.com. For us mere mortals Jeff K has recommended Joomla.com that is open source. Get yourself a personal Joomla hack and your off to the races.

I am totally rebuilding UsedCarKing.com from the ground up. It is a SEO engineered CMS, built in CSS so I can change the look and feel without an act of congress to get it done.

Stay tuned...
Joe

J
Oscar,
One more thing.

How do those pop-under and over coupons work for you? I havent tried it and I'll try anything as long as it sells cars.

Joe
O
Joe,

Funny that you mention CMS sites. I am actually in the process to create my own platform based on an open source CMS. The great potential here would be to create a platform that allows me to create content seperate from lead creation ( e.g. create content that you can combine with a form that makes sense for that content) Now we have to create a content page and then link it to a standard form page. This means you lose visitors with the extra click. I want to create a platform that allows a dealer to place different pieces of content on one page. Give me about 3 months and I will be done. Have the layout and basic design done, just need to put all the pieces together (new inventory feed, used inventory feed, flexible forms, etc)

These vendors get to set in telling dealers how it should be done eventhough they all used to work at a dealer themselves and most have no clue.

Regarding the pop up and pop under. Call dealeron (dot) com and tell them that you want to try this tool. It definately increased my conversion ratio ( I had dealeron place this tool for free on my dealerskins site which gave me an increase of 1-2% conversion, which equated to about 50-100 leads)

With dealerskins I converted about 5-6%, now with dealeron site I am converting 9-12% and with dealerskins it included service appointments and with dealeron it does not, so the difference is even bigger.

I will keep working on this open and flexible platform for dealers so you can change themes with the click of a button, add content with the click of a button, seo friendly, etc...
R
Great news! Add chat to your micro site and watch it blow up. Yep, you have confusion, unwillingness to give info, personal uncertainty. All of those are the exact reason to add chat to your dealership websites. Try it, trust me you will love it. A lot of times the reason you don't see results are because people don't like giving info (filling out forms) to capture what they are looking for. I have seen great success on our micro sites from live chat. We are a new micro site company that has hit the scene and we see huge results. Toyota of Orlando get over 1100 leads a month from chat. They pay less than $200 a month. Talking about ROI. Add 20 micro sites and chat to all of them you can do some major damage. I have over 10 years in the automotive industry and micro sites and chat are the best advantages you can have. Leads from your site are the best or close to it. Response time is critical. Most people submit a lead to more than 2 places before visiting a store. Site back and imagine having someone land on your micro site and start chatting with you. How does it give you an advantage? How does it now? So does it take away from our standard leads from email and phone? NOPE! 1% change in both. Just increase your leads by 25% to 400%.

This will make you different, easy to work with, and you get that instant gratification you always want from your clients. At the end of the conversation you will know where you stand.
L
Micro-Sites absolutely work, but not to belabor the great points already made, it's all about conversions. 1 micro-site or 20 micro-sites don't matter much if you can't correlate sales back to each one (or whatever your metric is).

With regard to the expense of building a micro-website Wordpress is a great platform. You can get hosting for $10 per month to test.

With regard to auto dealers having to pay through the nose for services, the auto industry has painted itself into a corner.

Here's my take: Back in 2000-2001 I worked for a pre-dot-com crash company pioneering VoIP and click talk technology. Our test bed were auto dealers across the country. We even participated in the nation-wide roll out for MBUSA.com

We tried to offer the service to dealers at just $25 per month to pilot test with us. Most dealers balked at the service as the price was too low. Once we came out of testing and the price went to $150 for the low end package dealers signed up left and right.

Most GM's won't give a company the time of day if a service appears to be cheap. On the other hand, with effectiveness of online advertising I don't understand why dealers will pay autotrader.com or some other company $6,000+ per month to market their inventory.

In a test I conducted with a local micro-site, we outperformed traffic from autotrader with just organic SEO alone.

Quote: Ryan Lucia

"Leads from your site are the best or close to it. Response time is critical. Most people submit a lead to more than 2 places before visiting a store."

Ryan is dead-on. As a company that generates leads for auto dealers nation-wide micro-sites have reduced lead costs for some of our test dealers by 25-30%. Response time to leads will be a critical factor in 2009. We have seen in some cases where the same individual hits 5 of our sites and submits the same lead within minutes. (no loyalty until you earn it)
M
Alex this was posted in 2008, please tell me your thoughts about micro sites now that were in 2011. Do you still feel the same way about them?
J
  • J
    Jeff Kershner
  • October 16, 2011
I'm sure Alex will respond to this at some point but what concerns me is that we had over 85 comments for this post that are not showing up. So thanks for digging into the archive. Maybe we need to have a "updated" post around micro sites.

Micro sites / pages still have their place and can be effective at the right moment. Micro sites miss out when they only geared towards the form conversion only.

Manufacturers have also tightened up since this article was first written. Most not allowing micro sites, nor anymore than 1 URL. Heck, I cant even have a dedicated Service Site for my Toyota dealership.

A
Manny - my opinion hasn't changed much.  I even gave microsites a solid try with a strategy that involved over 40 URL's and it was too much work for too little return.  I had much better results putting my time and energy into my own website.

As Jeff mentioned, now OEMs are dictating what you can and can't use inside domains which limit microsite strategies.  
A