Does your online marketing budget consist of only Cars.com and Autotrader.com?

You’ve surely experienced rate increases with many of the 3rd party online marketplaces over the years. You’ve witnessed the death of many newspapers. Billboards aren’t working anymore because people are too busy texting while they’re driving to read them. Radio is dying because Sirius and Howard are taking everyone to satellite radio with limited or no commercials. If you’re watching TV commercials you either live under a rock or are like my seventy year old parents that really don’t have much else to do, so they don’t care about this thing called the DVR!

So, where does that leave you to promote your dealership and inventory? In today’s competitive marketplace your marketing dollars must work harder than ever before. But to make the most of your budget, you must clearly understand which efforts are returning value, and to what extent. The amount of advertising that you place in each advertising medium – direct mail, newspapers, radio, television, online, etc. – should ultimately be determined by what’s generating the best results.

The convergence of media and technology makes a strong case for the largest portion of your advertising budget to be spent online. It reminds me of the story about the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton. When asked why he robbed banks he replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” That’s the same reason to advertise online – because that’s where the customer’s are.

Today there are many ways to leverage the Internet to generate quality traffic and convert that traffic into sales. You can choose from a wide variety of marketing options to create your own recipe for success.  But in many instances, dealers only look to Cars.com and Autotrader.com which reaches only a small percentage of internet customers.  Although these sites may be popular, they also can take the biggest bite out of your marketing budget.

According to ComScore’s research, there are approximately 67 million unique visitors in the automotive category every month.  Compete.com estimated that an average of 6.5 million visitors went to Autotrader.com in October and another 4.8 million went to Cars.com, two of the most popular sites for dealers to list their vehicles.  If you do the math, that leaves millions of people going elsewhere!  Although we can’t put an exact figure on how many of these millions of online shoppers are looking specifically for vehicles, we can probably agree that it translates into millions of people. Did you know that autos.aol.com reached over 6 million auto shoppers in October?   

Millions of these “other” people are visiting sites that can’t afford a Super Bowl commercial but still have lots of visitors and can still help you increase traffic, generate leads and build exposure to your dealership. The key is to get exposure and build your brand in these sites. You might get less traffic on these sites, but the average cost per consumer is dramatically less and conversion is usually much higher because if leveraged properly you can drive consumers from these sites directly to your dealership website, which is awesome! Dealerships are easily picking up additional sales each month by not spending more, but by diversifying their current budget and making it work smarter.  

Inventory marketing is a great way to cap your budget and only allocate ad spend for the people that land directly on your dealership website. CarClicks drives traffic from a network of automotive portals and search engines and locks in customer acquisition price at only $1.58. CarClicks is a pay for performance program that finds auto shoppers in your market and drives them directly to your dealership website. To set up a 15 minute online presentation email info@automotiveinternetmedia.com or call 866.423.0246.    

Tony French is the president of Automotive Internet Media Inc. a premier full service internet marketing and online advertising agency that focuses exclusively on the automotive industry. To learn more visit www.automotiveinternetmedia.com

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