Silver Bullets and Car Sales

by · March 16, 2009

Automotive internet marketing on the Web has taken a hard turn recently towards video. But will video marketing be just another trend that phases or at least balances out in 2-3 years? Chances are YES, it will.

From 2003 to about 2006, pay-per-click advertising, particularly in the auto industry, took the field by storm. Car dealers were practically forced to spend thousands upon thousands on PPC advertising to stay in the game. Website technology evolved into a death trap for car dealers because the SEO aspect of car dealer websites was completely disregarded. As a result, when the PPC bubble deflated, car dealers were left with few choices for a truly competent website platform.

Website providers have been scrambling the past 2-3 years revamping or overhauling their platforms to meet the automotive SEO needs for car dealers. Today the SEO rat race in the automotive online retail business is about as over-saturated as CRM was 5 years ago. Mysteriously, while everyone now offers “the best SEO”, many dealers still lack vital understanding about the true role that SEO plays in one’s business.

An example of this was revealed to me during a phone with a dealer group. The dealer contacted us about our content marketing services. He explained that he did his own keyword reporting using Web CEO and that he has effectively positioned his websites across thousands of keywords. He had a good video presence going but still when he searched for a particular set of keywords, his competitor sites appeared in the top results but not his. One of which he suggested sold a whopping “6” cars a month, which is hardly any at all.

While scoping out everything and listening it was clear that not only did this dealer know and understand all the fundamental automotive SEO practices but also was applying them to his online presence, and I told him this. I explained that he is doing everything we teach our dealers to do and that as far as I could tell he was far ahead of the game.

“But why does our competitor rank higher”, he asked.

My response was two-fold…

a.) Just because a site appears higher in a few searches you perform manually doesn’t mean it ranks higher for others nor does it mean the site ranks higher for the majority of keywords you target.
b.) Just because your competitor ranks higher doesn’t mean they sell more cars.

This second response was key. Dealers tend to approach automotive SEO as some sort of silver bullet to their sales needs. But it’s not. SEO is about attraction, visibility, and possibility. I wouldn’t even classify SEO as creating sales opportunities. That’s what conversion accomplishes. SEO creates the possibility for conversion. Big difference.

I don’t know if this is what the dealer needed to or wanted to hear. I think appearing higher in search was more important to him than having a more successful business. I could be wrong. But what I took home from that conversation was the realization of how even the more sophisticated of dealers that has his head wrapped around all this SEO stuff, can sometimes miss the significance SEO has with your business.

If you are looking at video marketing as “the next big thing” or as a silver bullet to your online marketing needs, be warned. Video is great and highly effective, but it’s time-consuming and expensive. You will need good SEO to get your videos watched, and you will also need an effective conversion mechanism. Video itself is not the best conversion tool. Those that have experimented with viral video marketing may testify to this.




Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Future Mobility & Connectivity Podcast, Ryan began working in the automotive industry in 2001, establishing his roots in online vehicle merchandising before expanding into digital marketing and now multi media for Automotive B2B. You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.

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Silver bullets and car sales

by · March 16, 2009

Marketing on the Web has taken a hard turn recently towards video and in 2009 video marketing may be all the rave. But will video marketing be just another trend that phases or at least balances out in 2-3 years? Chances are YES, it will.

From 2003 to about 2006, pay-per-click advertising, particularly in the auto industry, took the field by storm. Car dealers were practically forced to spend thousands upon thousands on PPC advertising to stay in the game. Website technology evolved into a death trap for car dealers because the SEO aspect of car dealer websites was completely disregarded. As a result, when the PPC bubble deflated, car dealers were left with few choices for a truly competent website platform.

Website providers have been scrambling the past 2-3 years revamping or overhauling their platforms to meet the SEO needs for car dealers. Today the SEO rat race in the automotive online retail business is about as over-saturated as CRM was 5 years ago. Mysteriously, while everyone now offers “the best SEO”, many dealers still lack vital understanding about the true role that SEO plays in one’s business.

An example of this was revealed to me during a phone call last week with a dealer group. The dealer contacted us about our content marketing services. He explained that he did his own keyword reporting using Web CEO and that he has effectively positioned his websites across thousands of keywords. He had a good video presence going but still when he searched for a particular set of keywords, his competitor sites appeared in the top results but not his. One of which he suggested sold a whopping “6” cars a month, which is hardly any at all.

While scoping out everything and listening it was clear that not only did this dealer know and understand all the fundamental SEO practices but also was applying them to his online presence, and I told him this. I explained that he is doing everything we teach our dealers to do and that as far as I could tell he was far ahead of the game.

“But why does our competitor rank higher”, he asked.

My response was two-fold…

a.) Just because a site appears higher in a few searches you perform manually doesn’t mean it ranks higher for others nor does it mean the site ranks higher for the majority of keywords you target.
b.) Just because your competitor ranks higher doesn’t mean they sell more cars.

This second response was key. Dealers tend to approach SEO as some sort of silver bullet to their sales needs. But it’s not. SEO is about attraction, visibility, and possibility. I wouldn’t even classify SEO as creating sales opportunities. That’s what conversion accomplishes. SEO creates the possibility for conversion. Big difference.

I don’t know if this is what the dealer needed to or wanted to hear. I think appearing higher in search was more important to him than having a more successful business. I could be wrong. But what I took home from that conversation was the realization of how even the more sophisticated of dealers that has his head wrapped around all this SEO stuff, can sometimes miss the significance SEO has with your business.

If you are looking at video marketing as “the next big thing” or as a silver bullet to your online marketing needs, be warned. Video is great and highly effective, but it’s time-consuming and expensive. You will need good SEO to get your videos watched, and you will also need an effective conversion mechanism. Video itself is not the best conversion tool. Those that have experimented with viral video marketing may testify to this.




Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Future Mobility & Connectivity Podcast, Ryan began working in the automotive industry in 2001, establishing his roots in online vehicle merchandising before expanding into digital marketing and now multi media for Automotive B2B. You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.

Comments

comments

Discussion2 Comments

  1. QOAS says:

    I must agree that video really is not a great way to advertise online. Very interesting post!Keep them coming!

  2. I think it’s time for auto dealerships to get back to the basics when it comes to marketing their business. Very well written article, thanks for the info.