Embracing the Essential Digital Media Mix

Did you know that almost a third of all digital spend is wasted on ineffective channels and strategies? In an industry fought with cut-throat competition, your digital marketing strategy becomes your strongest tool in generating results.

Digital Marketing Trends

When looking at time spent on different media, there has been a clear divergence in the last few years. As you can imagine, people now spend less time-consuming media on TV, radio, and print while spending more online. In fact, the “break-even” point happened way back in 2012 – going forward, digital supplanted TV as the #1 media channel in the U.S. Looking at 2018, an average American spends six hours per day consuming media on either their cell phone or computer. Compared to now less than four hours watching TV.

Look at it this way, as you head into bed in the evening, think about how many hours that day you spent watching TV, listening to the radio station, and reading magazines. Now think about the amount of time you spent on your computer or cell phone.

Why is this important? It’s important because your advertising should be where your consumers are. Yes, you can say “I know it’s 2019 – we all spend time on our phones and computers, what’s your point?” Well, my point is this: while digital is now by far the most consumed media, advertisers in the U.S. are only spending 25% of their spend on digital. 39% is spent on TV, 9% on radio, 10% on newspapers and 9% on magazines.

Now, let’s talk purely digital. A consumer that’s in-market for a car consumes even more digital media than the typical consumer with 75% of their time spent online (source: Polk). At the same time, dealership media budgets are allocated only 34% towards digital. This creates a huge arbitrage opportunity where you can still get a tremendous bang for your buck from digital media. In fact, a recent study mapping out the consumer touch points showed that digital influences 80% of the touch points in the process – so the arbitrate opportunity might be even greater than the media spend figures show.

Digital Media’s Primary Pillars
Digital media is a very broad term that can encompass a lot of things. However, the primary pillars can be identified as:

  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  2. Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)
  3. Social Media Management (SMM)

SEO is a very powerful tool that gets you long-term exposure and visibility in organic search results (i.e. you don’t pay per click for them). However, it’s a long-term strategy and requires building content, links, and fixing website issues over months and years. The ROI isn’t instant, but the results are long-lasting. In most cases, even if you stop SEO, your content will keep appearing in Google for years and decades to come. In fact, the only thing that would cause them to stop showing up is if you violate Google’s guidelines and get penalized, or if your competitors do so much SEO that it bumps you off the first pages.

PPC can be seen as the ying to the SEO yang. Where SEO is slow moving with long-term value, PPC is instant but the value is also all short term. What I mean by that is you can start a PPC campaign today and get instant traffic, leads, and sales to your dealership. However, you are paying for every one of those clicks. A poorly set up PPC campaign and you can lose tens of thousands in a blink of the eye. Stop PPC and all the clicks and traffic stops. However, PPC is still one of the most powerful tools in the digital marketing toolbox. PPC allows you to precision target your exact customers with both geographic and demographic filters. Then, you target the exact keywords they are searching, letting you perfectly capture purchase intent. For example, if someone is searching “Porsche Macan lease deals this month,” there is a pretty big chance that person will be leasing a Porsche Macan very soon! With properly configured PPC campaigns you can target people in various parts in the decision process and tailor specific ads for each one of those steps. You then of course track everything, analyze, and optimized!

Social media is the last piece of the digital puzzle. Social media allows your dealership to have a human face (show off your employees, your customers, etc). It also allows you to engage with your customers and show the outstanding service that you provide, which will hopefully attract others to come to your dealership. Although the value of social media isn’t necessarily direct – it can help increase awareness of your dealership, show off your customer service, and help you manage relationships with your clients online.

Here are four action items to help you get started:

  1. Publish organic content regularly
  2. Create PPC ads across different campaign strategies
  3. Establish your brand on different social media platforms
  4. Set up tracking to measure and analyze your marketing efforts

Too many dealerships are still spending a disproportionate amount on off-line advertising, chasing an audience that’s more and more glued to the digital world. If your dealership is still lagging behind, it’s not too late to embrace digital and capture the arbitrate opportunity that still exists in the digital media space.

Don’t miss Alex Melen’s upcoming session at DD26 Orlando where he will cover the best digital strategies that combine SEO and PPC to generate long-lasting results. Alex will share case studies that reveal the measures used by various dealerships that have led to their success, along with never-before-published Google tips to generate real results for your dealership.


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Alex Melen Founder and CEO of T35 Hosting and SmartSites – ideamensch.com

Alex Melen is an Award-Winning Serial Entrepreneur & Keynote Speaker. He is the founder and CEO of web hosting company T35 Hosting (founded 1997) and advertising agency SmartSites(founded 2011). SmartSites now manages over $30MM/year in advertising spend and has 6 offices worldwide. SmartSites has been featured in the INC5000 for 3 consecutive years as one of the fastest growing digital agencies and Alex has been featured in Business Week’s Top 25 Entrepreneurs, Bloomberg, Forbes, NPR & more.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I started SmartSites with my brother in early 2011. The idea was to offer a full-service digital experience to small business’s and help them bring their business and ideas online. Prior to SmartSites, I spent several years working at Publicis – one of the largest advertising agencies in the world. At Publicis, I was a digital manager for first the Samsung account and then for Walmart. In those roles, I saw first hand the power and results the digital space can bring to companies. However, the small and medium size businseses were being left behind as they couldn’t afford to spend enough to hire companies like Publicis. With that though, SmartSites was started as a combination of several other smaller businesses both my brother and myself were involved with at the time. The merged company (SmartSites) brought together the entire digital experience – from web site hosting, to website design, SEO, PPC and more.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Wake up 6am-6:30am. Spend 2h with my kids (5 and 4 years old) before heading into the office. Our HQ is located in Paramus, NJ – but we also have 5 other offices worldwide. From 9 to 6, I spend time with the typical day-to-day tasks of running a business. No day is the same. At the end, I make a quick pit stop at the gym before joining my family at home for dinner.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My favorite thing about the digital space is that it’s actually very easy – and fast – to bring your ideas to life. In fact, the first business I ever started (T35 Hosting, circa 1997), was all about allowing others to quickly and freely create content on the internet and bring their ideas to fruition. In the digital marketing space, everything is about experimenting, optimizing, etc.. so I get to test and experiment with my ideas on a daily basis.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The continued trend of digital adoption continues to excite me and drive our company to grow. Even in 2019, digital advertising represents only a quarter of U.S. Ad Spend. At the same time, it represents more than half of media consumption. Think about it – by lunch time, how many hours have you spent on the internet and on your phone? How many hours of TV have you watched by that time? I’d take a wild guess and say you’ve spent 2x more time in the digital space, but the ad-dollars haven’t caught up to that yet. That creates an amazing arbitrage opportunity and allows for some amazing results from digital marketing.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Organization – I think it’s key to increasing productivity and being able to accomplish more with less time.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take more risks. I’ve been involved in several online businesses since the mid 1990’s – but at the time, I took the safe and slow growth road too many times. The younger you are, the easier it is to take risks and I encourage everyone to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams when they are young and able to do it with a lot less consequences.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I still think Twitter is one of the most important social media platforms – it allows you to broadcast your message in a truly public way. Most will disagree though with Instagram having the most growth these days, and Twitter having the lowest market valuations of any major social media platform.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Follow your dreams, set (realistic goals) and follow through on them. Take risks, get outside of your comfort zone.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Keep customer satisfaction and employee moral as a key focus has been a key factor in helping us grow at the “perfect” pace. Grow too slow, and you get squeezed out by competitors. Grow too fast, and you can jeopardize quality and moral.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I had dozens of failures with a variety of businesses. I’d say – don’t be afraid to fail, take the failure, realize what you learned from it, and move on.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

AR/VR contextual advertising will be the next big thing in the digital advertising space. Now is probably a great time to start developing some unique things around that.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Another $100 in PPC ads. Even now in 2019, I know that every $1 invested in PPC ads for our own business, we get $6 in life-time sales. It’s not the $8:1 or $7:1 we had in previous years, and I know it will be $5:1 next year – but it’s still the best investment you can make.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We’ve recently started using Zapier for integrations and automation. We’re even a certified partner for them now. Great software to really revolutionize your business in terms of automation.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’m not a big book-reader to be honest. Instead, I follow key publications and key people on social media. My advice? Follow me, twitter is best (@amelen). I regularly posted the most relevant and important articles and information.

What is your favorite quote?

Begin. The rest is easy.

Key Learnings:

  • Take risks, especially young. Follow your entrepreneurial dreams.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from your failure and start again.
  • Digital still offers a huge arbitrage opportunity for advertising.
  • Follow me on my social media profiles to stay up-to-date in digital space.




Original Source:

Alex Melen

Alex Melen, Co-Founder of SmartSites – A DotCom Magazine Exclusive Interview

Alex Melen is the Co-Founder of SmartSites. Alex Melen is a thought leader, influencer, and risk taker, and provides the vision and energy that has inspired the creation of SmartSites. Alex Melen joins other leading CEOs and Founders and Co-Founders taking part in our Leader Roundtable Interview Series. The DotCom Magazine editorial team has awarded SmartSites as an Impact Company of 2019, and we are delighted to have Alex join us for our Leader Round Table Interview. The SmartSites story is very interesting, and we are very excited to not only interview Alex about his very successful business and entrepreneurial spirit, but also put Alex through our popular speed round as well.


Expertise in website design, SEO and PPC
Expertise in website design, SEO and PPC

Alex, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy day for this interview, and answering some questions about leadership, your vision, and your SmartSites.

1. Can you describe what the “elevator pitch” for SmartSites is?

SmartSites is a leading full-service digital agency, with expertise in website design, SEO and PPC. We are laser focused on providing the best results for our clients and being their trusted partner in the digital space. We have nothing but 5* reviews on every review platform online and have consistently ranked in the top agencies in the world.

2. Many of our readers are just starting to build a company. What advice can you give Founders just starting out regarding keeping a company moving forward, and please tell us the key to your company’s success?

As you’re in the initial phases of growing your company it’s very important to zero-in on your core competencies and where you bring the most value to your clients. Once you have that figured out, it’s all about steady growth without sacrificing quality or jeopardizing cash flow.

3. For other entrepreneurs seeking to build a business as successful as SmartSites, what advice can you give them when times get a little challenging?

Even in 2019, there are A LOT of opportunities in the digital space, and really in most industries. An example I like to cite is that even now (in 2019), the Digital Space only represents a quarter of US Ad Spend. While at the same time, digital dominates our day-to-date and where we (the consumers) spend most of our time. It’s opportunities like this that allow for arbitrage opportunities and for companies to come in and succeed. The same opportunities exist in almost every industry – you just have to look for them. In terms of “challenging times”, they will always happen – you just have to focus on what you (and your company) does best and not focus on the ups and downs as much.

4. How important is the commitment to client satisfaction at SmartSites, and how do you make sure your customers will become raving fans of your company?

Client satisfaction is actually our top priority and the results can be seen from our stellar reputation. I’m a big fan of the amazon approach with an almost over-bearing focus on making sure our clients are happy and getting results. Everything else will follow.

5. What is the one overriding belief that SmartSites has about what it is doing?

Our believe – and goal – is to help our clients succeed online. That is our underlying goal with everything that we do here.

6. In today’s fast changing business environment, what do you do to keep up with the changes? What do you read to stay abreast of things?

As we have grown, we now have employees whose sole job is to keep up with the industry trends and help bring all of the latest and greatest into our services and processes. For others just starting out, I’d recommend following key people on social media (like twitter) which will help them stay in the loop on the latest trends. I personally post a lot in the digital and digital advertising space, so everyone is welcome to follow me @amelen of course.

7. What is your “Why”? Why do you get up in the morning, and how do you keep yourself at peak performance to lead SmartSites?

Every day I see more and more people struggling in the digital space. Sometimes it’s a local mom-and-pop shop. Sometimes it’s a 3rd generation company that has always survived on advertising in the yellow pages. My personal goal, and that of SmartSites, continues to help bring everyone we can into the digital space and help them succeed.

8. Can you recommend a book that has had an influence in your career? How did it influence you?

I’m not a big reader of entire books. And I don’t want that to come off in a weird way – I just keep my reading to specific articles and posts by specific individuals. It helps me absorb a lot more information in the short periods of time I have available. I wouldn’t say anything bad about books though – I know they can often be a lot more insightful than the tidbits of information I get from my sources.

9. In one sentence, can you tell us what the most important thing about being a leader is?

The most important thing for me is creating a company that has values, helps our clients succeed and make our employees happy (and excited to come in to work every day).

10. In one sentence, can you give some advice to fellow entrepreneurs wishing to build a company as exciting as SmartSites?

I’ll do it in 2 words: Do It. Very few people have regretted starting a business or venture, while millions regret never doing it or passing on that one idea they had that was great. The younger you are, the easier it is to take the risk (while you have less responsibilities), but I think it can be done at any age. Even if your idea fails, the amount of learning you will gain from the experience will in most cases be more valuable than the time and risk you took to do it.


Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing

Alex, we would like to have some fun and do our famous “First Reaction” round with you! We will ask you ten more questions that we want you to answer in just one to three words only.

Here you go!

1. In three words or less, What makes a successful CEO?
Vision & risk-taking.

2. Describe SmartSites in one word?

3. Describe SmartSites customers in one word?

4. What one attribute do you look for when hiring an employee for SmartSites?

5. What is the one word you want your customers to say about SmartSites?
Helped-me succeed (sorry needed more words!)

6. In three words or less, describe your SmartSites?
Digital Leader

7. In three words or less, describe what it takes to be successful?
Passion, Drive, Follow-through

8. In three words or less, describe your first year in business at SmartSites?
Scrappy, Driven, Unpolished

9. In three words or less, describe how running a successful company has changed you?
Increased focus & drive.

10. What is the one word that you believe has the most power in the English Language?
Success (everyone wants it).

Alex Melen, thank you so much for sitting down with us at our DotCom Magazine Impact Player Round Table. We very much appreciate the time you spent helping others to learn more about your company and what it takes to be a leader. We we wish you, your family, and of course SmartSites, nothing but the best.

Thanks again!

The Alex Melen Roundtable Interview brought to you by DotCom Magazine.

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