Drive Traffic to Your Dealership by Optimizing Your Most Valuable Marketing Channel!

Your dealership is most likely losing out on its most valuable traffic channel: Organic!

Search engines – and specifically Google, continue to be where the vast majority of the country (and World!) start when they want to find something online. Google now averages over 6 BILLION searches per day (as can always be spot-checked via

Google Search is still the #1 tool used for new car research and the best way to reach in-market used/CPO shoppers:

Of course, that all makes sense and is, at this point, common knowledge. But what makes this more interesting is when we start comparing dealership traffic channels and then overlaying the marketing spend against that. Let’s start with the traffic first. As is no surprise (especially after the intro of the importance of Google), a study of over 155 dealerships showed that Organic Search traffic represents more than 51% of total dealership website users (it’s actually 67% when adding in paid search).

So, of course, you would imagine that marketing budgets would closely reflect these traffic channels, with advertisers focusing on the channels that bring in the most traffic.
However, taking a deeper dive into marketing budgets, we found that Organic Search represents the smallest part of most dealerships’ marketing budget (as low as 7% in aggregate, based on our research).

That means that most dealerships are likely losing out on their most valuable traffic channel by not investing in SEO! So, let’s take a step back. What does it mean to invest in SEO? Typically, we can split Organic Search results into two buckets, Google Maps (Local Pack) and Local Organic. Both have different ranking signals and areas that a dealership should focus on to improve their performance. The below chart, sourced from the BrightLocal Top SEO Ranking Factors of 2021, shows where you should focus your energy.

In short, once you have optimized your Google Business Profile and have focused on your reviews, the most crucial ranking factors continue to be your on-page SEO and links. On-page is a combination of technical on-page optimizations and the QUANTITY and QUALITY of your overall site content. Generally speaking, you should be publishing at least 10-20 pages of content each month – the content must be unique, relevant, and attract the right kind of traffic. For example, a page about how to configure your car clock might be unique and relevant but might not be attracting sales traffic. The second part is perhaps the most overlooked – LINK BUILDING! Links continue to be the primary way that Google determines your rankings. The more relevant and authoritative sites that link to you, the more authoritative Google considers you to be. And the content you’re creating just gives you the opportunity to come up in search results. Think of it this way – if you didn’t write that page about setting the car clock, no matter how authoritative, you wouldn’t come up in the results since you didn’t have the content for it.

And to wrap it all up – with Organic Search traffic continuing to be the biggest source of dealership traffic (and usually the best converting!), dealerships really need to revaluate their marketing budget distributions to better allocate money to grow their #1 traffic source.

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24 Harmful Digital Marketing Mistakes To Avoid In 2022

We collaborated directly with marketing experts to gather their insight on the most harmful digital marketing mistakes that businesses must avoid in 2022.

The website isn’t the only place your business’ information lives, though, and may not be the first place people get to encounter your company or what you offer.

“Google is how small and mid-size businesses are found online these days. Neglecting your Google My Business profile, followed by your website, is equivalent to your business not having a phone number or being in the Yellow pages in the 1990s.” —Alex Melen, Co-Founder of SmartSites

Expert Advice To Avoid Getting Tripped Up Online

With the depth and breadth of experience that our digital marketing experts have to offer, we couldn’t cover all of it here. But these were some of the biggest and most common pitfalls that they wanted to make sure everyone avoids, as well as tips and advice that can really pay big dividends for any small business’ digital marketing efforts. To dive in deeper, be sure to check out our full list of recommended marketing and communications professionals who can help you not only dodge common pitfalls but set your campaign up for bigger and better success.

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21 Proven Business Networking Tips From Sales Experts 2022

Determine Your Goal Before the Event

Having a concrete goal for a networking event will enable you to craft a plan and elevator pitch that facilitates that desired result. Co-founder Alex Melen shares a few potential goals and recommends crafting an elevator pitch as well:

“Before attending an event, have a goal in mind. Are you looking to promote your brand? Are you looking for a business partner? Are you looking for a mentor or to become one? Once you have a goal in mind, prepare an elevator pitch. Rehearse what it is that you’re going to communicate to others to make sure you have it down to a succinct few sentences.”

— Alex Melen, Co-Founder, SmartSites

To craft an elevator pitch, write a few sentences that explain a few big customer pain points, how the product or service solves it, and how this benefits your customers. Read our article on creating an elevator pitch to learn more.

21 Proven Business Networking Tips From Sales Experts 2022

Navigating the Road Ahead: 2022 @ Digital Dealer Magazine

As we continue to kick off the new year, we find ourselves in some of the most challenging times in recent memory.

Aside from the challenges from the recent COVID surge, inventory levels continue to be very tight. “The automotive team at IHS Markit calculated that semiconductor supply won’t catch up with industry demand until late 2022… [or even] into 2023.” – IHS Markit, WSJ.

At the same time, consumer automotive loyalty is at the lowest levels ever recorded. In a Google Consumer Survey in June 2021, 339 auto intenders were asked, “When you are ready to buy, what would you do in case your preferred choice of model is not in stock?” 46% of shoppers said they would wait for it to be back in stock (meaning you should retain their consideration!). 53% of shoppers said they would buy another model from the same brand or competitor (!). Looking at the same data in Q4, almost 3/4th said they would buy a different model/brand. Even more interesting is that consumers are jumping between brands that we have never seen before. For example, someone in-market for a BMX X5, upon lack of availability, would now jump to a next-door Chevrolet dealership and buy a Chevrolet SUV – something we rarely saw before.

Looking at another data set, we see more and more consumers willing to wait out the industry shortage and pricing spikes (thinking that it will end very soon). For those who continue to be in-market (which is a shrinking majority), 50% reported their reason for replacing an old or failing vehicle. Another 54% reported looking for new features or technology. And finally, 26% indicated looking for better performance or efficiency (prompted by rising gas prices!) or newer safety technology. Data provided by a Google/Ipsos US Dealer Customer Study of 325 in-market shoppers.

And the last major consumer trend we’re watching is the jump between segments and categories. From a recent Google/Greenberg survey of nearly 10,000 respondents – more than half of those in-market for a new car have considered a used car. Similarly, half of the luxury brand shoppers have considered a non-luxury brand. And lastly, half of the new car buyers had considered a segment other than the one they purchased.

Another confirmation of this consumer jumping trend is Google Search Data which shows a 79% YoY increase in “how to find the right car for me,” along with a 46% YoY jump in “what type of car should I get quiz?”

How do we capitalize on these trends? For starters, you want to make sure that you are targeting audiences – and not just search terms. More importantly, you have to prioritize your audiences – remarketing those who have visited your site before. As consumers are waiting more and considering more brands/models, it’s more important than ever to continue to be top-of-mind to your potential customers. That also means being present in search results, optimizing your Google My Business, and being as visible as possible while minimizing your spending (especially if your current inventory is low).

I’ll leave you with one more golden nugget of data. A recent Google study conducted from May to June 2021 asked: along with inventory constraints and pricing challenges – what is the third biggest consumer pain point right now? Too much waiting and too many processes! 31% of new car buyers said, “The process takes too long,” “they spent too much time waiting,” or “the paperwork takes too long.” With your marketing efforts, it will go a long way if you optimize your in-person experience, keeping in mind that consumers are already very frustrated and agitated by inventory and pricing and try to lessen their waiting and process as much as possible.

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Driving Digital Success @ Digital Dealer Magazine

Before we talk about how you can drive digital success in 2021, 2022, and beyond – let’s take a step back to look at why digital is important. Pulling up one of my favorite websites, – there are over five BILLION internet users in the world. On Google, there are six BILLION+ searches performed every day. That’s only Google,
and Google isn’t the dominant search engine in many countries – Russian users, for example, prefer Yandex.

Even more interesting – out of the billion searches made on Google every day, 15% have never been seen before and are completely new. That means the consumer journey is now more unique and unpredictable than ever before, with more searches happening during discovery, research, and consideration. 75% of U.S. consumers have tried different stores, websites, or brands during the pandemic. And three in four surveyed CMOs said post-pandemic changes in consumer behavior will impact marketing strategies.

At the same time, search engines continue to dominate everything we do. In the automated space, consumers used search engines 79% of the time to decide on what car they will buy; followed by online video (57%), dealer websites (57%), OEM websites (46%), and vehicle review/comparison sites (41%). On the used-car side, those in-market
used search engines 92% of the time, followed by endemics at less than 50%.

Search engines continue to be an integral part of our lives and thus should be an integral part of your digital marketing strategy. A recent study by Google showed that $1,000 invested in Google Search Ads produced results for up to nine months from the initial sale. Over that period, that $1,000 was shown to impact the decision of 6.5 car
purchases. In other words, $1,000 invested today can develop your sales pipeline for months to come and will directly influence up to 6.5 car purchasing decisions.

So, how do you ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck in your search engine advertising? The must-haves are:

  • Implementing auction time bidding, utilizing Google’s AI algorithm
  • Switching to value-based bidding – optimizing on the value each conversion brings
  • Enhancing your profile – making sure you’re utilizing all of Google’s extensions
  • Implementing audience targeting – target your existing customers whose leasesare ending soon, or perhaps those who haven’t been in for service in a while. Youcan also target individuals based on what they searched on Google (and targetthem outside of Google!)

And, of course, there is a world outside of Google Ads. Microsoft Ads continues to be more relevant, expanding its reach, partnering with Niche search engines like DuckDuckGo, and integrating LinkedIn audiences into their platform.

And last but not least on everyone’s radar should be SEO. While the ranking signals that determine your rankings continue to change – the basics continue to hold firm:

  1. You need to have a GMB profile (and make sure it’s optimized).
  2. You need to make sure your site is fast, has good usability, and has no technical
  3. You need to create unique content on an ongoing basis
  4. You must have an outbound link-building effort to get relevant, authoritative
    websites to link to you.

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