A Deep Dive into Vehicle Listing Ads

Now more than ever, people are starting their research for a new car online. A Google/Kantar Gearshift Study found that 89% of research for new cars happens online in the U.S. (with both coasts pushing much closer to 100%). The same study found that search continues to be the top online source for researching a new vehicle, with 78% starting their car research on a search engine. Not only are shoppers researching online – they are purchasing online, with 16% of new car buyers ordering or purchasing their vehicle online in 2021 (compared to 1% in 2018!). And a recent study found that nearly 70% of car buyers are considering an online purchase for their next car.

Why is this important? With consumers being more digital-centric, reaching shoppers online with the right inventory and information will be more important than ever. That’s where vehicle listing ads (VLAs) come into play. You are probably familiar with Google’s shopping ads if you’ve ever shopped for an electronic on Google in the last decade. First introduced in 2012, Google Shopping ads revolutionized the eCommerce space to the point that almost 100% of our eCommerce clients utilize shopping ads as part of their marketing strategy. Vehicle ads are here to revolutionize the automotive shopping experience, just as shopping ads did for eCommerce. What makes these unique is the ad you display highlights the vehicle image, location, make/model, price, dealership name, and mileage. This gives the consumer tremendous amounts of information about the vehicle before they even make the click. Now for the challenges: Vehicle Listing Ads are still complicated to set up (and set up correctly!), and correct measurement becomes even more important. The setup process can be summarized in the following steps:

  1. Create a merchant Center account (like you would for selling eCommerce)
  2. Sign up for VLAs with Google for them to convert your Merchant Center to allow VLAs.
  3. Complete the Vehicles Ads Program sign-up, setting up all of the information in the account – including validating the phone numbers.
  4. Create a feed of your inventory. This tends to be the most time-consuming task since most vendors still struggle with providing a properly formatted Google feed. The alternative here is to crawl the site and manually create the feed.
  5. You can now submit the feed to Google for approval.
  6. Once approved, you can link it up to your Google Ads campaign.
  7. And finally, you can create and launch the VLA campaign.

But wait, there is more! You also want to make sure you have conversion tracking setup properly to not only measure relevant conversions but also assign an appropriate value to each conversion. With VLAs heavily leaning on Google’s Machine Learning (and using auction time bidding), improperly setting up conversion tracking will significantly impact your results. You also want to watch out for VDP conversions, which can be recorded but shouldn’t be a primary conversion (since every click will be a VDP!). Time to enable and set to forget! Well, not quite. You always want to ensure your VLA feed is valid and showing accurate information (you shouldn’t be advertising cars that are no longer available!). Additionally, you want to set up complementary search text ads to complement the VLAs. Google’s internal research study showed that advertisers who complemented existing search campaigns with vehicle ads saw a +25% average increase in conversions (without increasing spend).

Once you’re up and running – the results are typically very strong. On average, we’ve seen a cost per click of $1.50 (vs. $3-4 for search ads), with very high intent metrics like store visits, phone calls, and inventory leads. Although worth noting that when conversion metrics were not adequately set up, the CPCs were still low, but conversion metrics were much lower than search ads. Ready to take your VLAs to the next level? There are also various levels of a campaign structure that can be set to allow you to highlight specific inventory, spend money on the cars that need to be sold, and give you ultimate flexibility. For example:

And lastly, it’s worth noting that Microsoft Ads beat Google to Vehicle Listing Ads and has been offering them for several years. They don’t have the scale, but they have some unique advantages (like showing on MSN properties outside of search results). If you’re doing Google VLAs, you should most likely do the Microsoft equivalent as well:

Want to learn more? If you’re registered for Digital Dealer Las Vegas, you can catch my virtual session on VLAs post-show on the event app. And don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance in getting your VLAs set up and taking your digital marketing to the next level.

Original Source: https://read.nxtbook.com/digital_dealer/dealer_magazine/may_june_2022/drive_traffic_to_your_dealers.html

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 internetlivestats.com):

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.

Original Source: https://read.nxtbook.com/digital_dealer/dealer_magazine/may_june_2022/drive_traffic_to_your_dealers.html

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.

Original Source: https://upcity.com/experts/24-harmful-digital-marketing-mistakes-to-avoid-in-2022/

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.

Original Source: https://read.nxtbook.com/digital_dealer/dealer_magazine/jan_feb_2022/navigating_the_road_ahead_202.html


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