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Free Tools To Dominate Your Competition (And How To Use Them)

Gone are the days when people visited multiple dealerships to shop for a car. Today, the average person visits fewer than two dealerships before making a purchase (2015 TNS Auto Shoppers Guide). That’s great news if you’re the one dealership they visit—but not so great news if you get passed up for the competition. So what’s the driving factor for a consumer’s choice of dealership? Oftentimes, search. Did you know 100% of shoppers use Google at some point during their car buying process (according to the 2015 TNS Auto Shoppers Guide)? That means you need to dominate Google search results if you want to drive people to your showroom. Search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are part of every dealership’s advertising toolkit these days. Many run Google AdWords to help bolster their search rankings, but don’t use the free tools available to maximize their SEO/SEM spend. That’s like someone buying an iPhone and only using it to make phone calls—there’s a lot of wasted potential in using a smartphone just like a landline. Don’t be like that person. If you’re not sure if you are using the free ad support tools Google provides to their full advantage, here are a few questions to ask yourself: • Do you own your own Google AdWords, Search Console and Analytics accounts? If not, make sure to take ownership and link them to each other. These are the keys to accessing data that will help you understand if your campaign is scoring big or needs to be revamped. • Do you know how fast your site is operating? If the...

Audience Targeting For Automotive Digital Marketing

At NADA earlier this year, Jessica Stafford went over the various levels of targeting and audience targeting over time. Her presentation was extremely valuable, and I want to dig deeper into what she said and provide a cheat sheet for audience targeting. Targeting has come a long way since the days of gross rating points on the top 4 networks. Through technology and the rise of the Internet, we have been able to get very specific and target with extreme accuracy exactly the audience or person you want to reach. Mass media was that first step. It was casting a wide net and hoping you will reach as many in-market people as possible, but knowing your ad will be seen by a lot of people who won’t be relevant. Placement targeting is choosing where your ad will run. Before Digital Media came into play, this was like running an ad in the Wall Street Journal in order to reach people who were interested in finance. Now, this tactic allows advertisers to “accomplish a fixed exposure or reach and frequency of message –no matter who the audience is.” It’s a common tactic during events like the Super Bowl. Advertisers will want to be on espn.com no matter what. Whole page buy outs are also common. Demographic targeting is targeting based on broad but defining characteristics; gender, age, and income are the big three here. This is still incredibly broad but beginning to segment audiences in deliberate and meaningful ways. We can choose to serve ads for minivans to women ages 28-35 and for sports cars to men ages 18-30. It...

Making Mobile Marketing Work For You: The Importance Of Mobile Landing Pages

  How many times have you visited a company web page on your mobile phone and gotten frustrated about the experience? You aren’t alone. A survey conducted by Google of mobile users revealed that 72 percent of users think mobile-friendly websites are important, yet 96 percent have visited a site that doesn’t work well on their device. Companies are spending a lot of money in digital marketing, but they are still falling short when it comes to the mobile experience. They aren’t using common sense to think about the user experience on mobile. Instead, they are checking a box on their digital marketing mix. This is so wrong. Your mobile website can and should be helping drive sales, but it needs to be optimized in order to do it. This means you will have to spend some money, but if you do it right, you’ll generate a strong return on that investment. To help you out, here are some down and dirty ways to get your mobile marketing to start making money for you. First and foremost, speed matters. You lose about 60% of traffic after three seconds, so you need to make the most of that time. Consider the ATM machine. People don’t go to an ATM machine expecting all the services they can get in a branch. They want to do simple things quickly, like checking balances or withdrawing money. The same goes for a mobile website. People want quick and easy. If your site is too slow or complicated, you’ll drive people away. Second, user experience is everything. Think about how you use mobile. You probably...

Unleash the Secret Advertising Play of the Auto Industry—without Spending a Dime

In just a few weeks, consumers will be hit by one of the biggest advertising events of the year—the Super Bowl. Advertisers spend millions of dollars each year to have their content run during one of the most watched events on TV. Many of them spend millions more just to create the ad. They hope to stand out and be talked about for days and weeks to come. Unfortunately, this kind of spending is cost prohibitive for most local dealerships, but it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve similar ad notoriety and recognition. There’s a secret play the auto industry rarely talks about and even fewer use: free, high-quality content. Currently, there is a huge gap between good and bad ads—especially in the industry. Most are either factory and cheap (think horrible stock images) or custom (a.k.a. very expensive). There’s not much in-between. The high-end ads tend to come from the manufacturers, while dealerships put together what they think they can with their limited budgets. This doesn’t have to be the case. The benefit of working within a franchise system like the auto industry is that there is a lot of support for individual dealerships coming from the manufacturer down. There’s a lot of high-quality, free creative available. It is high-yield, national content and it’s aligned with the vehicles you are selling. It breaks through the clutter because it’s different. Best of all, much of the creative is already approved for use—meaning you and your dealership can use it without spending an extra dime for filming. Unfortunately, ads created by franchises and franchise manufacturers are vastly underutilized. This means lots...

Advertise Now to Have Yourself a Merry, Major Week After Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of year, especially if you own a car dealership. Last December, the auto industry saw an 8.9 percent increase in sales—one of the strongest increases throughout the entire year. People are in shopping and buying mode. Their spending spills over into the auto world, especially during December 26-30. The week after Christmas is the busiest time of the year for any dealership. It coincides with really high factory incentives to turn over old inventory and make room for new 2017 models. Unfortunately, some dealerships relax their advertising at the end of the year. This makes them lose out on the opportunity to tap into a captive audience. Don’t be one of those dealerships! If you time your advertising right, emphasize choice and urgency and hit your consumers on the go, you could feel the positive effects well into the next year. The next few weeks could make or break your 2016 profits. During the holidays, people are in spending and giving mode—making it the perfect time to capitalize on those sensibilities. If you haven’t done so yet, be sure to start your end of year advertising now. Take advantage of the existing spirit of the season and manufacturer advertising to drive potential customers into your dealership the week after Christmas. How do you do this? Emphasize choice and urgency. Talk about the beautiful vehicles you have on the lot. Highlight that you need to “make room for new vehicles, so you have the best deals of the year.” Make people think that, if they want to buy, they have to buy now—and find ways...

How To Make More Sales This 2016 Holiday Season

The holidays are nearly upon us, which means some of the biggest shopping days of the year. In addition to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you likely have a stock of 2016 vehicles that you need to offload to make room for new 2017 models. So what can you do to hit those end of the year sales goals? Start by ramping up your mobile, video and search engine marketing (SEM) efforts. Mobile. The holiday season starts a time of increased mobility; people are hitting the road to head to grandma’s house or are bouncing from party to party. This means you need to make your message heard on the go. In 2015, there were an estimated 166.3 million mobile shoppers in the U.S. A survey of shoppers revealed 42 percent found mobile the most important way to get information while shopping. So, as you plan your marketing spend for the rest of the year, be sure to make your money count. Mobile should be one of the highest spends on your list. Video. Nothing says the holidays quite like the airing of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or a showing of Miracle on 31st Street. Colder weather and seasonal specials will have more people snuggling up in front of the TV. This means you need a strong video strategy. Whether you are pushing year-end deals or marketing new models, your TV ads should be consistent with your messaging across all media, including when people walk into your stores. Don’t forget digital video either. A recent survey found that 56 percent of millennials (who love digital video) are using...

Omni-Channel Marketing: Three Steps to Beat the Competition

Think about your favorite advertisement. Now picture how you’ve seen that ad play across different media; TV, magazines, online, etc. This is called omni-channel marketing and chances are the messages you’ve heard in those ads—no matter the channel—is the same. This approach leverages a consistent message across all media to drive brand recognition and awareness. It’s become more prevalent and important as more and more media channels emerge. Automotive manufacturers are doing great at omni-channel advertising. The retail side of the business, however, can be somewhat fragmented. Retailers tend to have a lot of cooks in the kitchen making decisions about advertising. Multiple conversations between multiple people lead to a lot of different messages going out. The good news is there’s an easy fix—media efficiency. Being more efficient with your advertising across multiple channels could lead to big rewards without a bigger spend. The keys to media efficiency and a solid omni-channel strategy are buyer attention, buyer recall and reinforcing buyer behavior. Step one (buyer attention): create clear and simple messaging. Customers like clear and simple messaging. Big brands like Coca Cola have nailed this. If you look at how Coke does their advertising there’s always something they’re trying to tell you – it’s refreshing, it goes great with food, etc. But no matter what the added promotion, they always have a simple, consistent core theme: “everybody loves Coke.” Consider this analogy: when a truck manufacturer advertises its vehicles as “America’s most durable, long lasting pickup” across all media channels, consumers begin to recognize it. However, if they split that message with “this is the most fuel-efficient pickup,” consumers...

Digital Marketing In The Auto Industry: How To Increase Sales Without Increasing Spend

2015 was a record year for car sales in North America. Just under 17.5 million vehicles were sold—up 5.7% from the year before. The next couple of years, however, are expected to be relatively flat. Yet dealers, and their salespeople, still have numbers to meet, creating a very competitive environment. Adding to the challenge is the variety of ways consumers buy vehicles. There’s no silver bullet and no clear cut solution to attracting customers. For example, Gen Y consumers spend a lot of time researching possible vehicles online. They trust car reviews on independent websites more than any other generation. What attracts them might differ a bit from what catches the eye of Gen X consumers. So how do you stand out in 2016? How do you communicate to buyers in a way that will convince them to buy from you—without increasing your spend? The answer lies in deftly applying the fundamental advertising. There are core concepts that consistently work – but they have to be applied with the skill of an artist. These fundamentals include frequency, data, options and technology.  Frequency. We assume you’ve got reach, so let’s talk about frequency. Think about when you hear a new song on the radio. The first time you hear it, you might say, “I like this song.” By the 10th time you hear it, you may say, “I love it!” It may get stuck in your head and you may find yourself humming the tune without even realizing it. Advertising it just like that song. Repetition is the key to getting your vehicle stuck in the head of your target...

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Whether or not you have hopped on the “Pokemon Go” bandwagon, you have to hand it to Nintendo – they are on to something, and their stock agrees. “Pokemon Go” is an augmented reality mobile game that allows players to join a treasure hunt via navigating through real world locations. The game capitalized on players’ yearning for nostalgia and adventure, and the fact that it hit No. 1 in the App Store screams that there is more than just that magic to it. Let’s take a look. The popularity of the game depends heavily on high mobile phone usage, and the personalized, local element that consumers love. To match this consumer demand, mobile advertising spend has been on the rise. According to a recent study, eMarketer predicts that US adults spend an estimated 2 hours and 51 minutes on mobile devices every day. Consumers have given strong cues about their advertising preferences – namely, advertising must hit the mark for them to be interested. If we can’t answer WIIFT (What’s In It For Them), we have already missed the opportunity. So how do we stay relevant?  Keep it mobile – that’s where consumers are. Mobile advertising is the present and future of advertising. Keep it personal – provide relevant ads based on your consumers’ interests. Make it easy by finding them and reminding them what they researched last night, “Safest SUVs 2016.” Keep it local – meet consumers where they’re at. Serve ads to consumers when they are ready to make a buying decision, i.e. at George’s Toyota of San Francisco. While Demand Local isn’t directly related to the...

Hot off the…..Video?!?

Yeah, yeah; it’s supposed to be, “Hot of the press,” right?  Not any more, it is hot off the video we just watched on the world wide web.  Our lives have become so engulfed with video. Look at your Facebook news feed, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, at your Dr’s office and simply everywhere you look. In today’s world we get our news, stats, emails, thank you’s, happy birthday calls, etc., from video. More video content is uploaded in 30 days than all three major U.S. T.V. networks combined have created in 30 years!  In addition, at this current growth rate, Cisco predicts that it will take over 5 million years to watch every single video that crosses global IP networks in a single month in 2019.  A study came out today on eMarketer that said by 2019, the digital advertising spending is on pace to DOUBLE with mobile being the top growth. So what does this mean for us marketers/digital adverting folks and companies all around the world looking to be seen/heard through video? Keep in mind, you do not have to have a huge investment in video for a great ROI. However, the few tips below are key in making your investment a success. First thing and I feel the biggest is we need to look at the content.  “They” always say content is king…..well it’s the truth. It’s the truth in any form of marketing. However, it is the right content that you strategically create and distribute valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain customers. Video conveys messages better and faster than any form of content, actually 300%...

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