Is There a “Right Balance” For SEO vs SEM Spending For Your Dealer Website?

If you want to maximize your ROI, then it is crucial to strike a balance between your SEO and PPC SEM budgets…

Many car dealers use a mixture of search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click search engine marketing (PPC SEM) to promote their websites. As a dealer, to maximize your return on investment, it’s crucial to find the right balance when you decide how much money to budget for each method.

Balanced Spending

Most marketing experts recommend a combination of SEM and SEO promotion. They urge advertisers to consider several factors when budgeting. For instance, your current position in search results and the urgency of lead generation both hold importance.

According to Smart Insights, small businesses typically devote around 24% of their marketing funds to organic search optimization. No “best practice” ratio exists, but it is wise to think about the cost-effectiveness of each method.

Return on Investment

Numerous marketing professionals agree that a dollar spent on professional SEO produces more revenue than the same cash in a PPC account. Search optimization typically yields a 75 percent higher ROI, according to data from marketing agencies and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

What are you doing? Is your dealership wasting money on pay-per-click SEM? To find out, you need to determine if the clicks actually produce sales. Only about three-tenths of Google’s advertisers track conversions adequately, according to Search Engine Journal. So, check your analytics and compare them to your sales to see if you are wasting money..

If fewer than 2 percent of clicks generate sales or there’s an unsustainable per-sale expense, you’re probably wasting funds. ProRankTracker recommends removing SEM keywords that have a high cost-per-click or low conversion rate and using SEO to target them instead. If you don’t know how to do this, then get a professional to help. It makes no sense to waste money.

Evaluating Results

To discover if your dealership has maximized its organic search performance, you should look at traffic data and your website’s rankings for relevant keywords. Remember that SEO efforts may take several months to yield traffic.

If your website isn’t making progress, you can take steps to improve it. Always avoid the temptation to use keywords excessively or purchase links. Instead, you can start with these four things:

  1. Enhance mobile accessibility
  2. Link to authoritative websites
  3. Optimize your site’s speed
  4. Add fresh, SEO relevant and unique content

SEO Has a Higher ROI

Although SEM delivers quicker results, SEO usually offers a higher ROI and click-through rate. It also supplies longer-lasting benefits. Basically, if you are not dedicating a solid portion of your dealership’s marketing budget to SEO, then you are missing out on the targeted traffic that SEO can produce, and, most painfully, are likely to be wasting money.

If you are not sure what to do and want help, give us a call at 954.507.6454 or email us for a free demo. The analysis and talk will be free, but the advice will set you up for money in your bank.  🙂

The Birth of SurgeMetrix – Big Journeys Begin with Small Steps

SurgeMetrix may be new, but it’s team has many years of experience helping car dealers succeed online…

A New Beginning… of Sorts

I view starting a company as similar to childbirth. While some might argue (like my wife) that childbirth is a risky metaphor for starting a company, I see it differently. Childbirth, and the steps towards family building that follow, take passion, commitment, hard work, pain, and a whole lot of love.  Doesn’t building a company require similar things?

I have two children and I have had three companies: one non-profit, a for profit I sold 14 years ago, and now this new company called SurgeMetrix.

Although SurgeMetrix opened its digital doors on March 1st of this year, its story has deep roots in the automotive digital space via its ancestor, XIGroup.

Looking Back

I owned and ran XIGroup from 2000-2005. The company provided digital apps for auto dealers, from a CMS and a coupons tool to internet lead and inventory management. We had customers from all over the US, but had an especially strong base on the East Coast. The company was known for its reliable products and excellent customer support.

XI was sold to Dominion Dealer Solutions (DDS) in 2005. Many years passed with me consulting and then being hired by DDS in late 2011 to unify their software teams around shared best practices and standards.

I succeeded in my work and by 2017 my teams ran well and the software was extremely stable. I was done. I had created a well-oiled machine and asked to leave in early 2018 to try something new.

By the summer of 2018, I had incorporated a new software company and was working hard to “baby step” it towards success.  I thought I had left my old work behind, but was surprised when in the late summer of 2018 a DDS VP approached me to see if I would be interested in acquiring Dominion Web.

A Smart Choice… Or Is It?

When Dominion approached me, I thought seriously about whether to buy their Web offering. With XIGroup, websites were a new concept. Dealers were focused on their newspaper and radio ads, not sites.

Flash forward to today and websites are a common part of doing business for auto dealers. There are tons of website providers and most OEMs have established rigid rules for how sites should work, what they should show, and who gets to build them.

I had to think about whether it was smart for me to enter the fray. On the negative side, Dominion Web was not a big player and had no OEM relationships.  But on the positive, their web platform consistently performed well above average for lead generation. Did the pros outweigh the cons?

I did my homework and I concluded the following:

  1. Many dealer websites perform poorly from Google’s perspective. Their mobile versions are often slow to load and thus cost dealers money because of high bounce rates.
  2. Too many dealer websites are overloaded with distractions and shiny objects that run contrary to lead generation best practices.
  3. Most franchise websites talk about what the OEM wants, but minimize the local brand. Back in the day, when I ran XIGroup in Baltimore, if I wanted a Toyota, I thought “Jerry’s Toyota” (my apologies to the other Baltimore Toyota dealers). But now, it seems that the dealer’s brand is being consumed by the OEM’s. I don’t think that’s right.  They are both important.
  4. Dominion Web was a software platform on which I could build a new offering. It was a risk, but it had a good bloodline.
  5. I missed working with dealers. I enjoyed our successes when dealers were doing well and I loved when my team solved their problems when they were not.

The Decision

So, after a lot of research, I bought Dominion Web and decided to:

  1. Hand pick a small team to be hyper-focused on one goal: helping dealers sell online
  2. Improve site speed, especially for mobile, as step one
  3. Work with our customers to solve their problems free of charge whenever possible
  4. Redesign our platform so that it was much faster, simpler, and easier to use
  5. Target dealers who recognize the value of fast and easy to use web sites
  6. Work with my team to develop new laser-focused apps that were very easy to use, help fill the service bay, and keep training time low and manageable

Where are we now? The company is three-and-a-half months old. Over that time, we’ve solved a ton of customer issues, improved our platform, and our first new app has been prototyped, run by a range of dealers with glowing reviews, and is expected out in July.

Crawl, Walk, Run

We started with a crawl, got walking, and are now running hard. In short, we’re rapidly improving this SurgeMetrix every day. We still have a lot of work to do, but know these three things:

  1. If you want a company that will be deeply dedicated to your dealership’s success, we’re it. We get that the OEM is important, but your dealer brand is too.
  2. Our responsive platform is rapidly improving and we’ll give you a mobile site that will maximize your leads with a low bounce rate.
  3. If you need help, whether you are a customer of ours or not, we will help you. We love customer support!

Email or call us at 954.508,6454 if you want a demo, need a question or two answered, or just want a little help. We’re here for you.

It’s the User Experience Stupid!

It is critical to create dealer websites and apps that are easy-to-use for your staff and shoppers…

User Experience is defined online as “the overall experience of a person using a product such as a website or computer application, especially in terms of how easy or pleasing it is to use.”

But not all companies think that user experience is important.  For some, a “features first” mindset is important.  The more the features, the better.  For others, it is big data.  The numbers are everything.

We think differently.  We know that user experience is the very force that drives a product’s performance.  Features help.  Numbers are important, but if the user can’t user the product, then all bets are off.  Let’s look at some facts:

Be Smart: A Better Experience Improves ROI

Putting user experience first is smart for four reasons:

  1. Customers get what they want out of a product, so they stay happier
  2. Happier customers stay loyal for longer
  3. Loyal customers spend more money
  4. You save money during product development and after launch

Digital technology has impacted practically every commercial industry, forcing old habits to die hard and opening opportunities for innovators.  Look at the auto industry…  According to the Wall Street Journal, US car shoppers spend an average of 11 hours online and 3.5 hours offline. Since people spend more time doing online research, auto dealers have to consider the role that digital products play in the sales funnel.

Given these numbers, don’t you think that your dealer website should be easy to use?

Experience Dynamics, an award-winning UX consulting firm, compiled a number of other statistics that starkly demonstrate the ROI of UX.  For instance:

  • 70% of projects fail due to lack of user acceptance
  • User involvement during UX development can decrease work time by 33-50%, helping teams focus on what the users actually want
  • One website, after it was optimized for mobile, saw a 30% increase in sales and a 70% increase in the quantity of products sold

In other words, the more you focus on the people who will actually be using your product, the bigger and better your bottom line will be.

Be a Really Smart: Put Your Users in the Driver’s Seat

Usability authority Jakob Nielsen says that it’s 100 times cheaper to fix a design before launch, because, whether you like it or not, “your design will be tested by users — your only choice is whether to run the test yourself before launch.”

Does that mean you should only perform pre-launch testing?  Not at all. In two separate studies, he found that redesigning a product for usability increased KPIs by up to 135%.

At the end of the day, we all want a product that blows our customers and our competition out of the water. To ensure acceptance and success, put your users in the driver’s seat.

After all, your users are your biggest investors, so it pays to let them run the show!

What this Means for Your Dealer Website?

Don’t just accept what your told.  Ask your provider what they have done to test their website designs with typical users.  Ask for examples and results.

Talk to them about performance.  If the site doesn’t load fast, you will lose customers before they even visit your site.

Finally, ask them about how they would manage your “calls to action” (those call outs on a web page that might say “Buy Now!” or similar things).  If you have too many calls to action, you will risk losing leads in all the clutter.

It’s simple.  Bells and whistles are important, but the experience is the most critical thing for the user.  Hiring a web provider that understands is essential to your success.

Give us a call at 954.507.6454 or contact us at any time via email.