Every Internet advertising campaign should begin with SEM – Search Engine Marketing also known as "pay per click." Why should you start there? SEM allows you to instantly be at the top of searches on popular sites like Google, Yahoo, Bing and AOL. Plus, you can get reports that show the success of keywords that you had a high click through rate. You can then take those words and then ad them to the other side of the pyramid foundation SEO – Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is when a website gains popularity in the unpaid portion of the searches. The higher you can get your website to list on the first page, the more hits you will receive. This does become a painstaking, never-ending process that does take time before you will begin crawling to the top of the "organic" or unpaid results. If you have a small budget to owe to Internet advertising, this is where you start and end. However, if you have more money and want to look at Display Advertising, move up to the next level of the pyramid.
Display Advertising is very popular, but I like to fine tune display advertising and put it into another category called "Behavioral Targeting" or BT this takes display advertising to another level. BT allows you to target in-market customers and then uses display advertising to reach out to them. This kills two birds with one stone. You get the impressions of having a display advertising campaign but now you are serving up those impressions to someone who is actually looking for your product. BT is a great treat to have if you can spare the expense in your Internet advertising budget.
On that same level in the pyramid is Re-Targeting, which allows you to go back out and re-target those customers who visited your website, but you were unable to convert into a lead. This is no different than making a follow up call to unsold floor traffic. Why would you not want to follow up the same way to your Internet visitors? You probably have more traffic to your website than you do your dealership. How would you like to get those visitors back and turn them into customers?
This is why this is another big part of the Online Advertising Pyramid. Depending on your website traffic, I would not suggest allocating any more than 25% of what you spend on behavioral targeting towards re-targeting. Now with both of these types of advertising the creative is critical, it is great to get the impressions but the goal is to get that customer to click through to your site. Your creative must create a call to action by the Internet user to click on it and get them to your site.
The very top of the pyramid is saved for Intuitive Search or SEIM – Search Engine Intuitive Search. Right now, this is not being taken advantage of by many automotive advertisers, but this is going to be the wave of the future. SEIM allows anyone with any type of unique inventory – used cars or homes for sale are great examples – to have that inventory listed on the paid ad searches. SEIM is directed toward unique vehicles linking customers who make a vehicle specific search with the actual vehicle in your inventory.
The key here is to deep dive that customer to the vehicle they are looking for. Most dealers that are doing advertising similar to this are dropping the ball by bringing the consumer to the home page. You can lose that customer between finding your inventory pages, then searching through the inventory. In this day and age everything we want, we want now. Give that to the customer by allowing them to go right to that vehicle landing page.
It works like this: A customer goes to the Search Engines and makes a search for 2005 Toyota Corolla. The customer sees Search Engine Marketing Ad and it reads "2005 Toyota Corolla – ABC Toyota 7 year / 100K mile Warranty" then clicks on it. Once clicked in the customer is then brought to the exact vehicle within your website that they searched for on the search engines. The 2005 Toyota Corolla!
As you can see these are all very powerful advertising tools, but when used in combination it will give your dealership an edge in the online world.