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In times past, most dealers and their digital advertising providers believed in a bulk, wide-net mentality when it came to venues such as search PPC and banner advertising. That strategy is quickly starting to die down thanks to a more competitive atmosphere driving up prices and emerging technology that makes targeting much easier. Today, dealers don't need to cast a wider net. They need to make sure their nets don't have any holes in them even if that means casting a smaller net.

On DrivingSales, a blog post points to the advantages of making sure that targeting is the most prevalent aspect of advertising spends. It's not about getting in front of everyone. It's about getting in front of buyers who can come by the dealership today. Otherwise, it's better to spend all of the budget on television and radio.

At first glance, it's an easy question with an instant answer. Car dealers want to target everyone within driving distance with their message. As Ripley said in Aliens, "It's the only way to be sure."

Upon closer examination, problems start to pop up. Even if we assume that "everybody" is actually a large portion of the audience (since you can't reach everybody from a literal sense), there are still holes in the strategy. Those who have extremely large marketing budgets could do it, but even then they really shouldn't.

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Since the dawn of automotive pay-per-click advertising, there has been a question that nobody seems to be able to answer properly. On one hand, you have those who are dead-set on driving everyone who searches for a vehicle to the corresponding inventory pages on the dealership's website, whether it's a search results page or a vehicle details page. On the other side, you have those who are just as adamant about driving visitors to landing pages on or off the website that try to capture a lead or compel a phone call while still giving access to the inventory through a single click. Which is correct?

Perhaps neither is definitively the best practice. Perhaps it's a question of goals and intent and the correct answer depends on multiple factors. Perhaps a diverse methodology is the right approach. In this article on Automotive Digital Marketing, we see this last perspective explained.

Our perspective on the issue adds a third factor that has helped us to come to our own conclusion for clients: visitor intent. The beauty of modern digital advertising is that it allows us to make determinations about website visitors before they even click based upon their source, keywords, and past activity. The key to all of this is following Google's lead based upon their ultimate data set for automotive.

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How to Pay for Good Website Traffic

There are dozens of ways that dealers can pay for traffic to visit their websites, but only a few ways to get good traffic that can actually convert or come in and buy a car. Knowing the difference between the two is one of the keys to success in an increasingly competitive automotive market.

The obvious way to do it is through search PPC, but that's something that everyone's doing. Some of the things that very few are doing include LotLinx and social PPC, both of which are covered to some extent in this article on Driving Sales by JD Rucker:

We've been very careful with how we approach inventory marketing on dealer websites. On one hand, we know that a dealer's inventory is the primary lead and sales driver for dealers. On the other hand, the concept of driving everyone directly to inventory is a flawed one. Sometimes, it's better to put people on an appropriate landing page rather than push them directly to the cars.

Read more on Driving Sales.

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KNOW Where to Advertise with Geo-Coding

Have you ever dealt with a PPC company that asks you a few questions up front and then goes on for months, even years without gathering more data from you? Have you ever wondered how they can know what and where to advertise for you if they aren't collecting data? If you've never wondered about either of these things, you're doing just fine. Nothing to see here.

If, on the other hand, you've asked these very questions and wondered where the answers lie, then the solution is relatively easy and pretty darn cheap. For $5 per year, you can take advantage of Google's own tool to help you map out where your advertising is working, where it's not, and how to fix it.

In this article on Dealer Refresh by Dan Mondello, he gives a step-by-step look at how to take advantage of this simple but powerful analytics tool.

How far, on average, are your customers willing to travel to purchase their next vehicle from your dealership?

Read more on Dealer Refresh.

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