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Source: SEO or PPC; What’s More Important?

SEO or PPC; What’s More Important?

Just recently, a friend of mine approached me about his dealership site and how they had a consultant (SEO guru), do an SEO analysis of his site.

He was concerned that he may be losing money on keyword selection based on the analysis. As I explained to him there is some confusion out there regarding the entire Google platform and that having a balance of both high-level SEO, and an optimized PPC campaign is the ideal. I also explained that you only get charged by clicks, not keyword choices (lol)

Let’s cover SEO first.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization” which is a practice that makes sure that your website follows all of the necessary rules of engagement to make it easy to rank as organically high on the search engine results pages (SERPs) as possible. It includes having good content in the form of copy, pictures, and video. All material should be relevant to the subject matter and have keywords and key phrases as an essential part of the site copy.  There are other technical aspects but forget those for now.  Having great SEO is the “free” way to get listed.

Offsite SEO is still a huge part of the overall SEO mix. Having other high-quality sites backlink to your website is the water that lifts the ice cube to the top of the glass so to speak. Having your dealership properly listed via all of the 300+ listing sites and the 4 main data companies (Factual, Acxiom, Infogroup and Neustar (Localeze), means that people will correctly know your company name, address, hours of operation, and telephone number. To have incorrect info strewn about the internet will definitely hurt your chances of getting highly-ranked. It will hurt your overall “Quality Score” which is essentially what Google uses to rank you in the search engine, and that’s where PPC and SEO strike their balance.

What is the “Quality Score”?
Quality Score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. It is used to determine your cost per click (CPC) and multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the ad auction process. Your Quality Score depends on multiple factors, including:

1) Your click-through rate (CTR) (PPC campaign)

2) The relevance of each keyword to its ad group (PPC campaign)

3) Landing page quality and relevance (SEO)

4) The relevance of your ad text (PPC & SEO)

5) Your historical AdWords account performance (PPC)

As you can see, there is a mix of PPC and SEO involved in optimizing a Quality Score which essentially determines where your stores website is going to show up in a typical search operation. Great SEO alone can get you on to the first page of search, but unless you are well-branded, your position may vary from near the top, to not on the page at all. The leads you get from great organic (unpaid) placement are basically free and are high quality. However, to get into the top position and get the most clicks possible, and the best clicks according to numerous studies, you have to pay for placement.

PPC guarantees a first page presence.
The cost of that presence is somewhat based on the quality of the website’s SEO execution. The ads in the pay per click campaign have to be compelling enough to get a good click through rate, but the words and phrasing used in each ad must also match those keywords and phrases (long tail search terms) on the website pages they are linked to. The better the execution and matching of verbiage in ads and on the site, the better your organic ranking, and the cheaper you clicks will be. It’s a seriously incestuous relationship. Google wants to reward you for creating a good user experience (SEO) but needs to make money so they have PPC to nudge those rankings to the top if you pay enough to rank high.
Google really has it figured out. It used to be that Google had two columns on every search results page. The left column had the organic listings (best SEO executions and/or brand names). People used to click at an 8:1 ratio favoring the organic or “free” listings over the listings in the right column which were all paid for. Google then eliminated the two column design and started putting PPC campaign ads on top of each SERP which now has only one column combining paid and free results. This cut down the ratio that favored free search results and increased Google’s click revenue.
The point is, having as much visibility as possible in any search operation is crucial. It’s termed “page dominance”. In my estimation, the companies that do both well, win. The companies that only do PPC, run inefficient, expensive campaigns. The companies that ignore PPC, are likely too budget-conscious to compete and suffer with inconsistent visibility. Those who combine Google Best Practices, and optimize both SEO as well as their PPC campaigns, dominate their competition.
I hope this helps clarify the decade-old question of how SEO and PPC affect one and other, and how using both to your advantage is the best way to the top of the mountain.

Source: ‘Ralph Recommends…’ Newsletter Announcement on ADM Professional Community

“Ralph Recommends…”
eNewsletter Publication Launch Announcement

Ralph Paglia, "The Godfather of Automotive Digital Marketing"Having been the Editor-In-Chief and managed the ADM Professional Community for over ten years now, it seems that every technology development, software and application being sold to car dealers, along with various service provider programs and just about anything somebody conceives of that they would like to sell car dealers has been pitched to me at some point…

Usually in the form of a product demonstration, sometimes starting with a two minute “Elevator Pitch”. The vast majority of time I have considered incumbent upon my obligations to this professional network to listen, watch, take notes, try it out, talk to any dealers currently using the widget in question and generally become aware of what it is, what it costs and what the claimed Return On Investment (ROI) is all about… The how when and why of ROI.

More background and qualifications; For over 30 years I have been blessed with work and assignments that required me to (in addition to selling cars) create product and solution development “Road Maps” used to guide future products and when they would be released for companies such as American Honda Motor Company, Reynolds, ADP (CDK), JD Power, BMW North America, Tier10 Marketing, Ford Motor Company, Toyota Motor Sales, Mercedes-Benz USA and a few more. These projects resulted in me spending countless hours with software developers, project planners and executive committees as we defined what car dealers would need to stay competitive and to improve what customers experience when dealing with them.

As a result of this exposure, combined with my experience in selling cars while managing car dealerships, solution development and professional services to car dealers while working at the Reynolds and Reynolds Company, ADP Dealer Services (CDK Global), Tier10 Marketing, Courtesy Chevrolet and many other dealerships… I have developed a strong sense of which products and services do what, how well they do it, and whether or not they are worthy of consideration by car dealers, auto groups and enterprise organizations.

You may be thinking “Everybody has an opinion”, and you are correct… However, my opinion comes from an auto industry veteran with Bachelor of Science and Masters Degrees in Business Administration, who has implemented software and business procedures in car dealers that I served as a manager, as well as being employed by the largest software development companies in the car business to serve as Practice Leader and manager of consultants deployed to assist car dealers in the implementation of technology, people and process designed to drive improved business results and customer experience. I know what I am talking about when it comes to deploying solutions in car dealerships and I am eager to share my experience, insights and wisdom on the use of existing solutions and those to come in the future.

Several weeks ago I was approached by a couple of automotive professionals who I consider to be “Thought Leaders” within our industry… They asked me to consider creating and publishing a weekly newsletter with insights, opinions, guidance, reviews and recommendations for car dealers focused on products and services, along with sharing best practices and what I see as future developments, strategies and tactics in the car business.

My initial response was to say I am already doing this with the ADM Professional Community website and network. These people, who I consider to be wiser and possibly more intelligent than me, responded with, “Maybe so, but you currently provide your members with something that they must go to your site to find and see…” Which I acknowledged was true. They went on to say, “We want to create a newsletter that is delivered to members of the ADM Professional Community and additional professionals who are not members, but who work in the auto industry, which will become a valuable resource throughout the car business…”

I agreed and so the genesis of the “Ralph Recommends…” eNewsletter has come to be. Within the next couple of weeks you will be sent the first issue of “Ralph Recommends…” and I would like to ask for your help. Please take a look at what is in there and let me know your opinions about what’s good, what’s bad and what you would like to see. You can send me an email to RPaglia at Gmail dot com, a message via this network, Facebook Messenger, Twitter DM, call or text me on my cell at Five Zero Five, Three Zero One, Six Three Six Nine, or contact me in whatever manner suits you… But any feedback will be appreciated and considered as I move forward with the “Ralph Recommends…” project.

“Ralph Recommends…”

I look forward to hearing back from each of you…

Ralph Paglia
Editor-In-Chief
AutomotiveDigitalMarketing.com

‘Ralph Recommends…’ eNewsletter Launch Announcement

Sales of sport utility vehicles were particularly strong this year, according to joint research by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

Total light-vehicle sales are expected to finish out 2017 at 17.2 million units, a decrease of 1.9% from 2016, according to joint research by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive, with retail light-vehicle expected to finish the year just below 14 million units – down 1.1% from 2016.

Having personally invested 5 months into working in car dealerships during 2017, on the front lines managing digital marketing campaigns and supervising BDC operations… I can attest to the simple reality that trucks and SUV’s were where we were able to generate excitement and consumer response in 2017. At Tier 3, we feel the mood of the car buying population far sooner than reflected in sales numbers. 

The continuing shift of sales percentages into more trucks and SUV’s and less conventional passenger cars is reflected in the responsiveness that automotive consumers have to sales promotions and campaigns on each model type.

Looking forward to 2018, both firms expect total light-vehicle sales forecast to top out under 17 million units, a decline of 1.2% from 2017, while the forecast for retail light-vehicles is 13.8 million units for 2018, a decline of 1.4% from this year.

The big surprise for 2017 turned out to be the strength of sport utility vehicle (SUV) sales, according to Jeff Schuster, LMC’s senior vice president of forecasting.

“SUV demand has been robust and is expected to finish up 5% in 2017 from 2016 and a market share of 43% of total light-vehicle sales,” he said in a statement. “The SUV reign will continue for the foreseeable future [as] SUVs are expected to  account for 50% of new model activity in 2018, which will help push the share of total sales to 45% and continue the segment’s volume growth, even as the total market is projected to contract further in 2018.”

He added that light truck models overall accounted for 68% of new-vehicle retail sales through Dec. 17 – the highest level ever for the month of December, making it the 18th consecutive month above 60%.

 

As part of its Q4 2012 Email Marketing Quarterly Benchmark Study [download page], Experian Marketing Services has analyzed the best time of the day to send emails.
Experian cautions automotive marketers by pointing out that the data is retrospective rather than controlled.  The study included all industry segments, (US based) with automotive being just one of the multiple segments analyzed (Multi-Channel Retailers).  It is wise to note that logic would dictate that optimal deployment timing will vary by industry, and in the case of automotive, perhaps even by brand. But, despite the naysayers that often want to shove their heads in the sand and ignore all objective data that doesn’t come from themselves, it doesn’t hurt to take a look at the Experian study’s results.
Not surprisingly, at least to me and anyone else who has ever used email marketing at a dealership for any length of time, the Experian study shows somewhat of an inverse relationship between email volume and performance.  Plainly stated, the more email a prospective customer receives during any given time segment, the less likely that your dealership’s email will get opened and read… (less results).

For example, looking at time of day, the study finds that a plurality 40% of emails were deployed between 8AM and 11:59AM, with that range accounting for 42% of transactions. But, the 16.1% unique open rate and 2.4% unique click rate of this time period counted as the lowest of the 6 distinct time periods.

To some extent, that could simply be a function of volume, meaning that it could be harder for email marketers to differentiate themselves in the morning, when consumers are receiving the highest volume of inbound emails.

Interestingly, the transaction rate (.13%) in that morning period also was the lowest of any time range, revenue per email ($0.17) was among the lowest, and average order value was middle of the pack, at $174.

When looking at the time of day that got the smallest share of volume and transactions (2% each) – between 8PM and 11:59PM – the picture changes considerably. During this time period, unique open rate (21.7%), unique click rate (4.2%), transaction rate (0.34%), revenue per email ($0.48), and average order value ($246) for eCommerce businesses submitting data were all considerably higher than during any other time of day. Experian doesn’t offer any suggestions as to why this might be the case, but it could be related to consumers simply being more engaged at that time of the day and more apt to submit an inquiry (lead) or spend money.

 

The Experian report also analyzes performance by day of the week, finding again that the days with the lowest volume of emails (Saturday and Sunday) boasted the best response rates (each with a unique open rate of 17.8% and a unique click rate of 2.9%). Saturday (9% of email volume) also sported the best lead submission (CPA) and transaction rate (0.16%) and revenue per email ($0.20), although average order values lagged for the eCommerce businesses submitting their data.

Regardless of the specifics by industry, region or brand, what the Experian study clearly shows is that when it comes to car dealers using email marketing, timing does effect an email campaign’s performance. The actionable item for car dealers reviewing this information is to start comparing results from your email marketing campaigns using the metrics that Experian has identified, such as open rates, click through rates and engagement rates (inquiries/leads submitted). Identify the best time segments and days of the week for your dealership, your brand and your location to get the optimum results…

Just remember what Digital Ralph has said hundreds of times; “Random is the Opposite of Optimized”.  Don’t let random selection be the means by which you time the deployment of your email campaigns, know the nest days and times to deploy campaigns by their offer type and targeted audience, then put planning in place to ensure that your dealership’s email campaigns are deployed during those optimal day and time segments.

Data Source 1: MarketingCharts.com/most-emails-deployed-in-morning-best-results-se…

Data Source 2: Experian.com/email-marketing-quarterly-benchmark-study-q4-2012

ADM Professional Community members can download the Experian Research report in PDF document format using the following link: 

Email-Marketing-Benchmark-Metrics-Study-Q4-2012.pdf