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Ryan Everson's Ultimate Guide to Not Get Forked by Vendors

Discussion in 'Websites, SEO, SEM, Display, Social, Marketing' started by reverson, Oct 19, 2018.

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  1. reverson

    reverson
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    First Name:
    Ryan
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    I just wrapped up a week at Digital Dealer with my team and one of the most valuable sessions for me was the peer strategy roundtables.

    At these roundtables, I kept hearing fellow dealers share vendor horror stories which led them to be understandably weary of future (and probably completely reputable) vendors.

    So I became inspired to create my own "Uncle Joe's Diary @joe.pistell@joe.pistell" forum thread to chronicle my experiences across our 50 store group and what to look out for, but more importantly what to do instead to improve performance.

    Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of great vendor partners out there. However, unfortunately there are still quite a few vendors selling snake oil or not following best practices which casts doubt on the entire automotive digital vendor community. I never intend to call anyone out by name, I simply hope to help dealers get the best ROI out of their digital marketing spend.

    Stay tuned for ongoing updates over the coming days, weeks, months, and hopefully years.

    PS: I used "forked" because I love the TV show "The Good Place" with Kristen Bell. :)
     
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  3. reverson

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    1. Adding UTM Tags on Internal Website Links

    At first glance it may seem like a good idea to do this for tracking purposes, however this goes against Google’s guidelines as it creates duplicate sessions in analytics.

    Why is this bad?

    This can make a vendor look amazing by driving a ton of “attributable” traffic to your website, when in all reality they are just duplicating your existing website traffic.

    What should you do instead?

    Create similar url parameters, just don’t use the default utm nomenclature and then setup custom analytics dimensions to track your unique url parameters.

    Example internal link: domain.com?itm_source=internal&itm_medium=banner&itm_campaign=homepage_slider&itm_content=camry_lease&itm_term=nov18

    Here’s a good how-to article: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2017/08/tracking-internal-marketing-campaigns-google-analytics/
     
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  4. reverson

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    2. Adding Custom Events to Website to Falsify Bounce Rate

    Vendors know that dealers love to look at bounce rate as a metric of how well a campaign is doing and unfortunately some vendors take advantage of that by implementing custom events that artificially lower the bounce rate.

    Why is this bad?

    They can create a custom event that causes analytics to not count a bounce if a user is on the website for more than x seconds or scrolled x percentage.

    What should you do?

    First, never let a vendor install their own scripts or GTM tags on your website. Always insist that they add it to your Google Tag Manager.

    To analyze if this is happening to you, take a look at your website bounce rate over the past year, has it drastically changed? Bounce rate typically stays relatively flat, unless you experience huge surges of irrelevant / relevant traffic.

    Also take a look at Behavior -> Events in your Google Analytics for any event out of the ordinary.

    One other thing to note is that each website company has a different set of legitimate custom events setup which makes it difficult to compare bounce rates from dealer to dealer. Instead look at your trending bounce rate to make inferences.
     
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  5. reverson

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    3. Running Multiple New Vehicle Model PPC Ads in a Single Google Ads Campaign

    Too many vendors throw all of their new vehicle model paid search ads in a single Google Ads campaign. For example, they have ad groups created for each model underneath a single make campaign.
    • Campaign: New Chevrolet Vehicles
      • Ad Group: Malibu
      • Ad Group: Silverado
      • Ad Group: Impala
      • Ad Group: etc…

    Why is this bad?
    • You have no control over the spend of each individual model, you’re primarily leaving it up to Google to determine based on each ad groups’ search volume, performance, and bids. What if you really want to focus on Silverado’s one month and pull back on Malibu’s? This type of setup makes it difficult to accomplish.
    • You have no control over the geo targeting of each individual model, every model gets the same geo targeting. In a lot of markets you may want to focus on a large rural area for truck models but then a smaller urban area for sedans. This type of setup makes it impossible to accomplish.
    • It makes it more difficult to examine the performance of each model. Vendors often only report at the campaign level which would hide the breakdown by model. This averages out as an aggregate and can help hide poor performing models / ad groups.
    • It makes it more difficult to create hyper-relevant ads which leads to low quality scores and subsequently higher costs and lower performance. Vendors are forced to throw all of their keywords for a particular model in a single ad group and implement more generic ads….instead of segmenting the keywords out by intent across multiple ad groups and creating more relevant ads.

    What should you do?

    Each model or model grouping should ideally have its own campaign with highly relevant segmented ad groups. This allows you more control over budget, geo targeting, keyword targeting, etc.

    Example:
    • Campaign: Chevrolet Silverado
      • Ad Group: General
      • Ad Group: Lease
      • Ad Group: For Sale
      • Ad Group: Specials
      • Ad Group: Discounts
      • Ad Group: APR
    • Campaign: Chevrolet Malibu
      • Ad Group: General
      • Ad Group: Lease
      • Ad Group: For Sale
      • Ad Group: Specials
      • Ad Group: Discounts
      • Ad Group: APR
    • etc...
     
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  6. reverson

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    4. Broad Paid Search Keywords with Limited Negative Keywords

    This is one of the biggest areas of waste I’ve seen when it comes to getting “forked” by a vendor. Less talented ad agencies and paid search providers tend to rely on broad match keywords without a robust negative keyword list backing them up.

    Why is this bad?

    This can cause your new vehicle ads to show for irrelevant searches like “Chevrolet Silverado headlight bulb Walmart price.” Yes, this is a real search that we showed up for before we brought all of our paid search in-house. We paid (wasted) $65+ per click and of course the traffic instantly bounced.

    PS: This was a major reputable “Google Partner

    You should only be showing up for high buying intent keywords and not enthusiast, parts, service, stats, etc searches that will just blow through your budget and make your vendor a larger commission check.

    What should you do?

    First, make sure your paid search provider has robust negative keyword lists applied to each campaign that will prevent your ads from showing for irrelevant searches.

    Second, verify that their negative keyword lists are comprehensive enough by using the Google Ad Preview tool to test if your ad appears for irrelevant searches.

    Some examples might include:
    • Chevrolet Silverado 0-60
    • Chevrolet Silverado European
    • Chevrolet Silverado history
    • Chevrolet Silverado bed cover
    Third, get access to your Google Ads account and look through the search terms report monthly to see what keywords are actually being searched when users click on your ads. Keep an eye out for new irrelevant keyword clicks that need to be added to a negative list.

    Fourth, look for abnormally low click through rates on individual keywords with crazy high impressions. This is often a good indicator that you are showing up for irrelevant searches and perhaps just haven't caught it yet because no one has clicked to make it appear in your search terms report.

    One other thing to lookout for is model that have common word names such as the Buick Lacrosse. Make sure you’re not showing up for lacrosse sport searches. There are countless other model examples like this.
     
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    #5 reverson, Oct 19, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  7. Tarry Shebesta

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    Digital Retailing is case in point.

    There is no one solution for all dealers/makes/geographical locations/demographics etc. Solutions need to be adaptive to all of these variances. A problem is you have vendors creating solutions who've never sold a car online. They are merely taking the old offline path to purchase and creating portions of it digitally. Most solutions are virtually the same, except for the name. Express This, Easy That, Online Buy Now, Start Your Deal, and so on. There is not one Digital Retailing solution you can point to right now and say wow!, that's a game changer and it 's bringing me all this new business.

    Once someone decides, and is determined, to buy your car, they will do it online, offline, whatever. Having a good solution that makes it easy for them to transact with you is a different story and needs to be done in a way that will create a positive experience for them.

    Digital Retailing does not do much to help bring new buyers into the market or quickly get them zeroed in on the right car. Sifting thru pages and pages of vehicle listings and playing with complicated UIs showing estimated payments and numbers they know are not real, does not instill much faith or help to provide a positive experience.

    Look forward to seeing your updates Ryan.
     
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    #6 Tarry Shebesta, Oct 21, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2018
  8. Alexander Lau

    Alexander Lau
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    Most of my replies to vendor promoting posts are similar. Beware of unimportant metrics are being used in reporting. But you know, according to some here, I'm a "bully!" Right, for going to bat for the dealer.

    "Attribution," blar, blar, blar but so tertiary and imperfect in its effect (especially in auto).

    The problem with creating these lists, most dealers aren't you. They don't have a you internally (the probability that they will have a you is a stretch and when they do, they will never pay a you fairly, retention issues), so they trust these types of shady vendor practices (skulduggery / chicanery), based upon "relationships," yet they are really charlatans. Even if you document this stuff, dealers don't know what it means. If a dealer throws these into a vendor's face, even when busted, they'll deny it. It's a charade.

    Unless you're trying to promote yourself? Which in that case, cool... :-)
     
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    #7 Alexander Lau, Oct 21, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2018
  9. ryan.leslie

    ryan.leslie
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    Hey @Alexander Lau@Alexander Lau, respectfully disagree with you on this. Before many of us were the "YOU" above in our current roles, we read a post just like this. I know I did. We all start the journey somewhere. This post is an incredible launching pad for someone that is aspiring to a role like Ryan's. If nothing else, it lets them know how much they need to hone their craft to be successful.

    @reverson@reverson Kudos. This is an awesome thread concept and one that I hope you continue. I've been coming back to the Refresh Forums for close to 10 years for posts just like this. Some of the things you posted about are far from my wheelhouse and I enjoyed learning from you.

    Refresh has always been a place for discussion and has attracted the best and brightest in the industry for that reason. You get things here, like this post, that you just won't find in the other automotive digital hangouts. Some of that is the format, but I think it it is due in large part to the participants.

    The knowledge you are freely sharing here improves the industry on the dealer and vendor side. You never know who may be reading and how you may be helping them. THAT is cool!
     
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  10. Jeff Kershner

    Jeff Kershner
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    @reverson@reverson this is a awesome! Keep up the amazing contribution to the community. I know we ALL appreciate it!!
     
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  11. reverson

    reverson
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    Ryan
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    I think anybody with enough drive and passion can become a "me" or better.

    Everyone has their own story and background that can prove valuable. I was fortunate that my family opened their first car dealership when I was 13 (2003) and they were naive (cheap) enough to let me create their dealership website with live inventory, lead forms, credit app, etc.

    After working at the family business as a porter / deal clerk / vehicle photographer / website programmer / etc each summer, I decided to shift focus and bootstrapped my own IT business which was acquired a few years later after building it up to multiple locations. I then decided to jump back to my auto roots by attending Northwood University for automotive marketing and management.

    This is where I crossed paths with Garber and started as a simple college intern but put the hard work in through a lot of self-learning and some mistakes along the way to get where I am now.

    I am aware that I am extremely fortunate to work for my group because many groups are not willing to pay to have someone like me who isn’t directly revenue producing and viewed as more of an overhead expense. They’re doing this at their own peril though, because a competent digital marketing manager can truly generate significant incremental sales.

    I could certainly turn each of my short posts into an in-depth article with step by step directions on what to do but I think a high level overview will be more valuable to a hungry person looking to learn more. And I am always available to expand on any of my points but I don’t really have the time to write an in-depth article on each one right off the bat.

    I also am not using this as a self-promotional springboard to a “better” job like many do. I am extremely happy with where I am, the resources I am provided, and the support I am given to bring my vision to fruition. Instead I hope to use this to 1) help other dealers 2) hold vendors more accountable 3) selfishly be able to recruit and retain great talent on my team.

    So every time I run across something or an idea pops in my head I’ll continue to add it to this thread and hopefully it will be helpful to dealers, even if it ends up just being one person striving to learn more like I was 8 years ago.
     
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