Provided by Aimee Romero, Dealerskins

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is as necessary as it is evil.   Okay, so it’s not evil, but it sure can be confusing sometimes.   The keys to search success seem to be hidden under mounds of information.  There are a lot of things to remember if you want to effectively use SEM.  I’ve written before about monkey wrenches in the SEM machine.  Let’s recap.

Sub-par websites can really hold back your SEM efforts.  If your website isn’t sticky and easy to navigate, no amount of marketing will keep consumers there.  SEM is more about getting users to your site, not necessarily keeping them there.  Ideally, SEM leads users to exactly the page they want, but it won’t be effective as a lead generator unless your website is up to speed and looking good. 

Another “wrench” is a lack of integration.  If your SEM campaigns are the only promotional effort you’re putting forth, you will not be as successful as you could be.   All of your advertising efforts should lead to your website and connect to other advertisements (in other words, integrate).  If you run a special in the paper, it should be reflected in your SEM campaigns as well. 

Finally, It’s also important to keep whoever manages your SEM in the loop and up-to-date.  If your SEM provider is aware of your specials, local events, latest print ads, etc., the campaigns they create will be much more effective.

SEM can really enhance your marketing and advertising efforts when used correctly.  It’s arguable at this point that you can’t really be effective without it! Pay-per-click search marketing is a great way to gain real estate on search results pages, and it allows you to compete nation-wide.  Paid search ads show up only when someone has searched for your product or a similar keyword, so you only advertise to interested consumers.  Dealers can target consumers in specific regions, during specific time frames, etc.  Paid search ads allow dealers to be extremely strategic.  In addition, they provide quantifiable results.  You know how many people are responding to your ads, how many convert into leads and how much money you’re spending… at least, you should.

This brings us to the final, most important key to SEM. Metrics! Here is a list of questions that you should be able to answer.

What is my cost-per-click?
Which search engine generates the most traffic to my site?
What keywords are most effective?
Which ad campaign is most effective?
What is my ROI?
What is my bounce rate?

If your SEM vendor can’t answer those questions or provide you with a report that can, you should seriously consider putting off the wedding.  There’s a better match out there for you.

Your search engine optimization and marketing plan needs a little bit of attention.  Don’t just set it and forget it.  Evaluate your website, your advertising/marketing plan and your website metrics with SEM in mind.   A little bit of time will go a long long way. 

Colorado Automobile Dealers Association
 290 East Speer Boulevard Denver, CO  80203
 Telephone:  303.831.1722  |  Facsimile: 303.831.4205