Six Internet Marketing Investments Worth Making - Tire Review Magazine

Six Internet Marketing Investments Worth Making

My team has regular discussions around the office about what we think dealers should be doing with their websites and online marketing efforts. We certainly do our fair share of griping, mostly because it’s difficult to get our message across above all the noise that is coming at tire dealers.
instead of hastily investing in a pay-per-click campaign, run your own test campaign on google ad words, which lets you set a monthly cost and keywords and let the campaign roll.
But then, when we visit a dealership, we get a whole new perspective. Online marketing vendors (many of them questionable) are crawling out of the woodwork. Dealers are finding themselves inundated by calls, direct mail and e-mail from marketers claiming to be the end-all-be-all in website search optimization, local search, pay-per-click – you name it.

Dealers must be totally overwhelmed, annoyed and downright frustrated. Welcome to the club. But there are six things you can do to make sure your hard earned marketing dollars are delivering ROI.

Here are the top six marketing efforts I would spend my budget on if I were a tire dealer.

1. I would be a big time blogger
Blogging is hands down the best way to 1) improve search rankings, 2) leverage your social media efforts, and 3) grab eyeballs.

I’ve been blogging since 2006, and it’s been a long, exciting journey. Those who know me would say that if you get me talking about blogging, you better have a free afternoon, so I’ll make this short and sweet.

There are very few tire dealer or vehicle service bloggers, so the field is wide open for you. Your blog posts (which only need to be a paragraph or two) can auto feed to Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll reach three social media channels for the time and effort of one. There are plenty of blog platforms to choose from, but I prefer to use

2. I would kick the Yellow Pages – and their ilk – to the curb
OK, this is a topic that burns me up. I hear stories from dealers all over the country who are being sold Yellow Pages/Superpages annual contracts for upwards of $1,500 a month! That’s insane, especially since the return is nearly zero.

Here’s the deal: if you want to keep your basic Yellow Pages listing, do it. It probably does garner some leads (from all the little old ladies without the Internet). But that’s it. Don’t invest in Superpag­ or any of the seemingly countless print directories or “local search portals.”

Google Places grabs 70% to 80% of all local search traffic. Yahoo Local and Bing Business Portal garner another 10%. This leaves a measly 10% for all of the other guys – like the Yellow Pages.
Social media is here to stay. To avoid falling behind, do it slowly, steadily and consistently  and be genuine in your efforts.
3. I would think long and hard about investing in pay-per-click
The money spent on pay-per-click (or PPC) is completely out of hand. The problem is we are seeing retail businesses invest thousands (yes, I said thousands with an “s”) in campaigns that are not converting.

The goal of any campaign is to achieve conversions. A conversion is a sale, a lead or other specific action you want a user to take on your website.

Impressions (views of your ad) and clicks (clicks on your ad) are lovely – but they don’t pay the bills. Do not spend a fortune month after month while you are garnering no conversions.

Read your reports from your vendor (likely buried on the last page) and ask point blank, “what is my conversion rate?” A rule of thumb is you should earn double what you invest, for example if you spend $5,000 a month, you should see $10,000 in sales through your website shopping cart.

Here is what to do instead: run a little test campaign on your own. Log on to Google Ad Words at­com. Set your monthly spend at $100 to $200. Select your keywords and let the campaign roll. This test-and-see approach makes more sense than diving in the deep end right off the bat.

4. I would get serious about social media
Two simple things to remember about social media: 1) it’s not optional, and 2) you don’t need to get it. Seriously, just trust me when I say social media is here to stay. The longer you cop out, the farther behind you’ll be.

Everyone wants to know how you make money off of social media. You don’t – at least not for a while. Consider this a wise investment – you’ll be thanking me next year.

You need to just do it, slow and steady, consistent and real, and over time the leads come in because you have been showing your genuine personality on your channels and people have grown to like you and trust you because you haven’t been acting like an “in your face” salesperson.

If you remember one thing from this article, remember this – if you invest in social media with dollar signs in your eyes, you’re dead. Pretty simple. But you need to participate in it.

5. I would protect my hard-earned reputation like gold
The majority of dealers have not yet been informed about local search, and how in a matter of months it can destroy the reputation you have built over 20 years.

Here’s what you need to do today:

• Claim your Google Places page at Check the existing reviews on the page, respond to the good, the bad and the ugly. All of them, without failure.

• Claim your Yahoo Local page at and check the reviews. Respond.

• Claim your Bing Business Portal page at and check the reviews. Respond.

These three sites will have you pretty well covered, but this isn’t a one-and-done proposition – you need to keep an eye on these sites. Be sure to set your pages to be notified when new reviews come in, so you can read them and respond appropriately. Keep the pages updated and take advantage of the ability to create coupons on these sites. Set the coupons to be valid “in-store only” so you can track how many customers come to your dealership from these online portals.

Set up Google Alerts at Enter your company name and your name. You will then receive an e-mail anytime you or your business are mentioned online. It’s kind of like your own personal stalker alert.

6. I would submit my products to Google Merchant Center
I’ll end with one of the best-kept secrets in the industry. As a tire dealer, you can submit your product information to Google for free. Trends are showing that users are bypassing pay-per-click ads and going right for the organic listings with images. As it stands now, most of the listings are from big box retailers, but Google has localized the search, meaning as a local dealer you will receive priority ranking.

Here’s the trick: you need to submit the data exactly according to Google’s specifications, which can present a few hurdles if you are not a techie. Be patient and work through it, and ask for some help if you need to. But the Merchant Center could be quite productive for dealers of all sizes.

Award-winning blogger and CEO of Duo Web Solutions, Heather Blessington is a web technology veteran and a certified PMP with the Project Management Institute (PMI). Her company also provides monthly columns focused on best practices in web marketing for dealers.

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