If you are looking for someone to help with your search engine marketing (SEM) at NADA, you will be bombarded by tons of people claiming to be the best. Maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but how can you be sure if a search marketer is for real or just trying to get your elusive dollars? Here are some qualities to look for in a search marketer.
After you are done listening to a search marketer’s pitch, the next two words out of your mouth need to be, “prove it.” A good search engine professional will have real life examples of how their services helped a specific dealership increase their business. This can be demonstrated by increased car sales, higher web traffic, or increased brand awareness in a specific area. Whatever the case, if a marketer cannot prove that his company has helped actual dealerships with their search engine marketing product, run away and don’t look back. Always ask for credentials and some user history to compare your situation with the examples they give. If it helped another dealer with a similar story to your own, then they might be able to help you.
Learn the lingo
The more you know about online advertising, the less likely it is that someone is going to pull a fast one on you. Some search guys will try to confuse or impress you by using a lot of SEM jargon, which really just makes the process of finding an effective SEM company more difficult than it needs to be. While I don’t expect there will be much shady marketing going on at NADA, it is still a good idea to know the basic gist of what the search marketers are talking about. Understand beforehand how an account is set up and what it takes to put an advertisement on the search engine results page. Take a few minutes to learn what a keyword is and how the bidding process works for pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. If you learn the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing, you will save yourself time and money later on.
Ask the right questions
When coming up with questions to ask search marketing professionals, avoid questions like, “what should my budget be?” and “what keywords should I be buying?” There is no way any honest professional can give you an accurate quote when they have not looked at your site or done any research on your dealership. Stick to questions regarding their experience, success stories, technology, and qualifications. How long have they been in the field of search engine marketing? Are they a Google certified professional? How do they report their findings to the dealership? What analytical programs do they use to quantify their results? Once you are satisfied with their credentials, trade information and have them look at your website and dealership on a more intimate level, and then give you a fair assessment of the work that needs to be done.
Finding a good search engine marketing professional is not difficult, as long as you ask the right questions going in. So this year, whether it be at NADA or someone cold calling you, level the playing field a little and ask the tough questions to the SEM salespeople. Your dealership will be better off because of it.
Tom Knoop is director of search engine marketing for Stevenson Advertising. If you need help starting your own SEM campaigns, feel free to contact him at 800-643-8584 or email TomK@StevensonAdvertising.com.
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