(Editor's Note: This is part II of an ongoing series of columns by an Internet expert and auto dealer.)

The key to effective online marketing is the landing experience.

Until now, the focus in automotive online marketing has been traffic (eyeballs on a site). Landing experiences focus on conversion, getting the lead or the appointment.

These small one-to-10 page sites have clear calls to action, are easy for respondents to navigate and instantly give them highly specialized information they are looking for.

Typically, these sites convert online marketing respondents three to five times higher than sending a customer to a main dealership website because of their specialized content that matches the ad and delivers on the promise that got the click in the first place.

Message mismatch is the No.1 reason for page abandonment and the reason why your website only converts 5% to 10% of the traffic that comes in, even though most of the traffic coming to your main website was looking for your dealership to begin with.

Most importantly, landing experiences away from your main website allow you to A/B split test completely different content, offers and looks to find a winner, then do multivariate testing on the winning site to enhance conversion even further.

Internet Auto Dealer 3.0 is about conversion more than mere traffic.

Landing Experience Management tools include MicrositesByU.com.

Core Microsite Network

IAD3.0 uses a core set of specialized microsites that will support and boost the ranking of the main website. These specialize in areas that customers are looking for most.

These include sites dedicated to:

  • Individual new-car models, such as Ford Focus and Chevy Impala sites. Use actual pictures of inventory cars, not stock photos.
  • Each used vehicle in stock.
  • Used performance cars in stock, trucks, trick cars, etc.
  • Community focus. These sites go deeper than Facebook. They highlight dealership involvement in the community and are linked to the dealerships social media sites.
  • Body shop and parts.
  • Each salesperson. It acts as their own websites. These make great sales incentive and recruitment tools.
  • Press releases. Do these early and often on anything of significance going on at the store, such as new models arriving, new salespersons starting, building improvements, tech qualifications and certifications. The more info you put out, the greater the chance of it being picked up by news agencies, other blogs and RSS feeds. The Internet is a circle of information.
  • Incentive programs. These sites are dedicated to auto makers' incentives. This goes a long way to trust and transparency.

Main Website

For IAD3.0 the main website is not a marketing tool. Landing-experience sites and microsites handle that. The main website is a portal for existing customer to refer back to for service.

Here customers do things, they don't just find things. The largest majority of customers coming to your main website are looking to do two things: Find a car or make a service appointment.

Make it easy for customers to do what they want to do, and you will get more customers.

Social Media Network

IAD3.0 works though social media on conversations that gain trust and credibility. It is not a place for dealership marketing. The only people who can market in social media are your customers through comments and sharing, not just simply joining your fan page. The marketing of social marketing is done by customers not marketers.

Your social-media network allows your customers to share their thoughts on your service with you and others.

Being successful in social media is not about the number of Facebook fans you have or your number of Twitter followers, but the way you take care of your customers, engage them with respect and genuinely help them with their problems.

Social media is the vehicle those customers will use to tell their friends and you about the job you are doing, good or bad.

There is an old saying that is much older than social media: “People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That is the foundation of social media.

Social Media Tools

Don't advertise on social-media sites the same way you would elsewhere.

Advertise thanks to your customers, tell why they should become a fan and offer test drive experiences. This is a great way to use social media, particularly for high-line stores. Put together a test drive dinner package in which people come to the dealership, pick up a car and a dinner certificate and test drive a vehicle, while the current car is being washed.

When thinking about Facebook advertising remember it's social so be social in your advertising.

With Twitter, use multiple lists, one for used car inventory. Tweet new inventory as it comes in, new-car inventory. Tweet about specialized hard-to get-inventory as it comes in (example: “Five new Camaros just arrived!”). Tweet service daily specials on slow days for the drive, or tweet specials based on weather conditions (example: During a storm, tweet a wiper blade special).

See my blog www.pcmguy.com for ways to use twitter in your dealership.

Conversion Analytics

Peter Drucker said, “You can't manage what you can't measure.” But you can't fully manage the Internet. What happens there mostly is beyond your control.

My iteration of this quote for IAD 3.0: “You can't improve what you don't analyze.”

Analytics goes beyond the standard reporting platforms we see today on most of the applications we run in our stores. Use analytics to act. If you can't tell someone what you are going to do as a result of a statistic, then it's not important.

Analytics are used to make customer experiences better.

It's the only way you can do that. You can't control the engagement, but you can learn from each one to make the next one better.

So much about a dealership is based on the customer's experience. We can't afford not to analyze their experiences constantly.

Analytics starts with the goal. “Begin with the end in mind.” Then look at what made the goal happen. Then it seeks to repeat and improve on those.

Analytics drives testing. Test, test, test every touch point in the dealership and the experiences that drive them. Analytics is the difference between being knowledgeable and being “knowledge-abled,” acting with intent based on information.

Larry Bruce, who has started and sold many technology ventures, is the founder of MicrositesByU.com. He can be reached at at lb9491@gmail.com,

Questions or comments about this column?
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Dealers@wardsauto.com.