If there’s one thing that automotive digital marketing has taught us over the years, it’s that things change. This is a good thing for those who are keeping up with the changes and a bad things for those who languish in yesterday’s strategies. As I’ve said many times before, what worked yesterday might not work today but may work again tomorrow. That’s marketing.

Over the last six months, we’ve been making a shift in our strategy for our clients that is producing very interesting results. I won’t go so far as to say definitively that it’s increasing sales all by its lonesome since we are constantly improving our solutions on multiple fronts, but this singular change has yielded a noticeable difference in the way that sales numbers are accelerating for our clients. The change in question is to pull our content and landing page focus away from direct-to-VDP advertising and bring more attention to compelling landing pages.

This applies to SEO, PPC, and social media in particular. The thinking in the automotive industry for the last couple of years has been that if you take shoppers directly into vehicle details pages, they’re more likely to submit a lead and/or buy the vehicle. As Dataium CEO Eric Brown asserts, that trend in thinking was erroneously believed to be causation when in fact it’s correlation.

Our data in the field confirms their data from the clouds.

Yes, VDPs Sell Cars, But…

The reason that the VDP=Sales myth started is because the data supports the correlation. If someone visits a vehicle details page, they tend to be more likely to become a lead or a sale. This is true, but it’s a logical course of action for someone interested in buying a car to want to look at them. As a result, forcing as many visitors as possible onto your vehicle details page immediately is not necessarily a proper strategy. In fact, we’ve found that it can actually hurt.

All too often, we see dealers and vendors jumping the gun and trying to send everyone to a VDP. They set their ads to take interested parties directly in. They pay vendors money to drive traffic straight to VDPs. They even change their social and search marketing parameters to get the VDP views up as high as possible. The logic on the surface is fine, but when you dig deeper into both the data as well as common sense, you’ll see that trying to take everyone into your inventory whether they want to go directly in or not is hurting your overall website, marketing, and sales performance.

Keep two things in mind. First, your customers are not internet-illiterate. Just about any American who is qualified to buy a vehicle is capable of finding your inventory from any page on your website. Second, taking people straight to VDPs eliminates the opportunity to make an impression with them beyond the inventory itself. Online in general and on your website in particular, you have the ability to start the sales process in their minds by giving them reasons to want to do business with you through proper messaging. I’m not talking about sending people straight to a “why buy” page on your website. I’m talking about the strategy that we’ve employed of giving people reasons why buying a particular vehicle from you is better than buying it from a competitor.

Here’s a very basic example. If someone is searching for “Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in Long Beach“, there’s a good chance that they’re a buyer. They know what they want and they know where they want it. The standard thinking today is that you would want a PPC campaign that sends this searcher directly into your Silverado inventory, but that does nothing to separate you from your competitors. They’re already doing that. You should be sending them into a page that compels them to consider doing business with you before they look directly at inventory. Based upon initial testing, they will make it into inventory if they’re in the market. In fact, giving them a compelling reason up front increases the time on site, number of inventory items they look at, and number of leads and sales made as a result.

You don’t need us, Dataium, or our friends at String Automotive to confirm all of this for you. Just looking closely at your analytics will reveal that landing page marketing on a strong web platform that makes it easy for your visitors to find inventory is superior to direct-to-VDP marketing. We’ve seen time on site under 1 minute with some of the inventory marketing programs out there, but proper targeting, messaging, and landing page marketing can yield much, much stronger results.

Keep in mind that there are certain times when going straight to VPDs does make sense, but we’ve found those occasions to be very specific and fall under clear criteria.

Think About It, then Call Us

Earlier, I mentioned that common sense is at play here. That wasn’t intended to insult anyone. We were on the VDP bandwagon as late as last year. However, we started applying common sense and testing to the equation and came up with new conclusions as they pertain to SEO, PPC, and social media. There’s more to it than that, which is why we’re helping clients by looking at all of their digital marketing and advertising practices.

As always, we know that this message will only reach those who are paying very close attention. We’re not one of the huge companies that are saying the opposite of what our team, Dataium, and String Automotive have found. Then again, just because we aren’t huge doesn’t mean we’re not right. Our clients seem to think we are. Maybe you will, too.