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Driving Clicks Into F&I

October 2009, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Brian Pasch

Franchise dealers looking for new ways to increase revenue through fixed operations and F&I need to understand the importance that “search” has on their business. The Internet has become the primary educational tool for consumers researching car purchases and related services. Once dealerships commit that fact to heart, most F&I professionals will find that their primary dealer Websites offer little “text content” about the F&I products they sell.

Improving a Website’s text content and implementing automotive SEO (search engine optimization), a strategy deployed for new- and used-car sales, can help a dealership increase its F&I revenue. Over the past three years, I have tested a number of automotive SEO strategies that have increased dealer direct warranty sales, service revenue and OEM parts sales, areas often overlooked by Internet marketing consultants.

One of the most underutilized subjects for dealer Website content is the manufacturer OEM warranty plan. If you look at a typical dealer Website, you will not find more than a few sentences or, at best, a few paragraphs educating consumers on the coverage and costs of a factory extended warranty plan. That’s because this key profit center is often not part of an Internet marketing plan.

Capturing Clicks Through SEO

One dealer who understands the power of online marketing is Circle Infiniti. Just run a Google search on “Infiniti Warranty.” The first result listed on Google Page One is a microsite my firm created to promote the West Long Beach, N.J.-based dealership’s factory extended warranty. The microsite gets national exposure, so you can imagine the type of visibility for potential revenue Circle Infiniti enjoys.

The reason why automotive SEO is a perfect match for automotive F&I products is simple: Consumers are aware of these products and research them online. Since Google is primarily a text matching search engine, dealers who use automotive SEO techniques can reap huge rewards when it comes to their Internet marketing strategy.

Best of all, there are plenty of tools to help you get started. In fact, Google’s free keywords search tool will not only reveal the most common search phrases for a specific item, but it will also tell you how many times the phrase was searched per month. For instance, a quick check of the phrase “extended warranty” shows that the term was searched 450,000 times in August.

Creating the Landing Page

Before these techniques and tools can be put to work, you must determine the best place to post your targeted information. Most dealer Website platforms do not allow unlimited content pages to be created without custom programming fees. This restricts the amount of text content F&I professionals can add to their primary Website, but that’s not the case with automotive microsites, which are singly-focused Websites that use a strong domain name. The investment on this type of strategy has a typical return on investment (ROI) of four to six months.

Aside from microsites, dealers can also take advantage of a handful of free blogs, press release Websites, and social-media tools that can also draw hundreds of prospects to your F&I offerings each month.

Automotive SEO, combined with a content-based approach, will yield results year after year, but it does require a commitment. Content needs to be constantly updated, which means a dealer will have to hire a full-time content writer or outsource the work to a consulting firm.

Pay-per-click advertising for F&I products and car financing is expensive. Automotive SEO is a cost-effective, long-term approach to increase visibility, leads and sales for the entire dealership. Google rewards first responders, so dealerships that act first will often hold onto that all-important top placement versus those dealers who are late to the game.

Brian Pasch is the founder and CEO of the Pasch Consulting Group, which specializes in Internet marketing and lead generation strategies. For more information, visit www.dealer-seo.com or e-mail him at brian.pasch@bobit.com.

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