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Shift to Digital Drives Sales for SF Bay Area Scion Dealers

  |  January 28, 2014   |  Comments

Traditionally minded Scion car dealers in the San Francisco Bay Area found upticks in leads thanks to new targeted digital campaigns.

Replacing traditional media and sponsored events with paid search, display, and mobile advertising generated new leads and sales increases for seven Scion dealerships in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The six-month-long pilot aimed to send more traffic to dealer websites and generate more leads. The regional Scion office worked with Google and ReachLocal, a digital marketing agency specializing in local businesses.

Although Scion, a Toyota brand, is aimed at young consumers, corporate brand managers had not road-tested digital media. "I'd noticed that on the Toyota side, we were getting into digital marketing. But on the Scion side, we were far behind from where Toyota was at -- and we needed to do something at the regional level," says Mary Pham, Scion brand manager at Toyota Motors Sales, U.S.A. "Our customers here are more attuned to technology and more likely to be online."

While the Scion and Toyota dealerships in San Francisco spend less than 1 percent of their marketing budgets on traditional media, other dealerships in the region tend to rely on print and television. So, Pham also wanted to demonstrate what kind of results they might get from digital media.

While Scion's national advertising focuses on branding, Pham's job is to get consumers into dealerships to buy cars. She focused the campaign on consumers who were actively in the market to buy a vehicle.

ReachLocal, a Google AdWords Premier SMB Partner, created geo-targeted AdWords campaigns, identifying keywords -- including some surprising ones. For example, consumers searching for "Honda Civic" clicked on the Scion ads at a much higher rate than expected.

The agency also retargeted consumers with Scion banners appearing throughout the Google Display Network.

During the pilot, visitors arriving from AdWords ads spent more time on Scion dealers’ websites than did those coming in via organic search, direct-entry of URLs, or referrals. All told, ReachLocal generated 56 percent of participating Scion dealers’ new visitor traffic.

The dealership with the highest performance for the digital campaign was Sunnyvale Scion, which saw sales grow 134 percent year-over-year, thanks in part to 4,500 click-throughs at a cost per click of $4.09 -- a CPC that general manager Mike Schum found highly competitive.

Together, the targeted paid search, display, and mobile advertising campaigns increased website visits by 200 percent, generated nearly 2,000 new leads, and inspired more than 28,000 click-throughs in a four-month period. The participating dealerships also saw an average sales increase of 17 percent year-over-year.

The campaign began in January 2013 and ran through mid-June -- when the budget ran out. Pham later wangled additional co-op dollars and resumed the campaign toward the end of Q3. Because of this, the sales increases can't be directly correlated with the digital campaign -- but Pham is a believer.

The results encouraged Pham and San Francisco Region Scion to increase its investment in digital media to 80 percent of its marketing budget for 2014, up from 10 percent prior to the pilot.

"It was an eye-opener not only for us on the regional level, but this information was shared with our national office. This helped national to push for more digital advertising," she says.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Susan Kuchinskas

Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.

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