Once a digital doubter, Texas dealer is now a believer
May: Digital marketing efforts are paying off.
Greg May, an auto dealer in Waco, Texas, says he had to be dragged into digital marketing.
It wasn't until September that Greg May Honda started advertising online consistently or buying key words on Google to appear in pay-per-click ads on the crucial first page of search results on the world's dominant search engine.
May, 44, with 21 years in auto retailing, said he's glad for the conversion.
"I have nobody else to blame: I had my head in the sand," said May, dealer principal of Greg May Honda. The store is part of Orr Auto Group based in Texarkana, Texas.
Today, Greg May Honda is spending 20 percent of its $50,000 monthly marketing budget on online advertising, May said.
And that spending is resulting in an extra 30 new- and used-vehicle sales per month from Internet leads, he said. The store sold 146 vehicles in April, his best month ever.
May has joined a flood of dealers who have shifted an increasing share of their ad budgets to online from traditional media, such as print. He said the store has been increasing sales from Internet leads since hiring Local Search Group in September to handle the placement of its online marketing and Google paid search.
Before September, Greg May Honda was getting about 2,000 unique visitors to its Web site per month, largely as a result of its long-time brand recognition in the Waco area.
With Google and other online shopping sites now driving shoppers there, the number has increased to 5,000 per month, May said.
Dealers bid on key words and phrases on Google to get their ads to appear on the first page of Google when a shopper enters those words into a search. If the shopper clicks on the ad, the dealer pays Google the bid amount.
The paid-search ads appear in a shaded box at the top of the page and often on the right-hand side framing the free organic search links in the middle.
Popular words are expensive, so the trick to efficient advertising is to find less expensive words that still attract shoppers. At Google, the key words are known as AdWords.
Finding the right key word phrases to lure shoppers requires lots of trial and error and close monitoring of data to change the lineup if needed, said Shaun Raines, executive director of DrivingSales University, an online dealer training program.
"It requires constant analysis to do well," said Raines, who said many dealerships are turning to outside vendors for that help so their Internet staffs can stay focused on following up on leads and closing sales.
May said he was skeptical of online marketing, having spent his career relying on traditional media.
But after giving it a try, he said he sees more of his marketing budget gravitating to online.
Said May: "I finally just listened and did what was suggested. Now it seems the more I spend, the more it works."
You can reach David Barkholz at email@example.com. -- Follow David on and