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Cover Story : Scions of Local Search

Toyota brand increases San Francisco car sales 17 percent with geo-targeted search engine marketing

May 2014 By Heather Fletcher
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Andy Barton, Scion digital and interactive marketing manager, agrees the Torrance, Calif.-based Toyota brand had astronomical search engine marketing issues back in June 2012. That's when Scion leaders, national and regional, met to figure out how to drive increased traffic and leads to dealers and found "key gaps" in the brand's search results—specifically for local terms.

"'Hey, Houston. We've got a problem,' came from some of the national strategy analysis," recalls Barton.

Fortunately, the Scion group came up with a solution that helped skyrocket sales in the San Francisco region. By the time the four-month pilot program of geo-targeted search engine marketing ended in June 2013, sales had increased 17 percent, year-over-year. After this test in two regions proved successful, a national pilot program rolled out for all 12 regions in autumn of 2013, and Barton says it already has more than 280 dealers enrolled. When the national pilot finishes up in June 2014, Barton says Scion dealers will be able to join the permanent local SEM program.

"It's huge," says Barton of Scion's national pilot results. "It's huge."

From September 2013 to January 2014, dealers participating in the national pilot saw a 66 percent increase in lead volume, he says. For Scion, lead conversions happen when consumers visit dealer websites and opt in for follow-up contact.

"We like the program," Barton says. "There's a lot of people that are involved—in the regional role, the digital, the national role, our regional manager's role now. … It's a collective partnership with the field offices. So I think we're going to have some real great success with this program. There's a lot of good people working on it."

The Brand in the Bay
Scion Brand Manager Mary Pham's San Francisco region was the local search marketing guinea pig. So she wants to block out her memories of the state of a few of the dealer websites in her region in February 2013. Pham, also a digital marketing manager, oversees marketing for 52 Scion dealerships in Northern California, which serve some of the most tech-savvy customers in the country. Yet, Scion landing pages were still neglected.

"You kind of psych yourself out like you never saw it," Pham says, laughing.

 

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