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Why an e-Newsletter is More Effective than a Dealership Blog

For years dealerships have been encouraged to enter the blogosphere as a way to garner a better position in the great war for SERP dominance. A blog can be a very effective tool for a digitally active dealership to create fresh and relevant content and a great asset to your Google Page One Management strategy.
 
While many dealerships have gone on to create their own blogs, many have since abandoned them like a beater trade with a bad tranny in the back corner of the service lot. It’s not that a blog is too difficult a space for a dealer to manage, in many cases it either falls away as something that is just too time consuming and not a priority or the internet manager that started the blog has moved on and no one knows the password or that it even exists at all. 
 
Many automotive website companies have added blog like components to their platforms. Since they are not an actual stand alone blog, the articles generally don’t perform well as individual search listings. They do however provide dealers with a tool that enables them to easily add fresh content to their own websites, something that otherwise may not happen consistently enough to  provide an effective SEO advantage. 
 
One very powerful alternative to a traditional blog is an e-Newsletter. An e-Newsletter that is web based and published on it’s own unique and dealer relevant URL can provide an incredible platform for a dealership to not only create and publish good relevant content, but with a deliverability component that will far surpass most dealership blog readerships. Such an e-Newsletter that is published consistently on a monthly basis with relevant dealer and OEM content will have a very positive impact on your dealerships SEO strategy. Your e-Newsletter is also a great source of referring deep linking in-bound traffic to your website through engaging articles and compelling specials. 
 
A big advantage to an e-Newsletter is that your provider can write the content for you. Articles ranging from vehicle reviews to employee spotlights can be crafted to be dealer specific and search engine friendly. This consistent flow of relevant content will help you dominate your Google page one rankings and deliver first party leads to your website. 
 
Another important feature of an e-Newsletter lies in its reporting. While analytics can tell you a lot about your blogs traffic, they fall short on drilling into your customers engagement behavior. Your e-Newsletter reporting will enable you to not only track your delivery and open rates, but will show you exactly which of your customers and prospects are printing service coupons, reading articles and watching your videos.  With this kind of data, you can create targeted campaigns specifically aimed at your customers preferences. 
 
At the end of the day it’s all about engagement. Blogs can provide a source of information, but lack the ability to convert the reader with a call to action. An e-Newsletter can help build a more engaging relationship with your customers and maintain the “Top of Mind Awareness” that you are looking for.
  
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Tags: 3 birds, Marketing, Rob Fontano, automotive, car, customer, dealer, engagement, internet, leads, More…newsletter, retention, service

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Comment by Timothy Martell on July 31, 2012 at 10:59am

Nice article Rob, though most e-newsletter products DO NOT enhance a company's SEO. Though many are web-based, most are not indexed by search engines and many utilize subdomains of the news letter's corporate website. Additionally links are generally nofollow by nature. (Nofollows have some value but that is another argument entirely). 

Bottom line I think the automotive SEO value of a newsletter in comparison to a blog is nearly a worthless argument. They are night in day at best. 

The fate of the blog is unfortunately as advertised in Rob's article. Fortunately, their are companies, like Wikimotive, who offer content writing as a service to supplement and even fulfill the need for fresh unique content on a dealers blog. 

Ultimately, however, I don't think an e-newsletter is a replacement for a blog or vise versa. While there will be some crossover, they appeal to different people by nature of the delivery method. As an SEO tool, the blog is the most powerful resource a dealer has internally. Comparing it to even the best e-newsletter is like comparing Mike Tyson in his prime to... And I'd like to keep my ears in tact, thank you very much.

For more information on content writing, SEO or any other digital marketing services,contact Wikimotive.

Comment by Kelly Holloway on July 30, 2012 at 1:18pm

Definitely agree, Rob. I would recommend hiring a Marketing Director/Manager that has experience with social media, writing, Google/SEO and marketing strategy. I have two social media specialists on my staff and all they do is create content - granted I don't work for a dealership. But they are the best assets to my marketing team and thus help our sales team by providing qualified leads on a regular basis from our content. 

Comment by Rob Fontano on July 30, 2012 at 1:10pm

Kelly, That is a very valid point and the reason why many choose a fully managed solution with original dealer specific content. Where the business mantra used to be Location, Location, Location. It is now Content, Content, Content.

Comment by Kelly Holloway on July 30, 2012 at 12:01pm

I think it is difficult for dealers to allocate time to drafting content for a blog or an enewsletter. Either way, both can be time consuming and mean the dealership needs to have someone on staff that can draft relevant content whether that is their marketing director, Internet Manager or an intern. Although both of these tools are effective and beneficial in their own ways, it always comes down to the fact that dealers need to make content creation a priority. For their websites, for their blogs, Facebook accounts and enewsletters. If this task is not a priority, all avenues will fail. 

Comment by Stephen Murphy on July 30, 2012 at 8:05am

I've always seen them creating more value when used together. All the content is populated on our website throughout the month. The email newsletter then highlights the most important articles, events, specials, etc. into one place so that our email list can easily see what we're up to at PCG. Measuring open rates and click through rates then helps me determine what our best headlines are, as well as the most interesting content to produce on the website moving forward. 

Comment by Rob Fontano on July 30, 2012 at 7:49am

Mark, Thanks for your comment. I agree with a lot of what you said, but bear in mind this particular e-Newsletter is published online on it's own dealer relevant url. The content is consistently added and stays there, building an archive of dealer and oem specific articles. We see a terrific amount of converting traffic to the dealer site from the newsletter as Tom pointed out.  We also see good traffic to the dealers blog from the newsletter, providing they have one of course. And yes by all means you should use your blog to help promote your newsletter since all relevant links help with a good SEO strategy.

Comment by Rob Fontano on July 30, 2012 at 7:09am

Tom; Those are some really great numbers. A well performing blog is totally predicated on consistently adding good relevant content and you are certainly well engaged. The combination of a well written blog and an effective e-newsletter is a great one, two punch.

Aaron; If I understand your question, your e-newsletter would be delivered to your data base of customers and prospects.

Ron; Where I agree with you, It is clear that most dealers don't have the resources to properly maintain an effective blog. An e-Newsletter as I described can serve the dealer from an engagement and SEO perspective. It can also be fully managed by the provider with unique dealer specific content.

It is also fair to mention that I represent a company, 3 Birds Marketing that provides e-Newsletters. That being said I also used this product in my dealerships while in my position of Digital Sales and Marketing Dir.

Comment by Mark Ribick on July 30, 2012 at 6:52am

Rob, nice article. Lots of good insight.

I have to disagree a bit though. I think the effort to write the content for a blog post vs. an e-newsletter is approximately the same and the ability to convert a reader to a lead in a blog post is no different than an e-newsletter (write compelling copy and get a link clicked). With a blog post 1) adding SEO value and 2) fresh content to your site, while 3) increasing time on site/engagement, 4) adding internal linking structure for additional SEO, and 5) getting a lifetime of free traffic from search engines that you would never reach with an e-blast, a blog post has much more value and longer lasting value than an e-newsletter sitting in someone's mailbox. It would seem the best of both worlds is to post the e-newsletter on your blog before also emailing the e-newsletter. Posting/emailing is the easy part, writing the content is the time-consuming part. Why not leverage the content better?

Good work Rob, keep it coming.

Comment by Tom Gorham on July 29, 2012 at 4:39pm

Great article Rob.  I'm not sure how many people at the dealership pay attention to our blog but it gets 500 - 600 visitors per month. 

Recently, on July 14th, I was blown away to see 1,265 visitors in one day when I wrote a post about the new Chevy Total Confidence Pricing and Love It or Return It incentives.  A little research showed that almost all of those came from the search engines... mostly Google.

Digging a little deeper, I found that 5% of them went on to our specials page on our website.  July 14th was a Saturday.  By Monday we had almost three times the normal amount of leads from the weekend.  I call that conversion.

I try to post once or twice weekly to our blog.  Our eNewsletter goes out once a month and Google Analytics always show a huge spike in website visits at that time.  We send it out to about 25,000 customers from our database and it has a 10 - 15% open rate.  Our Service Coupons have the highest number of reads and click-throughs.  Our Service Manager sees a high return on those coupons.

Would anyone carry on the blog and the newsletter if I left?  I don't know.  Maybe they would do even better...  I only know that they are two pieces in a Social Media strategy that seems to me to be well-rounded, even though limited by budget.

 

Comment by Ron McCoy on July 29, 2012 at 3:42pm

Thanks Rob. Although why argue that newsletters are better than blogs? It seems to me that each have their place in an integrated internet marketing program. Also your point that many dealerships have begun and subsequently abandoned blogs calls attention to a continuing potential competitive advantage that exists for dealerships that actually put resources behind a blog over time. When you strip away the pictures and flash displays that dominate most dealership websites there's typically very little there for a search engine to appreciate. Last point: good content is good content. Once you have it leverage it to the max ... whether it's in the form of a newsletter, blog, or the various social media outlets.

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