Automotive Digital Marketing

Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers

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Could Car Dealers Use Web 2.0 / UGC Site Technologies to Generate Business in a Profitable Manner?

I currently have 3 dealership Web 2.0 / UGC digital marketing projects in progress... At this point in time, it is fairly easy to swap various User Generated Content (UGC) and interaction modules, gadgets, widgets, applets, applications, etc. in and out of a Web 2.0 site using a variety of platforms... However... What I have come to realize from a fairly short time into the project is that UGC/Web 2.0 engagement tools and features are only 25% of the formula for success that will be required... What hasn't changed about using the Internet for automotive marketing and sales via client/consumer/shopper/customer interaction during the past 15 years is that ALL digital marketing plans require a balanced approach and consistent tactical execution in 4 distinct key areas... And, site content and features are only 1 of those 4. The digital marketing strategy I am referring to has been understood for so long, it is almost a cliche, but these requirements are still as true today as they were when dealers first started launching web sites in the mid 90's. All automotive digital marketing strategies require a plan that successfully deploys tactical execution in a manner that produces adequate results in the 4 following areas:

1. TRAFFIC to the site -
In the case of Web 2.0 this may require a data collection and mining approach similar to CRM implementations, email marketing or monthly eNewsletters. My own personal spice in this concoction would be to include employees, suppliers, financial services providers and OEM associates of the dealership.

2. INTERACTIVE content and features - This is what most digital marketing professionals spend far too much time dealing with... I am not going to repeat what we all know, all you have to do is go into the admin features section of a premium Ning site, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube or any other Web 2.0 / UGC success story and you can see what is rapidly becoming the "must haves", along with the many other bells and whistles that are optional and can be combined to help create the flavor and texture of a dealer's Web 2.0 site. The key to this part of the recipe for success will be to identify the widgets that successfully engage the site's participating members, while clearing the way of clutter that creates unnecessary confusion... Something that ADM is often criticized for.

3. PROCESSES that respond to engagement output created by a successful execution of #1 and #2 above. This means PEOPLE who will be allocated the time, responsibility tools and training to administer the site, moderate user generated conent when necessary, keep the Russian Internet Brides from overrunning the site, respond to questions, jumpstart discussions and generally manage the noise created by a successful Web 2.0 deployment... That's why companies like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Ning and others have THOUSANDS of employees... #3 is really what Elvis would describe as TCB.

4. ONLINE TO OFFLINE TRANSITION - This is what we used to refer to as "Sales" or "Showroom" processes in the old TIPS model... Ultimately the goal is to sell cars, parts, accessories and service business... So, there will need to be a balanced approach to managing sales and business opportunities without driving away the customers willing to engage who own your dealership's products and won't be ready to buy for another year. Ultimately, I see dealership communities as the most successful iteration of Web 2.0 deployment in automotive retail. When done really well, it is easy to conceive a strategy that results in what CRM software has promised for so long, but not really delivered to the level of the early expectations. I see UGS / Web 2.0 as an extension of a sound CRM strategy to engage both prospective and existing dealership customers who are way up at the top of the old marketing and sales funnel, in a way that increases the percentage of them retained as customers by the dealership at the bottom of the funnel, whether that be 3 months, 6 months, a year or more later.

You can take a look at the 3 dealership Web 2.0 / UGC projects I mentioned at the beginning of the post by visiting the following "Dealership Communities":

1. Sanderson Ford Lincoln Mercury Community serving Ford owners, Sanderson employees, Suppliers and OEM associates -

2. Ford of Kirkland Online Community -

3. San Tan Ford Online Community -

One of the nice aspects to trying to make this work for Ford and/or Lincoln Mercury is that the OEM provides dozens of data feeds in the form of RSS feeds and embeddable content. This allows Ford and LM dealers to create UGC sites that have a steady stream of photos, videos, articles, news reports and other great content that is updated daily, weekly and monthly by Ford without the dealer needing to tend to it. This translates into Ford and LM dealers having a head start over other brands in trying to unlock the secrets to success for automotive tier 3 marketing using a Web 2.0 site deployment... Thank you, Ford! Here's a few items that showcase how Ford is providing digital assets for Web 2.0 / UGC / Social Networking site creators. You can click on the header image below to open a new browser window that loads the actual Ford website that provides these very cool and useful assets:

Welcome to - an online newsroom hosting the Social Media Press Releases (SMPR) of the Ford Motor Company.

By subscribing to the RSS feeds for individual SMPRs, you will be instantly updated with the latest digital snippets related to that story. A Digital Snippet may take the form of copy, photos, video or audio that is optimized for the Internet and easily reposted on any website.

All Digital Snippets and SMPRs are subject to Creative Commons Licensing. You are free to use all of our content and multimedia files in your online news articles, blogs, enthusiast websites, and social networks. We only ask that you assign credit by linking back to the SMPR where you found the original content.

To get you started, explore the following SMPRs:

Ford Mustang RSS icon
Released 2008-07-11

Lincoln RSS icon
Released 2008-04-08

Ford Trucks RSS icon
Released 2008-01-13

Ford Flex RSS icon
Released 2008-03-19

Ford Focus RSS icon
Released 2007-10-10

Ford Fiesta RSS icon
Released 2008-01-13

Ford Technology RSS icon
Released 2008-05-05

Ford and the Environment RSS icon
Released 2008-01-05

Ford Safety RSS icon
Released 2008-11-07

The Ford Plan RSS icon
Released 2008-12-3

2008 Year in Review RSS icon
Released 2008-11-25

Ford Quality RSS icon
Released 2008-02-28

Ford on TV and Film RSS icon
Released 2007-11-9

Social Media Press Releases

* RSS Ford Fiesta
* RSS Ford Flex
* RSS Ford Focus
* RSS Ford Mustang
* RSS Ford Trucks
* RSS Lincoln


* RSS 2008 Year in Review
* RSS Ford Quality
* RSS Ford Safety
* RSS Ford Technology
* RSS Ford and the Environment
* RSS Ford on TV & Film
* RSS The Ford Plan

About the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community

The Automotive Digital Marketing (ADM) Professional Community website is built on a perpetually growing"Viral Expansion Loop" Networking Platform and serves Car Dealers, Dealership General Managers and their management teams, including Internet Sales Managers, BDC Managers, Marketing Managers, Sales Managers, Service Managers, Service Advisors, Parts Managers, Fixed Operations Directors and their teams. Launched at the beginning of January 2008, ADM has emerged as a valuable and proven resource for the entire spectrum of automotive marketing and Internet sales related professionals. Interactive Media and eCommerce Professionals at car companies (OEM) and tier 1 and 2 advertising agencies who want to see, hear and read what the best Digital and Interactive Marketing professionals in the automotive industry have to say about relevant and timely topics visit ADM on a regular basis or subscribe to the many RSS feeds available within the ADM community.

ADM is a great place for Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 automotive marketing and advertising practitioners, as well as Webmasters, dealer web site managers, automotive software developers and information technology solution designers to get new ideas and stay up to date on the challenges facing retail automotive Internet sales practitioners. ADM serves Automotive CRM and Lead Management suppliers, vendors, application developers and their affiliated sales professionals as an online exchange for strategy, tactics, best practices, files, resources and contacts that create powerful networking relationships within the auto industry.

Did you know there are now over 1,750 members on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
Have you reached out to connect with important ADM member contacts by asking them to be your Friend?

Did you know that there are over 4,000 photos listed on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
And, do you know that many of these images are actually charts and graphs of the latest marketing trends and research? Did you know that many of these photos are actual ads used by dealers that worked exceptionally well? There have been over 4,000 photos uploaded and made available for use by all ADM members.

Did you know that there are more than 650 videos on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
Have you seen how many of those videos are actual examples of marketing campaigns and business processes used successfully by some of the leading and most successful dealers in America?

Did you know that there are over 450 blog posts on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
When was the last time you posted a blog entry and let important ADM industry professionals know what you are up to? Have you checked ADM for the latest articles published by writers who walk the talk? Members have created more than 460 blog posts within their ADM provided websites that feature online file storage and personalized blog hosting at no cost to ADM members.

Did you know that there are over 400 forum topics on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
Have you checked the forum lately to see what your associates, clients and colleagues are saying?
Have you posted a forum discussion to see what other professionals have to say about the topic?

There have been over 400 discussions started and still active with ongoing comments and information being published daily within the ADM Forum.

Did you know that there are more than 25 professional groups on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
Have you joined any groups so that you can send messages to all other group members?

Did you know that there are Important Upcoming Automotive Digital Marketing Events listed on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
Have you posted what you or your organization considers to be important upcoming events on the ADM calendar so that other professionals will know about them, consider attending and register their intent? ADM members can create calendar events using the ADM site application that allows image and logos, links to registration pages, location maps that integrate with Google Maps, Outlook Calendar integration, invitation mailings using uploaded email lists, RSVP tracking and event management features and a whole lot more.

Did you know that there are more than 500 songs on Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community?
Have you checked out what other automotive professionals are listening to?
Did you know that many of these songs are automotive marketing and Internet sales best practice Podcasts, and that many other MP3 files available are examples of highly effective radio spots, along with powerful and engaging dealer website soundtracks?

If you are interested in visiting and perhaps joining the Automotive Digital Marketing Professional Community, go to:

> The ADM Professional Community is all about car dealers using the web to generate sales leads and Internet sales. Automotive Internet sales and digital marketing professionals working with Acura, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, Chevy, Honda, Nissan, GMC, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, Mercury, Mini, Jeep, Volvo, Saab, Hummer, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn, Lexus, Porsche, Hyundai, Kia, Suzuki, Subaru, Volkswagen and other automotive franchises are ADM's most prolific members. Used car and automotive remarketing professionals will find a treasure trove of data, files, best practices, strategies, tactics and great contacts within the industry available at ADM.

ADM is proud to serve as an online meeting place, networking tool and idea exchange for car dealership suppliers and automotive web solution providers such as ADP Dealer Services, The Cobalt Group, The Reynolds and Reynolds Company, BZ Results, ADP Dynamic Websites, Automotive Websites, Dealerskins, Izmocars and Izmo CRM, TK CarSites, Autobase, DealerTrack, Arkona, Reynolds Web Solutions, Clickmotive, Xi Group and other dealership technology suppliers and vendors.

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Tags: Car Dealers, Generate Business, Internet sales for car dealers, User Generated Content, Web 2.0, automotive digital marketing, dealer web site


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Comment by Stew Pedasso on February 12, 2009 at 8:47pm
The answer is an absolute Yes, but it also takes effort from the dealership owner(s), top down.
I've seen many instances of an ISM, or any other dealer appointed person responsible for the online generation of leads become overwhelmed with the aspect of presenting a solid web 2.0 system through the chain of command at any dealership and/or group.
If the dealership owners get it, then the adoption rate for web 2.0 is exponential, but very few owners every get it.
Be it the age, disinterest, or simply not understanding anything related to the internet, or even web 2.0, the rate is rather high among automotive ownership/mngmt.
Owners seem to delegate those matters to people which can be held responsible for overall profits, and they usually are not connected very well to the pulse of online marketing at a dealership.
Very nice read too, thank you for creating such a great resource with your forum here Ralph.

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