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Dealers, Why Aren’t You Blogging? 4 Reasons to Create and Leverage a Dealer Blog

“Blogging is the most underutilized yet powerful marketing force that dealers have at their disposal.”


That’s what automotive thought-leader Ralph Paglia said in a recent interview.  No matter if you love Ralph and his advice or think he’s ‘full of it,’ studies indicate that he is absolutely right on this matter.


According to data analyses by HubSpot, a leading Inbound Marketing company, small businesses that blog get 55% more website visitors, 102% more Twitter followers, and 126% higher lead growth than non-blogging businesses.


A successful blog is one that is updated on a regular basis and discusses topics of interest to your current and potential customers (but we’ll get more into best practices at a later time). Naturally, a blog’s ROI will vary from dealership to dealership but there are several clear benefits to blogging that should not be ignored.

4 Reasons to Create and Leverage a Dealer Blog


1)     Tell your story and demonstrate industry knowledge

Information has empowered consumers to educate themselves about what product to buy, how much to pay, and where to shop.  Consumers do the majority of their purchasing research online and, moreover, consumers read blogs to find the answers to their questions.

Why not provide them with that information yourself?

Help the consumer make an educated buying decision through your writing and you will find them more inclined to do business with you because you have established yourself and your company as reputable, transparent and knowledgeable.

Additionally, consumers will be more inclined to do business with you if they can form an emotional connection with your dealership. To do this, you need to tell your story.

“Dealers have to find the compelling stories that will make people want to do business with their dealership,” says Ralph.  “Every dealership has something very interesting or compelling about them that would make great fodder for a blog.”


2)     Higher Google Ranking (SEO Opportunity)

I think HubSpot said it best in its Inbound Marketing University white paper How to Blog Effectively for Business:

“Search engines favor fresh over old content. Old content might no longer be accurate or relevant to the searches. Fresh content, in contrast, signals to search engines that the information is up-to-date and more relevant to searchers’ needs. As a result, blogs, a generator of fresh content, help with search engine optimization, which in turn drives site traffic and promotes a business.”

A regularly updated blog ranks highly on Google.  Additionally, dealers that blog can optimize their posts for commonly-searched keywords specific to their brand, vehicles, or frequently asked questions so that their dealership is easy found during the consumer research process.

Blogging is a practice that doesn’t cost a lot of money and has the potential to result in a continuous payout in the form of increased traffic, engagement and lead-generation.


3)     Crisis management and humanizing your brand

Blogging can put a face and a voice to your dealership, communicating the subtle aspects of your brand’s personality.  Blogs can help consumers get a sense of how you do business and how your employees treat customers.  By being less “corporate” than your website, blogs can add the personal touch of 1-1 customer service and relationship-building to your digital showroom, similar to the benefits of live chat.

Furthermore, blogs can help manage a crisis and prevent damage by online negative word-of-mouth.  To survive any online reputation crisis, it is essential to embrace Coca Cola’s motto of“our consumers control our brand.” Dealers can use their blog as a forum for customers to share their issues and for you to address them in a personal and transparent manner.


4)     Involve potential and current customers in your brand’s discussion

Social Media has empowered consumers to share product and brand insights with their peers, transforming them into brand advocates and authorities.  If you give readers of your blog the information they seek end encourage interaction, you will be able to develop and nurture a relationship with them early on in the sales process.  The opening up additional channels of communication between your dealership and its customers is always a good idea.

According to HubSpot, “Folks who comment on your blog may be sales leads, or they may just challenge or support your views. Either way, comments beget comments, and you will soon be at the center of an industry-relevant dialogue with customers and partners.”  This dialogue is the core benefit of the practice of blogging and is what drives traffic to your site and highly qualified leads to your showroom.


Dealer Takeaway:

Start blogging today!  Create a WordPress account or a profile on ADMKainAutomotive Idea Exchange or DealerElite.

For inspiration, Ralph has provided links to dealership blogs that he considers to be shining examples of how dealership blogging can be done right:

Ancira Community

Penske Automotive Group Social Network

Schomp Automotive

Premier Toyota Scion

Do you have a blog? What do you write about?  Do you find it’s effective in its ability to engage prospect and current customer?

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Comment by Zach Bello on December 15, 2011 at 12:47pm

Justin, thanks for the kind words. Eric, Genesis is a fantastic platform. It was a little difficult at first getting it set up, but after that and we really understood how to use it, we have been very happy with it. We went though at least 5 or 6 different themes before landing and settling on the Genesis platform. I highly recommend using it. If you end up going through with switching over to Genesis and need any help, feel free to reach out. 

Comment by Eric Miltsch on December 15, 2011 at 9:49am

Zach - looks like you're running Genesis? If so, happy with it?

Looking to move from Thesis... 

Comment by Joan Sparks on December 15, 2011 at 8:43am

I could not agree more about blogging as a driver of online traffic and a way to show industry knowledge. I write our company's blog about using credit data in marketing. In the hour after I release a blog, I can look at the incoming traffic and it all originated from the blog.  The key is having a good blog that is worth the time to read.  Then you must have the discipline to blog regularly since the Google ranking and other SEO benefits tend to really kick in after 20+ posts. 

Comment by Justin Braun on December 15, 2011 at 6:36am

Thank you all for your kind words!  

Eric and Zach, excellent examples of how to blog effectively!  Great mix of multi media social platforms, including video and quality pix.  Clean layouts too!

I love how you two answer common automotive shoppers questions in each blog post.  I also love the calls to action at the end of each post.  CTA's are the most important part of an effective blog.  They create the opportunity for readers to take action after consuming your content and potentially convert into a lead.

Are you finding your blogs drive visitors to your dealership site? Do they result in additional leads?  If not, you may need to add additional engagement opportunities and conversion funnels to your website.  Live chat is great for capturing additional leads.  Learn more about live chat!

Also, finding time to blog is the hardest part of the practice.  But, if you have a bank of blog ideas on hand, you can schedule an hour or two twice a week to create great content.  As, long as it resonates with your audience and is densely populated with the keywords your customers search, it will deliver results.  

Thanks again for the comments!

Comment by Brian Pasch on December 15, 2011 at 5:14am

Justin

Create words of encouragement and I'm very glad that you are writing more!

Comment by Eric Miltsch on December 14, 2011 at 8:30pm
So true; great post abut such a mandatory element of your digital mix.

Our blog, http://WhyBuyUsedCars.com is over 4 years now & it's served all of the items Justin outlined above.

@Ralph - remember the old acronym for Blog?
Comment by Zach Bello on December 14, 2011 at 8:11pm

I help run our blog at Lebanon Ford (www.ford-life.com) and I can say it has definitely helped us a lot in many different ways. We have a team of 4-5 different people who write for it, including myself. We write about current news in the industry, we publish weekly podcasts giving tips on car shopping and servicing, we post tech articles, things about our dealership and our brand, and also opinion pieces. There is a wide variety of things we write about that all fall under the automotive category. I agree that it really does help to humanize your brand and your dealership and for the customers that do see it can really benefit from that. Most of all however is the SEO benefit like you stated above. We have people calling us who find our articles just searching around on Google asking us questions, people who may have never even heard of or considered our dealership before. Had we not had our blog, that would have never happened.

The hardest part is keeping up with it. Since in most (if not all) situations, you can't really hire someone JUST to write and manage your blog, it makes it difficult at times to make time and keep up with it. I mean, it does take a considerable amount of time to write a decent piece. Don't create a blog if you aren't going to put the effort in to it. Forget that you won't have many people visiting and commenting at first, that all comes with time. It's difficult, but definitely pays off in the end. 

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