Automotive Digital Marketing

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There is so much data available online that can help your dealership make profitable marketing decisions. While some believe that making decisions based on what their gut tells them is the long under-utilized secret to business success, my opinion (being the data junkie that I am) is that the acquisition of intelligence is the only reliable way to create business strategy that provides profitable results.

A common theme at the various automotive conferences that I attended this year was "big data", and how to  use it in an effort to move your dealership forward towards greater success. 

From what's available online through consumer barometer, we are able to gain clearer insights into how (and where) consumers are conducting vehicle research online, and what types of sites are helping shape their purchase decisions. There is considerable value placed upon your dealership website over many other online sources which means that it's so important to make sure your site is as dialed in as possible. 

It's important to go through your website with a fine-tooth comb. Find out where the easy exit points are so that you can increase the rate that consumers convert to your dealership.

Here is an exercise that I strongly encourage you to try as you look to improve your dealership website:

First, with your website open in front of you; take some time to identify the segments of customers that you service. A possible list would look like this:

  • New vehicle customers
  • Used vehicle customers
  • Finance/Lease customers
  • Service customers
  • Parts customers

Then there are community-based customers:

  • Military service (Veterans, active duty, reserve, and their families)
  • Union workers (School teachers, construction, library, city, retail etc)
  • Civil servants (police, fire, ambulance etc.)

Once you've compiled your list, do the best you can to put yourself in the customers shoes. Your customers are going online to conduct research with the hope of having their questions answered or problems solved. With that as a foundation, identify what questions or problems each customer segment is looking for information on. Using a finance customer as an example, possible questions might be as follows:

  • Does this dealership offer financing?
  • What are the current finance rates?
  • What is the process of getting approved?
  • What information do they need to get me financed?
  • I have less than average credit, but need a new vehicle. Are there programs in place to help me out?
  • Bad credit programs?
  • No credit programs?
  • Is it better to finance or lease?
  • What are the benefits of leasing?
  • What are the benefits of financing?
  • How do I know if I should finance or lease?

You see, automotive consumers are looking for information. They are looking to acquire the information as quickly as possible. Looking at your website now, take a minute to ask any of the above questions and then search your site to see if your dealership is a good source for information. If not, here's your opportunity to patch up some easy exits and retain customers on your site.

For the most part, knowing what questions to ask are as simple as the thought, "If I was in the market what would I want to know before spending my money?"

Do what it takes to close off the easy exits from your website and enjoy greater productivity from your digital marketing efforts. Keeping the traffic on your site longer increases your chance at converting them to showroom customers. Provide the information people are searching for online and their loyalty towards you as the source of information will increase. Use the wealth of data available online and you will empower yourself to make smarter, more profitable marketing decisions moving forward.

Questions? Comments? Let's get the party started below!

Views: 409

Tags: barometer, consumer, customer, dealership, digital, google, internet, marketing, online, profits, More…sites, strategy, success, websites


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Comment by Michael Cirillo on December 17, 2012 at 7:15am

Thanks for commenting Tom. 

Comment by Big Tom LaPointe on December 17, 2012 at 7:11am

well said. a simple kick-start for a dealer to look at a site that has been stagnant for a while.

As part of the CarChat24 team, I may be biased, but I think with so much on the line with each car deal and even CSI for sales and service, that a live chat option is a must for branded and independent dealers to start the selling process as early as possible.

Comment by Michael Cirillo on December 8, 2012 at 9:17am

Thanks CJ. I appreciate it.

Comment by CJ Romig on December 8, 2012 at 8:22am

Good Read Michael...

Comment by Michael Cirillo on December 8, 2012 at 8:05am

Joe, thanks for commenting. I 100% agree with what you've said. It's crucial to make sure that your site speaks to and addresses the questions/problems of every customer. I like what you say about making sure the message is consistent across all outbound marketing. 

David, you're right. Data has a special way of putting some people into a trance, somehow us data junkies have to speak in terms that the masses will understand in an effort to move our strategy forward!

Thanks for the comments gentlemen, enjoy your weekend.

Comment by David Sharp on December 8, 2012 at 6:34am
Very impressive article. As the Internet Marketing Director for a dealership group, I go over analytics of our websites with our ownership group weekly on a running 30 day total. While the analytics are important, if you don't do anything to sure up the "easy exits", it doesn't really matter.

After watching the eyes of the others in our meetings glaze over as we go through the analytics, I like how you evaluate the issue in terms of words rather than numbers. For me, it seems like it would make it a much easier way to explain potential problems as well as identify where we are on target.
Comment by Joe Webb on December 8, 2012 at 5:10am

Great assessment, Michael.  While a lot of the questions focus on the financing side, dealers can apply that theory to each and every department in their store, as every customer's need is different.  Customers still come to sites looking for answers, not just inventory, so vehicle comparison information, staff information, service benefits info, and more all need to be displayed both on the site and in the outgoing marketing messages.

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