Automotive Marketing Professional Community for Car Dealers, OEM and Suppliers
“I have no idea what you are talking about.” That was the response of the dealer who currently signs my paycheck. This was in a board meeting of approximately twenty people who were discussing a planned expansion of the dealership’s operations. Of course this included a renewed push into our online marketing campaigns. My direct superior and I make up the online marketing team for the dealership, or as is commonly put around the halls, “the computer guys” and we had decided to chime in with some new ideas to increase our online presence. It was immediately clear to both of us that we would be left to our own devices. Out of the twenty or so marketing, financing, sales, and advertising professionals sitting at the table, we were a separate entity entirely. There has always seemed to be a disconnect between the dealership and the Online Marketing crowd. It’s understandable. The dealer is a guy that thrives in a fast paced people-oriented environment. Selling cars is about making customers happy and still being able to make a profit every day. Car dealers are outgoing often to the point of flamboyance. I started teaching myself HTML at the ripe old age of 17, staying up all night pounding furiously into Notepad-generated text documents and finding out what worked and what didn’t mainly through trial and error. I’m not exactly outgoing and my homes away from home are Perl development forums and SEO blogs. Business makes truly strange bedfellows.
It’s time we bridge the gap. Dealers need to have an understanding of what we are doing because simply put your survival depends on it. Let’s discuss what SEO is. Search Engine Optimization is basically the precise tooling of your website and other online data so that it reaches the largest number of people who are looking for what you sell. Marketing has always been about networking. Ever seen Bronze Age man has been peddling his wares on the street corner, it’s been about what people say and how many are saying it. SEO is exactly that, but for the 21st Century. Let’s look at the data. 79% of car buyers start the search for their next vehicle on the web and 70% of the links search users click are organic, simply meaning that they click on what they are looking for and not what you advertise. Your organic search results should be your first, second, and third concern when it comes to your overall marketing campaign. Trust me, your future customers are online and you need for them to be looking for you, and that is the service that SEO professionals provide. Moreover SEO leads have a 15% close rate, while leads generated through print and other sources have less than a 2% close rate. That’s right. You posting those ads in the local people are about as productive as using a tin can and a bit of string to call your wife at home. You money is more wisely invested in having people who are looking for a car find you in localized search results on Google and Bing.
Car dealers are especially concerned for their money. Rightly so, you guys work hard to make it. So there is obvious hesitance to spend it on something as new as SEO. Why should you add a new member to your staff? And more importantly, what if it doesn’t work? The fact is that SEO is not some newfangled thing, and has been around since the dawn of digital communication and has been a constant in an ever-changing fast-paced digital environment. Simply put, SEO isn’t going anywhere and simply ignoring it is far more risky than doing it. SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media Marketing aren’t the wave of the future. They are the wave of now. You need a professional to make sure people can search for you and browse your cars on their laptop and mobile devices, that people are talking about you on Twitter and Facebook, and that you are publishing new, interesting, and relevant content that people will want to read. SEO professionals are in the results game, their area of expertise just happens to be online.
It’s high time that you as a car dealer get “the computer guys” out of the peripheral of your business and make them central to your marketing and advertising campaigns. Get involved in your online presence and you will see that the money that you were so unwilling to part with and the thing you didn’t understand just a few months ago is the thing that is paying off in dividends today.