Automotive Digital Marketing

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You know that feeling you get when you see the advertisement for the “new thing” that makes your “old thing” you just bought 6 months ago obsolete. That feeling in your gut that you knew what was going to happen that you no longer have the newer, the latest, the best, and you just know someone else does. You’ve been one up’d by the next thing. Bigger TV, more mega-pixels, cheaper introductory rate, and you knew it was going to happen.

                  I hate that feeling.  I know it’s going to happen. I know that when I buy this 3D TV there’s just going to be a 4D TV this time next year. It almost makes you want to give up. I give up, can’t we just sell the cars and not worry about the bounce rate? I worry about the bounce rate. Then again, I worry about everything. Because I measure everything.  So when I do look at the new thing, it’s just another thing I know that’s going to be either the “life or death” of my auto group (see Social Media circa 2009) or it’s going to be a waste of time, money, and my sanity (see automart magazine circa 2009). So what is the next big thing? More to the point what is the next relevant thing. I have this feeling every time a vendor comes into my office with their numbers and their charts, with their swanky iPads and “guarantees”  of more views, leads, sales and so on.  The feeling that I might be buying the next product that walks in the door because I want to stay ahead of the curve; but how much do I really “NEED” automated price quotes, with multiple pictures and multiple alternative vehicle options.  I get the feeling in my gut that I just know what is going to happen.

                So what’s a fella to do when this month the Bounce Rate is high but the VDP’s are up? The Live Chat is promising but the Appointment Shows are lacking. The SEM is killing it but the SEO is starting to slip. Phone traffic is down but the Coupon Push is capturing all the unique visitors. The volume is down but at least the grosses suck too. Wait. What was that last one?

  In this business we live month to month.  I live in breaths of data that come around 30 days apart. And I ask myself; What can I do in the next 30 days to make me that much better than the last 30. Sometimes I just close my eyes, cross my fingers, and hope that I’m not putting my efforts into the next “business myspace page” because I hate that feeling. That feeling in your gut you just knew what was going to happen. 

Views: 390

Tags: Car Dealer, Feeling, Gut, In, Internet Sales Manager, Marketing Director, That, Your


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Comment by Tom Gorham on April 18, 2012 at 6:20am

Thank you Thomas Kelly!

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 18, 2012 at 4:36am

Well said Tom Gorham.

Comment by Tom Gorham on April 18, 2012 at 4:12am

Mike, as a fellow Internet Manager for the past 14 years, I understand your position.  BTW, gut feelings are relevant.  Every time I hear a new vendor say, "Don't you wanna sell more cars?" I get a strong gut feeling.

Strong metrics and statistical analysis are wonderful blessings of digital marketing.  But it's easy to become so wrapped up in them that you fail to see the forest for the trees.  And it is easy to overreact to the ups and downs and misread the signals they give you.  All pieces of the digital marketing platform are incremental and should be looked at as a whole rather than the next big thing.

You don't have to implement everything that comes along but you need to be aware of new developments and how they might fit into (or not) your overall strategy.  That means finding the time to read and network with others in this industry.  Welcome to ADM!

When a salesmanager or GM at your store discovers the next big thing from a new vendor, you are the one that must be able to judge its worthiness within your store's overall digital strategy and budget by taking a larger view. 

Comment by Marc Bodner on April 17, 2012 at 5:38pm

Love the "so what"!  Ain't it the truth.

Comment by Neil Licht on April 17, 2012 at 12:49pm

Thomas, I do not go for the next new thing. Instead, I make my own next new thing called a customer via some very focused online approaches.


Here's what I have done with my clients to facilitate that for them:


Because the web is now  the new and powerful “word of mouth” knowing how to leverage its many social media aspects is critical for growing business.

Here’s my outline for doing that:

While we all want to grow our businesses as painlessly as possible, there is some important homework to be done first in order to see the paths and avenues to take when trying to gain traction for a product, service, and build long term customers so sales can happen.

Look at these key issues in strategic positioning, messaging, understanding your target audiences and actual selling approaches that need to be addressed to get YOU sales:

• Where is my target audience? Who are they? Where do they "hang out" online?
• What do they care about?
• How do they source?
• Where do they go for industry updates and information and how do you get featured "there"?
• How do I think from the point of view of my target audiences so I can relate and connect?
• What do I specifically "say" that can instantly capture the targeted audiences, prospects so they want to talk
• How do I differentiate myself from the pack so i get called?
• How does my target audience evaluate issues and solutions?
• How can I define my key audiences and position to be of service to each audience so they want what I offer?
• How do I become a featured speaker at events and establish my position as a go to expert?

That reveals where target audiences are, where their "influencers" are and where you should be active via articles, social media, blogs, email, newsletters to create a "go to" national presence and reputation.

Next, using what you found, apply 2 key sales axioms as the road map for tapping into what you learned, using/leveraging each identified path and for messaging accordingly in each avenue you found that can create calls, buyers, get attention and position you as the go to source:

* Axiom #1: People do things for their reasons, not yours.
* Axiom #2: Imagine the prospect has a sign on his forehead that says “so what?”

These two principles guide the selling process, whether in letters, emails, your web page, blog or in person. If you remember these two axioms, your sales reach outs and what you say in them will come out as grabbers and connectors with issues and concerns that prospects interested buyers have, not as product pitches and then link/position what you "offer" as a way to solve those issues.

Understanding this thinking in target markets and constructing your reach outs based on the 2 sales axioms can get you the desired national presence and reach that you want plus the all important interested "real" prospect that you want.

Regards, Neil Licht, Managing Director, HereWeAre,

Comment by Mike Watson on April 17, 2012 at 11:46am

Thomas, In my BDC I have here. Of course I look at the data. Daily, weekly, and bi-weekly reports from my BDC reps, and those I give to each of my GM's in each store in my auto group here which help guide us to better results . I was thinking more along the lines of how I'm paid and what I can do this month to make my check bigger the next and beyond. I absolutely agree Mr. Kelly, each day is an oportunity you must jump on.

Adam, Phone's are absolutely crucial. My follow up process rests it appointment set/show ratio almost entirely on that dialog with with customers. Clearly some people only use E-mail but the voice is what builds the rapport and controls that shown appointment. Mostly.

Ralph, thank you for making this a featured post. I apprieciate all opinions and dialog I/we can gain and build on.

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on April 17, 2012 at 11:15am

Does the data really come around 30 days apart?...or do we only tend to analyze and study the data that is available in near real time these days 12 times a year?  Why would we limit ourselves to only 12 course corrections per year? A GM that is up on the wheel, would realize he has 365 shots at making his business succeed. Nothing is written anywhere that requires a dealer to cycle/sync his marketing opportunities or decision making with his accounting. We are zeros or heroes 365 times a year not 12...In my opinion...(my opinion and a buck won't even get you a coffee)

Comment by Adam Ross on April 17, 2012 at 11:10am

Hi Mike,

Welcome to ADM! I concur with Ralph. As a former Internet Director for large dealer groups, my philosophy was "any time you provide quality, relevant information to consumers in a clean, professional manner, you're going to win more often than you lose." Some months will be tough, all kinds of things happen that can throw off your numbers. While it feels month-to-month, remember you're on a marathon, not a sprint.

In full disclosure, I am a reseller of InstaQuote and have been for 2 years, since I learned it was available to dealers. It's a tool I wish I had as an Internet Director. I also feel there is a misconception that sending automated price quotes, which I wholeheartedly believe in so much that I sell a system that does so, works to sell cars on their own. They may drive a very small percentage of consumers directly to a sale, but most will not react solely to receiving an email with a price.

It is my belief that automated price quotes, by themselves, for the most part, do not and can not replace a phone call and a dialogue with the consumer. They are a complementary tool. You're simply accelerating the possibility of a discussion by being transparent, quick, and answering the customer's questions. Rapport with the dealership and salesperson is as important as price. The price you provide to the consumer isn't as important as the psychology behind sending the multi-choice price quote - that you're willing to give out all the prices customers want and offer them choice, all they have to do is choose a vehicle and let's work together... More info=better consumer experience.

My advice? Pound the phones, email and social web! Mention the fact that you provide up-front quotes as the tool to set the appointment and the reason why they should buy from you. That's what I preach and see working best every day...

Comment by Steve Duff on April 17, 2012 at 11:06am

If we bought everything that was pitched to us we'd be selling 5000+ units a month (at least if you believe the sales hype). Get 50% more leads! 75% more shows! 45% more sales! 100% increase in service retention!  Just sign here! Hurry before our offer expires! Just sign here! You'll be living in the stone age if ya don't!



Comment by Marc Bodner on April 17, 2012 at 10:45am

It appears you have a system in place that's delivering an acceptable return, however as a motivated and astute business person you'd like to make it more effective and efficient.  While "Fear of Loss" or "Hope of Gain" are good ways to internalize the feeling, what you're doing is what everyone should strive to do . . .make things better. 

The issue with digital strategies is they are very subjective.  Ask ten digital marketers how to accomplish something and you'll get 10 answers.  That's the business model . . .if there were one solution why would we need so many experts?  The rub is each of the 10 strategies has shown success so you can't throw stones at any of them. 

Consistency and credibility are the keys.  Find your level and keep it moving forward.  And as the old adage in building goes, "measure twice, cut once". 

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