Automotive Digital Marketing

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Dealers Drive Customer Engagement Using Content Categories

Content May Be King - But Which Types Deliver Results, and where should that content be published... as Measured by Engagement Ratios?


An automotive marketer's job can be made much easier when meaningful and valuable content that is available to promote is organized into categories or types based on the intended outcome and media platform.


There is no shortage of platforms on which to create an automotive marketer's content, or media channels through which to promote your content, or ways to construct and deliver messages about your content. In fact, my social media team at Tier10 Marketing tracks over 500 online media channels so that we can focus on the top 100, which seems to change each week...


But where many automotive digital marketing professionals fall short is in the creation, editing and assembling of the content itself.  I have seen far too often when either car dealers, their employees or the marketing firms they hire will recycle outdated or irrelevant articles, distribute over-used and worn out messaging, or simply post some of the most boring content ever published!


Alternately, when a dealer has content that is exciting, of interest to the local market where that dealer does business, or is simply newsworthy, the nature of that content leads to deeper levels of customer engagement... When published, distributed and syndicated across the right categories of social media.  How do you know when success is achieved? How do you measure the results? That's not too difficult, but many social media service suppliers shy away from it; Volume of Conversions from reader to participant.  This is what i will refer to as the automotive consumer Engagement Ratio, which was originally defined by the Gallup consumer research organization.


So, what types of content drive engagement?


Most automotive marketing professionals already have plenty of content subject matter and the photos and videos to accompany that content at their disposal. However, if you work for a dealership and are struggling with what subject matter or where to find the time or resources to draft that content, you should start off by mastering content creation strategies.  For franchised new vehicle dealers, your OEM provides so many content resources for you or your marketing services provider and advertising agencies that there is really no excuses available to you relevant to subject matter or time for not creating and publishing engaging automotive content.


There are so many content components that you, as an automotive marketer and/or search engine optimization professional have available, you should have plenty of it built up in your asset library. Videos, images, interviews with your dealer and the dealership's managers, OEM brochures in PDF format, owners manuals – just check out Website Magazine’s article on knowledge-base optimization. However, many categories of content don’t lead to high levels of engagement with automotive consumers (comments, phone calls, emails, lead forms, showroom visits, return website visits, more vehicle detail page views, additional brochure downloads, etc.).  It is the lack of engagement after publishing lackluster content that frustrates so many automotive social media marketers, so it's important to learn about which types of content assets you either have available, or have access to that will produce the highest Engagement Ratios.

I recommend that you take a good look at the most important content assets that most automotive marketing professionals should be regularly promoting on social networks, blogs and automotive forums, within email newsletters, on your own website, promoted through display and search-based advertising and, of course, within the Google and Bing natural search engine optimization (SEO) results. 

Vehicle Model/Feature Releases: There seems to be a lot of so-called social media experts who express their opinion that in our industry it’s not wise to be overly product-promotional. I agree for the need to balance content publication topics so they are not overly promotional of the dealership itself (20% max is good) but I disagree with the admonition that it is unwise to publish content about the makes and models we sell.  First of all, America's love affair with the automobile is not entirely over... We are still a nation of roads and highways that beg for the ultimate in automotive consumer engagement - Driving our product. So, in my opinion it is hard to argue, particularly when it comes to brands that incite ownership passion and an emotional connection, that there is not a need, or a ton of value in notifying automotive consumers about advancements in our vehicles and new models being launched. Case in point – model/feature releases. 

Not only is new model/feature content items a powerful way to keep your dealership's messaging fresh and compelling, it’s also worth mentioning and should be in your lineup of options to promote content when the aim is to drive higher engagement ratios. Most people like knowing about, and even sharing information on “new” and recently added models/features, and for cars and trucks that desire is greater than for most other types of products. The key to driving higher engagement ratios with new model or feature release focused content is to carefully select the media channels and content platforms on which to publish and distribute that content. For example, new model/feature information is ideal for social media followers of your dealership's makes and models, but not great for the general population of automotive consumers that can be reached elsewhere. 


Webinars/White Papers: I am sincerely surprised that more Automotive Marketers are not eagerly embracing the opportunity to promote a webinar or publish white papers on sites such as Slideshare.net or Scribd.com. The reason for my surprise is simple: It’s so darned easy – easier than nearly any other form of content promotion. Production of these content types aside, car and truck buyers are naturally drawn to webinars and white papers because they provide information, meaningful/valuable insights that can be immediately used in making their purchase decisions.


That’s one of the things that the three content types featured here all provide – valuable information. Webinars and white papers are perfect for nearly any channel (social media and search) but can be most effectively used in advertising, when the challenge is to educate, entertain and inform in a matter of seconds. When you show up with something as valuable as free information, the likelihood you will generate more clicks than the competition is all but guaranteed. 

Feature Articles: The term "content marketing" is poorly defined. With so many opportunities to promote content and so many formats, it’s not uncommon that marketers opt for the fastest solution, and that is rarely the feature article. If you’re staffing a team of writers, or are skilled at producing/publishing content, then it would be a shame not to leverage feature-ready, long-form articles (starting at 800-1,000 words).


Search engines give preferential treatment to long-form content over short-form – at least in my experience – so dedicating yourself to regularly producing information in this manner will serve you well. Long-form, insight-rich content increases the time on site (and even page views) and drives sharing and additional on-site activity, particularly when linking to your own content. With the exception of advertising, features articles can be used within any promotional channel – particularly in search and social media. 

Content is King and the level of quality does matter a lot, but marketers can give themselves a leg up by focusing on the types of content that have proved they can deepen engagement and increase conversions.


Source References and Citations:

Views: 227

Tags: Categories, Content, Customer, Dealers, Drive, Engagement, Using

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Comment by Neil Licht on December 4, 2011 at 1:47pm

Ralph makes a great point about figuring where how best to post online v the best potential to gain more clients.

There's another side to carefully managing your online presence and where it can stand out -  the reputation / review side.

Nielson Survey says 63% Check Consumer Ratings before going any far...

 

The stats show that target audiences, consumers and potential clients not only think about looking at online reputation and reviews, they use it widely in their buying-contacting decision making process

 

But, Don't take my word for it!

 

Look at these global stats revealed in an independent study done by NM Incite, a Neilsen McKinsey Company, the top survey company in the world

 

* Check Consumer ratings - 63% do before going any farther in the buy or contact process

 

* Consumer Reviews - 62% check them before they go any farther in the buy or contact process

 

* Company Facebook - 15% check it before they decide to buy or contact.

 

And why do folks post online reviews and comments?

The same study shows:
* 58% do so to protect others !

 

These stats show that ignoring proactive monitoring, management, protection, promotion and repair of the online reviews / reputation side of your online presence equation is no longer a safe option for any size business.

 

Reputation911 has a free "how does the Internet reveal, see and show you online and where" analysis. In the spirit of Ralph's suggestions, it too should be understood and looked at especially given the findings of the Nielson study.

 

Please contact us for this free analysis and know precisely where you stand in the online reputation area and how to take charge of it.

 

Neil Licht, ndlicht@reputation911.com 1-508-481-8567 direct line

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