Best PracticesDealership Communication ToolsDealership MarketingIndustry News & Trends

Only Good (Dealer Digital Strategies) Die Young

In the wake of the many recent rockstar deaths I felt it would be relevant to start a conversation on what Automotive Digital Marketing tools and strategies really should die this year.

It’s time we take a hard look at these long time, waste of times, and begin a discussion on higher-level and higher-quality strategies and techniques to use in 2016.  Let’s stop allowing these trends to dodge bullets like Google Analytics and Common Sense. Let’s allow these 5 crappy strategies and tools to finally die.

R.I.P. Home Page Slideshow

2005 – 2016

Dealer website Slideshow - VW

I’m not sure who started it or how it became such a staple in the dealership digital strategy – but it needs to die and die quickly. A quality slideshow presentation only caters to a very small demographic frequenting your website. So let’s identify them. They are the 5% or so that spends more than 45 seconds acquainting themselves with the contents of your homepage. They are the small remaining percentage of internet shoppers who have gobs of time on their hands, who are fearful of social media, and probably discovered your dealership originally via the print newspaper.

In short they are the dodo bird of the online shopper and would have a better experience and demonstrate a higher conversion possibility if they were better guided through your site.

Boys and Girls, it is time to ditch the slideshows and focus more attention on convenience, user experience, through the utilization of a streamlined digital strategy. Look at modern examples from Dealer Inspire, DealerOn, and even some more recent layout options to get ideas.

R.I.P. Display Marketing

2011 – 2016


For whatever reason there are certain digital marketing techniques that simply do not work in an automotive retail context, and display marketing is one of the top offenders. From insane bounce rates, little time on site to embarrassing pages per session metrics – display advertising campaigns are fueled by hundreds of thousands to perhaps millions of automotive advertising dollars each month with no real measurable or promising results – at least not that I have ever seen.

Low cost is never a great single reason to commit to an advertising medium. It needs to be Low Cost plus something. Low Cost + Many Pages Per Session, Low Cost + Lots of Leads. Stop allowing display ads to Turn your website into a “Bouncy House”.

R.I.P. Low – Moderately Granular Inventory Automated Search Ads

2012 – 2016

Granular Inventory Automated Search Ads

I can understand why so many dealers bought into the idea of taking their entire used (and sometimes new) inventory and machining it into dynamic adwords search ads. It sounds so freaking cool and hyper effective – but it often isn’t.

Let’s picture that you have something super rare, highly desirable, and you’re pretty much the show in town. Let’s say you have a Used 2005 BMW 6 series Alpina B6 with 20,000 miles – sounds like the perfect candidate for a hyper-targeted, automated ad right? Wrong. Because of the tremendous gap in competitor SEM advertiser lack of competence, the effectiveness of your ads to deliver strong ROI and low cost per click will be disrupted by other advertisers who are not using proper keyword and negative keyword strategies. Because of this, your 2009 BMW Alpina B6 ad will likely be competing against other dealers bidding on “Used BMW”, “2009 BMW Radiator”, “2009 BMW recalls” etc.

Until PPC advertisers learn how to properly structure campaigns, use negative keywords, and improve location and keyword targeting, it will remain difficult for Inventory Fed Automated ads to demonstrate their true ROI potential. Also – most of these ads link directly to the VDP… I don’t have the stomach for this kind of gamble. I feel it’s a mistake. A better place to send search traffic would be a stable page that isn’t 100% dependent on vehicle availability.

Also, what if you send them to a white B6 Alpina – but their heart is set on owning a black one? Too many variables, not enough ROI. I like the concept of this kind of Ad delivery and strategy but I personally have yet to be impressed with the results.

R.I.P. Image Only Email Marketing

2004 – 2016


Lazy. Pure and simple. That is the underlining reason why these companies and strategists continue to prevail in the dealer marketplace. Not only are the companies making these image-only email products lazy – but their customers are also equally lazy (which is even worse).

Image-only emails may be breathtaking to look at in Photoshop but keep in mind, not all email clients are going to auto download your images, not all wifi connections can handle giant image downloads, and many people are not email savvy enough to click the “Download Images” link.

Effective email marketing strategies cater to the lowest common denominator and are heavily tested to ensure they are deliverable, effective, and provide ROI – there really isn’t a whole lot you can effectively track from image only emails.

If you want to UP your email marketing game, you need good content to give context to your customer that justifies why they should open your email. This is accomplished by proper list generation, data mining, customized subject lines, opening lines, as well as superior analytic tracking.

Stop working with email marketing services that just churn out the same image only email ad design being sold to countless dealers over and over.

R.I.P. Automotive Tools and Tech that Only Run Correctly on Old Versions of IE

Dawn of Time – 2016


I believe we can actually cross this one of the list. Hallelujah!

Please share your thoughts on these 2016 victims and feel welcomed to submit your additions. This is but a very small list of what needs to end/change this year.

Dan Mondello is a true “Car Guy” – his first word (as a baby) was “Vehicle” and while in college Dan worked part time as a Corvette Restorat...