Best PracticesDealership Marketing

Your Dealership’s Digital Marketing Strategy Sucks!

Well… Maybe “Sucks” isn’t exactly the right word but, I promise that you are going about your digital marketing in the wrong order of operations. And, yes, there is a correct, comprehensive and strategic Order of Operations when it comes to all dealership website marketing approaches.

Hey, do you know something else that “Sucks”? Car Superchargers!

Building high-performance muscle cars and building a high-performance dealership website is very similar especially when the goal is getting the absolute best output from every dollar spent from your budget. I assume that everyone who reads DealerRefresh is familiar with what SEM is and what it basically does. And, seeing how this is an automotive-audience I will make the same assumption that everyone here knows what a Supercharger is and what it does.

Search Engine Marketing is the Same to a Dealership’s Website as a Supercharger is to a Vehicle’s Engine.

1.) Both are tasked to force-induce more “volume” into their perspective power plant.
2.) As they REV up whether it’s RPMs or dollars spent they increase exponentially.
3.) They both work better when the power plant is built to handle them.

Where superchargers and SEM are completely different is the stage at which they are implemented to increase volume.

Nearly every dealer that wants more leads starts SEM as their first (and sometimes only) modification to their website marketing  and very, very few engine builders select a Supercharger as their first power plant modification and for really good reasons.

Sure, you can add a Supercharger to a stock car engine and sure, it will build more power, go faster, accelerate harder, but it will accomplish all of these goals in the most inefficient way possible. Street Racers are constantly asking themselves in the quest for more power things like: How is my chassis going to respond to the power increase? What about my tires will they hook? Is the drive shaft going to snap? Am I going to throw a rod through the block? Nitrous? These are just some of the many questions hot rodders want to address prior to supercharging the car.

What is Engine Blueprinting? And Why Are We Talking About It on a Dealership Marketing and Sales Strategy blog? 

When it comes to building a really bad ass muscle car built for speed one of the first things the engine builder does is blue print the engine. Basically, blue printing an engine means optimizing all of the existing components to produce more power and reliability. In the blue printing phase exhaust systems, intake systems, and even the cylinder heads and cam shaft(s) are changed so the engine can produce more horsepower immediately and substantially more when things like nitrous oxide or superchargers are added and do so safely. What is the point of spending more money for traffic if you can’t turn the traffic into profits?

Let’s apply this to the dealership website and assess where website blueprinting possibilities exist.

Conversion Rate Optimization “CRO” or Dealership Website Blue Printing

Before forcing more traffic to your dealership website you should find your current conversion rate benchmark. A combination of your CRM, Google Analytics, and DMS should help you calculate how much of your existing website visitors, leads, and phone calls are turning into sales or at least sales opportunities. These figures should be considered your starting point or “bench mark”. Next, go through your inventory to ensure you are merchandising all of your vehicles effectively. This means good photos, great descriptions, competitive prices, strong Why Buy messages or value propositions you may even what to showcase your Dealership’s Online Reviews.

You should consider (or in many cases reconsider) your calls to action. There are many, many articles written about this topic especially with regard to what works and what doesn’t. My advice is that no one CTA is going to work the best 100% of the time especially when used cross brand, do your homework, experiment. And, if you want to go really crazy look for articles and blogs written about “Persuasive UX”.

You should also consider making adjustments to plug-ins on your website like chat, trade-appraisal tools, finance and lease payment tools. Tip: Often times I have found that if you ask the companies you’re working with to make adjustments to how their product works (especially with chat) based on traffic source, page the visitor is on, and when to engage they will and should do this.

Make sure all of your incentives, specials, and promotions are current, attractive, and competitive. Make sure any national promotion materials are present on your site and easy to find.Once you are satisfied that you have reworked your website to convert more digital traffic into showroom traffic it’s time to take the next step and we’re still no where near adding our Supercharger SEM.

Benchmarking Your BDC/Internet Staff and Preparing For Increased Traffic

When a hot rodder wants to go faster they rarely stop at just modifying the engine or even adding a supercharger. They practice, they bench mark, they bracket race. They learn where they currently sit in terms of quarter mile, 0-60 mph, etc and they practice to improve things that will make them faster like their reaction time, time pressure, launch RPM, etc and practice to get better. Perhaps a very similar approach could yield improved results if applied to your BDC department and the sales floor.

There really isn’t a good reason to send more digital customers to a department that is already overwhelmed or inefficient with existing opportunities. The better prepared your departments are to handle an influx of customer opportunities the better they will handle them, satisfy them, and most importantly, sell them. Tip: Hiring a sales trainer or phone trainer or both is something that should be considered.

Time To Start Growing Traffic But No Forced Induction Yet

Once you have blueprinted your website’s stock internals, prepared your BDC/Internet and showroom staff to better handle all customer opportunities, a great next step would be to work on SEO marketing strategies to widen your audience exposure. Making sure every page has a unique title, meta description, and content is a good way to start. You can build out some vehicle specific landing pages, start writing blogs on upcoming model releases, and also dedicate pages to region and national OEM sales events.

I recognize this is a time consuming practice that lacks the instantaneous gratification that can be realized with SEM, but there are several key reasons why this is better choice at this phase of your dealer website build. Good SEO content provides continuous traffic that is cost efficient and absolutely more effective in terms of lead submission both phone and email than PPC based traffic. Building pages designed to be rank high and be useful is a natural first step toward better understanding the desires of your online customers what vehicles or services they are most interested in and then custom design catered content that will answer their questions and intrigue them. Know what your organic customers want will help you fill in gaps and create a blue printed SEM budget when you’re ready.

Now That We’re Firing on All Cylinders Let’s See What SEM Can Do!

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...