Digital marketing is a focus for all dealers as more consumers shop first online. Although most customers are online, the sad truth is:
Most dealers don’t need digital marketing.
It’s not because there is no value from digital marketing. Rather, dealers are not ready for digital marketing. Without a solid foundation, dealers cannot close the leads that digital marketing will provide.
There are three steps dealers should take first before embarking on a digital marketing campaign.
1. Set and Measure Three Benchmarks
You won’t know if digital marketing is working or failing unless you measure.
Before starting your campaign identify three benchmarks you will monitor and use as your gauge of success. Why three? Analytics provide a plethora of data, but unless you can take action based on the data, it is of no use to you. Instead of trying to monitor everything identify the key stats that actually matter or that you can take action on.
The most popular benchmarks for our digital marketing automotive clients are:
- Number of inbound links
Most dealers understand that visibility on search engines, known as search engine optimization (SEO), is essential for their online success. However, SEO remains a mystery to many.
At its core, SEO is 25% edits made on your website and 75% the number and quality of links from other websites (tweet this). If you are creating interesting content on your blog or website, your inbound links and thus SEO will improve. Measure the number of inbound links to gauge your content’s success. Google Webmaster Tools is a great free way to keep tabs on your links.
- Most popular inventory
Knowing which vehicles to have on the lot is always a bit of a guessing game. Using analytics you get an idea of which vehicles are most popular for web shoppers. You can then make inventory decisions based on that data.
Are a lot of people looking at your F-150s online? Chances are the number of sales of that vehicle will increase shortly afterwards in the store. Your inventory data will help you make better purchasing decisions to help you always have the vehicles your customers are asking about.
- Lead conversion on the website
Think of lead conversion as getting people who visit the site to raise their hand and ask for more information, often through a form somewhere on the site.
Attracting thousands of visitors to your website doesn’t help you unless they are the right people; people who want to know more about your inventory. With this metric you can make edits to your website or digital marketing and track whether you attract more of the right kind of visitors
2. Merge Digital Customer Data with Internal Customer Data
Counting the number of visitors or number of clicks on an ad is not enough. Actionable data requires leads not impressions (tweet this).
That means that dealers should connect an online visitor with their internal customer data. For example, if someone clicks on an email and comes to the website, their viewing activity on the website can be added to their customer profile. Then a sales rep knows what vehicles they are interested in when they talk on the phone or come in to the store.
Combining online activity to a customer record creates a complete online and offline profile. Plus, knowing the activity of your potential and current customers dramatically improves sales as a local single point Ford store discovered.
3. Create a Follow-Up Process
A complete follow-up process includes both automated and personal actions. It’s great to send an automatic email when someone requests more information, but there are many other leads who are not yet in buying mode who may demand follow-up.
If someone has looked at a vehicle on three separate occasions on your website, wouldn’t you want to ask them if they have any questions? If you have merged your digital customer data and internal customer data you’ll know who they are and can put them on the top of your sales person’s call list.
Qualify your leads and create a follow-up process that includes both automated emails and personal phone calls to not only convert sales inquiries but also potential customers in shopping mode.
Use Digital Marketing When You’re Ready
Digital marketing provides an enormous opportunity for dealers. However, if the foundation to take advantage of the data and leads is not built, it will be a waste of money.
Build your benchmarks, create comprehensive customer data and codify a solid follow-up process (tweet this). Then and only then will you be ready for online success.