2015 Digital Marketing Survival Guide

2015 Digital Survival Guide from Strong Automotive

In planning your dealership marketing strategy, here are six opportunities for 2015 to help you improve your overall digital strategy, help you get more traffic and ultimately sell more cars.

Opportunity #1 – Website Optimization Strategy

To improve your Website Optimization Strategy you will want to create custom content, actively promote your content with a link building strategy, and incorporate targeted retail into every landing page.

Custom Content written for your dealership must be centered on the demand for your products, services and applicable for your geography. At this very moment, people are searching for your vehicles and services, so it is critical to create the right content that provides answers for them.

The next element is Automotive Link Building which is something that doesn’t really get done very well. Content gets created but links don’t get built (or earned) and therefore content doesn’t get promoted – which is 75% of the equation. In 2015, as you write more custom content, also spend more time and energy promoting and building links.

The last element of optimizing your website is integrating retail into ALL of your landing pages. This small detail gives you more flexibility for content development and creates an advantage over your competitors. Somebody can ask a question about miles per gallon or payload capacity which are basic informational-based questions, but by integrating retail into the landing page, you are creating transactional engagement.

Opportunity #2 – Paid Search

In 2015, paid search needs to work more closely with your optimization efforts and incorporate dynamic inventory campaigns. Most search marketing strategies separate paid and organic – this is a mistake!  Your optimization efforts will benefit greatly from paid search and vice versa. Make sure you are incorporating search trend information from paid into the content you develop. This will help you find opportunities your competition is missing.

Having paid search dynamic inventory campaigns is required in 2015. You cannot compete with the market by using generic paid search ads. There’s a lot more than just the vehicle itself. People are searching for details about your inventory. And don’t forget the number one search criteria when it comes to searching for a vehicle:  before people have picked out the make or the model, they’ll choose the color.

Opportunity #3 – Service Marketing

Marketing plans for fixed operations usually get separated from your variable operations marketing plans, especially when it comes to a digital marketing budget. That potentially makes this one of your biggest opportunities in 2015. Spend more money on bringing people to your service drive, particularly for higher dollar RO services like brakes, tires, transmission, and alignments.  These are the jobs providing you the opportunity to either up-sell or to find the customer who’s in an equity position where you can put them in a new vehicle.

Opportunity #4 – Video Marketing

Everyone knows about Video Marketing and some utilize video, but few are taking advantage of the real opportunities both in how you promote/use the videos and where you put them.  Don’t worry as much about the highest quality video that you could possibly make but instead spend the time just making videos. These videos must then be posted anywhere that makes sense: YouTube, Vimeo, Daily Motion, Blogs, Landing Pages, Social, etc.

People like the human element especially when it comes to video marketing, even more so when it comes to working with car dealers.  Have your employees in your dealership talk about what they know as product or service specialists. It doesn’t have to be anything that’s way over the top.  Remember, creating the video is the easy part but promoting it is where the heavy- lifting comes in – posting is where you are going to get the most return on your time investment.

Opportunity #5 – Leverage Social Marketing

Leveraging Social Marketing in the automotive industry, while certainly a key for digital success in 2015, has really been an afterthought.  Many consider it something you wouldn’t get a lot of return on or you wouldn’t be able to leverage it enough to sell any more cars. Not anymore. There are three important things you can do with social this year.

First, use social as a means to develop more reviews. If somebody compliments you on Facebook or Twitter, ask them to go to Google or Yelp and leave a review. It’s surprising how responsive people are to this.

Second, utilizing local marketing/optimization and outreach to the community are going to really help with local citations, co-citation and links which will ultimately improve how you rank in Google search.

Third, with technology available and societies’ evolving use of social media, you can utilize platforms like Twitter for lead generation.  Today, people use Twitter like public text where they’re just telling people what they’re up to, looking for or need help with.  For instance, “I’m shopping for a car today.” This is an opportunity to engage with the customer.  Most of the times, businesses either don’t have the savvy or don’t have the technology to do it, and it’s something that’s readily available to you for 2015.

Opportunity #6 – Conversion Optimization

The last opportunity on our list is Conversion Optimization. This is the most important and the most difficult to achieve. For your digital marketing strategy in 2015, increasing the rate at which your current site traffic converts within your website is going to be paramount. There are three elements you want to focus on:

  1. Any opportunity you have to show a retail message, especially when the user is looking for information about your products or services is an opportunity to sell something. Your retail message needs to be aggressive and you will need to leverage retargeting to make it more effective.   But that is the first piece as you can’t just leave it up to specials or inventory – you need to make sure that every page on your website is layered with retail messaging!
  2. The next element is using your website as a tool to engage with users. Make use of graphics, content and pertinent information to lead people through your website. Don’t leave it to chance that they’ll maybe get to your inventory, maybe send you an email or call you – lead them!  Ask for their business the exact same way you would if they came to your dealership. Understand that they’re at your website for a reason and that they’re looking for someone to help lead them through a process and make buying a car a little bit easier.
  3. The final element in conversion optimization is A/B testing; testing one page against another to determine the most effective elements. It can be as simple as changing the color of a button or as involved as developing two completely different pages. Engage with your users and constantly test your landing pages to evaluate what is the most effective option.

Without a doubt 2015 is going to be an extremely competitive market and sharpening your digital strategy will give you an advantage over your market. To summarize your opportunities, focus on customizing your optimization, integrating retail and building quality links. Let your paid search and optimization work together for better results. If you’re not using dynamic inventory, start. Service marketing is the lowest hanging fruit on the vine. Promote your videos for maximum benefit and incorporate social for community outreach, helping with positive reviews and lead generation. Finally, by incorporating conversion optimization techniques, you will engage more users and push them forward by converting into leads.


About the author

John Paul Strong: For someone who spends an average of 135 days outside of the office meeting with clients, John Paul Strong remains the driving force behind his Birmingham-based advertising agency, Strong Automotive Merchandising. Strong began his career as a fresh-faced account executive at Martin Advertising. Learning much, but never satisfied, he convinced his father to partner with him in reopening their own advertising agency in 2004, catering exclusively to the automotive industry. The company started strong but humble. The original roster of 10 employees and eight clients has exploded today, growing to 100 full-time employees and more than 220 automotive dealers. And it hasn’t gone without notice. Along the way, Strong Automotive Merchandising has been recognized as a perennial winner in Birmingham’s Best Places to Work contest and as a Top 20 Agency among Google’s National Ad Partners. Yet, Strong still finds time to share what he’s learned along the way. As an avid writer, he has published two books in the Next Day Traffic series, along with more than 1,000 automotive-focused blog posts. He is also a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, and his success has been recognized in the Birmingham Business Journal’s 2013 “Top 40 Under 40” feature and the 2017 CEO Awards. The foundation for Strong’s career began at the University of Montevallo where he earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and advanced public speaking. Always staying ahead of the competition, Strong later went on to study in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program. Amid all of his endeavors, Strong always makes time for what matters most – his family. He is a proud husband to Amy, and father to Lilly Grace, Anne Charlotte, Hudson, and Ford.