Avoid the 5 Mistakes Dealers Make in Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is not only here to stay, it’s become a major chunk of annual marketing budgets. Automotive dealers need to have a complete understanding of what to expect from their digital marketing efforts to increase their return on investment by engaging and attracting local consumers into their showrooms or service departments.

They also need to avoid the following five common mistakes when it comes to digital marketing.

1. Not giving visitors a mobile experience

Gone are the days of print media marketing for local auto dealers. Today, digital media is the top source for local customer acquisition. When auto dealers embrace the Internet and online digital marketing, they often make the mistake of not having a responsive website—one that looks great across every screen, including laptops, desktops, and smartphones.



Without a responsive website, dealers push away customers, who can’t easily browse products and services on mobile phones. A whopping nine out of 10 mobile users will switch to a competitor’s site where it’s easier to navigate, shop, and get information, so now is the time to diagnose and fix your mobile website problems in order to attract local customers.

2. Not marketing fixed operations

According to NADA, service and parts make up 54% of the average dealership’s net profits, yet those departments receive only a 3% share of voice on dealers’ websites.

This oversight costs dealers more than $225 billion in lost market share each year, and more than 225,000 local customers. Auto dealers need to understand how to maximize service department profits using digital marketing, and leverage these methods to grow their businesses.

Also, dealers are largely absent in the digital arena when it comes to the services category. According to a Millward Brown Digital/Google Auto Parts/Accessories Purchase Study from August 2013, 70% of drivers research online before they make a purchase. This makes it crucial for dealers to have an online presence for fixed operations like service and parts.

The bottom line: Dealers are losing money and need to stop giving away service dollars to their competition. NADA has estimated fixed operations to be a $310 billion business, yet dealerships have captured less than 27% of the market.

3. Not embracing video advertising

Television viewing is down for shoppers under age 50, and it’s decreased nearly 20% for millennials over the past 12 months to just 2.5 hours a day. Plus, 52% of consumers say that watching a video makes them more confident about a product purchase.

With these numbers in mind, it’s no surprise that 72% of marketing agencies believe video advertising is as effective, or more effective, than TV advertising, so they recommend that advertisers shift up to 25% of their TV budget to digital video advertising.

Dealers need to work with their digital marketing providers to leverage video advertising offerings to develop brand-compliant video assets optimized for their business.

4. Not turning Web visitors into in-store customers

Your website needs the right kind of online presence in order to become your No. 1 marketing tool to attract always-connected shoppers.

Every website page should include your dealership name, address, phone number, hours, and a link to a Google map with turn-by-turn directions. This information should be consistent across all pages on your website and throughout the dealership’s online presence.

This automatically boosts your website’s profile and signals to search engines that your site is tied to a particular geographic area. When search engines learn your site is local, you will be ranked higher for your geographic area, which increases website traffic.

5. Looking for the magic product

There is a common misconception that one magic product on the market will transform a dealership’s digital marketing presence overnight. Listening to a vendor that claims to have one may lead to you to cancel products and services you already have that actually work because of the promise of the vendor’s “magic” product.

News flash: There isn’t such a magic product, so find companies that you respect and enjoy working with, and that show you their value and results based on data and facts. Give your business to vendors that visit and call your dealership regularly, and deeply understand your business goals, needs, and expectations when it comes to local digital marketing.

If the company you’re using can answer all of your questions, show you results, and is there when you need them, then no changes are necessary. Of course, sometimes change is good, but auto dealers need to make decisions based on facts, not empty promises.

Digital marketing is here to stay and will continue to evolve. As an auto dealer, it is important for you to make the most of your marketing spend. Work closely with auto brands to ensure you are operating together to attract local customers to your dealership by being found online and via mobile.

Tim O’Rourke is the vice president of automotive at Netsertive, and has been with the company for three years. He has built a world-class sales organization by introducing a digital marketing intelligence platform to the OEM, tier two, and dealer level. Netsertive enables dealers and OEMs to take the lead in driving sales opportunities online, unleashing the full potential of digital marketing intelligence technology to bring brands and local dealers together to win local customers.

Tim O'Rourke

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