Four to Watch for in 2012

There were a lot of exciting new ideas, opportunities and trends at NADA 2012. In that spirit, I’ve decided to cover four marketing trends to watch for 2012.


Social media will become even more important.


Powerhouses like Facebook and twitter will slow user acquisition, but grow in user engagement. New features will be implemented to keep users on social sites longer. Facebook will become more cluttered, users more sophisticated, and fans harder to acquire. According to MASHABLE, Google+ could well grow to 100 million users and will continue to add features, better integrate with other Google products, and look significantly different than it does today.


What this means to you: You’re going to need to pay even more attention to your social media sites. Social media sites (along with customer reviews) are going to play an ever increasing role in not only influencing human beings, but also search engines and rank. Dealerships that invest in original content, focus on the ‘right’ community, and understand the true benefits of social media will reap the enhanced benefits.


Reputation Management will become more important, and mainstream.


As negative mentions, brand attacks, customer revolts, etc. become common, brands are waking up. Customers will more directly impact market share, and the impact of poor reviews will grow harder and more expensive to correct. Reputation management will become the norm—with more brands wanting to detect and protect, rather than fix their online reputations. Budgets will be treated akin to insurance premiums.


For dealerships: Expect to see significant changes in the area of customer review and rating sites including where, when, and how they permit reviews, as well as the way in which users interact with them.


Conversion Optimization will replace Search Optimization:


Are you optimizing for conversions? Gone are the days of optimizing a website simply to rank well on search engines. Ranking is great, traffic is awesome, but conversions are where it’s at.


For dealerships: Be sure you’re doing all you can to convert by adding retargeting, chat, AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications and other tools to your sites. Then make sure your digital partners and vendors understand the difference, and track your campaigns by conversions instead of just traffic.


Integration’s the word.


Your TV ad’s call to action is your facebook page; your campaign continues as a sequel on YouTube; flash mobs at the mall create content that will go viral on social media. Invite bloggers to your press conference, encourage live tweeting of your on-ground event, then drive traffic to your takeover page, via banners on Google or Yahoo. The marketing silos are crumbling, and it’s all becoming one.


What this means to you: Make sure the silos crumble at your store too. Whether it’s dedicated employee or outside vendor, make sure you have one dedicated “brand advocate” whose job is it to tie all the pieces of your marketing program together into one cohesive voice.


Ed Steenman owns Steenman Associates, a full service agency providing traditional, digital and VSEO services and training to dealerships and groups. For more information email, or visit and twitter @steenman.





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