Automotive marketing and the consumer’s path to purchase are constantly evolving. Using the strategy you started 2016 with is not going to cut it come January. There are four key areas to success that must be at the forefront of your planning for 2017.
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Your dealership Website is an extension of your showroom with the ability to make or break your month.
The homepage of any successful dealership should display the merchandising for the month. Just having a slideshow on the homepage is no longer acceptable. High traffic makes your homepage a great place to leverage “why buy here” and “why buy now” messages.
It is also the job of the homepage to drive people into the rest of the Website. Conversions don’t happen from the homepage, so the site’s layout should allow the customer to find what they are looking for and leave the homepage. With mobile traffic overtaking desktop, ensuring usability for mobile views is key for continued success. Do this by building the buttons, graphics and all elements of your Website from a mobile perspective. If the vehicle is pointed to the left the eye naturally draws to the lower left hand corner, where nothing resides. Don’t let the visitors to your second-most visited page have their eyes drawn somewhere that isn’t a conversion opportunity.
Research has shown the best pricing structure is MSRP with a strikethrough, discount and then sale price followed by an e-price button. There are limitations with some manufacturers and in that case we have noticed an increase of leads by setting up the inventory with MSRP value with a strikethrough and then a “Get Your E-price” option.
Finally for inventory, less is more. Yes, we want them to submit a lead, but are there too many options that they leave? If the listings and details pages are set up with too many form submissions, they tend to be cluttered and cause customers to leave the site without submitting their information.
2. Budgets and Advertising
Now that the website is structured for success, it is time to drive more traffic to the website. Traditional marketing still has value, but in today’s increasingly digital society you will want to focus more of your ad budget in the digital space. Digital advertising is no longer just Google. So, how do you break out your budget to make sure you are hitting all the right channels? Just follow the budget formula. Fifty percent of the budget should go to search engines, i.e. Google/Bing/Yahoo. How much to each search engine? Up to you. However, paying attention to your traffic sources within Google Analytics is generally a great KPI for determining your digital marketing mix. If 10 percent of your website traffic is from Bing, then put 10 percent of your search engine budget into Bing. By keeping current traffic parallel to ad dollars, you’ll get an indicator of performance that also helps limit unnecessary spending.
So, what do you do with the other 50%?
15% - Display advertising
This advertising will provide branding consistency offsite and keep your brand top of mind for customers.
15% - Social advertising
Facebook and Instagram advertising continues to increase, with targeting capabilities that allow you to serve the right message to the right customer at the right time.
10% - Remarketing
Remarketing is a powerful tool that targets people who visited the Website, surfed around and left without submitting a lead. Being able to target this group with one message that is different from all others allows for a higher rate of engagement, higher returning visitors and increase in leads. Finally, pre-roll or video is now a necessity to advertising.
10% - YouTube and other video outlets
Keep in mind that, with a video ad, the message needs to be compelling and engaging within the first few seconds so the ad is not skipped. This requires developing a message just for the online audience, not repurposing your monthly local TV spot.
3. 100-Point Inspection
Knowing which salesperson has the highest closing rate in the showroom is just as important as which button drives the most leads from the Website. By knowing the dealership’s 100-point inspection both online and offline, GMs can set up their advertising for success. If a customer comes in with a coupon for an oil change, but the advisors and the service manager knew nothing about it, advertising is not being utilized correctly. You must make sure to provide a seamless experience for the customer and drive more value onto your lot through the well-oiled machine that is your marketing mix.
4. Annual Plan
With so many moving pieces, an annual plan is the best way to lay out the year and know what’s coming. Planning ahead for holidays, thrust months and even external factors can save time and money. Thrust month’s budgets get vamped out to handle the additional search volume, and holidays either drive more sales for the dealership or no sales if they chose to close. External factors need to be on the radar, especially in a year like this one, where the election has had an impact on sales. Even a simple plan can help drive the focus as well as deliver the returns that ensure a successful year.
Robert Donovan, CEO
DOM360 is a digital and traditional marketing and advertising agency. The company offers award-winning software and industry-leading customer service to more than 200 clients across the country. Founded in 2007 by CEO Robert Donovan, DOM360 has grown to more than 75 employees in two locations — the corporate headquarters in Greenville, SC and a new office in Boca Raton, FL. The company has been named to the Inc 5000 list of Fastest Growing Companies in the United States each of the last three years. Learn more about the company at DOM360.com.
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