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Winning Internally: How to Implement Digital Marketing in the Dealership

It is 9:15 a.m. and you’ve glanced down at the Caller ID for the 12th time this morning. Checking your voicemail reveals an influx of digital vendors have been leaving messages in the last few weeks.

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Alexandra Patty is the director of marketing for DealerTeamwork.

It is 9:15 a.m. and you’ve glanced down at the Caller ID for the 12th time this morning. Checking your voicemail reveals an influx of digital vendors have been leaving messages in the last few weeks.

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“We don’t have the budget right now” or “Feel free to check in with me at the end of Q2,” seems to slip from your lips so easily these days. You long for that demo that will be the silver bullet to solve all of the dealership’s marketing challenges.

Digital marketing has become the shiny new toy everyone wants to buy and even if you don’t buy it, you most certainly want to be educated on what is currently being offered. The last several years have seen a steady increase in dealers grasping onto the fact that digital marketing isn’t going anywhere, those who have been using it are no longer “unique,” and now the masses are being forced to embrace it. Digital marketing has become so critical in business and is morphing at such a rapid pace that the time to adapt to it is now. Don’t be left in the dust!

With the growth and expansion of digital marketing in the automotive space, the real question has become: If I find an awesome tool or fabulous technology, how do we execute and make it successful for our business? There are a plethora of choices and problem-solving technologies, so how does one go about choosing the “right one”?

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I believe that with the glut of digital marketing choices out there, the answer is simple — there is no right one. It’s what you do with the one you choose. The battle lies in selecting an effective tool and making it work for your dealership.

One key is to set your staff up for success. If you concentrate on the internal buy in, dealership process and a strong strategy to implement and train users, then the digital marketing ROI will follow.

In my previous management role, I took some of the following steps when choosing digital marketing vendors. Hopefully, you will find them helpful in choosing and implementing new digital marketing products at your dealership.

Start with your dealer principal and general managers (then moving on to decision makers in each department, if applicable), host monthly meetings to analyze your current strategies and processes. Discuss the teams’ end goals and monthly goals, pain points and any “hot buttons” they have in their particular department.  Determine what has — and has not — yielded a great return in the past.

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Vetting New Vendors
Next, discuss your vendors. Do you need to add or cancel any of them? When determining this, ask if there are parts of your business you are trying to change in which a digital marketing vendor can help. Where do you need traction? Inspect what you expect.

If you decide a new one is needed, do your due diligence and vet the vendors. Research successful competitors that use the vendor’s tools, and don’t be afraid to call their references. More often than not, a dealer will shoot straight with another dealer, especially if they don’t feel an immediate geographical competitive threat.

Whittle it down to your top two or three choices before you introduce them internally, then sit in on the demo with your GM or sales management team. Listen to your team’s questions and watch the reactions in the room to gauge how they are taking to the particular tool or technology.

Be mindful of how the new product or digital marketing is going to affect those involved in the selling process.

Strategize with your management team on lead generation and communicate the business benefits. Calculate Key Performance Indicators up front — How will we turn inventory faster? How many more service appointments will we book? Estimate the monetary, labor and/or time savings, emphasizing to your team how implementing this tool or technology will increase speed to market and improve efficiency in processes while leading to additional potential profits for the store.

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Evaluating ROI
You can evaluate the ROI by gathering a baseline of metrics from varying points in your campaign: before you implement the tool, when the tool goes live and when you are tracking your progress, whether it be weekly, monthly, etc.

Tie the tool to your Google Analytics account to see phone calls, traffic and conversions on your website. Make sure these action items are possible with the potential prospect. Be picky.

Honest vendors are going to provide thorough metrics and give access to backend tools and dashboards. Strong vendor partnerships are rooted in communication and full transparency in all steps of the process, so don’t accept anything less. Great vendors will continue to service your account and answer questions along the way, finding ways to integrate into and enhance your business.

At the end of the day, the name of the game is communication and accountability. Now you have the silver bullet.


Click here to view more solutions from Alexandra Patty and Dealer Teamwork.

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