As a dealership, you might have struggled with the question of whether or not you should partner with an automotive advertising company or digital marketing partner. Unfortunately, the increasing importance of services that a digital marketer can provide emphasizes the crucial nature of making that change now (if you have yet to do so).
Marketing has always been an ever-evolving organism, requiring both foresight and a willingness to adapt. And yet, this new year that we find ourselves in might be the best possible representation of the technology-driven shift seen in recent years. Technology has evolved, changing our expectations (as consumers) in the process.
As such, greater demands are placed on in-house marketers every day. And unless you’re interested in losing market share, its important that you find a partner who will subsidize in-house efforts with next-level service, knowledge and insights. Here are a just a few ways that a skilled partner can help you to secure the cornerstones of your digital marketing strategy.
Web Design & Content Management
Of the four cornerstones we’ve alluded to above, web design is likely to rank atop the list as the one marketers are the most comfortable with. Design trends aside, most everyone understands the need for responsive design, ensuring usability regardless of the device a site is accessed upon. But the growing demands of eCommerce, inventory management and customer support emphasize a few of the changes many dealerships still struggle with.
But what about the need for superior content? Google’s algorithm is designed to assign a higher value to sites that create an immersive experience for its customers. From informative, technical content to a wealth of insightful blog content, successful conversion of online visitors requires a commitment of both time and talent. If you’re not prepared to curate such content for your visitors, you could be devalued with Google favoring local competitors willing to deliver what people are looking for.
We mention Google and their algorithm for ranking websites, which introduces the need for a comprehensive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. While we list it as one of the four cornerstones, the truth is that SEO encompasses each one in order to deliver the best possible SERP rankings. This means (i) a responsive, well-designed web design with informative, up-to-date content (ii) diligent social media presence, increasing visibility and engagement and (iii) thorough management of one’s online reputation. Each of these factors filter into Google’s valuation of a dealership. Understanding that could mean the difference between a successful dealership with top ranking on page one, or an overlooked competitor buried below the fold.
Social Media Marketing
With the increased role played by social media, as part of any digital marketing strategy, it’s easy to forget that the value doesn’t come from the platform — but how it is used.
This new year straddles a paradigm shift in marketing sensibilities, emphasizing a personalized and re-humanized approach. It means telling the story rather than pushing the product. It means a focus on the consumer rather than profit. It means the creation of an experience, rather than the production of a receipt or invoice. And yet, despite the interpersonal nature of our evolved expectations, that positive customer-centric experience is conceived (in most cases) online.
Diligent management of a social media account is no longer a part-time job to be handled during someone’s off-hours, or handed-off to the part-time intern. Employing a skilled Social Media manager provides a number of benefits, including (but not limited to):
- Increase of Brand Awareness
- Creation and Curation of High-Quality Content
- Highlighting Products & Services
- Advertising Sales, Promotions & Events
- Initiating Viral Campaigns
- Engagement with Customers (Existing and Prospective)
- Building & Strengthening Relationships
- Furthering Word-of-Mouth advertising
- Ad Placement & Management
- Real-Time Analytics
- Contribution to Improved SEO Rankings
Even with this bulleted oversimplification, it’s easy to understand the important role played by a dealership’s social media marketer. And while the demands of today’s marketing landscape makes it hard to appreciate anyone’s lack of ability to justify the cost of hiring someone to fill such a position, it highlights the value to be offered by an automotive marketing partner. Which brings us to…
The transition to digital marketing means that word-of-mouth advertising is faster and more visible than ever. And while that’s incredibly beneficial when it comes to the sharing of positive feedback, it proves exponentially more damning when it comes to criticism. Factor in that negative experiences are more likely to inspire posting on public platforms, and it’s easy to see how important it is to manage one’s online reputation. After all, misery loves company, and negative people are all-too quick to validate (what might be) the jaded opinion of another, especially in today’s online victim culture.
But, ‘bad press’ aside…one must understand that negative reviews and commentary on social media platforms might limit the platforms willingness to accept your ad revenue. In addition, negative commentary on Yelp! and other review sites can devalue your business in the eyes of Google, jeopardizing your SERP rankings. In other words, the risk is real.
The solution, however, comes in the resolution. The ability to address such concerns promptly, transitioning the conversation to a less public venue and directing the complaint to the proper point of authority at your dealership is imperative. By doing so, a dealership is able to display the pride it takes in responsiveness. It minimizes the risk of escalation (as well as inflammation from unwelcome sympathizers).
This is where reputation management comes into play; and, as the final cornerstone of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, it might the most easily overlooked. While many might discount negative opinions and criticisms on the grounds of their being subjective, one shouldn’t disregard the damage of their public nature.
A full-suite digital marketer can offer solutions designed to minimize this risk. Whether included as part of a social media package, or separated entirely, it’s an increasingly important service to request.
Do You Need to Partner With an Automotive Digital Marketer?
For most of you, the answer is undoubtedly ‘yes’. In fact, we might have already passed the point where you can afford not to be. Let this beginning of 2019 represent the point where you reprioritize your marketing spend to reflect the evolving face of marketing. That is, of course, unless you enjoy throwing away money and losing sales opportunities every minute of the day.