We tend to think of the Internet in terms of its reach. Online, we can connect with people in the most remote places on earth, and store huge amounts of data in a far-off “cloud.” Even the name World Wide Web sounds like a far cry from our comfortable dealership confines. But when we look at where automotive technology is going, the web starts to become a lot less “worldwide,” and a whole lot more local. New online tools are taking tried-and-true advertising and reputation building techniques to a new level. They’re also offering more ways than ever to target specific markets.
Simply put: everything traditional is becoming digital, and everything digital is becoming local. This evolution is good news for you as a dealer, because you already know your local market like the back of your hand. All you need to do is transfer that expertise online. Following a few basic steps will get you well on your way.
1. Shore up your website “foundation” with Mobile and Video.
Any online program begins with a search engine friendly website. That’s a no brainer. But you can’t stop there. Nearly one in five visits to dealership websites now come from mobile devices, and turning those views into leads requires a well-designed mobile website. Likewise, the numbers on video views are too powerful to ignore. Online videos increase visitor time-on-site by 327%, deepening customer connection to your brand and prospects more likely to submit a lead. In fact, form conversion increases an astonishing 140% on sites with video. Whether or not you buy in to the numbers, your customers have simply come to expect videos in their online experience. Visit ESPN.com lately? CNN.com? You get the point. So, how do you firm up your web foundation? Talk to your website provider. They should be able to quickly incorporate mobile sites and video into your solution, and do so without breaking the bank.
2. Think local and listen to your market.
Once your web fundamentals are solid, spend some time understanding public sentiment toward your brand in the local market. For example, reputation-monitoring tools allow you to “see” and “hear” your current and prospective customers online.
Rep-monitoring is not the only online tactic that is locally oriented. Paid search and display advertising are also great “local” online tools. Imagine you had a billboard along a nearby highway. Now, instead of millions of random drivers seeing it, imagine that everyone who sees it is in the market, or interested in the type of vehicles you sell. And instead of those people seeing your billboard once, then ignoring it every other day they drive by, picture them seeing it posted at every exit they like to take. That’s display and search: a totally measurable, progressive evolution of old-school, local branding, with targeting capabilities that make the military jealous. In all three of these examples, the online tool gets its power through traditional concepts: knowing your customers, and reaching them where they travel. This smart, modern take on proven ideas should be part of any online automotive marketing solution.
For Tip #3, . Matt Murray is Dealer.com’s Digital Marketing Director. Tweet Matt at @Matt_Murray.