Three Steps for Putting the Internet to Work in Your Market

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, click here. Matt Mur­ray is Dealer.com’s Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing Direc­tor. Tweet Matt at @Matt_Murray.

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