Do you have a plan to increase business? Not something that’s been floating around in your head but a tangible, written strategy to engage more customers? Remarkably, most dealers don’t have a written marketing plan. Many don’t bother reviewing their analytics to determine the best path forward.
With so many tactics thrown around, it’s difficult to know where to focus for best results, which is why a written content strategy is vital to digital marketing. It encompasses everything, including online reviews and improves your chances of reaching your business goals.
If you build a winning strategy, with an arsenal of proven tactics, the outcome often leads to exponential business growth. I’ve compiled a list of the most powerful tactics available to dealers who want to engage more customers (and thereby sell and service more cars).
1. Create value with “frictionless” content
Most of us would agree that burning calories is good, right?
Not so much with website visitors. When a dealer’s site is cluttered, has too much text or it’s outdated, the message gets lost.
People visit your website looking for answers, and if they have to burn too many calories to find them, they’ll click away to your competitor.
2. Leverage social media to engage more customers
Social media is ideal for engaging prospects, current customers, and repeat customers.
However, in 2019, social media requires many forms of investment, most notably, human resources. You’ll need to manage your online community and of course possess the requisite skills to engage them.
- 68 percent of Americans use Facebook (and 74 percent of those use it daily)
- 63 percent of Instagram users use the app every day
It’s clear that social media is the channel to identify, develop, and nurture leads because it’s where your customers spend time.
3. Optimize your content for Search
95 percent of all vehicle purchases begin on search engines. When you properly optimize your website and its content for search engines, you’ll improve your ranking, provide evidence of trust, and drive more organic traffic to your site.
4. Tap into the power of social advertising
Social ads (like Facebook Ads) turn website visitors into customers.
“Paid Social” reaches those users who are most likely to buy. The top five reasons to advertise on Facebook are:
- Car buyers are on Facebook
- Facebook ads are affordable compared to other forms of advertising
- Facebook targeting capabilities are exceptional
- Facebook is effective at pushing “on-the-fence” leads down the funnel
- Facebook ads drive offline sales
5. Convert visitors with landing pages
It’s crucial to create a “full-circle” digital strategy to achieve your desired results. “Full-circle” means attracting visitors back to your website to take the desired action.
The hard truth:
- Only 50 percent of landing pages are optimized for mobile devices.
- Targeting your pages correctly can increase conversion up to 300 percent.
- You only have eight seconds to make an impression on a landing page.
- One-second loading delays can lower your site conversion by seven percent.
A landing page is THE tool to guide would-be buyers. This can be a VDP or another landing page that delivers the information the customer is looking for.
A compelling call-to-action with a lead form brings them closer to the sale. 70 percent of dealers don’t have calls-to-action on their homepage. This makes it almost impossible to convert visitors into customers.
6. Encourage employee participation in content creation
One of the challenges to company growth is creating enough relevant content that customers either need or want to engage with.
Why not take a collaborative approach to these challenges that often produce outstanding results? After all, you’ve got your best “brand experts” at your fingertips.
Engaging employees in content creation and publication will broaden your reach. Employees possess the knowledge your customers need, and their seasoned expertise fosters more trust than any ad you’ll ever run.
7. Boost sales with email marketing
Email marketing is consistently voted the most effective marketing channel. Every dollar spent on email marketing has an average return of $44.25.
But not all email marketing is created equal. Here’s where content rules, again. The typical dealership email looks the same as competitors.
Spice up your email marketing so much that your customers get excited about opening it. I’m not talking about the same-old “direct mail” offers of the past. Do something different that keeps them coming back for more.
8. Build, improve, and promote your online reputation
If you’re still in the camp that says, “Online reviews don’t matter,” consider this consumer data:
- 90 percent read online reviews.
- 88 percent trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations.
- 86 percent will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative reviews.
- Customers are likely to spend 31 percent more with a business that has positive reviews.
- 92 percent will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating.
Your digital reputation is more important than ever, and sadly, many dealers believe they have no control over it.
The secret is to build a review funnel. Develop an internal process to ask, remind, and guide happy customers through your funnel, and recover unhappy customers before they vent online.
9. Think outside your content comfort zone
There are so many cool, fun ways to deliver useful content to would-be buyers, so think outside your normal sphere of content channels, and consider:
- Customer testimonial videos
- Video social ads
- Video streaming (Facebook Live)
- Images YOU create (life behind the curtain at a dealership!)
10. Provide social sales training to customer-facing employees
79 percent of salespeople who use social media as a selling tool outperform those who don’t.
Social Selling (as it’s been called) is simply the salesperson’s efforts at individual lead generation.
But social selling doesn’t happen on its own. It requires ongoing training so that salespeople can recognize their value in using social media to connect, engage with prospects, and foster referrals.
Some dealers already have salespeople who are using social media to their advantage.
Pro Tip: Implement a policy for employee use of social media. Many things can happen out there in social media-land and you don’t want to get caught in a crisis without a life preserver.
11. Appoint a qualified digital marketing manager
Whether it’s managing your website, content, social media, review sites, and other digital properties, this requires someone who listens, monitors, responds, engages, and nurtures your customers.
The best social media managers possess these attributes:
- Social media savvy
- Branding/marketing experience
- Ability to focus
- Emotional maturity
- Empathy and patience
- Clear, concise, and professional communication
- Ability to recognize leads
- Google Analytics proficient (preferably certified)
- A sense of humor
12. Reward loyal customers
It costs five to eight times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
It’s difficult to sustain customer loyalty in a world where untrustworthy messages bombard customers as if through a fire hose.
Answer this question: How can we reward repeat customers for their loyalty? Focus your attention (aka content marketing strategies) on keeping customers for life.
Bonus: Address your challenges to organizational change.
I saved this one for last because it is likely the most difficult. In this “season of digital transformation,” there are a lot more naysayers to digital marketing than you might imagine. Having spent years managing dealership, I’ve found that change is the biggest obstacle to growth.
The secret to digital marketing buy-in is managing change.
Buying into change disturbs some very primal, entrenched beliefs, and oftentimes, its resistance to this disturbance that keeps people stuck. When we ourselves see the value of the change, we often don’t consider the impact it will have on those around us who see our “fringe ideas” as dangerous.
Employ these five tactics to mitigate resistance to change and open the gates to growth:
1. Consistent and helpful information Provide specific information and training that makes the desire to change greater than the desire to stay the same.
2. Speak their language The best way to convey the merits of something that’s seen as fringe is to use an analogous example or familiar story. Example: Most of us today can’t imagine life without our mobile device – so what once was a fringe idea is now widely adopted.
3. Numbers don’t lie Change is often perceived as a financial burden. Collect and provide data to prove digital marketing is a valuable option to increase sales.
4. Address the emotional quotient Humans are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Understanding the emotions that come up for people is key to getting them to change.
5. Know who to freeze out Keep the ‘Debbie Downers’ of the world at bay.
Apply these digital strategy tips to your organization. Maybe not every single one will resonate, but even if just one spurs your business’ growth, it could turn into something huge. Without action, things will remain the same. The question is, can you really afford to remain where you are?