The Busy Dealer’s No-Fuss Digital Marketing Plan

3 Steps to Ensure Your Dealership Digital Marketing is “Always On” (With Minimal Effort From You)

No matter how busy your dealership gets, every morning when you come in, you turn on the lights, you unlock the doors, and you point your sign to the road. These are the things you simply have to do to run a business, no matter how chaotic your day job is. The same principles apply to your automotive digital marketing strategy. Your day is jam-packed, but there are a few essential tasks you must do to keep your digital marketing mojo running to sustain your presence and keep competitors from crowding in. Here are three ways to “keep your digital marketing lights on,” when you need to maintain your business presence with the absolute minimum marketing effort.

1. If you do nothing else…..make sure you are running a search campaign for the following variations:

  • FRANCHISE BRAND + DEALER, DEALERSHIP (Chevrolet Dealer, Chevrolet Dealership)
  • FRANCHISE BRAND+DEALER, DEALERSHIP+CITY (Chevrolet Dealer  Dallas, Dallas Chevy Dealer)
  • BUSINESS NAME (ALL VARIATIONS) + FRANCHISE NAME+DEALERSHIP (Charles Matthews Chevrolet Dealership, Chuck Matthews Chevrolet Dealership)

This digital marketing tactic is a must because search engines are the primary way most car-shoppers will find you, and these keyword combos offer the absolute best value for your SEM spend. It’s the most economical type of search campaign (most targeted) and it offers the best ROI (most traffic). Last but not least, remember that you don’t want your competitors squatting on your key terms- so get ’em, guard ’em and get a great return by doing so. This is one of those digital marketing musts; you absolutely cannot afford not to do it.

2. If you do nothing else….align your advertising campaigns with the OEM wherever possible. For busy dealers who need a no-fuss way to maintain their marketing presence, aligning with OEM marketing campaigns is the obvious answer. Plugging your OEM’s latest million-dollar national advertising campaign into your own website provides a nearly effortless alternative to the stress, cost, time, and manpower necessary of creating a ground-up marketing campaign. Especially if  you are a dealer who is not in a position to invest in marketing staff or partner with a local agency, integrating your OEM campaigns into your digital marketing is an absolute must. Don’t reinvent the wheel; simply integrate the OEM’s ready-made assets (banner ads, messaging,offer) into your  own digital marketing, and use those national campaigns to bring money into your own store.

3. If you do nothing else….invest in a retargeting campaign to stay top-of-mind. At this point in the plan, you know your customers can find you, you know they’ve heard about your latest promotion, but how do you sustain the momentum to make actual sales? Most customers need to see a message seven times to take action, so the next digital marketing must-have is retargeting.  Retargeting sets that final puzzle piece in place; it helps you stay top-of-mind with customers by serving up targeted display ads in your prospects’ Internet surfing experience. Many customers express initial interest and then get busy and distracted; don’t make them do the work to seek out your business again. Meet them where they live/”surf” by serving up retargeting ads so they have that “Oh yeah!” moment and regain interest in your business. Retargeting is that final piece of strategy that dealers simply must have; it sustains your marketing momentum from a single impression to an ongoing user experience. This rich experience vastly increases your chances of turning impressions into actual sales-woohoo!

Max Steckler is the Vice President of Advertising Products for ADP Digital Marketing.  An automotive buff in both his professional and personal life, Max spends his spare time restoring vintage Japanese motorcycles, and is preparing for an off-road motorcycle trip to Alaska.

The Digital Dealer World Demands Good Phone Skills

Why Phone Rings Still Equal Cash Register Rings

“May I have your attention, please: the Internet has not replaced the telephone. I repeat: the Internet has not replaced the telephone.”

In the frenzy of the automotive digital marketing land grab, have you let flashing animated banners dazzle you? Has the faithful jingle of the dealership phone become a pesky buzz in your ear? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you’ve missed the boat. Don’t worry, though; here comes the life raft!

Digital automotive marketing doesn’t replace phone leads. Digital automotive marketing CREATES phone leads. In fact, our own Cobalt research shows that over the past year, phone calls have actually outpaced email leads in a dramatic fashion. Our research shows that in March of 2010, there were approximately 7 phone calls for every 2 e-mail leads.  In March of 2011, that ratio jumped to almost 10 phone calls for every 2 e-mail leads.

Now, let’s be clear: these statistics don’t mean your digital marketing efforts are wasted because we all know today’s consumers prefer to do the bulk of their car-shopping research online. It just means that when it comes time to actually visit a dealership, many people still prefer to pick up the phone and call rather than fill out an email form. The reasons are numerous: identity theft concerns, privacy issues, or plain old “field fatigue” at the thought of filling out a long, cumbersome online form. And, on a more ‘sinister’ front, when customers call they are attempting to cross you off the list of dealerships they intend to visit.

So yes, the Internet does play a more powerful role than ever in the car-buying process. BUT the phone is still the contact method of choice for most serious buyers. In other words, if you’re doing automotive digital advertising right, your phone should be ringing off the hook. The question is, are you prepared to pick it up?

  Jon Quade, Performance Improvement Consultant at ADP Digital Marketing (formerly The Cobalt Group),  is one of the most-recognized trainers in the automobile industry. He has  8000+ hours on camera and years of seminar experience with OEM clients like Ford, General Motors, Nissan, and Infiniti.

The Great Cobalt Coffee-Off

Gathering the group together for a coffee taste-test

Waking Up and Tasting the Coffee

It was a really rough Friday morning. Get to the office, check some emails, make some phone calls, and head over to the kitchen to taste-test some new coffee.

Wait a sec…what was that?

On Friday, several Cobalt employees from around the company were chosen to try out a few new coffee options for the office. Not surprisingly (this is Seattle after all), we had a few downright java aficionados in the house who were more than happy to lend their discriminating palates.

R.I.P Kona, Hello Jet Fuel

The taste-test was inspired by the imminent retirement of a popular coffee brand.  Upon learning that the crowd-favorite  Kona Blend, is being discontinued, Garrett Shields, Cobalt’s Coffee Master, saw an opportunity to try something different.

Garrett Shields, Cobalt's Coffee Mastermind

“The Kona was going away, and we have some other flavors that aren’t as popular,” Garrett explained.  “The whole idea of using the Keurig K-Cup is variety – there are lots of different choices for us. I wanted to get some feedback, so we weren’t just making a decision for everyone at the company without any input.”

He brought the idea to Michael Cooper, Cobalt Facility Manager, who liked the idea.  So on Friday morning six Cobalt employees from around the company – Charlein Barni, Katherine Killian, Jon Johnson, Yvette-Michelle Ewing, Jade Makana, and Beth Latta – all came to the kitchen to see what was on tap.

Another cup, Jon?

The options had some interesting names, and reactions ranged far and wide. The medium roast blend called Donut Shop was “smooth” and “less acidic” than some of the others.  The chocolaty Mudslide tasted a bit like “drinking a piece of cake.”  And the first reaction to a taste of Jet Fuel was Jon’s: “Well that’ll kick your butt!”

Donut Shop Takes the (Coffee) Cake

Though all the coffees were drinkable, there were some clear winners.  Black Tiger was deemed too bitter for most tastes while Donut Shop appealed to everyone as an easy-to-drink replacement for the Kona Blend.  Garrett isn’t done yet either – he plans to cycle in some of the other new flavors on different floors of Cobalt’s headquarters to see how they do.  So on those mornings when you need a real kick to start your day, you might just find some Jet Fuel at hand to wake you up!

Eight Yummy New Flavors To Choose From

Katherine and Charlein have one more for the road.

The effects are already being seen, as Garrett’s wasted no time in bringing in the new flavors for everyone to enjoy. Web Builder Mike Carlson noticed the difference right away: “So many new choices!” he said, smiling.

Yeah…tough day, all right!

Scenes From Automotive Marketing Bootcamp, Part 4

The ADP Digital Marketing team relaxes at AMBC cocktail hour.

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Scenes from Automotive Marketing Bootcamp, Part 3

Advocates David van fleet and Marie Samson strike a pose by a very orange sign!

Scenes from Automotive Marketing Bootcamp, Part 2

Scenes from Automotive Marketing Bootcamp, Part 1

Say hello to "Uncle" Karin Anderson, Matt Muilenburg, and Paul Nagy