It was around third grade when the teacher pulled the class together and educated us on the four basic food groups. Much like many a youngster, we were disappointed to learn that Gobstoppers and licorice rope were not on the list of “important foods”, but we all celebrated when we realized that a slice of pepperoni pizza included 4 of the 4 categories. Score! We could get all the nutrition we needed from Pizza Hut.
Not too long ago, a fifth food group was added called Oil, Fat, and Sweets. These are the junk food offerings that may look and taste delectable, but do nothing for us. As time has passed, I’ve realized that you really can survive on just the basic food groups. Sure, I definitely dip into those sinful snacks that don’t make their way into the old-school nutritional pyramid – look at me and you realize that – but I’ve still accepted that it is possible for people to get by and even thrive on the basics.
Your online advertising is no different. There is a ton of junk food out there being advertised to dealers. They tell you “it will taste delicious if you just try it.” Or “Take a bite, you’ll love it.” As we know, though, after looking back at the Return on Investment scale, these little treats just pack on pounds and add to the fat of your online budget. They are there to entice you and direct your focus away from those “important” digital food sources that help your dealership thrive.
There really are four basic food groups of automotive digital marketing. These are the four essential items needed to exist and succeed as an online entity. (And I will not include human capital or training in this mix even though well-prepared people are the most important factor).
Websites (with all the fixings)
Online brand advertising/merchandising
1) Websites (with all the fixings)
These are the Grains of your online buffet of offerings. It is where energy is created and your online livelihood begins. You must have an attractive, easy-to-navigate website that acts as your primary internet presence. It has to be one click away from everything important to your customers – inventory, pricing, availability, directions, contact info, value statement, specials, incentives, and offers. However, your website cannot do it all alone. The “Fixin’s” must be added on. Think of them as vitamins that convert this food to energy. These conversion tools must be readily available on your website. Some important add-ons, in my opinion, are a trade evaluator, a strong Finance App/Get approved conversion tool, and live chat. (Quick quote requests on the homepage are just a good place to get mystery shopped so keep them next to your inventory.)
And the second, and most important side item you must have with your website meal is SEO/SEM. We know your customers are searching and surfing for their next vehicle so you need to be where the people are…. on the search engines. Much of your SEO is not just from fresh content on your own primary site(s), but from multiple off-site channels – business listings, blogs, video (yes, I included a video in with SEO/SEM even though the automotive consulting video is one of my own personal favorite foods), press releases, social media, etc. While SEO, on- and off-site can get your site found on 20-30 (and with microsites more) keyword-specific searches on sites, SEM can get you found on 1,000+ so you cannot overlook the power of being in more places. SEM gives you that added energy.
Your customer relationship management tool is the Dairy. It provides strength to your internet sales goals. A strong CRM should be able (in this day and age) to do a few key things that will allow you to rise above your competitors. Your CRM should allow you to create automated follow-up emails/triggers set by the minute and hour (not just Next Day or 2 Day options, etc, but by the minute, by the event). It should allow you to send video (not just links, but embedded, clean-looking video boxes in your emails). It should be able to have some custom reporting capabilities that measure things such as cost per sale, ROI, average response time, emails opened, appointment show, and closing ratios among countless others. It is the second most vital tool you can have at your disposal and, if consumed correctly, helps your body grow more than any other.
3) Lead Providers
Protein. Simple as that. It gives you the consistent, incoming fuel that lets your dealership keep moving the internet-scale of success forward. In some cases, your websites supply all of the leads your body can handle, but often some basic lead providers (Cars.com and AutoTrader come to mind) give you the added shot in the arm to make you stand tall against any and all competitors.
4) Online Brand Advertising/Merchandising
Your online advertising is like fruits and vegetables. An afterthought. If a child or simple-minded adult prepares the meal – it will be forgotten. Grown-ups, however, recognize its importance. Once you’ve taken bites of the first three food groups, you need to advertise your dealership, your specials, your people, your brand, your value proposition, and your inventory to the public and let them know that your online body is open for business. In ALL of your advertising and marketing, you must be doing everything possible to direct them to either your website or your CRM.
And recognize that you need to fill your dealership with the best vitamins and minerals money can buy. Taking in the vehicle nutrients that others NEED and actively seek out will empower you. Brand your body with the right inventory at the right price and market it to the public at the correct price point. In other words, merchandise yourself using a strong inventory management tool AND a vehicle market analysis tool. These are the many varieties of fruits and vegetables you should be putting on your plate.
As I mentioned, you can go online or visit any of the major automotive conferences such as NADA, the Digital Dealer Conference, or the Driving Sales Executive Summit and find a menu of delectable dishes to eat. The exhibit halls alone are a virtual Cheesecake Factory of edible options – some healthy and some not so. After eating the digital food of choice, some will make you walk out feeling refreshed and powerful while others may make you sit at home holding your stomach and begging to take the hurt away. Every food can affect you differently. Some are essential to your survival and some are overpriced wastes of money that will clog your online sales arteries.
I’ve heard people say, after ordering more food than they can handle “My eyes were too big for my stomach”. Well, dealers are ordering online offerings with their eyes as opposed to their stomachs. So look closely at the food you are consuming. Are you stuffing your face with the food that will help you thrive and stay healthy in today’s online economic automotive marketplace (or TOEAM – for a worthless acronym that will never take hold) or are you only devouring the digital junk being served to you that has no nutritional value? Know that it’s okay to nibble at the bad stuff if it tastes good and makes you happy. Just don’t ever lose focus on the four basic food groups that make your internet sales body strong.
For a full evaluation of your dealership’s diet of digital sustenance, contact DealerKnows Consulting at 847-456-5130.