Understanding the importance of digital marketing for your dealership only takes a perfunctory look at the data:
- 95% of vehicle buyers use the internet to research vehicle information.
- Twice as many buyers start their research online versus at a dealer.
If you aren’t reaching your buyers online, you aren’t reaching them — period. Today, when someone is interested in purchasing a used car, financing a new vehicle, or even taking their BMW for an oil change, they don’t pick up a phone book. They pick up their phone, tablet, or computer to look for information.
Having the right digital marketing strategy in place ensures you are reaching these people the moment they are searching for you.
This inbound marketing strategy offers huge opportunities for your business. Rather than pushing information at a customer, digital marketing allows you to be there the moment your customers are looking for that information.
To outpace your competition and dominate the digital marketing scene, you have to employ the right tactics. Today, we will take a look at eight critical digital marketing tactics that allow you to take the lead in your space.
Every digital marketing campaign must begin with accurate data. It is useless to build out a strategy without seeing what your competition is doing and without a data-backed understanding of how to best market to your existing and potential customer base.
Focus on two key areas of reporting:
- A competitor analysis report: This should include detailed information about how many vehicles your competitors are selling, down to the make and model, as well as the specific towns and neighborhoods they are reaching. This report will help you determine where your competitors are beating you and where they are missing the mark.
- Your own DMS customer list: Make sure you know how to pull an up-to-date DMS customer list. You will need this to power all your digital marketing campaigns. This list will be uploaded into Google, Facebook, and Instagram to help you build targeted marketing lists.
Gathering this data is a critical first step. If you aren’t sure how to get the data you need, talk to your marketing team.
A unique aspect of digital marketing is that it makes it easier than ever to see what your competition is up to. By learning more about what your competition is doing in the digital sphere, you can make better decisions as you build out your own campaign.
You can glean this information in a few key ways. To begin, use Google and Facebook’s free ad preview tools. Google allows you to search by keyword phrase and location to see what ads your competition is running. Similarly, Facebook’s Ad Library allows you to take a look at what ads other businesses are running based on keywords.
Don’t stop here. Beyond just analyzing what your competitor’s ads look like, consider where they are leading customers and how well they are providing these potential customers with information.
For example, what does the ad’s landing page look like? Are there areas for improvement? Is the information given relevant? Often, through a deep dive into these campaigns, you can begin to see areas where you could outperform your competition.
No digital marketing strategy is complete without two pillars of focus: SEM and SEO strategies.
SEM stands for search engine marketing, and it refers to the ads that are shown to users when they search for a specific keyword or phrase. For example, if consumers in the Dallas area type “BMW service” into Google, they will see a page of results, starting with paid ads. These listings will feature “Ad” in front of the information, indicating that these businesses paid to have these results surfaced when these keywords were typed into Google.
A robust SEM strategy should focus on a few of the following best practices:
- A quality website: Google will favor websites that meet its standards. This includes everything from fast page load times to relevant content and information.
- A good bid strategy: SEM should involve constant iterations. Rather than simply setting bid amounts on campaigns and returning at the end of the campaign, a quality SEM strategy should involve real-time adjustments to the bid strategy.
- Good ads: Improving the quality score on your ads will go a long way in lowering the amount you have to spend to reach your audience.
SEM is a great digital marketing strategy for immediate results. You can begin reaching customers through paid ad campaigns the moment the campaign begins. For this reason, it is an excellent strategy for businesses just getting into digital marketing.
On the flip side is a long-term strategy — SEO, or search engine optimization. It refers to the work it takes to get your business to rank organically for specific keywords and phrases. Looking back at the example above, on the first page of results for "BMW service," a user will see Ads listed first, and then a list of websites without the word “Ad.” These websites have earned their place organically as Google has deemed them to be the most relevant to users’ search intent.
Gaining rankings organically takes time and involves a few key areas of focus:
- A good website: Similar to SEM, SEO requires a quality website that loads quickly and is easy to navigate.
- Quality content: Google pays attention to the quality of the content on your website. This is one of many ways it determines whether your site is relevant to a customer’s search.
- A commitment to best practices: Countless factors go into the algorithm Google uses to determine website rankings. These are often referred to as best practices. They include everything from updating content frequently to ensuring your website is easy to access on mobile devices. With the laundry list of items required to improve your organic rankings, it is usually best to work with an experienced marketing team to assess where you stand and how you can improve your chances of ranking higher.
Remember, SEO is a long game. Improving organic rankings usually doesn’t happen overnight, particularly for highly competitive keywords in crowded markets. However, investing in SEO now can lead to remarkable gains down the road.
SEM, in contrast, is an excellent way to reach customers immediately. You can start a campaign tomorrow that leads to conversions right away.
Ideally, SEM and SEO should be a combined strategy, as they are both beneficial to your business and can complement one another.
Another great digital marketing tactic for your business to tap into is marketing via Gmail. Within Gmail, ads are displayed in line with a user’s emails at the top of the inbox, making them a highly effective ad strategy.
Gmail marketing is beneficial for a few key reasons:
- 53% of emails are via Gmail. With such a wide array of people using Gmail, odds are high that your customers have a Gmail account.
- It is inexpensive. Gmail marketing hasn’t been flooded in the same way that SEM has. This makes it a much more affordable option for surfacing ads.
- You can leverage your existing customer list. Gmail marketing allows you to upload your customer list and target Gmail users, even if you don’t have their Gmail account. Gmail will match other email accounts to a user’s Gmail account, making this an extremely powerful way to get your business in front of customers.
If your dealership hasn’t yet tapped into the power of video marketing, now is the time. According to Google, more than 40% of shoppers who watched a video about cars or trucks visited a dealer as a result.
If you are already producing video commercials, use these in your digital marketing strategy.
YouTube is one of the top ways you can reach your audience with targeted video messaging. Simply upload your DMS customer list to YouTube and send your commercials to targeted audiences who have purchased with you or have visited your website or even a competitor’s website.
While YouTube is a more costly form of advertisement, it is also a highly effective platform for reaching your customers in an engaging way.
Other areas in which you can quickly reach your customer list with highly targeted ads are Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook and Instagram allow you to upload your DMS customer list and segment this list to create targeted campaigns.
To make the most of your social spend, separate out your audience to hit a different group each month, rather than paying to surface ads to your entire customer list every month.
Additionally, separate out your Facebook and Instagram ads. While Facebook and Instagram are similar, they have different sizing best practices for images. By separating your Facebook and Instagram campaigns, you will also be able to track data on these campaigns more accurately.
For automotive searches, 60% come from a mobile device. In fact, some of the top mobile searches are related to dealerships.
If you don’t have a mobile strategy in place, you will miss out on a massive segment of your users. Every aspect of your digital marketing strategy should include a focus on mobile. This means you should pay attention to:
- How your ads will look on mobile devices.
- The usability of your website on a mobile device (think tapping instead of clicking).
- The visual appeal of your website on a mobile device.
- Your landing page strategy for ads on mobile.
- How easily your forms are can be filled out on a mobile device.
Digital marketing encompasses a wide array of tactics. From improving your website’s organic rankings to running more intelligent ad campaigns, it can quickly become overwhelming when attempting to prioritize work to be done.
For many dealerships, outsourcing a lot of this work is the logical next step. Working with an experienced agency can help you tap into the best data sets possible, making your strategy more powerful than ever.
If you’re interested in partnering with an agency to improve your digital marketing strategy, reach out to our team at J&L Marketing. We are passionate about helping dealerships dominate the online market through intelligent strategy.
Check out our recent webinar — Digital Domination for Dealers Webinar — where we cover the basics of digital marketing and reveal some key insights into how you can outperform your competition online.