Let’s face it; the automotive industry is experiencing a dramatic shift in how dealers communicate and advertise their business to consumers. Dealer principals can inspect and hold their staff accountable for almost every dealership operation and investment -- except one.
A wide gap exists between the haves and the have-nots when it comes to the education dealers need to keep up with the latest trends in digital marketing and social media. Dealers have not leveraged the available educational opportunities to improve their knowledge, vocabulary, and to create processes that they understand and can inspect. They just don’t know enough to ask the right questions or to outline a workflow process for digital marketing and social media.
As a result, dealers have delegated their Internet Marketing and Social Media engagement with little ability to review, inspect, or mentor this area of responsibility. For some dealers their excuse is that they did not grow up with the Internet. For other dealers, their excuse is that Google and Social Media is changing too fast.
It is time to call for a full ban on Dealer Principals making excuses for their inability to inspect the significant investments of their digital marketing and social media efforts. Dealers need to lead their store in all areas of operations.
If dealers plan to flourish in the years ahead, they better be able to add their years of experience to the new communication channels that are emerging. Dealers cannot afford to be held captive by vendors or employees who leverage their knowledge against the dealer to protect their jobs.
I recently conducted a series of seminars for a Chevrolet 20 Group in Dallas and, as part of this workshop, I presented a series of Excel spreadsheets to dealers and their eCommerce Directors. These spreadsheets summarized the data that dealers should be reviewing each month that pertained to their most important digital marketing asset: their website.
It was surprising that although dealers say they want more leads from the Internet, most had never inspected their website traffic. None of the dealers in the room had ever A/B tested different website page designs to increase traffic, leads, or time on site. All lacked the confidence to understand the powerful marketing data provide by Google Analytics.
I also presented a spreadsheet, which outlined how to measure and track their Internet Reputation Management (IRM) processes. The spreadsheet outlined the importance of consumer reviews and where to look for the positive and negative commentary that is posted online about their dealership.
I asked their eCommerce Directors to commit to have these Excel reports on the Dealer Principal’s desk each month. They agreed.
In the workshop, we reviewed how to read these spreadsheets and analyze the data. By the end of the workshop, there was a measurable mood lift in the audience. These spreadsheets provided a bridge for dealers to understand, measure, and inspect various aspects of their digital marketing and social media investments without being an expert.
All dealers acknowledge the importance of these new reports. All committed to holding their internal staff and vendors accountable for measured growth and improvement in the data summarized each month. This group of dealers took a major step in engaging with their digital marketing efforts, which will enable them to add their years of business experience to the mix.
Dealers and eCommerce Directors have to work closer together to achieve a common understanding of their advertising partners, vendors, and the tools that are at their disposal to grow their business in the years ahead. It all comes down to education. Investing in training for your dealership in 2011 could not come at a more important time.
Dealer Principals; make a commitment to personal education in 2011. When you do, knowledge will come and phrases like "That Internet", "That Social Media", and "That Website" will be removed from your volcabulary as you speak from a place of authority to your employees.