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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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The State of Automotive Digital Advising: More Vanilla, Please!

Anyone who regularly reads our blog knows a few things. One, we tell it like it is. Two, we educate from fact and passion, not from the heart of from the pocketbook. Three, we do and cover what nobody else does across the entire scope of services. Four, we affect a sliver of the industry through the automotive social sphere. While none of these aspects alone are uniquely significant, it becomes more so when you consider what dealers are receiving from “advisors” today.

Recently we had a high-line dealer visit that also included a regional sales director from the OEM, which is a rare pleasure. They wanted to review the new digital assessment package from their third-party partner. While we were extremely happy that the digital marketing consulting company that had previously provided in-field services for the OEM and their dealers was no longer doing so, and there was clearly an improvement in the standard deliverables, frustration quickly set in.

In reviewing the report, it was clear that it took into account items that didn’t properly set up dealer expectations, or take into account how search algorithms have changed, especially mobile, contained improper SEO evaluation components (named search, for example) and wasn’t thorough (had both scoring and consistency issues).

So while the report was an improvement over the third-party and OEM agenda-only approach previously employed to advising the dealers, it showed that we are still significant;y off the mark when it comes to assisting a dealer in doing a better job online. While we’ll assume that the vendor’s intentions are completely altruistic, we once again see the misguided and completely subjective plight we’re in considering there are no “digital standards”, no “consulting certifications” and certainly no “results-based comparisons”.

What we do have is more vanilla. Yes, the OEMs to a large extent need the data; yes, there’s a much better way to go about it. And the challenge is how can you do that, counting on one or two companies, without true A-B testing, in a cost-effective manner? You can’t and all that happens is the dealers can operate off slightly better input rather than consultants taking ideas and bringing them back to the third party and OEM. Everyone loses in that scenario.

Yes, more money is being spent. And with that, more errors are being made. Stupid, unseen errors. How do you tell a dealer that 25-50% of their SEM spend is for terms they shouldn’t be buying, cities that are 500-1,500 miles away, with action-killing text and that 47% of their traffic is on mobile but 70% of their budget is going to desktop? Or that their website’s key pages have the same content as 100 other sites and incorrectly link to non-existent pages on their site? Or that their social media is a complete disaster that is not being seen, read or acted upon? OK, “tell them” you say. And then they bury their heads again or plead the “have to use what my OEM says to” line of garbage. No you don’t.

Stop getting vanilla. When the market drops again, and it WILL, there will be a larger dividing line digitally between dealerships. You can’t take an OEM digital assessment report, unfortunately still, and build better value, own more spots in SERP, turn your social media and social marketing around or answer your leads any better. You actually need to spend money doing that, using different vendors than everyone is using and learn how to understand this our evolving, digital world.

 

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Resultsz

 

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