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Russ Chandler

Russ Chandler Product Marketing Manager

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Don’t Ditch the Marketing When Things Slow Down

Many dealers experience a plateau in their marketing efforts — and there are many reasons why this is the case: Holidays, large events, overall economic climate, etc. When things aren’t going to plan, it’s only natural for dealers to want to slow down on their digital marketing efforts — or their marketing efforts, in general.


Now, if a strategy isn’t working out, does it really make sense to keep using it? Of course not! Many dealers somehow fall into a trap where they’re still using those ineffective strategies, but less of them. Or worse, sometimes dealerships will give up on aspects of their marketing altogether.


Assuming that when your marketing efforts are slumping, your sales are also slumping — so wouldn’t it make more sense to put an effort into making things better as opposed to forgoing any strategy?


Instead of letting your strategy lapse, you should be altering your strategy to make it work better for your dealership. You don’t necessarily need to spend more money — you just need to figure out how to make that money work for you.


As I’ve mentioned time and time again, your dealership’s website is, arguably, the most important aspect of your dealership’s marketing efforts. If you’re not currently focusing on making your website better, why not finally take the plunge? And if you are working on your website, think about what you can change. Think about what you can do to best utilize your website and capture those leads using your marketing budget.


Shift Some of your Budget Away from 3rd Party Brands

It’s no secret that there are still a number of dealerships who leverage 3rd party brands pretty heavily on their website: AutoTrader, KBB, Edmunds, CarGurus, and so on.  If you’ve been following my posts over the last few months, you understand that heavily utilizing 3rd party brands makes it increasingly difficult for dealerships to truly showcase their individuality as a brand and stand out. In addition to showcasing another brand besides your own, many dealers will link directly to those 3rd party websites.


Obviously, if a dealership is listing the “KBB or AutoTrader price” on a vehicle on their website, they’re going to reciprocate with a link back, right? Well, obviously you don’t want your consumers completing a transaction on another website. You want them to stay on your website and hopefully pay your dealership a visit to complete a transaction!  


That being said, try shifting away from 3rd party brands for a little while, and see how it pans out. Steer away from listing your dealership’s inventory on other websites and don’t promote another brand’s “Best Price” (Ex: Kelly Blue Book pricing). Use those additional funds to focus on creating a unique experience for your consumers using your brand. Keep all of your inventory on your website and maybe even brand your price. Not only will branding your price keep them on your website and pique their curiosity, but they’re be more inclined to trust you -- especially if you provide them with an explanation of how you managed to get that best price to begin with.


As you continue to really tweak your website’s experience, make sure to include something your consumers might enjoy and then see how it pans out. If you can think about the many questions you receive on a day-to-day basis, it might provide insight into the things your consumers can discover on your website.


Instead of paying for additional advertising and to have your cars listed on a 3rd party website, you can leverage those funds to drive and convert traffic on your own website; where the cost per lead and cost pers sale will be less -- and at a higher lead to sale rate. By improving the overall experience and increasing engagement on your own website, you can do just that!


Use Budget to Send Consumers to Your Website


Once you’ve updated your website and made it super awesome, now would be a good time to actually send people to your website, right? While many consumers will undoubtedly discover your website via a quick google search, competition is still fierce — and some dealership websites are getting more traffic than others. Reserve some of your marketing budget to do some social media advertising for your website.


One thing I highly recommend while advertising is to create CTA’s (or calls-to-action) that specifically clarify what you’d like for them to. A good example would be a “Learn More” button that sends consumers directly to your dealership’s inventory. Another ad could be one that sends consumers directly to an interactive experience, and the button says “Sign Up Here” or “Try Now.” Lots of social media platforms have these buttons, so definitely experiment with them.


Look, it’s hard — SUPER hard — to look at your numbers slumping. I get it. The seemingly easiest thing to do is to throw your hands up and just halt all of your progress. I can tell you from my experience with working with dealers that this shouldn’t be the case. With all the amazing ways dealerships can now engage with their consumers, you owe it to yourself to make those investments.

Renold Liu

Nice article, Russ.

I agree with your points. I'd like to add that by getting visitors to your own dealer's site, you get to control the conversation. By controlling the conversation you can implement your CTAs and optimize the experience with A/B test. This is simply not possible when purely relying on 3rd party listings. 

Russ Chandler

Thanks for sharing Renold! It's a much better position for the dealer to have their consumer engaging on their own website. 

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