Did you ever stop and think when you started in the auto industry that you would be working in a digital industry? I know I didn’t. It is crazy how the business is changing daily. The question that you have to ask yourself and your dealer is, are we going to change or will we be left in the dark ages?
I mean where do you start? Websites, third-party, SEO, PPC, Chat, mobile, blogs, and the list can keep going. The fact is that no matter what your opinion on digital it’s here to stay, and it will keep changing. I think they all have their place, but first you need to decide what aspect is most important and build out from there.
I think the most important thing is to have a great website. This is where you will start to establish your brand. The first step here is finding a company that you trust to build you a custom website. You need to find someone who will take your ideas and can be creative to the point of getting your brand established.
After creating the website I would suggest starting to make a place in your budget to develop a purposeful and “brand centric” SEO campaign. This is a very key step in establishing and promoting your brand. Organic traffic will help with your Google search rating. Also you need to make sure that SEO content is created in a way that Google will recognize you as being what you are advertising that you are. PPC should be added to continue generating more traffic and continue to help with search ratings. Mobile websites are becoming more and more important everyday. Many dealerships and providers have neglected mobile for far to long. According to a recent Cars.com and Placed study 63% of customers are “showrooming” while on your lot. The same study shows 71% of all US auto shoppers have used a smartphone or app to shop for their next automobile purchase. This and other similar studies prove the need for a strong mobile website and marketing plan.
Now third-party sites are where the argument usually gets started. Some people will swear by them, some will swear against them, and still some will call them a necessary evil. I happen to be in the later at this point. I’m located in a “rural” area, and using third-party sites such as Autotrader and Cars.com are a necessity for us to gain more leads. The ultimate goal is to get my brand to a point where they aren’t needed, but as for now I do have a need for them.
The main thing dealers have to remember in order to increase our market share and promote our brand, is that being a digital player is not a choice, but a requirement. If you don’t embrace this aspect of our business I’m willing to bet that you will continue to become less and less of a player in your market.