Top Auto Dealership Figures Share their Views on what it takes to succeed in today’s competitive world of online marketing


The path to online marketing success

The World Wide Web has progressed dramatically over the decades from being represented with basic static single page sites that acted as nothing more than catalogues and brochures to complex dynamic and responsive websites that can be viewed on mobile internet capable devices making them an integral part of our daily lives.

Needless to say, all these developments have yielded new and powerful means to effectively communicate one’s marketing messages to customers as well as seek out new ones.

Now days, people in the internet marketing and social media advertising business have SEO or search engine optimisation, social media, video marketing and a wide range of other resources to market and communicate with prospects over the Internet. However, these innovations can be a heavy burden for many businesses in spite of the advantages that they offer.

Considering the tons of options available, it can be difficult for businesses to work out which methods and strategies will actually get them the results they need. It doesn’t help that the things that work depends not only on the technology available but by the situation your business is in as well.

A business competing for customers in a big city has different internet advertising needs than the ones based in rural areas.

For many businesses, there is no other way but to simply try things out and see what sticks. What sticks ultimately depends on experimentation, education, experience and information.

To get you a good start on the education side of things, we looked into the opinion of several highly successful figures in online marketing engaged in the same niche – auto dealership. These prominent internet marketers in the auto dealership business include:

  • Duncan Scarry – General Manager and Senior Director at Haystack Digital Marketing
  • Glenn Pasch – CEO of PCG Digital Marketing
  • Lori Jones – ReachLocal senior marketing manager

Take the time to check out some general information on the auto dealership business online and you’ll find that they are all proven and highly accomplished individuals in the industry.

Dealer Marketing Magazine asked them a few questions about the present state of internet marketing/internet advertising, some common mistakes and how to leverage new technology to make the most out of one’s online marketing investment.

Now their answers may vary and businesses are all different. Even the ones engaged in the same niche or industry. Although their responses revolved around the online auto dealer industry, there are certainly a lot of things that anyone in the internet marketing and online advertising business can learn from them. Let’s go ahead and check out what they have to say!

What are some of the best kind of online marketing methods or strategies that businesses can use to reach out to prospects (SEO, Internet ads, social media, video marketing) and why would you say so?

Duncan Scarry: There is no such thing as a “best method or strategy” at least in the case of auto dealership. It’s all about alchemy – using the right balance and combination of internet marketing and social media advertising resources according to benefit and purpose.

Now this doesn’t mean that businesses should attempt to tackle as many things as possible. Doing a few things really well is preferable to having too many things going on with minimal effort. SEO is a priority and then go after large industry portals like AutoTrader.com (in the case of auto dealers).

A strong foundation in search marketing is the key. In his case, he bet on retargeting and social media. He never had to deal with another method or strategy since.

Glenn Pasch: All of them! Web advertising and marketing strategies and methods can be all effective for different reasons. SEO is an effective way to generate traffic for your website as well as enable businesses to compete for keywords that their business might not be showing up for in search results.

Internet ads enable your business to keep track of prospects online and easily convey your marketing message. Video marketing in particular is highly effective internet marketing tools as it helps prospects better understand your business in a way that’s just not possible with any other marketing methods.

Lori Jones: It’s important to have an integrated approach to one’s internet marketing strategy in order to best appeal to prospects throughout the buying cycle.

Well let’s consider a few facts in the auto dealership business – research indicates that more than 50 percent of people looking to buy new cars online can take at least 2 months to go through the buying process. Having this information in mind, he shaped his business in a manner that would serve all the information that these prospects need to smoothly go through the buying process and encourage a sale.

Another auto dealership study also shows that more than 60 percent of people looking to buy a new vehicle already have a particular make or model in mind even before doing their research

. Impulse buyers can be a valuable prospect for any business. Hence he explains that it’s important to ensure that you are making good use of internet advertising methods such as Pay-per-Click campaigns at the most crucial times – that is when prospects are looking for information on a particular brand, model or dealer.

It’s all about being at “top of mind” among prospects. It’s more important that what most businesses think and can significantly influence which business they end up visiting and calling first.

Investing heavily on Google ad extensions like Google locations, click to call, site links and enhanced campaigns which can all help improve conversion rates by improving your chances of being found by prospects nearby.

What social media marketing strategies would you recommend and how does it help businesses reach out to consumers?

Lori Jones: social media as marketing tool is all about being proactive. Create and optimize content on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. These networks rank extremely well in search engine optimisation so building a strong presence there will certainly help consumers find you.

What’s more is that people are now spending a great deal of their time on social networks so social media advertising is certainly an excellent way to reach out to consumer if only to create and engagement or get people to spread word of your business through word of mouth.

With a consumer base of over 1 billion, Facebook is without a doubt the dominant social media website online.Statistics from the social network reveals that the average smart phone user spends more than 30 minutes a day using Facebook. Hence it is vital for businesses to forge organized, keyword-rich and consistent high quality content on the social network.

Take the time to master this particular social media platform before moving on to another one.

Videos and images yield better user engagement so make good use of them in every opportunity. In my case, I’ve showcased unique images of my inventory as an auto dealer and featured videos presenting road test, show room tours and reviews about a popular vehicle. What opportunities can you think of that would be perfect for your business?

Now of course don’t forget about other social networks like Twitter – it’s a lot more conversational with its brief messages. The “life” of a tweet is shorter than a Facebook update so it’s okay to post several times in one day.

Twitter also allows short links pointing to content like videos and blogs so it’s a good idea to make use of them as well if only to spread the word about your offerings.

Also don’t forget about Twitter’s unique “discover” function that lets you look up any mention about your business via keywords and hash tags. Such a function enables you to quickly respond to users talking about your business or any topics related to your industry.

Duncan Scarry: I believe that “social media” as a marketing tool is still a bit immature. It’s not to say that they are not of any help at all. Most social networks like Facebook have the means and resources for scalable and highly targeted marketing but they are currently too focused on the experience that they offer users over advertisers.

Things are bound to change eventually and social media will make an even bigger impact on online marketing.

Glenn Pasch: There is more to social media advertising than just posting on a bunch of social networks. New features like Facebook advertising, promoted posts and sponsored ads enable businesses to grow their client base and get their products or services in front of audiences in ways previously thought impossible.

As an auto dealer, I was able to target prospects more effectively by integrating Polk data with Facebook which has proven invaluable in showing the best possible ads for a specific audience. You can also check the Google Wildfire platform which enables users to keep track of all their social media advertising campaigns in one place.

PGC is among the first to take advantage of such a platform.

What areas do you often see people fail in online marketing?

Lori Jones: Failing to take advantage of latest developments in search and website “retargeting”. Such a strategy can help remind prospects about your business. In my case, I use search retargeting to keep track of prospects that have buying intent according to the keywords that they’ve used to do search queries. A lot of other businesses online simply fail to take advantage of that.

Glenn Pasch: Making use of the same tools or strategy that already many other businesses in the local market are already using. Doing so is no way of gaining an edge against competitors.

Duncan Scarry: The largest aspect of online marketing that a lot of businesses are missing out on is investment. Practically 75 percent of advertising cost still goes to traditional advertising.

Now that’s strange considering that most businesses now days all agree that internet advertising is a lot more effective compared to conventional ones. Why invest more in conventional marketing in the first place?

So there you have it, a few words from some of the most successful individuals in online marketing. Although they are all engaged in the auto dealer industry, they do present some key take aways that applies to the online marketing industry in general.

Now they may say different things in various areas but the point that they intended to drive home is one and the same – If businesses are to succeed in today’s competitive world, online marketing or internet advertising is a path that one simply cannot afford to overlook!

What are your own thoughts about online marketing as a path to business success?

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