The 4 Parts Of The Automotive Digital Marketing Core

There is a lot to digital marketing, everything from pay-per-click and automotive SEO to automotive social media, remarketing, video pre-roll, email, and more. I get asked the question a lot, “David, do I have to do them all?” There is no short answer because they do all have their place in the digital space but the fact of the matter is that if you stick to the core, perfect them, and integrate them into the characteristic of the dealership then you will be far better off than if you simply implement them all.

It all boils down to perfecting a few, the core of digital marketing. It’s from that core that you can then spread out and implement others but if you lack the foundation, the digital assets to build upon, then your whole digital house will come tumbling down around you. Taking that analogy a little further imagine the foundation of your home being the core (which we will get to in a moment) and the walls, plumbing, electrical work and the roof being everything else. What would happen if your foundation was constructed from sand?

The Core 4, Building Your Foundation

As I’ve already mentioned, it’s highly important that you get these right. That they are implemented into the daily characteristic of the dealership. What do I mean by that? I mean that you use them to define who you are, don’t think of digital marketing as just a way to get your name out there, rather, think of it as a way to connect with your community on a personal level, connect being the operative word.

Without further ado…

Core #1 – Search Engine Optimization

We all know what search engine optimization or SEO is, it’s the process of improving the visibility of your dealerships websites, or other digital assets, in the organic search results. This, of course, drives traffic. Traffic that converts to leads, leads that buy cars or service. SEO helps to create demand and goes straight to the bottom line.

I want you to think differently of SEO, not just as a way to drive traffic to your inventory or specials pages but as a way to set yourself apart from the other dealerships in the area. Remember, when creating onsite content, there are two major forces that you must keep in mind; the search engines, and the HUMAN that will be reading it.

With content creation being the important word I feel that I should add to it and call it engaging content creation. By putting the word engaging in there you remind yourself that the content you create  must be both engaging and valuable. Valuable to the reader, valuable to the human that the search engines will be serving it up to. In other words, don’t think for a moment that the paragraph or two at the bottom of your inventory pages is the only content you’re ever going to need. Remember what I said, content must be for both the search engines and the human that will be reading it. FYI – those paragraphs at the bottom of your website, they’re just for the search engines.

Core #2 – Pay-Per-Click

Do you want the fast track? Then you want pay-per-click. Pay-per-click is a type of marketing that serves traffic to your website when an ad is clicked, whether it’s from another website or a search engine. By having the right budget, the right landing pages, and the right keywords you are assured of an easily trackable ROI.

Don’t settle for your pay-per-click ads going directly to the front page of your website or even to the front of the inventory section of your website. Of course, there is a time and place for that, with specific keywords doing just that, but if somebody sees an ad for a 2012 Ford Explorer you better make sure that it links to a page about a 2012 Ford Explorer.

Along with that, ensure that people aren’t just clicking back off your site and looking elsewhere. It’s important that your landing pages convert. Think of your landing page as a salesperson and each time somebody “bounces” without taking action it’s the same as a customer walking on the lot, looking at your vehicles, and  then leaving without talking with anybody.

Studies have shown that the more you advertise offline the more people are searching for your dealerships name in the search engines. While you should be able to easily rank for your dealerships name organically try using pay-per-click as a way to serve up links to the parts of your website that talks about the social good your dealership is involved in. I put the stats below in the previous post I wrote about demand generation, but I feel that this is a perfect place to bring them up again since we’re talking about social good.

  • When quality and price are equal, 53% of people say that social purpose ranks as the most important factor in selecting a brand.
  • 72% of people said they would recommend a brand based off of their social purpose.
  • 71% of people said they would promote a brand based off of their social purpose.
  • 73% of people said they would switch brands based off of their social purpose.

Remember, it’s all about the creation of demand.

Core # 3 – Email Marketing

Most dealerships are unsure of email marketing. It isn’t spoken about in the automotive space all that much because the shiny new toy that is social media is blinding. Email marketing can be newsletters, auto responders (lead nurturing), or email blasts to your database.

Email newsletters are a great way to stay in front of people. If done the right way, and by right way I’m talking about the creation of value, then an email newsletter is a great way to influence loyalty and direct sales, especially in the service department.  Again, use your email newsletter as a way to talk about the social good you’re doing in the local community, create that demand.

Lead nurturing, not to be confused with lead management, even though it’s part of it, is a way to nurture more of the leads you’re receiving into buying customers. I created a video series about lead nurturing, you can find them here.

  1. Automotive Lead Nurturing #1: Educating Your Customers
  2. Automotive Lead Nurturing #2: Social Proof
  3. Automotive Lead Nurturing #3: Lead Scoring
  4. Automotive Lead Nurturing #4: Connecting With Your Customers
  5. Automotive Lead Nurturing #5: Inbound Lead Generation

Make sure that you click through and watch each of the above videos, each one is only a few minutes long.

Email blasts, with the word blasts in there you would think that it is okay just to send out a marketing message whenever you feel like it, to your whole database. I’m here to tell you that it’s not and to stop, stop it right now! Ha-ha.

Email blasts a great way to stir up additional sales but they need to be used sparingly and they must be targeted. For instance, you can send out an email to all F150 owners that bought from you 3 years ago, asking them that if they could get into a new F150, for around the same payments they have now, would they be interested in upgrading. That’s what I mean by targeted.

Email blasts should be done sparingly. The lion’s share of what you will be sending is value and will be contained in your email newsletter and your lead nurturing emails. As a rule of thumb each of the contacts in your database should only be getting about 2 emails per month from you. Unless of course they are an active lead and you are “working them.”

Core # 4 – Social Media

Social marketing done well can provide both velocity and reach to your overall marketing plan. It’s a way to connect with your local marketing on a personal level. The difference between traditional marketing and social marketing is that traditional marketing is all about the marketing of the business, while social marketing is all about the marketing of the PEOPLE of the business. <–Tweet This You will do well to keep that in mind.

Social media is about creating dialogue, it’s about the conversation and the relationship that results because of it. <–Tweet This It’s not a way to talk about yourself (the dealership) because people won’t listen. In fact,  it will have the opposite affect and will drive people to your competitor. Why? Because in their mind you are a spammer and nobody likes a spammer.

Use social to build a community. Not around your dealership but around a social object. What is a social object you say? A social object is a conversation piece that inherently generates conversation and action around itself. A social object can be just about anything, it can be a news piece, a cause such as ending world hunger, a passion such as the love one has for their favorite football team, or even a lifestyle such as surfing.

A great example of a social object, one that we are all familiar with, is the iPhone. Have you seen the number of forums and groups dedicated to iPhone owners? There are thousands of them, all based around the iPhone, and there are literally hundreds of conversations going on right now about them. I’ve seen conversations happen between complete strangers surrounding the ever present device and its many apps.

All social objects have 3 things in common, they are:

  • Conversational: people want to talk and have conversations with other people connected with the social object.
  • Brings People Together: people want to be around other people that are connected with the social object. They feel part of a community, that they belong with each other.
  • Talk Worthy: people feel the desire to tell other people, who may not know about the social object, so that they, in turn, become part of the community.

Why not converse around your dealerships brand? Because it’s not interesting enough. By becoming synonymous with a social cause, a passion or a lifestyle you will inherently become part of that conversation, and as long as you are always adding to it and promoting it, then you will go a long way to creating the same feelings for your dealership that people have for that social object.

It’s All About Reputation

Bottom line. Reputation matters. The core 4 is a way to not only drive direct traffic but more importantly they should be used as a way to drive demand. Demand for doing business at your dealership over all the others.

When setting up your marketing plan and when using SEO, PPC, Social Media & Email Marketing, always think in terms of how they can be used to increase your reputation. To make you look good in the eyes of the consumer. Digital marketing is all about both managing your reputation and promoting it. It’s about making you look good. It’s a way to help you stand out from the crown and become incongruent, at least in the eyes of the consumer, with the rest of the auto industry.

I certainly gave you a lot in this post, and there is a lot more that I can write on these topics but I wanted to give you a brief overview of each, with the hopes of making you think about digital marketing a little differently. I’d love to hear your comments and questions. I’d love to take this post and turn it into a conversation. A conversation that allows us all, myself included, better understand the core 4 of automotive digital marketing. What are your thoughts?

Post author

David has been in the auto industry for 11 years, starting off as a salesperson, then internet sales and then finally BDC manager before he started consulting full time. Now he is considered the forefront of automotive social media and is both the VP and partner of 3GEngagement.com

There are 4 Comments

  1. Posted by Tom Gorham Reply

    Great article! It really does boil down to the basics, the core, as you say. I would have made reputation #5 but if you do the others right, you will have reputation. Then you can begin marketing it! Thank you David!

    • Posted by David Johnson Reply

      Thank you Tom and I totally agree about the #5, the only reason why I didn’t make it a #5 is because each of the 4 leads to a better reputation. I feel that the core should be used in such a way as to create demand, demand generated through the creation of a good reputation. Thank you for commenting!

      • Posted by Tom Gorham Reply

        No difference in opinion here David. You said it well!

        • Posted by David Johnson Reply

          We hardly do Tom, you know your stuff!

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