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Going Inbound – The Next Great Marketing Frontier For The Auto Dealer

Inbound MarketingInbound marketing is nothing new. In fact, it has been around in one form or another as long as people have been selling automobiles. Yeah, that long. Inbound marketing is about attracting the right type of people to the right type of content at just the right time. Inbound marketing is all about bringing people to you, it’s about being present when they are researching or buying.

Inbound marketing is THE most effective way to market online in terms of both cost and lead acquisition. Instead of focusing on buying email lists, expensive ads and sending out spam, inbound marketing is about creating quality content that pulls people in, instead of clubbing them over the head. Which would you prefer was done to you?

How is that done though? It’s done by aligning the published content of your dealership, with the needs and wants of the customer. By creating and distributing the content the customer is looking for you are better able to attract, convert, close and create loyalty with more of them.

So, why am I saying that inbound marketing is the next great marketing frontier for auto dealerships? Simple, it’s because everything is going digital. Scratch that, everything HAS gone digital. Research is conducted online, for both the vehicle and the dealership. People are conducting as much car shopping and BUYING online as possible, saving having to come into the dealership to the last possible moment. More and more people are even foregoing the test drive!

In order to develop an inbound marketing plan, you must first, well… plan! In order to do that lets break down inbound marketing into it’s four prime parts.

  1. Attraction
  2. Conversion
  3. The Close
  4. Enchantment

If done correctly number 4, enchantment, leads right back to number 2, conversion. Why? Because. If you create the type of marketing that people love, they convert into a sale and then are enchanted during and after the sale then you don’t have to worry about attracting them again. Rather, you just have to keep enchanting them. Yes, inbound marketing can and should be a closed loop system.


Remember, inbound marketing is about generating the right type of traffic, and that is done by creating the right type of content. It’s no secret that car buyers are researching online. So, having known that why aren’t more dealership websites research, as well as selling, oriented? Take a close look at what your customers are researching and create content based around what they are looking for. Simple enough? Content can be:

  • eBooks
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Blog Posts
  • Whitepapers
  • And more..

The idea is to create as much research oriented traffic as possible. That way your dealerships website can be found as early on in the buying cycle as possible. If you gave your customers no reason whatsoever to look at other site, they wont. It’s just that simple. Of course the content has to be compelling and well structured, which brings me to:


It’s important that your content isn’t just thrown on a page with the hope of people sticking around long enough to read it, much less convert. No, that just won’t work. Which is why you must include calls-to-action, headlines, forms and landing pages, lots and lots of landing pages. Pay particular attention to the conversion rate of your landing pages and adjust accordingly. Maybe you have to change the call to action, the layout of the form or the way you are directing eye trail. All of this, and more, will help you to convert at a higher rate.

The Close

Now that you’ve attracted the right people and converted that traffic, it is time to close them. We all have our ways of doing this but I want you to think about lead nurturing as being a part of inbound marketing, that is, you will be reusing some of that content that you’ve been creating to attract people as a way to nurture them. In the video below, which was recorded early last year, I talk about educating your customers. Check it out.


I love that word. Enchantment. Especially when it comes to customer service. You see, customer enchantment goes far beyond normal  customer service. In fact it’s so much more than customer service, just say it once or twice, customer enchantment, customer enchantment, it does have a ring to it doesn’t it?

The whole idea behind customer enchantment is to go so far beyond what is expected that your customers turn into customers that create other customers! I’m talking about repeat and referral business. Besides just giving them great service while they are buying a car, think about what you can do after the sale. So, what does this have to do with inbound? Simple, content. That’s right, I’m talking about blogging, newsletters and emailing. Consider having a newsletter just for sold customers, what about service?

You can send out emails/ newsletter such as:

  • Now That You’ve Bought It, What Next?
  • The Importance Of Routine Maintenance.
  • Keeping It Clean, The DIY Guide To Automotive Detailing.
  • 5 Things You Need To Know To Hold On To Your Vehicles Value.
  • And on and on.

I wrote a WHOLE post on customer Enchantment called Forget About ROI, Start Thinking About ROE, you really should check it out. Oh and I wrote a follow up to it called Why Relationships Matter and ROI Doesn’t. Yes, a tad bit controversial but I think after reading the two you will get my point. If not, let me know.

You see, content truly is key. The right content, at the right time, is worth more than I can ever convey in a post. The right content will not only attract the right people to your website it will also help them convert, close and keep them coming back.

Social Media – The Inbound Marketers Best Friend

Now, you didn’t think that I was going to write a whole post and NOT bring up social media did you? Of course you didn’t, I am David Johnson after all, Ha! Taking a look back at the 4 parts of inbound marketing, Attraction, Conversion, Close and Enchantment there isn’t one part that social doesn’t help to perform better.

I’ve written in the past that social media is a force multiplier, that is, it makes the force of other types of marketing even more powerful. Social is a great way to attract people to your brand, especially if your engaged around a social purpose, in fact, I’ve written a post about that as well, called Creating Social Impact Through Social Media. (Published by the Virgin Corporation)

Getting people to talk with and about you, in a positive light, is a great way to not only get them to convert, but to get others as well. By creating interpersonal relationships that go beyond the traditional customer – business relationship you are well on your way to create a truly social business that closes more and grosses higher.

By going beyond the point of the sell, by creating the type of relationship that leads to customer loyalty, you will be better equipped to ask for referrals and create repeat business. That’s what enchantment is all about!

Switching To Inbound Marketing

So, where do you start? How do you inbound market? Well, as I said early you have to commit, once you do that:

  1. Learn all you can about inbound marketing. There are many resources on the internet, just do a quick search for inbound marketing on Google and see for yourself. Learn, learn, and the learn some more.
  2. Create good content. The better you are at creating content the better you will be at inbound marketing.
  3. Think position. How are you going to position yourself in the market place, what sets you apart? No, don’t think price, there are things more valuable than money. If you don’t believe me then why do people pay so much for a cup of coffee at Starbucks?
  4. Create a plan. Set your goals and stick to them. Think strategy, who at the dealership is going to be involved? How will you hold them accountable?
  5. Get a good CRM to help you with follow up and lead nurturing. Also, how about an email marketing program?
  6. If you have a hard time with any of the above, hire somebody to do it for you.

Inbound marketing is the process of helping your future customers to find your dealership, to create brand preference, to contact you and to ultimately to become a customer. You do that be creating informative, interesting  and yes, even entertaining content that is optimized and sent across a variety of channels, whether it’s your own blog or website, Facebook, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn and others. When are you going inboud?

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