Back to Basics: Digital Marketing for the New Dealership

When it comes to digital marketing, the options available to automotive retailers are nearly endless. You have paid search, display advertising, social media (paid and unpaid), etc. With restricted budgets (and often, restricted resources), it’s tough to figure out what medium to use and how to use it most efficiently.

To maximize the digital marketing efforts for your dealership, you have to start by first identifying what type will work best for your budget and team. Where can you get the best bang for your buck? How much content needs to be created or refined? Read below to gauge where you should start (or start over).

Figure Out What Works for You

Paid Search

This pay-per-click (PPC) method displays an ad of your creation at the top and sides of search engine results based on targeted keywords. You input keywords relevant to your product offerings and decide which ones trigger which ads. This allows you to reach consumers in the early stages of the buying process, which is important considering 86 percent of car shoppers conduct research online before visiting a dealership.

Paid search also has a feature that gives your advertising an additional boost: negative keywords. If there are certain keywords that you don’t want associated with your brand (e.g., “free”), you can add them to your negative keyword list. This will help prevent accidental or irrelevant clicks.

Because of the advanced targeting available with paid search, you’re paying a premium for the clicks you earn. A few irrelevant clicks are inevitable, but most of the clicks you garner will be legitimate, qualified prospects. When you’re working with a tight budget, you may only be able to afford between two and five clicks a day. However, if you’re looking for quality over quantity, paid search is the way to go.

Display Advertising

Another PPC option is display advertising. Display ads are graphic ads that appear after users search for a relevant product or service. When used as a retargeting option, these ads can be programmed to target consumers who have already visited your website, which means they’re likely further down the sales funnel.

This is possible by placing a cookie (a text file delivered by your site to users’ browsers) that tracks users’ clicks on your ad and continues to display your ads to those users while they’re on relevant sites. That way, when users are still browsing for a certain make or model of vehicle, they’ll be consistently reminded of your dealership.

Display advertising gives you a high number of impressions but a relatively low number of clicks. This makes it a more affordable method of PPC advertising that keeps your brand in front of shoppers even after they leave your site.

Provide Informative Content

You can’t just toss ads up without leading to content with some more substance. Take online prospects to pages with meaningful and informative, yet concise, content. Interesting content is original and succinct with a clear call to action.

Website Pages

Almost every ad leads to a web page. These pages should contain verbiage that corresponds with the ad (e.g., don’t advertise your new line of pickup trucks and then have users click through to your used vehicle inventory). Make sure every page contains enough information to describe your dealership’s departments or vehicle offerings, but don’t make your content so convoluted that users will throw their hands up and move on to a competitor’s website.

Blogs

One often overlooked method for dealers to reach prospective buyers is blogs. The tone for blog posts is generally more casual and less “sales-y” than the types of advertising mentioned above, so you can write as if you’re having a conversation with a prospect.

Don’t bog down your content by only writing about promotions and sales. Instead, write about topics that show customers you’re knowledgeable, approachable, and trustworthy (e.g., car care tips, local community events, spotlights on new vehicle models). Blog posts that offer insightful, relevant content position your dealership as a trusted, authoritative voice that potential customers will keep coming back to.

Conclusion

There are countless ways to make sure you’re maximizing your dealership’s digital marketing efforts, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start by choosing a method that aligns with your goals and budget, and then make sure you have a library of solid content to share. Once you have a solid foundation, you can truly maximize your advertising’s impact and return on investment.