To paraphrase Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that a business in possession of products or services worth promoting must be in want of a website. Most car dealers do have their own website – it is an absolutely crucial tool in this age of digital marketing and online communication.
Yet it is not enough to simply have a website – it must work for you. A car dealer’s website remains the cornerstone of its digital marketing activity and it would be lost without one, but a website is not enough by itself. It must be backed up by a much broader online presence, so that the dealership can use it in sync with other marketing activity to expand its visibility and make itself easier to track down.
A website is an extension of a car dealership’s brand. It must back up its brand, vision and values. It must act as a customer portal to get people in the dealership’s virtual door and, ultimately, spending money. To do this, a website must have useful, updated content that’s easily available and interesting to read.
Freshly updated content appeals not only to a car dealer’s customers, but also to Google and the other important search engines, that crawl websites on a regular basis to look for new content that will help them climb the rankings. It can be very simple to add new content in the shape of new articles, blog posts, updated offers and seasonal incentives. Updating website content needn’t take long, but must be done on a regular basis.
SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation is the art of getting your website to rank as high as possible on the results pages produced by search engines when someone inputs a certain phrase to hunt for relevant websites. However, you can’t just write ‘car dealership in Norwich’ twenty times and hope that search engine crawlers will move the website to the top of the list. It will take a little more work than that to get the best results.
SEO is a fine art form that takes into account many aspects of web development, from content to coding. Dealerships can work with Google to research, analyse and select the right keywords to use with a website and keep up with the many tricks and tools released by Google to help them stay ahead of the SEO game.
As a general rule, local businesses like car dealerships gain much of their custom from the local area, or community. People like to buy from and sell to others on their doorstep, in order that they might build a fuller relationship and not have far to come to sort out any queries post sale, or to do business with the same company again.
Local search functions allow businesses to input their geographical location for users to search under. So, a car dealership in Bristol can target searchers looking specifically for cars for sale in the Bristol area. As we have already seen, local searches are far more likely to result in real-time sales, so adding a dealership to local search marketing tools, such as Google maps, has some real advantages.
Everyone is getting into social media now. Popular websites such as Facebook and Twitter, developed initially as a social tool, have now become integrated parts of the digital marketing mix. Corporate Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have become the norm.
Social media experts are regularly employed to ensure a steady stream of status updates and tweets reflecting the business’s brand, upholding its values and ensuring an ongoing conversation with relevant stakeholders. In the people-centric car dealership world, such real-time conversations brought right to where customers are comfortable interacting socially is a very powerful move.
Useful video: ”How to Use Twitter For Local Business and Local Clients”
Although Facebook and Twitter are the indisputable giants of then social media universe, there are several other websites not to be ignored. LinkedIn – the original online business network – is still going strong with thousands of connections between businesses and consumers made – and deals struck – daily.
YouTube allows promotional videos to be uploaded, viewed and commented on, while Google + allows users to create an account and bring everything together under one online roof – conversations, identity profiles, research and data. Google + is rising in importance, overtaking Twitter in January 2013 as the second largest social networking site in the world.
Finally, the online world works just the same as more traditional avenues when it comes to reviews, ratings and old-fashioned ‘word of mouth’. People like to canvass others’ opinions before parting with substantial amounts of cash for a vehicle.
So, the more positive reviews a dealership can produce on third-party sites, the better its chances are of securing new business. Social media can generate multiple reviews, from comments on Facebook and Twitter to endorsements on LinkedIn and good feedback on Google + and industry forums.
Improving an online presence can seem overwhelming, but by committing just 30 minutes a day, a dealership can make significant improvements to its digital marketing activity. Make a list of what you consider are the most important things to your dealership and work through it, seeing what works for you.