Navigating the ever-evolving world of online marketing is not an easy task. Dynamic trends in SEO, new social platforms springing up and consumers changing how they digest digital media means great tricks from last week are outdated and new tricks are never guaranteed. But here are some basic guidelines that will almost always keep dealerships on course for success.
Have a blog
Having a blog is akin to having a website five years ago. At this point, it’s just a must-have.
The benefits for search engine optimization and positioning a business as an expert is critical to stand out in a digital world. That doesn’t mean, however, that a dealership must be a full-fledged publishing house, just be transparent.
Blogging about the staff, new developments and promotions is a great way to connect with customers, social media fans and followers. A blog is also an important promotional outlet that maintains total control of the content – unlike Facebook or Twitter posts.
People want instant feedback – give it to them!
Make sure your social media point person is on top of things and has alerts going to their phone or they’re tapped into their social media management platform at all times.
During business hours, questions and comments shouldn’t stew for longer than a half hour. It seems like a very short time, but when people are browsing, they’re not going to stop looking for information just because they asked you. Show them you care by getting back to them as soon as possible. The next time they have a question about boats, they’ll look to you as the expert.
Build social credibility before you sell
The most successful businesses on social media follow a blend of content that leans heavily on information and education, not sales.
An 80-20 or 70-20-10 breakdown seem to perform the best across the board. Eighty percent branding and 20 percent sales or 70 percent branding, 20 percent education and entertainment and 10 percent sales.
It’s not logical, but the most important part of selling via social is not the promotional content. Social media must still be seen as primarily a branding function.
Focus on local SEO
A 2013 study by marketing and strategy firm Accenture showed that 82 percent of people still prefer shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. That statistic and another from Pew that shows more than 80 percent of people research a business online before buying means that SEO is more important than ever.
Businesses simply must make it easy for customers to find them online. That doesn’t mean a dealership has to rank with Mercury and Boston Whaler for the term “boat,” but it must show up in its local area.
If a boat dealer in Anytown doesn’t appear on the first page of Google for the term “Boat sales in Anytown,” it’s time to get to work.
Outsource to save time
The term outsourcing is tricky; it conjures images of sweatshops and the loss of American jobs. But the reality is that the country and the business world has been flattened by digital technology.
Outsourcing to a service or freelancer to tackle that digital to-do list is a great way to bulk up on productivity without hiring a new, specialized person.
Everything from maintaining a website, social media, SEO and even blogging can be outsourced. Sure, outsourcing means additional expenses, but it also means a lot less time spent away from core competencies while learning a skill tangential to the business.
Ignore measurable data
It’s so easy to glean data from digital properties, ignoring it is like ignoring your customers on the sales floor – a really bad idea.
Everything from referring domains to tracking where customers are coming from, when in the sales funnel they are leaving and where they live can be tracked easily. What blog posts or models pique their interest is also easy to see with good analytics implementation.
Analyzing data can also help formulate online business goals and track marketing and promotional campaigns.
Expect overnight results
Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither was Rome.com.
So if your top-to-bottom online marketing plan isn’t producing results don’t fret – just stick to the plan.
Content marketing, SEO, social media marketing and branding all take time to really deliver. Understanding that these functions are just part of a successful modern business is vital and can keep stakeholders from getting antsy about their digital marketing calendar and goals.
Engaging a consumer is the ultimate goal, and when they’re finally ready to buy, your online presence will help guide their decision.
Most businesses serious about marketing have a plan and it shouldn’t be any different online.
You can always spot the businesses that are winging their digital marketing because they are a ghost town during their selling season and a little too chatty in the downtime.
Find or create a good plan and stick with it. Winging it is a great way to forget about digital marketing when a business is in the midst of the selling season and undermining previous branding work.