Producing Effective Digital Marketing

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Mastering Digital Marketing
How to ensure that your dealership is doing effective digital marketing that truly connects with customers

Alexi Venneri has studied modern consumers from seemingly every angle.

She’s a co-founder of marketing firm Digital Air Strike, she leads training sessions at the University of Washington, and once served as the director of marketing for Major League Baseball’s Seattle Mariners.

And, if there’s one thing she’s found out about consumers, it’s that they’re most receptive to personalized marketing messages.

“We find it’s all about engagement; you have to be super, hyper responsive to them,” notes the CEO of Digital Air Strike, which specializes in digital engagement and works with nearly 3,000 auto dealerships. “And there are definitely new ways that [dealers] can engage with consumers—there’s so much that you can use technology for.

“I do think, sometimes, that dealers have … a set-it-and-forget-it mentality.”

In other words, Venneri feels today’s dealership leaders need to utilize evolving—and innovative—forms of technology to reach customers on their computers or smartphones. After all, modern consumers demand as much.

“You have to give them what they need, and then you’re going to drive more traffic to your dealership,” Venneri says.

Below, she breaks down how dealerships can ensure that their digital marketing is as effective as possible. Because, even if a dealership is utilizing a third-party marketing company, there are still steps the business needs to take to make social media posts hit their mark.

Prioritize Facebook Over Other Options.

More than anything, Venneri noted, dealership leaders need to consider various forms of social media for marketing.

According to Digital Air Strike’s studies, platforms like Facebook continue to evolve and gain in consumer adoption. Meanwhile, a couple platforms that today’s younger generations have embraced, Instagram and Snapchat, don’t typically offer much hope for a return for businesses like car dealerships, since they’re mainly used for social purposes. Venneri’s company feels Facebook advertising makes it especially easy for dealerships to identify whether someone who serviced a vehicle with them actually saw their ad campaign on Facebook, through the social media platform’s offline conversion reporting.

Digital Air Strike’s studies seem to prove the importance consumers place on going to social media sites like Facebook to learn about dealerships before having their vehicle serviced there. And, there’s always evolving ways to connect with dealership customers through social media, Venneri finds.

For example, a currently popular method, she says is “doing check-in offers. We found this worked really well for service; if someone’s waiting around picking up their car, if signage at your dealership encourages folks to check in [via social media] at your place of business, and you give them a discount or a free car wash … you’d be amazed how many people are like, ‘Alright, I’m sitting here anyway; why not check in?’ And checking in at a business is an implied endorsement.”

Personalize All Marketing Messages.

Occasionally, dealerships simply use OEM-provided brand positioning content. That’s an oversight, in Venneri’s opinion, because such advertisements are usually too generic.

“It doesn’t come across with any sort of call to action,” she explains. “I’ll give you an example: let’s say Toyota [advertises] ‘the new Toyota, award-winning RAV4.’ OK, that’s nice for the manufacturer to say that, but a dealership could take that message and customize it and talk about how many they have in stock, any sort of special options, or ... service offers they have.

“It needs to be much more personalized about why the consumer should go to that dealership.”

Use Calendars for Marketing Campaigns.

While most dealerships utilize a marketing calendar to some extent, Venneri notes that they usually simply note the facility’s largest marketing campaigns of the year.

She suggests getting far more specific than that.

“Just like how they plan the monthly marketing budget, [dealership leaders] should have a calendar of all their marketing activities,” Venneri says. Note, “email marketing, social posts—any content you want to run. Do you do your own newsletter for prospects and customers, and are you going to post that on social networks? Well, you really need a calendar, and owners assigned to each one of those things.”

Track ROI for Every Medium.

Of all the technological advances Venneri has seen during her marketing career, she especially appreciates the return on investment figures that her marketing company can analyze for each of its marketing clients. And, she strongly advises dealerships to take note of those numbers periodically, so they can gauge the effectiveness of their marketing campaigns.

“With digital, it’s a lot easier to track ROI—for every medium,” Venneri notes. “But are [dealers] really looking at that?”

She suggests that dealers closely track how well each marketing campaign does, “making sure that they’re getting great value for every dollar they’re spending.”

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