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Take Your Marketing to the Next Level

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It’s one thing to secure the low-hanging fruit, digital marketer Ryan Alford of DOM360 says; it’s another entirely to capitalize on and maximize the marketing platforms either making waves today or on the cusp of making an impact. An effective website and collecting customer reviews are the baseline of what all dealerships need to have to be successful today, he says. To become an exemplary marketer and cement your brand in today’s market, there are four marketing strategies that all fixed ops managers should consider implementing:


Beef up video content:

It’s no secret that video is the next frontier of online marketing. Across the board, video content is promoted more heavily than any other type of ad. Alford says it’s a great opportunity but one that is still greatly underserved.

“Every website should have a video library on parts and service pages,” he says.

The key is not to think about video as TV. More than likely, your fixed ops marketing budget won’t allow for that type of media buy, Alford says. Instead, the goal is to provide relevant, digestible content that’s easy to engage with and compelling. Those videos could include educational videos, how-tos, a facility tour and a video explaining why they should come to the dealership. When it comes to distributing the videos, consider an online pre-rolled networks, such as SpotX, which is a video ad serving platform that provides video owners with monetization tools for various devices.


Implement search-engine marketing:

Instead of phone calls and direct mail, dealers can more effectively target and reach today’s customers with search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, which involve buying keywords and driving traffic to the websites. To truly integrate SEM/PPC into your content campaign, you need to determine which channel or channels best fit your strategy (See Sidebar: “The Top SEM Platforms”). Text, display and video ads can all play important roles in reaching your goals. The more specific your target audience, the easier it will be to serve up a message that is relevant and relatable to them and their lifestyle through a channel that is already part of their daily lives.

The Top SEM Platforms 

According to U.S. ComScore data, consumers spend 1 in 5 mobile minutes on Facebook and Instagram. That amounts to 20 percent of all time spent on mobile being funneled into these two platforms. So, it’s no surprise that Facebook ads comprise the majority of SEM/PPC campaigns. According to respondents of a Social Media Examiner survey, these are the forms of paid social media marketers most regularly use.


Facebook: 84 percent

Google: 41 percent (despite remaining the No. 1 outlet for paid digital advertising in general)

LinkedIn: 18 percent

Twitter: 17 percent

YouTube: 12 percent

Promoted blog posts: 7 percent


Modernize the in-store experience:

Just as marketing is becoming increasingly digital, so too is the in-store experience. A customer’s repair experience is hugely reflective of the brand (See Sidebar “Retaining the Customer After a Sale”), which is why Toyota has made a recent push to turn the service lane into a digital platform, says Marty Quinn, customer service operations manager for Toyota Division's Cincinnati region. That involves writing customers up with a tablet and conducting an electronic multi-point inspection and utilizing e-pay at the end of the transaction. In addition, Toyota recently launched an in-store digital messaging strategy that utilizes monitors in the customer lounge, service drive and showroom to promote relevant content, such as educational videos and messages about promotions.


Develop parts e-commerce:

In 2013, parts purchases represented $104 billion through e-tail. By 2023, that figure is expected to grow by $28.8 billion, according to the Auto Care Association. It’s a huge opportunity, Quinn says, with one problem: The majority of that business is currently captured by eBay, Amazon and AutoZone. For dealers who choose to develop an e-commerce strategy, implement a great SEM campaign, and utilize modern payment systems, however, parts e-commerce “can sing,” he says.

Toyota is currently 120 days into a pilot program working with dealers across the country to implement parts e-commerce. The strategy? Utilize SEM to capture customers on, direct those customers through to the dealership’s website where a shopping cart system allows customers to buy parts, electronically check out and ship. It requires commitment, Quinn says, and the proper resources to do it (including a dedicated person at the dealership to stay on top of orders) but nearly every dealer in the pilot program has hit objectives and average dollars per ticket.


Retaining the Customer After the Sale 

Quinn says that one of the quickest ways to ensure customer retention is to bring the customer into the service department immediately after the sale. Have the customer meet the service director and advisor and walk them through the service drive.

“There’s a correlation to lifetime value and the ability to deliver a good service experience when they come in for the first appointment,” he says. “If the customer comes in when the vehicle is on a lift, there’s a higher likelihood of the RO being approved.”


The Real-World Perspective 

Name: Paul Berman
Title: Fixed Ops Manager:

Dealership: Burnsville Toyota in Burnsville, Minn.

Search engine marketing is a big one, both organic and paid. Getting them to click on the website and spend more time is a big benefit. On the organic side, having “Burnsville Toyota” on there a number of times is very beneficial. Having pictures on the website that show the inside of the dealership, the service department, the personnel, the waiting room, the service area.  I want them to see the people, how nice it looks here, where they pay, where their car is being serviced. I want them to see before they come in so they’re comfortable.

We probably have about 20 word combinations. We’re trying to test the waters and put more money instead of putting it into direct mailers into Google and email so we’re multifaceted as opposed to one direct channel.

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