By Ryan Carruthers
When every year draws to an end, we tend to reflect on the year past and guess about what lies ahead.
During this reflection in the business world, we often analyze our processes and seek to refine them, often moving back to basics or simplifying anything that has grown too complicated or started to fail.
This process is something we urge people in the automotive industry to do when thinking about online marketing during 2010.
With the strong presence of terms and concepts new to car dealers, concepts such as search engine optimization and pay per click, most are trying to participate in highly effective methods of client acquisition.
This is great, however dealers are caught up in the idea of directing web traffic their way and completely forget to look at where the traffic actually goes – and ultimately don’t pay enough attention to how their staff is handling the inquiries.
Some dealers miss the point of a website, often focusing too much on layout, colour and graphics. They dismiss the fact that putting effort into being easily found through a search engine is the most important part of the puzzle.
Most forget the site is a tool, not a piece of art, and it won’t matter what pictures decorate the homepage as long as it is easy to navigate. They often overlook the need for important financial investments to save money or they put the least expensive, least effective tool online all in the name of saving now, losing later.
They forget to add content that any potential customer may want to find on the site and keep them from searching out competition in their pursuit of information. Leads often become the lowest rung on the ladder, and if they are answered, usually they lack a process of follow-up.
Some car dealers will purchase any product to save them from doing any extra work, but won’t spend to create a proper online sales solution.
That was the indictment. So what can be done it fix the problems?
It starts with the basics. Examine what you are doing now and where you want to be. Set goals. What would you like to do? What is stopping you from getting there?
- Measuring the results. Now that you have established your questions and current position, you have to answer them. If you don’t feel qualified to provide the answers, you may need a consultant. Find yourself a person who knows your business and knows the web marketing business. Ask your peers whom they use and whom they trust.
- Find the right fit. Get someone who will create a plan and someone who will continually work with you and your staff to ensure the plan is being followed. The person should take into account the factors mentioned earlier about where to emphasize design, strategy and budget.
- Don’t forget to follow-up. Follow-up will have the biggest impact. You should have meaningful stats that are analyzed and packaged so they make sense to you and your business. The stats should be presented to you monthly – this is how you can set your goals and create a starting point from which to build upon.
Ask yourself why you have a website. What happens to your leads when they come in? How are they handled? Can it be better? What can be done to maximize profits using an online sales solution? Is there a path I should be taking to achieve better results?
If you were confident in your marketing mix for 2010, but raised your eyebrows or shrugged your shoulders at some the questions I posed here, you may find you need to change your plans.
Ryan Carruthers is the regional manager in Ontario for Evolio. For more information, call 1-866 370-1411 or check out www.evolio.ca