Digital Marketing Partners Are a Dealer’s Best Friend.
We’ve been talking about how to improve digital marketing strategy for the automotive industry. The good news is that you don’t need to track down best practices on your own.
This time our topic is digital marketing agencies, and why you should consider partnering with one. First, we’ll break down what distinguishes an automotive digital marketing agency from a traditional automotive marketing agency. We’ll go on to explain why an automotive marketing partner who emphasizes digital is the right choice for the current consumer landscape and cover three advantages that a digital marketing partner brings to the table.
What is a digital marketing agency?
A digital marketing agency is – an agency that specializes in the marketing of product and services over digital mediums like mobile phones and the internet.
Many digital marketing agencies do the things a traditional marketing agency does – write ad copy, do graphic design, plan out marketing campaigns. The difference is that digital marketing agencies specialize in at least one, and often several, digital mediums. There are some agencies out there that deal exclusively in digital signs, while end-to-end agencies like LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE do everything from SEO to email campaigns to branded content.
What makes a digital marketing agency useful?
The car buyer’s journey is different than it used to be. In the pre-digital era, a car buyer might start his journey by picking up a copy of Consumer Reports and reading up on that year’s makes and models. From there, he might visit a few dealerships he had heard about on TV, the radio, and other media channels that run automotive marketing. If one of these dealerships has what he’s looking for he’d go on a test drive or two, hammer out the price and the financing, and drive home with his new car. That world is obviously long gone.
In the digital era, the car buyer has access to a staggering amount of information. He can take virtual test drives on YouTube, read online customer reviews of his neighborhood dealership, and use his smartphone to ask Dealership B if they have better sticker price for a certain vehicle while actively negotiating a purchase with Dealership A. According to Google, the average car buyer can have 900 digital interactions from initial research to final purchase. These interactions take the buyer through search engines, social media sites, and limitless amounts of web content. You already know that, though, right? So, what does it mean?
This shift has two important consequences. The first is car dealerships have a lot of new automotive marketing opportunities to connect with consumers. The second is that the automotive marketing methods dealerships relied on twenty to thirty years – while in many cases still effective – run the risk of getting crowded out by newer technologies. You’re probably feeling this one. How do you know what works and what is the most efficient digital marketing strategy for your dealership?
A digital marketing agency gives the dealership the power to connect with consumers via these new mediums so your dealership advertising spend can be both more efficient and more effective.
We talk elsewhere about how data reporting and analytics can be a powerful strategic tool for dealerships. Similarly, consumer data insights about your local market can be very valuable.
There are a lot of great consumer data resources out there, many of them free. Let’s say you want to conduct market research. The geographic information system (GIS) company ESRI has an excellent tool called Tapestry Segmentation, where you can punch in a zip code and explore high-level insights about the consumer types in your area. Claritas also has a zip code lookup tool that can give you a wealth of insights. Theirs is great for comparative analysis; you can use it to find out that a county on the shores of Cape Cod, a county just east of Atlanta, and a county in the heart of the Ozark Mountains are all home to similar market segments. From Census.gov to Google Trends, anybody who wants to learn something interesting about their hometown can do so.
With all that data out there, why do you need a digital marketing partner to help you with data? Three reasons come to mind.
First, it can be difficult to piece together data in a way that draws the most useful conclusions. Data can tell you that two zip codes have the same average income level, similar commute times, and same split between white-collar and blue-collar workers. If one of these zip codes is a market that leans heavily on social media and the other trusts their local news sites more, a different digital strategy will be needed. You could figure this kind of thing out with free resources, but it takes extra work and it can be easy to miss out on important nuances. Digital marketing companies which work with a lot of consumer data should be able to provide more guidance.
Second, you might not be able to get the right kind of data from online sources. Census.gov, for instance, has excellent demographic data but with won’t tell you in precise terms how local consumers use their digital devices to shop for products. A good digital marketing agency should have access to a range of proprietary and third-party consumer insights – in particular, market-specific insights related to digital technology use – to help you fill in the blanks and inform your campaigns.
Third, working with data can be very demanding. The author is a Georgia Tech alum who has had either classroom training or professional experience working with a range of data-based tools and methodologies – statistical methods, GIS systems, and computer modeling to name a few – and still doesn’t always find it easy to get the answer right every time.
Working with consumer data on your own is a bit like remodeling your kitchen. You can do it, and maybe even do an incredible job, but it can take a long time and you might not get the same result that you’d get if you call in the pros. Plus, it takes you and your staff away from managing day-to-day sales operations and working the website leads and showroom traffic.
Digital marketing agencies offer a holistic approach.
With automotive digital marketing, a lot of the tools are interconnected.
For instance, LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE is part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. This network includes major news platforms like the Detroit Free Press, local news sites like The Sheboygan Press, specialty sites like Golfweek, and a leading national news site, USA TODAY. Many of these brands have print editions. All of them have digital editions across desktop, mobile and mobile app, adding up to a combined network of 125 million monthly visitors.
There’s a lot an end-to-end digital marketing partner can do with a network like this. It can run branded content or a display ad campaign on a single local news site, or run this content over multiple USA TODAY NETWORK and affiliate sites. Maybe a Green Bay car dealership would choose to run the same ad in different local news sites throughout Northeast Wisconsin. Similarly, a dealership in South Florida could run a golfing-focused ad on multiple local news sites; and toss in Golfweek readers who connect to the site from within its sales area. Also – and this is the good part – a digital marketing partner can use consumer data insights gained from how consumers engage these sites to market more smartly on social media, search engines, and other digital mediums. They can even tell you what ad creative is more effective.
As we mentioned earlier, consumers are going to a lot of different places online before they buy their next car. A good digital marketing partner helps your dealership weave the digital world together.
Industry-relevant tools and expertise
Some digital agencies focus on a specific industry like health care, or even a specific niche like dentistry. Larger digital agencies like LOCALiQ work with a vast range of industries but have dedicated divisions that specialize in digital marketing for auto dealers, like LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE.
What these partners have to offer is a digital marketing background that connects with the way that dealerships do business. They understand the pressures of the industry, like the race to make sales quota and the reality that many dealerships don’t have a dedicated marketing team (or a marketing team that doesn’t get pulled in other directions on a regular basis). They are used to working with data in an automotive marketing-relevant way, rather than simply having data expertise in general. Often these partners are sitting on proprietary data insights related to cars, and/or have access to dealer-relevant third-party data. And they’ve worked with dealerships with all different types of needs, from the dealership that wants to incorporate a new technical solution or two to the one that wants to totally revamp its online presence.
Some digital marketing partners even have specialized tools. LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE has an analytics tool called the Dealer Scorecard. The Dealer Scorecard offers rich data insights that measure a dealership’s local presence, give a breakdown of vehicle popularity in a given market, and shows how competitive the local landscape is, just to name a few. It’s also designed to be a user-friendly tool that a marketing director or GM can pick up and use versus, say, an 80-page report put out by the manufacturer.
Let’s partner up.
If you’re ready to partner up LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE has the technology and the talent to get the job done, plus our marketing ideas for the automotive industry fit like a glove. Give us a ring to get started.
Contact us to request a free Dealer Scorecard analysis for your dealership or Auto Group.