Digital Marketing: How savvy dealers are turning the industry upside down

Post by Larry Barditch, VP Digital Strategy, MSA Advertising

Today, dealers are more confused about their digital marketing strategy than ever.  Their digital footprint looks fine from afar, but up close it’s fragmented and the dots are not connected.  They employ multiple vendors to provide programs and services, but fail to deliver a unified message across marketing platforms.

There’s information overload regarding big data.  To auto dealers, that equates to “paralysis by analysis.”  The savvy dealers are becoming digital marketing disrupters by harnessing technology to change consumer online behavior and forever alter the competitive automotive landscape. Shopping for a car is no longer a linear path to purchase. Dealers chase consumers through multiple online channels, who typically criss-cross between them to meet their needs and whims. The successful dealers are able to immediately provide the right message at every intersection, across every channel.

Dealers can no longer take a single, campaign-like approach to online messaging.  The disruptive dealer will have already influenced the shopper with a more engaging customer experience, and a more relevant offer, at the height of the consumer’s online research. Collecting and connecting data is fundamental in providing a more individualized experience.  As consumers spend more time researching through digital channels, they leave fingerprints during these online journeys. This additional data creates more insight and creativity.  Obtaining complete shopper information allows dealers to quickly develop and deploy an exceptional online experience across the consumer’s preferential channel; website, search, mobile, email and social. The ideal digital experience will intuitively know and understand what the consumer needs, wants and expects and magically deliver on those requirements.

Another important element of measuring disruptive digital efforts is differentiating between data and insight. Traditional web analytics can be misleading and marketers are supplementing them with “engagement” analytics. This new metric gives a clearer insight to the degree a shopper is engaged in the brand and the dealership. Rather than using conventional web metrics , successful dealers are giving a value score on engagement.  This engagement value is an excellent measure of how efficient the marketing is and more valuable than a traditional metric, like time on page.

Sounds great, right? Now, how do you execute this new digital marketing strategy?  One way is to use Search and Geo-IP data to personalize the consumer’s homepage experience on your website.  Each unique visitor would see different imagery and content based on their previous behaviors.  Most consumers ultimately purchase a different vehicle than they originally started researching.  The personalized landing platforms would also display an inspiring mix of relevant content and data that assists in converting undecided shoppers. This highly individualized, humanistic experience is filled with targeted suggestions during website engagement and retargeting efforts.

So if you want to convert more online shoppers into showroom opportunities, ditch the “set-it-and-forget-it” digital marketing campaign strategy and deliver a personalized, data driven consumer experience.

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