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Industry Marketing Profile: How Does Your Dealership’s Digital Marketing Stack Up?

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The March issue of MPN featured an overall industry profile that provided the results of the annual readership survey, designed to gauge the performance of today’s brick and mortar powersports dealer. Today, we are going to dig deeper into the results, specifically as they relate to marketing strategies.

Does your business have a website?

How one expects to run a profitable business without a website is too much for my tech-nerd brain to handle, but apparently there are 22 percent of powersports dealers out there attempting it. Your website is as essential as the sign in front of your dealership. Every day that goes by that you don’t have a site, you are basically handing customers to your competitors. Enough said.

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Listed below are the primary providers of websites for the powersports industry:

Powersports Network
Company site: http://powersportsnetwork.com
Demo site: http://www.psndemo1.com

50 Below, an ARI Company
Company site: http://50below.com
Demo site: http://www.arrowheaddemo.com/

Dealer Spike
Company site: http://dealerspike.com
Demo site: http://hd.demos.dealerspike.net/

All of these providers offer new vehicle feeds from the major OEMs so that as new models come to market, they’ll show up on your site automatically. Pre-owned vehicles will need to be manually entered and managed via an administrative tool provided by these vendors. OEM and aftermarket parts, as well as gear and accessories, are added to the website through catalog data feeds; however, each provider offers different options for this feature, so do your homework now so that your site features the content most valuable to your dealership.

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You can also opt for a totally custom website solution, whether it be e-commerce or strictly content driven.

Not sure which direction to go in? Give us a call, we’re happy to guide you through the selection process.

What do you see as your highest competitive threat?

Year after year, dealers state that Internet sales threaten their bottom-line more than any other competition. All of the website providers mentioned earlier will allow customers to purchase items online using a digital shopping cart; however, there are a few crucial factors to consider when selecting your e-commerce solution.

1. Shopping Cart Usability
Before you ask for a demo, surf around the website provider’s site as if you were a customer. Think about how customers search for products; measure how long it takes you to find a product, test the shopping cart feature itself, and ask how the orders are processed in the back-end to cut down on your fulfillment workload.

2. Product Data Feed(s)
Most people use Google search to shop online. If your dealership does not show up in the shopping results of a search engine’s results, you are not even in the running to garner that sale. You can submit your products via a data feed free through these search engines:

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Google:  www.google.com/merchants/
Bing:  http://bit.ly/BingMerchants
Yahoo: http://bit.ly/YahooMerchant

A word of warning: submitting data to search engines according to its specifications is no easy feat. If you don’t have a qualified developer, I highly recommend you consider utilizing a vendor who will handle setup and feed data to multiple channels simultaneously complete with reporting.
My recommendations are:

Edgenet: http://edgenet.com
Channel Advisor: http://www.channeladvisor.com/

The overarching idea I would like you to walk away with here is that e-commerce is more than just a shopping cart on your website. Your cart needs to be supported by and integrated with all of your other marketing efforts, product data feeds and search engine marketing in order for the effort to truly deliver the ROI you are seeking.

How did your dealership advertise in 2012?

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Good ole word of mouth is still on top, with 78 percent of dealers stating that they rely on it to spread their reputation. Website efforts and social media marketing ranked in the 70 percent range, which shows that the industry as a whole understands the value of digital media. Social media marketing is essentially word of mouth marketing on a global scale, which provides you with reach to your core demographic beyond anything we could have imagined just five years ago. Be sure to integrate your social media channels with your blog and website content for the highest return; and remember, ROI doesn’t happen overnight in the digital world — it is cultivated over time through genuine online relationships with your customers.

Direct mail and Yellow Pages are still being utilized by 36 percent of dealers. I’ll admit that in some rural areas, Yellow Pages still has a glimmer of merit (but, you should be a shark when negotiating your annual pricing with these folks — you are in the power position). On the direct mail side, I can honestly tell you I have never heard of any dealer who had a direct mail campaign that delivered to ROI expectations. This fact, combined with the fact that direct mail costs an arm and leg compared to online marketing, makes a strong case to dump direct mail like a hot potato and shift those dollars into search marketing or social marketing, which is strategically planned to deliver measurable results for your dealership.

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At the bottom of the list are reminder cards coming in at 15 percent. Flip this strategy to reminder emails that are dirt cheap and highly effective. Skip hard copy snail mail and move to drip marketing campaigns sent through Constant Contact. Then, take your campaigns to the next level by segmenting your lists by brand preference, and you will be moving one step closer to one-to-one marketing.

Dealers reported that 62 percent of sales came from repeat customers. With statistics like this, doesn’t it make sense to reach out and touch those individuals to let them know you appreciate their business, tell them it’s time for a tune up, or just toss a friendly coupon their way to help them enjoy their passion a bit more? Email marketing is the way to make this happen because it’s quick, easy and affordable.

What is your demographic?

The last statistic I will comment on is the stated average demographic of 81 percent male/19 percent female. Here’s some homework: log on to your Facebook Insights reports and see if your in-store demographic matches your online/social demographic. I think you are due for a wakeup call. The vast majority of dealers find their female customer base is way higher than they realize, and let’s face it — it’s the lady of the house who ultimately signs off on the majority of purchases, so you need to cater to the women right along with the men.

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Award-winning blogger and CEO of Duo Web Solutions, Heather Blessington is a nationally-renowned speaker on social media marketing and a digital marketing veteran. Her company provides MPN monthly columns focused on best practices in Web marketing for powersports dealers.

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