By Bob McCann
Making your Internet marketing dollars work harder for you is neither hard nor expensive. In today’s digital economy, your website is a 24/7 location that attracts more visitors than your brick-and-motor store ever will. Assuming you already have a consumer-engaging website in place, you can increase your return on investment and generate more leads and sales using simple, yet highly effective best practices.
Following are three affordable tips that have proven helpful for hundreds of dealers looking to get more mileage out of their existing Web marketing efforts without breaking the bank.
Promote your Web address (URL)
Looking at our dealer clients’ Web statistics, the most common approach used by prospects to find a dealership is still simply typing in the dealer’s URL — a key element of your corporate identity and the address of your 24/7 store. As such, you should make sure that your Web address appears everywhere, consistently and frequently promoted on- and off-line.
The rule of thumb is that it should be present everywhere your address and/or phone number appear, including all marketing and advertising materials, stationery, business cards, customer communications, on your delivery trucks, on your after-hours voice-mail message, etc. But don’t stop at the obvious — Take this effort a step further and think of more places, big and small, where it would make sense to include your Web address. For instance, is it in the e-mail signature of every person on staff? Speaking of e-mails, make sure that all members of your team have the same, consistent signature in terms of format, font type, color and content. Be sure to include your Web address.
How about your store front? Have you taken a look at it lately, from a customer’s perspective, and thought about how it could help your dealership generate more traffic? For example, you could include your Web address on an entranceway sign that lists your hours of operation, along with the message, “Sorry we missed you. We are always open at DealerWebsite.com.” Did you notice how I deliberately chose to spell the URL with the inclusion of capital letters to start each word of the dealership’s name? It’s known as CamelCase, CamelBack (and many other names): It makes your Web address easier to read and remember. And don’t worry: The link will work regardless of the case that visitors use when typing in your URL.
The many ways you promote your Web presence enables you to consistently raise your dealership’s profile and drive more traffic to your site to increase leads, and ultimately, sales and service. This simple effort seems basic, yet the importance of its impact on a dealership’s awareness is often overlooked. Take a few minutes to sit down and make a list of all the avenues you could use to publicize your Web address, compare it to your current visibility, and add your URL to places and materials you have yet to leverage.
Share your inventory
Every day, millions of prospects are browsing different websites in search of a product you sell. That’s why you should strive to cast a wider net, giving your dealership every opportunity to be in front of the largest number of potential buyers.
Posting your listings on classifieds websites, such as CraigsList.org, eBay.com, IronSearch.com or local classifieds sites, will increase the reach of your virtual showroom. The more potential buyers see your listings, the more high-quality prospects will select you as their dealership of choice. Remember to develop content-rich listings that hook buyers with a full, compelling story by using eye-catching pictures and videos combined with compelling descriptions.
Jacks Small Engines, Jarrettsville, Md., enhances its online presence with a Facebook page.Improve your link popularity
Link popularity — the measure of inbound links to your website — is a decisive factor in your site’s ranking on major search engines because links from other sites are seen as a vote of confidence. Inbound links from other popular sites also increase your online traffic as your site is being presented to a larger audience.
There are two ways to increase link popularity. Link exchange, also known as reciprocal link or link swaps, is an agreement whereby two sites link to each other. The exchange can consist of links, ads or articles. This approach implies that you already have materials you can use for swapping; that’s why we’re choosing to focus on another link-building strategy that does not require a financial investment, namely natural links.
Also known as one-way links, natural links point to your site without requiring you to link back to them. Below are some easy, time-saving avenues you can explore immediately.
* Manufacturers and suppliers: Make sure that your URL is included on the Dealer Locator page of the OPE manufacturers you represent, and don’t be afraid to ask the suppliers with whom you do business to include your Web address on their websites.
* Free OPE Directory listings: Directory listings, such as “Equipment Mart” at www.EquipmentMartOnline.com, are among the best ways to market your business. Adding your listing to “Equipment Mart” is quick and easy, and a basic listing is free while a premium listing is only $14.95 per month.
* Social media: Leverage high-traffic, social-networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Creating a presence on these sites is as simple as filling out a template or uploading a video, then linking the page back to your site — a simple process that your website solution should allow you to execute in minutes.
The development of hundreds of impressions is how you draw more eyes and raise more hands: Growing impressions that lead to more traffic and sales, ongoing impressions that lead to more returning customers. Maximizing your website’s on- and off-line exposure will enhance your visibility in support of your sales efforts, engage more prospects, and result in a greater return on your Web marketing investment.
Bob McCann, a 20-year sales education veteran, is the author of the nationally recognized e-business sales method known as TIPS (Traffic, Interactive Website, Process, Sales). As Director of Education at ARI, McCann has developed proven e-business sales processes to support the company’s growing list of dealer and manufacturer clients in the marine, RV, powersports and outdoor power equipment industries. McCann can be reached at (757) 217-3534 or firstname.lastname@example.org.