By Colleen Malloy
If I told you there was a relatively easy way to drive website traffic and sales for your dealership that only costs a bit of your time, I wouldn’t be surprised if you looked at me like I was crazy. Lucky for you, this solution actually exists, and you’ve most likely heard of it: It’s blogging.
By writing regular blog posts, you can drive traffic to your website, improve your search engine optimization (SEO), capture leads, and encourage sales. In fact, according to HubSpot, businesses that have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to enjoy a positive return on investment.1
Still not convinced blogging is right for your dealership? I have eight reasons that might change your mind. Keep reading for an in-depth look at why your dealership should be blogging and how you can get started.
Reason #1: Grow your website authority
Why it matters: When Google and the other top search engines receive a query for “lawn mower blade replacement,” they want to make sure the results they show the searcher are as helpful as possible. To determine what results get shown, search engines look at a number of factors, including how often your website is updated.
Having a blog that you update frequently and host on your website can improve your site’s authority — how well it ranks in search engine results. Search engines like to see that websites are active and feature fresh content; each time you publish a blog post, you’re showing that your website is active and engaging.
Success tip: Create a blog editorial calendar. As you’re setting up your blog, figure out how many posts that you can reasonably publish a month. Try aiming for at least one post every two weeks to start; then, make a schedule and stick to it. Sit down with your team and plan blog topics based around holidays, in-store events and seasonality. Having a schedule and planning topics ahead of time will help you stay on top of keeping your blog active.
Reason #2: Boost your SEO
Why it matters: Blogging gives you an enormous amount of room to naturally incorporate strong keywords that will boost your position in organic search results. If you’re writing a blog about how to do a specific repair or maintain a specific type of unit, work in strong short-tail keywords (like the brand or model name) and long-tail keywords (like “lawn mower maintenance”) to help search engines connect you with potential customers.
Success tip: Don’t “stuff” keywords into your posts. Search engines can tell when content is crammed with keywords that don’t make sense. If your topic is about a service tip for a particular model, mentioning a number of other brands because you think it will help your post appear in more searches can actually backfire and negatively impact your search rank.
Reason #3: Gain website traffic
Why it matters: Even if your blog isn’t hosted on the same domain as your website, you can still use it to drive traffic with inbound links. An inbound link is a link back to your website from another website, and a large number of inbound links sends strong signals to search engines and will help your post’s organic search rank. Companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links.2
Use your blog to link back to relevant pages of your website. If you mention a specific model, link to where readers can find the model on your website, or if you talk about service, link to where readers can book an appointment with you.
Success tip: If you write a blog post about how to perform a specific repair, link within the post to where readers can buy the needed parts on your website to encourage them to order directly from you.
Reason #4: Drive more leads
Why it matters: Sixty-nine percent of businesses attribute their lead generation success to blogging.3 After your blog starts generating website traffic, it’s just a short jump to convert your new visitors into leads. An easy way to do that is to include calls to action within your blog posts. Tell your readers what action they should take when they’ve finished reading your post, and then give them a way to do it.
If you’ve written a post introducing your service staff, leverage the opportunity to drive online service requests (e.g. “Book your next service appointment today!” and link to a service request form). Now, instead of just reading your post and leaving your site, your blog readers have an action to take and an easy way to take it, and you’re able to collect new leads for your dealership.
Success tip: Make sure your calls to action relate to the main subject of your post for the most impact.
Reason #5: Establish yourself as an expert
Why it matters: Your shoppers want to know that you’re an outdoor power equipment expert, and you can use your blog to establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource. While you might occasionally promote dealership events on your blog, make the majority of your posts educational. A whopping 81 percent of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs4, so answer common maintenance questions, highlight the latest models, or discuss what new technology is coming soon to build yourself as a trusted expert.
Success tip: Follow your manufacturers and home improvement magazines on social media for article inspiration.
Reason #6: Generate brand recognition
Why it matters: Establishing yourself as a resource also helps keep your business top of mind when your readers are ready to make a purchase or find themselves in need of service by boosting your brand recognition. Each time your readers come back to check out your latest post, you’re leaving a deeper impression on their minds. This greatly increases the chances that they will think of you the next time that they have an outdoor power equipment need.
Success tip: If your blog is hosted separately from your website, carry over the same color scheme and incorporate your logo to help potential customers know they’re in the right place if they go from one page to the other.
Reason #7: Increase social media engagement
Why it matters: It can be a struggle to come up with things to post on social media, but if you have an active blog, blog posts are easy social fodder. Simply write a short social media post summarizing your article or asking a question (e.g. “Winter is just around the corner! Do you know how to prepare your snowblower before you need to use it? Read our blog post for tips!”). If you’re publishing blog posts regularly, you’ll have a variety of great new content to share with your social media fans.
Success tip: Share old blog content. While you might have a thousand social media fans (or more), a very small percent of them actually see what you post on a given day. If you’re running low on social media content, pull an old blog post that you haven’t promoted recently and share it with your followers.
Reason #8: Engage your customers
Why it matters: Blogging can help you foster relationships with your customers and prospects. Enabling comments on your blog is a fantastic opportunity for creating a conversation with your readers. Pay attention to what they’re saying in the comments, and respond to them to further build your relationships.
Success tip: Many blogging platforms have the option to email you notifications when readers leave comments for you. Make sure you have these notifications turned on, so you never miss out on what your readers are saying!
Blogging is an inexpensive and effective addition to your digital marketing strategy and can help you drive website traffic and leads, as well as build your reputation as an expert. And it works — that’s why we do it at ARI. For more helpful marketing tips, check out our HelpForce Blog at blog.arinet.com! Want to discuss your digital marketing strategy with an ARI expert? Visit us at Booth 284 at GIE+EXPO in October!
Colleen Malloy is the director of marketing at ARI Network Services. Prior to joining ARI in November 2013, Malloy served as the editor of Motorcycle and Powersports News. She is dedicated to the mission of helping dealers improve their operations through the implementation of ever-evolving best practices paired with ARI’s suite of award-winning data-driven software tools and marketing services that help dealers “Sell More Stuff!” — online and in-store. ARI removes the complexity of selling and servicing new and used inventory, parts, garments and accessories for customers in the outdoor power equipment, powersports, marine, RV, automotive tire and wheel, and white goods industries. More than 22,000 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”