Marketing trends to watch in 2018

By Chris Damico

Can you believe that 2017 is on its way out the door? If you’re like me, you’re already looking ahead to the new year and new opportunities that 2018 will bring. And as with anything, new opportunities come from new technology and innovations that help you stay ahead of the competition. Check out some of the top marketing trends that you should watch for in the coming year.

Personalize your marketing

Give your customers an experience that speaks directly to them through personalization. Personalizing your email marketing is an easy, economical way to begin delivering the perfect message to the right customer. Think about the following: 1) optimization, 2) segmentation, and 3) one-on-one personalization.

Start by optimizing your emails through A/B testing. You can easily do this by sending the same email to two audiences (split your list) with a slight difference in a variable, such as the subject line. When you find out which subject line generates a better response, you can more easily tailor future emails to speak to your customer.

After that, think about segmenting your email lists. A great way to approach this is to divide your lists into current customers who you want to return versus prospects that you want to visit your dealership for the first time. The message will change depending on who you email. Consider a “new customer” coupon for prospect emails, or a “we miss you” email for current customers that you haven’t heard from in a while.

One-on-one personalization is a little more advanced but will drive more engagement with your emails. You’ve seen this tactic used before — any time you get an email with the subject line of “Dear Bob” versus “Dear Customer.” This is done by placing “merge tags” within the email, which email service software pulls from the email contact lists that you upload.

Based on the customer information you have, you can personalize any of the marketing that you do to follow suit: brochures, digital advertising and your website. Programs such as Google Optimize allow you to test different variations of your website, so you can find what works best for your customers.

Start a digital ad budget

The future of the Internet is pay to play, and the future is here. Up until a year or two ago, dealerships could see successful results just from organic search engine optimization (SEO) and social media campaigns. But since then, something has changed: The Internet has become increasingly more pay to play. Now, the top results of Internet searches on Google are paid ads. Sponsored and boosted posts continue to receive more exposure on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, and those trends are just increasing.

Investing in digital advertising, such as Google AdWords, gives you a boost to the top of the search results page when your paid keywords align with the keywords that your potential customers search. At ARI, we suggest spending no less than $500 per month for even the smallest OPE dealer. As a rule of thumb, with proper targeting and personalization, your return on advertising spend (ROAS) should be about $3 for every $1 that you spend.

Integrate digital marketing tools

What system does your dealership use to stay organized? How do you measure the business you’re doing right now and the results of your marketing efforts? Marketing tools continue to become more robust, and many are free to use.

Begin very simply by setting up Google Analytics on your dealership’s website. Analytics is a great, free program that helps you measure traffic across your website, including number of visitors per page, how many pages are viewed, what browser visitors use, and what sort of device (e.g. desktop, phone, tablet) visitors use.

You may also consider implementing a marketing operations platform such as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep all of your customer information organized, create marketing automation, and more. With a CRM tool, you can leave notes on customer profiles that everyone can see, assign tasks for others in your dealership, and create contact schedules to make sure that you proactively keep in touch with customers.

These tools will help you continue to personalize your marketing efforts now and in the future!

Sell with video

The total U.S. digital video advertising spend is projected to surpass $14 billion by 2019 (MediaKix). That’s why a major trend we’ve watched throughout 2017 has been the prominence of video in digital marketing, and it just keeps growing. Video grabs attention like no other media, and it shows: 87 percent of online marketers now use video content, and 45 percent of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos every week (WordStream).

So, how do you sell with video? Integrate short videos into your email, onto your website, and into your paid ads (especially on Facebook). Technology has come far enough, so that any OPE dealer with a modern smartphone can create videos showing off their dealership, inventory and more, and post them directly online to share with current or potential customers.

As with the other trends we’ve mentioned, personalize your videos to reach different audiences. Show potential customers what sets your dealership apart from the competition, and remind current customers why they love coming to your store.

Chris Damico is the marketing manager at ARI Network Services. He’s helped hundreds of dealers across the country with their digital marketing, including the content and search engine optimization (SEO) of their websites, social media presence, and advertising and email marketing campaigns. He’s 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 23,500 equipment dealers, 195 distributors and 140 manufacturers worldwide leverage ARI’s website ( and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”


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