By Chloe Banholzer
Diving into the world of digital marketing can be intimidating for small businesses, and outdoor power dealerships are no exception. To help avoid the confusion we’ve broken down digital marketing into a digital marketing playbook of 12 easy-to-start, easy-to-build-upon steps.
Decide on your business goals, and stick to them. Choose a few very specific goals, and then build upon your accomplishments. Goals such as “I want to sell more used inventory” aren’t specific enough because they’re hard to measure. Instead, try “I want to sell more Husqvarna zero-turn mowers.” Specific, targeted goals like this make it easy for you to test, track, and adjust your marketing efforts to maximize return on investment.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to ensure your goals are time-bound.
Web design and development
Imagine you’re a customer walking up to a cashier at your dealership only to be stuck waiting in a long line. This is similar to how customers feel when they interact with a slow website. Avoid frustrating customers – and risking them leaving your site to visit your competitor’s – by optimizing your page speed and hosting your website on a platform that performs on all devices.
While we’re using our imagination, how few sales do you think you’d make if you threw all your inventory into one giant pile that customers had to dig through? Cluttered or hard-to-navigate websites create the same problem. Make sure to keep your website well organized and your inventory front and center, and keep your business hours, location and contact information up-to-date and easily accessible – this is the information customers want to see when they visit your website.
Pro tip: Ask your employees to visit your site on their smartphones. How does it look? It’s crucial that your site is legible on a variety of screens and your content adjusts to the reader’s device.
Traffic and behavior monitoring
When you understand how customers behave on your website and listings, you can figure out ways to optimize their experiences and drive more leads. Install Google Analytics on your site (it’s FREE!) to see what actions customers take when they visit your site and monitor if, and where, they drop off.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to claim your Google My Business to view important Insights that show how customers interact with your listing. Did they call you, visit your website, or get directions to your location?
Your location, regular content updates, on-page optimization, Google My Business, citations, links (to and from your site), and reviews all contribute to your Local SEO. How well you manage each of these factors determines whether your dealership shows up in the coveted Map Pack. Move to the top of your local search rank by tending to each of these SEO best practice steps.
Pro tip: Google now ranks your site mobile-first. Double check your site and ensure it’s responsive to mobile devices.
When other organizations’ websites link back to yours, it’s a huge boost to your SEO. If you sponsor a local sports team, event, or have a chamber of commerce, get listed on their websites. The goal here is to create a digital “web” that sends messages to Google letting them know that your business is a legitimate part of the community that interacts with other businesses, and is therefore reputable and trusted.
Connect with industry associations to not only build your business’s reputation online, but also to expand your dealership’s name as reputable in the industry. Reach out to your manufacturers and ask them to link to your website when customers use their dealer locator to search for their local dealership.
Third-party sales channels
E-commerce listing websites such as eBay and Craigslist are great places to drive interest and generate leads. Think of it as opening a “satellite dealership” online. The more places you can share your inventory, the better.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to upload REAL photos of your inventory directly from your dealership. Stock photos only go so far for the customer, while your photos will provide customers with a real-life look at your products. Bonus points for videos!
Online directory listings
Make sure your dealership’s NAP (name, address, phone number) is listed on as many directory sites as possible. If this information changes at any time, be sure to update this information across the main directories (Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.).
Reviews and reputation monitoring
Aim for a 4-star-plus review average on Google, Facebook, Yelp and other directories. Besides helping with SEO, reviews also increase the chances of potential customers visiting your business. It’s okay to have a few negative reviews scattered within the positive ones (unfortunately, there are some issues that just won’t get resolved). When a negative review does come in, it’s important to take a step back and not take it personally. Responding professionally speaks volumes about your business and shows potential customers you treat everyone who walks in your doors fairly.
Don’t forget to also respond to positive reviews. Thank the reviewer by name and let them know that their review and their business is appreciated.
Pro tip: Add a “Review Us” button to your employees’ e-mail signatures that links directly to your Google or Facebook listing.
This quickest way to get the edge over your local competitors – and capture leads before they do – is to invest in digital advertising. Ideally, Google AdWords should have a devoted budget in your marketing plan. ARI recommends dealers start with $500 to really drive traffic, see results, and make the effort worthwhile.
In case you forgot (or didn’t know), your regular, unpaid Facebook post reach is low – really low. Amplify your social reach by putting anywhere from $5 to $20 toward important Facebook posts (if you want more than a dozen people to see them).
Conversion rate optimization (CRO) makes sure you’re turning a good portion of your site visitors into leads or sales. When a customer “arrives” at your site, your number-one goal should be to keep them engaged for as long as possible (or at least until they take some lead-generating action). Google keeps tabs on your site’s click-through rate (CTR) or, in other words, how customers behave on your site. Improve your CTR with engaging call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
Ask yourself: Is my CTA obvious and relevant? What action can customers take? Does my CTA send them to a good destination?
Research e-mail marketing providers, such as MailChimp or Constant Contact, and then start collecting e-mails from lead forms and in-store customers. Keep this list updated in your DMS/CRM, divide the list into groups (known as segmentation) based on what they’re interested in or what they’ve bought in the past, and send them e-mails based on these traits. Don’t exceed two to four e-mails per month, and keep the content fresh.
Pro tip: Asking for e-mails can be hard. The best time to ask is at the point of sale, and be sure to let the customer know you’d like to send them coupons and special discounts. Getting something in return for their e-mail makes it easy for you to ask, and easy for them to share.
Check these 12 key initiatives off your list, but don’t let them run on autopilot. Schedule a routine check-up with each area to see how it’s performing, tweak where necessary, and continue to drive more leads.
Chloe Banholzer serves as marketing coordinator at ARI Network Services. She’s helped thousands of dealers across the country with their digital marketing through her HelpForce webinars, which cover a broad range of topics including search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising, e-mail marketing, and online presence optimization. She’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 (www.arinet.com) and eCatalog platforms to “Sell More Stuff!”