Article

Rich Media: Do You Need To Tone It Down?

August 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Ali Amirrezvani - Also by this author

“Rich Media” has been a hot topic in the world of Internet-based marketing for a number of years now. A blanket term that refers to more visually active Internet advertising technology like flash design, streaming video and animation, rich media has gone through many innovations and changes as the Web has evolved. Not all have been successful. Some rich media tactics have wound up being more off-putting than interesting, but .
So how do you tell if you are using rich media in the most effective way, the way that will draw customers to your site instead of irritating them? Let’s look at the evolution of rich media and offer suggestions to help ensure your Web site and Internet marketing efforts will be interesting to your Internet car shoppers – making them feel they want to contact your dealership to drive away in a purchased car—not driven away from their computer screen by poor Web site content.
 
The Old Way
 
When rich media was new, everybody was jumping on the bandwagon as the new hot thing in Web site design. Sites became loaded with cartoon pop-up ads, flashy moving images, catchy animation and jangling tunes. However, businesses soon realized they were actually hurting their business by frustrating and confusing their online customers. Too much rich media becomes annoying and what happens when someone is annoyed? They just tune out and leave your Web site or delete your e-newsletter….and you lose business. So how can dealers judiciously use rich media on their Web sites to successfully inform and entertain? Consider these tips:
Make Good Use of Audio

Music can be one of the best ways to affect mood, enhance visuals and promote your brand feeling. For example, if your target market is people in their teens and twenties, you could have hip and trendy music playing on your site. If you are targeting the more affluent customer, classical music may be more appropriate. If you decide to enhance your online experience with music, make sure it cues up as your site comes up. But also make sure you have a clearly marked button to allow the visitor to turn it off, just in case they’re not a fan of the audio experience.

Consider Interactivity

Interactivity, where your customers interact with your Web site in some way, can be a huge boom for the auto industry. Recent studies show that auto marketers nearly doubled the message association in control groups compared to static GIF or JPG ads, meaning your customers retained your key message better and longer when they exchanged information with your site. When adding interactivity to your site, the key is to remember to give customers something worthwhile to do so they are engaged. Interactive elements can take any number of forms: a fun quiz, an arcade-style game, a ‘customize your search’ form to fill out, etc., but it should always be tied in to your dealership personality and related to the car buying experience.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Oftentimes, the possibilities available with rich media can overcomplicate your Web site with multiple messages and calls to action, resulting in too much text and other distractions. Dealers should use rich media because it is clearly effective (and fun), but it has to be used selectively for maximum impact and minimum potential annoyance. If you want to communicate a key message about your dealership or stock, then state it clearly and elegantly. Always consider very carefully your dealership objectives and strategize how each Web site feature will increase your leads and generate actual visits.

Rich media is a great way to get customers involved with your Web site, but the fine balance between customer engagement and customer annoyance can be difficult to find. There are experienced interactive online marketing companies in the automotive space that can help you find this line. Seek them out to ensure that your online marketing campaign is a truly effective and representative of your dealership brand.

Vol 2, Issue 12

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