Article

Digital Marketing for Dealerships Can Be Frustrating

July 2011, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Harlene Doane - Also by this author

What Makes an Internet Director Crazy



Every job has its moments—those moments when you just want to bang your head against the wall over and over again. For a dealer, it might be over the insanity of some new regulation, or it might be an insane customer who expects to trade-in their vehicle (that is flipped by $10,000) on a newer vehicle and lower their payment all on their 560 credit score.
 
Mr. Dealer, you are not alone. Your Internet director is experiencing the same level of frustration, just with different circumstances. Every dealership at this point is involved in digital marketing either proactively (they are actively soliciting customers through digital channels) or reactively (customers walking through their door have checked up on their business online before arriving).

Recently, Auto Dealer Monthly asked several Internet directors who are proactively involved in digital marketing which aspects of digital marketing frustrates them the most, and the compilation of those responses might surprise you.

The Dealership Website
Don’t think for a second that any dealership Internet director believes they have the perfect website because not a single director thought so. Time after time, Internet directors expressed frustration over their dealership websites. It’s usually one of the largest digital marketing investments the dealership makes, therefore both the dealer and the Internet director have high expectations of it. When a site is difficult to administer, it wastes precious productivity time, and in some smaller stores, that translates directly to lost vehicle sales.

Additionally, the lag time between identifying a problem and actually being able to do something about it due to the need to contact the Web provider can be very frustrating for Internet directors. The more services you rely on your Web provider for, the more frustrating this can be.

Oftentimes, Internet directors don’t have enough information in a format that is easily digestible regarding the consumer behavior on their websites. Several directors indicated they can spend enormous amounts of time on fine-tuning the look of a site, ensuring that every vehicle’s details are listed or that every special is up to date. However, they can’t always get those translated to positive consumer activity (leads or phone calls) through their Web stats. Directors want information to prove that all their website digital marketing efforts are worthwhile.

Vendors Who Point Fingers
Internet directors want vendor partners who are responsive and focused on solutions. There are so many pieces of software that need to interface in the dealership today and when one of them fails, chaos can rein. There is much discussion regarding having one vendor for everything or many vendors specializing in individual pieces of the puzzle. On one hand, if you have one vendor, you generally know which provider the problem lies with if something goes wrong. It doesn’t mean you get any quicker resolution to the problem; you just know which number to dial.

But if you have several vendors and something goes wrong, say an inventory feed, it can become a nightmare trying to get it resolved if you have vendors who are finger pointers. Oftentimes Vendor A will claim, “It’s not our software; it must be Vendor B.” Then Vendor B claims the problem must be with Vendor A or Vendor C. At some point (usually sooner than later), the dealership employee in charge of resolving the issue becomes frustrated with this game. They don’t really care (at that moment anyway) who caused the problem; they just want it fixed because ultimately they are the ones who will be accountable to the dealer.

Many Internet directors believe their dealership websites are a reflection of themselves and the job they do, so you can imagine their frustration when a vendor doesn’t work at the same pace they do or doesn’t express the same level of concern for a problem.

Balancing Time and Resources
Internet directors have a really tough job because digital marketing is so broad. Not every dealership is large enough to warrant having an Internet director and a digital marketing employee, so they wind up wearing both hats. With all the choices available in digital marketing, Internet directors have to make decisions as to where to spend their time and money for the dealers expected return.

Ask most any Internet director which they believe is more effective: email marketing or social media. They will likely tell you email marketing. Why? Because it is fairly easy to measure results and doesn’t require huge amounts of time. The frustration with it is the uncertainty of delivery and readership. Do customers believe you are ignoring them when their Internet service providers block the photos or the video you sent? Or did they get it but just not view any of it?

Social media on the other hand requires time, sometimes large chunks and other times small increments, but it is extremely difficult to measure. Social media is still a foreign concept to some dealers, which means employees who spend much time on it can expect that time to be viewed as “wasted.”

If you had to justify your earnings which would you rely on—a form of media that can be easily measured or a form that can’t be measured yet? This doesn’t mean Internet directors don’t see value in social media; it just means there is still a significant gap in being able to measure the time spent versus the value.

Most Internet directors, especially the ones we communicated with, want to do a good job and meet the customer’s expectations while meeting the expectations of the dealer. They’d just like to reduce the amount of head banging along the way.

Vol. 8, Issue 5

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email:  

Blog

On-the-Point

Jim Ziegler
Objects in the Rearview Mirror

By Jim Ziegler
The past is right behind us and the future is coming fast. The Alpha Dawg plots a course for your store’s success and shares advice for Elon Musk, Johan de Nysschen, and pre-owned managers.

The Big Talent Drain

By Jim Ziegler
The Alpha Dawg tackles the shortage of talent in the managerial ranks and reflects on Amazon’s rumored foray into vehicle sales, the imminent used-car correction, Hyundai’s plan for the Genesis brand, and the untimely passing of Tammie LeBleu.

A Faster Horse

By Jim Ziegler

Strangers in the Mall

By Jim Ziegler

Opening Observations

Over the Curb