THE biggest mistake dealerships make with their internet marketing is that they treat everybody the same.
That’s according to Google industry manager Max Stolton, who took part in a fascinating Live Stage discussion on best practice online on the Live Stage at CDX today.
His fellow panellists were Jimi Matthews, business development director of automotive recruitment specialists Perfect Placement, Auto Trader audience and brand director Catherine Faiers and Group 1 Automotive recruitment manager Paul Bradley.
Expanding on his point, Stolton said dealership marketing messages weren’t necessarily changed whether a prospective purchaser was buying a new or used car, whether they were male or female, or whether they were a parent or not.
He said: ‘When we look at the data and the demographics that come through to our dealership clients, we may say that 22 per cent of your audience looks like a female parent who has recently had a child and is within a certain socio-economic grouping.
‘We’d ask, ”How do you communicate to that person, as opposed to a single male who works in the City and wants to buy the fastest, flashiest car he can? You need to adapt your messages and your strategy to really communicate to people in a way that they want to be communicated to.’
Turning to the importance of a dealership’s presence online, Faiers said a dealer’s brand was ‘more important today than it has ever been’.
She added: ‘We know that 90 per cent of people touch different channels when they’re going through the car-buying journey and that consumers are more confused today than they ever have been.
‘Consistency of brand – both for Auto Trader but also for dealers – has never been more important. We think about that from two angles: the journey that consumers are going through and the value of the brand proposition for dealers. That’s about making sure that with the fragmentation of touchpoints online, you’re in as many of them as you possibly can be.’
Giving his take on best practice online, Matthews said: ‘The main thing dealers need to achieve is to work out the message that they’re trying to get across.
‘Your message online needs to be totally replicated by what you offer when someone does actually come into your business. The two have to marry up, otherwise you’re on a hiding to nothing.’
Asked to suggest one change a dealership could make to increase the strength of its brand online, Bradley replied: ‘Catalysing the social media space. There are far too many users who are in that space at the moment but don’t necessarily catalyse by focusing on the core values of their business and their culture.’
He said dealerships needed to provide clear online answers to the questions ‘Why buy from us?’ and ‘Why are we better than the competition?’ and realise that it’s not all about price. ‘People buy from people,’ he said. ‘It’s within the social media space that I would spend my money.’
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