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At a recent Driving Digital event the question was asked where should a dealer be advertising these days, and indeed where do Trusted Dealers advertise and I thought it would be useful to share our current activity just to keep dealers informed and hopefully to provide some ideas for your own future activity.
So where do Trusted Dealers advertise to get people to our website and generate enquiries to our members?
There are five main marketing channels and public relations.
Firstly the bulk of our money goes on paid search advertising, either on Google, Bing, Facebook or other websites. We target long tail traffic and key words in order to bring people to the website at the point when they are most likely to be actually in the market to buy a car. We know that the process starts about 18 months out and at that point people are interested in reviews from WhatCar?, and are really on a bit of a fact finding mission as to what to buy.
In our consideration these people are a bit too far in advance of our sales funnel for communication, however we do work with WhatCar? to make sure that these people are presented with Trusted Dealers early on in the process.
As people search through and select a car, they probably become a bit more picky about the dealer as well and will turn to sites such as JudgeService or Reevoo to check out how good the dealer is, but when it comes to the final search, 2 to 3 weeks that they take to actually pick and buy the car, the majority of this activity takes place on search engines, and here we are interested in people who know what they want and are looking for that perfect vehicle, not so interested in people who are doing generic searches on used cars.
So it is folly to bid on the term used cars, much more sensible to bid on used red Ford Focus Zetec in Leeds. Now that is someone who has decided they want a Focus, they know what colour they want, and they know where they are looking. Of course they might not always use our tracking numbers to call, but at the end of the day whether we generate a walk in, an email or a phone call, a chat even, it is still an opportunity to do business.
Our next channel is distribution partnerships whereby we take our members stock and through the benefit of our scale are able to populate it on to other channels at extremely preferential rates on our members’ behalf. These would include WhatCar?, with whom we have an exclusive partnership and an endorsement as the only place that WhatCar? recommends to buy a used car.
In addition we advertise on Compucars and specialist sites such as Find Vauxhall, Adzuna and the like. These all produce a number of high quality used car leads, month in, month out and again add to the volume of leads that we are able to deliver to our members be they email, telephone or walk in.
The third area of activity is around email marketing where both our own database and borrowed lists are used to generate traffic to the website to support our members.
All of these activities help support our fourth channel, SEO, or search marketing activity which is all based around delivering lots of good content for people in the car search process and in general. NFDA Trusted Dealers has more than doubled the number of natural search visitors over the past 12 months and with a fair wind hope to do so over the next 12 as well.
Finally, we support the site using PR. For example we are about to launch a PR campaign in conjunction with the NFDA promoting the NFDA Trusted Dealers and causes that we believe are important to consumers. These will include areas like clocking, on line ghost cars and scams, and so on. With the NFDA we hope this enables us to punch above our weight in terms of media interest.
Social media – as was revealed at the recent Driving Digital, many leading dealer groups are now taking social media very seriously.
We do use it but I don’t see it so much as a channel – more of a communication choice.
Lee Manning, the digital marketing manager at Perrys, articulated really well how social media is just a natural evolution from the pen, to the telephone, to email, and now to Facebook or Twitter, or whatever means the consumer chooses next. Moreover consumers have learnt that by communicating one to one but with the world watching, they can quite often get a much better service quickly than if they had turned to traditional mail, telephone, or even email discussion with a brand.
Trusted Dealers is of course an intermediary between the consumer and the dealer in providing an aggregated level of stock to help consumers find what they are looking for, and whilst our relationship will never be as direct, we hope our social media activity reinforces the benefits of buying from a franchised trusted dealer to everybody who comes into contact with us.