For marketers in any industry, it’s never been more critical to develop and implement a strong digital strategy.
According to eMarketer, digital ad spending totaled more than $50 billion in 2014, and that number is expected to nearly double in the next five years. Needless to say, understanding how to reach quality leads in these new channels is a top priority.
Today’s highly competitive automotive market is a good example of the profound impact digital marketing has had on the consumer’s buying process. Car buyers are savvy digital and mobile shoppers, and an Interactive Advertising Bureau study shows they’re 71% more influenced by digital marketing content than those shopping for other consumer products. From obtaining payment and inventory information to seeking out advice and reviews, car buyers are carrying out a variety of key shopping steps online.
And when it comes to online shopping, the user experience on mobile is more important than ever. The Social Media Hat reports that nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a Web site if it doesn’t load properly on their mobile devices. In other words, if a company fails to provide a fully immersive, easy-to-use mobile site, it could easily lose business to a competitor.
But just because consumers’ behavior is changing due to the increased importance of digital and mobile, it doesn’t mean dealers don’t still have ample opportunity to reach low-funnel shoppers while they’re in the moment of their important purchase decisions. Dealers, for example, are developing digital marketing strategies to reach customers at every point in their journey—from the initial research phase to the critical final stages when they’re in-market, comparison shopping, and making final decisions about what to buy.
Three keys to effective digital marketing have been proven to help automotive dealers generate better leads—and they can be used by marketers in any industry to help engage customers:
Better Content Gives You A Competitive SEO Strategy
Better visibility means better results, and it’s critical that any business take steps to manage its Web site’s relevance and optimize its presence by investing in custom content creation. At one time, dealers often only posted inventory to their sites, but that’s no longer enough to earn high rankings in search.
Now, good SEO means high-quality, relevant content that delivers an engaging experience for users without sacrificing usability. Even though many users now consume Web site content on small screens, they’ll read a piece of content to completion if it’s interesting enough. Longer engagement with a piece of content signals to search engines that the content is high-quality—and, in turn, boosts a Web site’s ranking.
Take A Mobile-First Approach
Traditional “mobile-friendly” Web sites often strip away key features in order to fit on a smaller screen, compromising the integrity of the site and potentially limiting its functionality for users. With rapidly growing numbers of shoppers increasingly relying on mobile, it’s critical for any business to adopt a mobile-first approach to Web site design. A mobile-first strategy prioritizes the quality of the mobile user’s experience and adds Web site features for larger screens—not the other way around.
By leveraging a responsive Web design that enables users to access the information they need any time, on any size screen, businesses can deliver a fully immersive mobile experience and better engage customers. A mobile-first approach is more important than ever, given Google’s recent decision to include a mobile-friendliness factor in its algorithm—which means sites that aren’t designed for mobile might not show up in search results at all.
Apply A Human Touch
No matter what technology you employ to help execute your digital marketing plan, today’s consumers expect a service-driven experience. A cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach that lacks human expertise and attention won’t deliver the same results. Your digital marketing team should include professionals with experience and a broad perspective on your industry, enabling them to design a strategy that’s customized for your business.
Additionally, the strategy is just the beginning. It’s important to regularly evaluate the performance of your digital marketing plan and track results, making adjustments as needed. If your content isn’t generating the engagement you expected, for example, your digital marketing team needs to be equipped with the tools to determine why—and know how to use them to deliver the desired ROI.
These three best practices all emerged as a result of the increased significance of mobile throughout the customer’s journey. But they have more in common. Together, they mark a shift in perspective that places greater emphasis on the quality of the user experience. When content is more relevant and engaging to users, when they can find it more easily, and when it better equips them to make a decision about their purchases, businesses and their customers both benefit.