By Brian Chee
Auto dealers hear a lot of noise out there.
And sometimes that makes it hard to focus on what really matters. Whether it’s Apple flexing litigious muscles and debuting a newish iPhone, or the groaning moans of Facebook’s stock price, the digital space is unlike any other when it comes to the sheer volume of news, rumor and conjecture.
It was especially that way in 2012. Call it the Year of Transition — from what we think worked to what really did work, and how. As for next year, call it the Year of Integration — when “digital” stops being what those people do in the corner of the building and becomes a fully integrated part of business marketing and communications, driven by and accountable to clear business metrics. From selling to socializing, we now connect via digital technology, and our work lives should be the same.
With that in mind, here are seven basic rules to remember as 2013 nears:
1. Commit Dollars to Content Marketing
Make sure you’re one of the crazy dealerships that invests, because digital is all about the stuff people watch, read and share. And here’s the thing: Hire a writer or a small local company, and generate original content to go along with the valuable stuff you’re curating. Don’t get sold duplicate content.
2. Stink, Stank, Stunk: Make quality the foundation of your digital execution
People make mistakes all the time. The trick is to put in place a process for quality control that catches mistakes and optimizes communication — whether email, ad, social content, video or blog. Make sure there’s a human check in place. Be sure the messaging is on target. Hold your vendors accountable for the way they represent your brand. Yes, the speed of digital is fast and furious — but that will never excuse sloppy work. Take the extra step to make sure every piece of digital communication is on brand, error-free and aligns with advertising rules as much as possible.
3. Measure twice, cut once
Establishing clear objectives gives your team the opportunity to work forward in a sustained and methodical way. Using metrics to establish and track those objectives puts science to your systems and creates an environment of perpetual optimization. And that’s what digital marketing is all about: setting sights, establishing a routine and relentlessly optimizing.
4. Will they talk to me, and what are they saying behind my back?
The two pillars of social media are engagement and reputation management. Measure your effectiveness by progress made on these two metrics: how often do you truly engage with fans, and how effective are you at solving problems and boosting ratings?
5. Diversify your traffic sources
Frankly, too much search means too much reliance on the whims of Matt Cutts and the Google Brain Trust — which can be hazardous to your business. Here’s an idea of what your traffic sources should look like, in order of volume: Search, Direct, Feed, Social, PPC
6. Lunch and learn about digital
Digital is more than a marketing communications tactic. It’s a shift in the way our culture communicates. So make learning about digital trends and innovation a part of your total organization’s mission.
7. Design for mobile, write for social
By designing for mobile you create priorities that are tightly aligned with your digital objectives, things like leads and phone calls. It forces your team to make tough decisions about what really needs to be on your site, and where.