Blogs – some people love the word, some people hate it and others are left so confused by it that they aren’t sure what to think.
The reason for all of these differing opinions to blogging is really due to the fact that everyone thinks that they need one and they just get it out there for the sake of content.
Let’s clear up the confusion and properly define what a blog is. A blog is simply a vehicle for housing information online. It’s an article that belongs on your website, similar to posts on social media. The hype around blogging is generally due to the idea that Google rewards those with content on their websites. This is often misunderstood as any content, which feeds the negative reputation that blogs get in certain circles. A lot of websites have put any content they could in their blog for the sake of just having more. This leads to a lot of poor content. Better uses of blogs follow a few simple rules:
For every industry, for every business and for every customer there are articles, videos and blogging content that follows these three rules and supports business operations. Understanding how those align is what will set your Dealership’s Blog apart. Following these three rules, take a look at these 3 dealership tips for creating valuable blog content.
If you are a dealership’s internet manager, or even more so a dealer group’s internet manager, the task of setting up relevant and valuable blogs for the dealership(s) can be daunting. Leverage what’s happening on the sales floor.
Car sales can be competitive, especially in today’s environment, and a sales team is equally competitive. That’s the way the dynamic needs to be though! Enable your salespeople to jump on and provide some content and make sure there is a clear delivery of leads based off of the content author (if you have complex BDC rules, you’ll have to figure out the logistics, but it can be done).
All it takes is 1. If one sales person puts up an article and 1 lead comes in from it, you’ll have a rush of excitement around the dealership. Once one person starts earning money off of web based content, that’s the only motivator the rest need. With varying degrees of technology and writing skills, make it easy for them to get content up there. As the person responsible for the performance of a website, offer to support this yourself either by taking their thoughts and writing it down or editing their work when they provide it to you.
We’ve all heard the argument before and that, “Not everyone is a writer,” and I will certainly not take away from the validity of that statement. Not everyone is a writer, but most are thinkers – especially in sales. Have them jot down their thoughts and notes and then have someone else write them. At that point, a better positioned “writer” should take these sales floor insights and put them into prose – choose either someone in the dealership or a third party content writer at this point.
Stop thinking about your dealership’s website as a “digital property” and start thinking of it as a sales tool, or a “Virtual Showroom”. Get your sales team involved.
If your blog provides you with no other value, at least it helps save you from constantly repeating yourself.
I’m not talking about a FAQ page on your website. Most websites already have those and if you check in Google Analytics Content Drilldown, no one uses it! These are questions you’re asked time and time again within the dealership or over the phone with current or potential customers.
Take a quick survey of your sales staff and delivery specialist/technology person, and then create how-to guides that you can place on your website. Do these on a regular basis to get a steady flow of content.
Whenever a customer calls in for a question, make sure you’re still giving them that personal attention that will make them a loyal customer for the next time they’re ready to buy, or if they haven’t bought yet so that they definitely choose you – then ask to follow up by sending them a quick link to your content. If you were counting, if this is a potential new customer, you’ve just helped them and got their email in one swoop – two birds, one stone.
If you’re running out of questions to populate the website with, use tools like AnswerThePublic.com for more questions based on global insights. You can also go back and update some previous content to make it more specific to recent questions (Pro tip: if you’re using vehicle model year to stay specific, you’ve provided yourself with inherent yearly content updates).
Most successful car salesmen are successful over time based on repeat car buyers. If you’re in the habit of leasing then your buyers are in the habit of repeat purchases every 3 years on average. Making sure those customers come back to you is likely the biggest area for revenue over the long term, but in the near term, you need to get prospective customers into that funnel.
Try to balance your content to support customers to keep them coming back to you and to also answer questions that will bring new customers to your sales floor. This may seem counter intuitive, because these may be the more fun articles to produce, but don’t spend too much time on the fun vehicle spotlights that aren’t going to generate customers and are just for enthusiasts. Unless an automotive publication is going to pay your bills for that enthusiast-style writing, you’re better off focusing on what will bring you sales and customer loyalty. Make sure your blog is a resource for those that are looking to make an automotive decision.
Customer intent articles are around what happens in the purchase or signals purchase. This could be queries about “Lease vs. trade”, “What do I do at end of lease?”, “Do I need wheel and dent insurance from a dealership?”, or “How to purchase a car online?” and so on.
Customer loyalty questions are going to be around “How do I sync my bluetooth?”, “How to set up my garage door?” or “What do I do when [insert any dashboard light] comes on?”, and so on. Your service related questions will help bring your loyalty-based content full circle with your buyer intent, because, as most solid car salespeople are aware, the service department is ripe with leads.
The world of automotive marketing is quickly becoming emotionless, crowded and confusing. A lot of this due to the efficiencies of scale that manufacturers are providing to independent dealerships. If you visit 5 Toyota dealerships’ Facebook pages you’ll see a series of identical posts on all of them. If those 5 Toyota dealerships happen to have a blog, they’ll also have it full of the same content as well. Manufacturers and web providers want to make things easy for the dealerships which is understandable but at the end of the day, a dealership’s blog is not for the dealership’s ease of use, it’s for the customers.
If your dealership has the same content as the one down the road, you can forget about that post on your dealership’s site providing any real help to your prospective customer. You can also forget about your duplicate content showing up in relevant Google search results.
Your best bet is to stay authentic, stay local and stay valuable.
If it helps, and provides better supporting content and visuals, then use what is handed to you by the manufacturer or from national sources, but make sure that there is content that is unique to your dealership. The goal is that when someone in your area searches something, they find your dealership’s blog and not blogs from all 10 competitive dealerships in your area.
Rather than having emotion stripped out of the online car shopping experience, enable your dealership to put emotion back into it because in the world of manufacturer dictated advertising prices, record lows on new car margins and the ease of shopping multiple dealerships online, emotion is still going to be a strong factor in selling a vehicle.
Hopefully, taking an original step towards content production with blogging is the tipping point to start utilizing more original content, including photography and videos. The same pitfalls exist with manufacturer provided photography and videos, as well as stock content. The production value is great and kudos to the brands putting these together but let’s keep that at Tier 1 and Tier 2. At Tier 3, when you’re focused on your dealership, let’s keep things original.
Some final thoughts and bonus tips:
You decide if these are for the sales floor or for your blog, or both.
It’s time to stand out among web searches.