Sunday, 20 May 2012

The View From The Cheap Seats

When you live and breathe the internet and emerging trends each day it is easy to forget that from the outside it can seem ever-changing and confusing.  Sitting in the back row of the recent Autotalk Digital Dealer conference in Auckland and listening to the presenters and feedback from the floor, you can see why sometimes messages can appear to be a bit mixed.  However, when looking at the essence and trends presented, they were all very similar and relativity easy to understand.  Let me step through a couple as I saw them.

The internet and online selling is becoming more and more competitive and as a dealer you need to take two clear basic steps to ensure that you remain successful.

Step one is your overall web presence and for most of us this is centred on a company website.  As we all know a website alone means little without customers viewing its content.  To drive the public towards your website there are a number of options; two options which were discussed during the Digital Dealer were:

·         Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) - This allows any search engine like Google to view and understand the content of your website. The better search engines understand your website the more chance you have of being found by customers searching for content, or in most cases, vehicles or company details. Don’t be scared to ask your current website host about SEO and how they have optimised your site. The answer should not sound complicated.

·         Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – This is generally “paid-for” promotion of your website through the use of Google Adwords where your website is listed as an advertisement above or beside the organic/nonpaid search results. To not waste money on SEM you really need to seek expert advice or do a lot of research. The tools available are very good but can take a while to get your head around.

Step two is leveraging a market place like Trade Me to drive customers towards your website and ultimately in the door.  Just like the broader internet, Trade Me is highly competitive but there are a number of simple tools and features that can be used to guarantee a strong presence.  To achieve a similar result as SEM gives you on the web, products like Super Features guarantee top of search presence at a fixed priced with a large format.  As per any sales cycle, from this point you need to start closing the options down for the customer. This was presented by AutoPlay in that moving the customer back to your own more controlled website with the offer of additional information or video is advantageous.  By making this a simple link you remain far more in control of the customers experience.

Neither of the two steps above can be run in isolation and how you balance your spend across both is a tactical decision for your business and one it would be difficult for me to be seen as unbiased on.  In essence it comes down to calculating the best value for money and if you are an AutoBase customer ask your Account Manager for a full breakdown of your listings statistics to understand what traffic your spend is driving. Your website provider should also be able to similar information.

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