Every box on your checklist is ticked and your digital marketing finally seems to be firing on all cylinders. Your dealership’s site looks great, your display ads are reaching shoppers across the web, your rankings on search engine results pages are high and you just posted an inspiring announcement to Facebook about your company’s local Little League sponsorship. It all feels so great! Maintaining the momentum behind such a comprehensive digital presence, however, is a tremendous amount of work. So, naturally, when you find out that your dealership should have a blog in addition to all of the aforementioned, you might feel more than a little resistant to the suggestion.
Hear us out. The benefits of blogging are beyond numerous, and many of the points made below may provide new and more detailed insight as to why this is a worthwhile investment of your valuable time and effort.
At a high level we can all agree that a well-maintained blog has tremendous value as a digital marketing tool and is an important channel for attracting new customers. But let’s dig a little deeper. It can be used as a mini-CRM tool. It can help establish employees as true authorities on the vehicles and services that they’re selling, thereby increasing customer confidence and website conversions. It allows visitors to see how you deal with negative comments or common customer service challenges while personalizing and giving a “face” to the dealership. It will dramatically increase indexable original content so there’s a greater likelihood your site will show up for a larger number of relevant keyword searches. In short, a blog is well worth the time and effort.
With this in mind, let’s go a step further and examine 10 common excuses dealers have for not blogging and the realities that address each one:
10. “Blogging sounds expensive. We don’t have any site development money in the budget.”
There are several open-source (free) content management systems available for anyone to use. WordPress, for example, is one of the best and has a large community of users and developers supporting the platform. You simply download the software and install it in a new “/blog/” folder on your server. The only associated expense you might consider is design work to make the blog consistent with the rest of your website.
9. “We need to spend all of our effort on SEO and SEM for new business development.”
Blogs are, in fact, a rich source of SEO-related content and should be considered an organic search strategy priority. A blog can address and facilitate many of the major facets that Google’s algorithm favors, including:
– Frequently updated and 100 percent original content.
– Unique, keyword-laden URLs with custom meta data for each.
– Integration and sharing within YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
– Increased likelihood of attracting natural incoming links from relevant sources.
– A blog marketing strategy is never mutually exclusive to an SEO strategy. It is the backbone of an SEO or content marketing strategy.
8. “There simply isn’t enough time or aren’t enough resources to generate content for Twitter, Facebook AND a blog.”
You should stop thinking of a blog as a separate media platform that you’ll have to feed and manage on a daily basis. Instead, start considering it as the resource that can drive other digital outreaches. With Facebook connect integration, WordPress plugins, and several other applications, it’s very easy to automatically update your social media properties each and every time you hit the “Publish” button on your blog. Of course, you’ll want to include additional content unique to these other properties, but each blog entry is an opportunity to reach your social audiences automatically, and is a great supplement to your social efforts overall.
7. “Between time on the lot and ongoing customer relationship management, we’ll never find the time.”
Blogs are an excellent platform for broadcasting timely and relevant customer communications (upcoming in-store events, promotions, new model information, etc.) while giving your business a personality and unique voice. Engage with existing and future customers in your blog comments. Answer their questions and address their concerns for the rest of the world to see. Customers with an issue may have it resolved, and uncertain shoppers could enjoy increased confidence when they view interactions and see tangible examples of how they can expect to be treated when doing business with you.
6. “I’d rather spend the time creating new services and product pages.”
A blog can boost your site’s speed to market. If you have a new service or product in the pipeline, you can start drawing relevant organic search traffic and local awareness before it’s even available. A blog can provide your website with the potential to rank for any term you can think of in a matter of minutes. “Main” pages on your site can take time to develop and have to fit into your navigation and architecture, whereas a blog gives you a space to share information about a new vehicle model, for example, and get it visible to customers in the short term. The content you can include – all easily filtered via categories and tags – is limited only by your imagination. And remember, every time you publish a new post, you’re creating a unique, static page for the search engine spiders to process, index, and display in their results.
5. “We can’t wait for customers to come to us. We have to use television and radio to go find them.”
A blog is outbound marketing and customers are far more likely to find your business if you have one. If you’re consistent and maintain the momentum and quality of your posts, don’t plan on writing in a vacuum for long because relevant organic search traffic will not be far behind. Also, remember what you just read about syndicating your posts to your social media properties. This will simultaneously increase the frequency of your other social media updates, casting a much wider net and getting more local shoppers reading your content and visiting your dealership.
4. “Our biggest competitor outranks us, and they don’t have a blog.”
A blog makes your dealership site more outstanding to search engines. Your competitor’s lack of a blog isn’t a reason for you not to bother – it’s actually a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself and stand out to search engines and shoppers alike. Google rewards high-quality, original content with great search visibility. Furthermore, potential customers are more likely to buy something from a site that appears to have actual human beings behind it.
3. “I’m the only member of the dealership’s marketing team, which means I’ll have to manage a blog myself. I don’t have that kind of time.”
To optimize search visibility with a blog, yes, some substantial content pieces are required. Not every post, however, needs to be lengthy. You can link to a relevant news article, write an intro, post a quote, add a sentence or two about why it’s relevant, and you’re done! You can do the same with embeddable videos, articles or whitepapers. You’ll want to space shorter posts between those of greater density, but the latter can wait until you have more time available to write. Also, a blog that is updated even just once a week is still a blog. The more posts the better, but do what you can manage. You don’t need a lot of time to make a major difference in how search engines view your site.
2. “I’m not a talented writer, and I don’t want to devalue my brand.”
Not everyone was born to write and many authoring options exist – some possibly right under your nose. Start by asking for contributions from existing employees. Everyone at your dealership – from the VP of Sales to a summer intern – has the potential to be a blog author.
1. “The website is already full of helpful information about our products/services.”
While that may be true, a blog helps your dealership become a true authority on the vehicles you sell and the services you provide. A blog is an effective way to build shopper confidence and increase the likelihood of a sale. Potential customers will know and appreciate that there is a knowledgeable staff behind the site that cares about them, values their business, and will be easy to reach if there are any questions or concerns.
The Short Version
An original, relevant, consistent, and engaging blog will likely help you sell more cars and is, therefore, well worth the effort. If you’ve passed on the idea before, take another look. We hope you see the value of this critical strategy in a new light, and we invite questions or comments below.
David Pye is Search Operations Manager at Dealer.com