No Marketing Manager? No Problem: How to DIY Your Dealership’s Marketing

No Marketing Manager? No Problem: How to DIY Your Dealership’s Marketing

Marketing manager, director of marketing, digital strategist.

Whatever the term, the job is the same for RV and auto dealers across the country: the person who keeps your dealership on buyers’ minds.

But what do you do if your dealership doesn’t have the budget to hire a full-time marketer on staff? You can’t simply ignore marketing. And considering the power of digital in 2021, you definitely can’t ignore online marketing channels. 

Realistically, the solution is to find a digital marketing partner (like our team here at 9 Clouds). Your monthly retainer will definitely cost less than the salary of one full-time marketing manager (strategist, director, etc.). Plus, you’ll get the power of a team of specialized digital marketers who conduct research and testing specific to your industry. 

But if the best-case scenario of hiring a marketing agency isn’t financially possible, you absolutely can bootstrap your own digital marketing strategy.

Read on to find out what’s vital each month, what’s nice if you have time, and who is best to manage the responsibility for each digital marketing service a dealership needs in 2022. 

How to Master the 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing for Dealerships

1. Online Advertising

Must do:

Online advertising covers a lot of territory, including platforms like Twitter, Bing, and LinkedIn. For a dealership running its own digital marketing, we would not recommend any of those platforms.

Your hours working on digital ads is limited, so you should focus on the two most valuable mediums: Facebook and Google advertising.

On Google, we recommend a single campaign, featuring your dealership and branded keywords. On Facebook, we recommend three campaigns hitting the top, middle, and bottom of the automotive sales funnel.

Unsure how to determine the budget breakdown between these campaigns? Check out this post ⬇️

Bonus points:

If you happen to find yourself with a little downtime during the month, we’d recommend adding a second Google Ads campaign for either used or service keywords.

If those categories are not applicable to your dealership, focus on A/B testing your Facebook campaigns to get better results in future months.

Best person for the job: 

Ideally, the person creating your online ads is intimately aware of the buyer’s journey for your store and understands digital technology (or is at least willing to learn about it). This would most likely be your sales or Internet manager, if you have one.

Alternatively, a business development center (BDC) manager could also be trained to set up campaigns on behalf of your dealership.

2. Email Marketing

Must do:

No matter how many emails your dealership sends per month or what those emails are about, you must send them to people who have a relationship with your dealership. This means you can’t buy a list and email people without their consent.

Why? Every day, people receive hundreds of emails. If they didn’t explicitly opt in to your messaging, there’s very little chance of capturing their attention (it’s hard enough if they did opt in!).

With that bit of soapboxing out of the way, here are some real recommendations for automotive email marketing. We’d encourage every dealership to email at least one message about inventory and one about service every month.

Bonus points:

The best way to use a little extra time on email messaging is to follow up with people who have interacted with your other content. Whether that’s through a follow-up email or an automated workflow, checking in with engaged contacts allows you to thoughtfully move buyers farther along the sales funnel.

Check out our tips on getting started with automated emails! ⬇️

Best person for the job:

This is another task best suited for either your Internet / sales manager or your BDC manager, as they’ll have the best understanding of the monthly sales goals and the buying cycle for your store.

3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Must do:

In the 9 Clouds office, we break down search engine optimization (SEO) into two categories: technical SEO and content SEO. Technical SEO should be managed by your website provider, so we’ll focus on the must-do tasks on the content side here.

(We say “should” with a strong warning for auto dealers about duplicate content.) ⬇️

For those DIY-ing your dealership’s marketing, SEO will likely be the most difficult service to grasp. Search rankings rely on a multitude of factors related to your website. It’s not enough to simply have pages; those pages need to be designed and coded to satisfy Google.

We recommend a Moz Pro subscription for those doing marketing in-house. Moz is an industry leader in SEO tools and can help with the keyword insights you need to make data-backed optimizations.

Bonus points:

With SEO, simply doing keyword research and implementing those focus keywords on your website is a big win for the DIY auto marketing team. If you have extra time, set goals of increasing inbound links and decreasing crawl errors.

Best person for the job:

Anyone on the team can do this task, but it should be someone who manages it consistently.

Why? SEO is a complex element of your marketing, and it’s going to take some time for the person who manages it to feel comfortable in the world of SEO. Frequently switching the person responsible won’t allow anyone to gain the knowledge they need to be effective.

4. Lead Tracking and Reporting

Must do:

Here at 9 Clouds, we’re a marketing agency, but we have an important goal for our clients: we’re trying to sell more cars (or schedule more service).

That can’t happen without a good relationship between the dealership’s sales and marketing departments! It’s something we make a priority for our clients, and it’s on the must-do list for those who are marketing in-house. When sales and marketing work together, the understanding of the sales funnel for your store is more complete — and you can utilize lead tracking to the best of your ability.

What does lead tracking mean? For us, it means analyzing data using marketing automation software. For those taking the DIY route, it means tracking your data every month, so you can pinpoint the weakest points in your sales funnel.

Sales Funnel | 9 Clouds

This eBook download explains the lead-to-sale graphic above in full detail, along with a lot of other valuable information on lead tracking and the ideal metrics of a healthy auto sales funnel. Get your free copy below!

Tracking the data for your sales funnel is just half of this final marketing must-do. Reporting can’t be skipped!

Start a spreadsheet to track the key performance indictors (KPIs) from each of your marketing channels every month. For Facebook ads, those KPIs might be cost per click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR), and Offline Events. For your website, you might track web traffic, organic and paid traffic, and vehicle detail page (VDP) and search results page (SRP) views.

Whatever might be impacted by your marketing should be noted so you can see the results of your work.

Bonus points:

Extra time on your hands? Set up goals in Google Analytics for the most important conversions on your website. These goals will allow you to see which marketing channels (paid social, organic traffic, etc.) bring in the most conversions.

Best person for the job:

Reporting is a task that seems easy. Anyone can pull some numbers, right? But analysis is the more valuable piece here. What trends can be found in the numbers, and how will they impact your marketing moving forward?

If you’re operating without a marketing manager, we recommend having each individual report their own stats. Then, the team should come together monthly to review those and plan for the month ahead.

Can You Do It All?

Managing your store’s digital marketing strategy is a lot of work — especially if you’re adding it on top of already-busy workloads for your staff.

While it might not be possible to hire a full-time marketer for your dealership, a partnership with 9 Clouds could be within reach. Talk to us about your marketing strategy. We’re here to help.