Your dealership and service center is continuously finding a way to stand out. Monthly sales, service coupons, and community events are all possible ways you have or community to do so. Although all of those continue to prove efficient, I will be covering possibly an even more cost-effective strategy; content marketing.
The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In turn, creating a blog is content marketing. You are creating and distributing content to attract and retain customers, with the goal for them to contribute profits to your dealership.
You may be thinking, “Perfect, I will start writing blogs and bring in new customers.” I like your enthusiasm, but not so fast. Unfortunately, it is not that easy! There are a lot of dealerships and automotive businesses with blogs. You must do your research first and build a strategy to succeed.
That is what hope to help you with today. I will be giving you the framework to start a blog and build a content marketing strategy. Here are my 8 Steps to Building Your Dealership’s Blog.
1. Identify Your Publics
First, let’s start by filling up with gas. Customers fuel everything you do when it comes to inbound marketing, and your blog should be no different. Whether you call them your targeted publics, audience, customers, database – it is vital you know the people are trying to attract.
Understand your buyer personas; what these people do for a living, their online habits, what they are interested in, and what they read is all very important.
2. Set SMART Goals
Once you know whom you want to target and understand them, it’s time to set a goal. SMART goals may be something you have used or are currently using in your everyday business practice. I believe that SMART goals hold you more accountable. By laying out precisely what you’ll do, how you will know if you have succeeded, and when your deadline is, you will be more determined and focused.
For those unfamiliar or needing a refresher with the SMART acronym, here is how it breaks down:
Specific – Strategically outline what you will do, how you will do it, and who is responsible
Measurable – Determine how you will know if you have succeeded with metrics or data
Achievable – Make sure your goal is realistic and attainable
Relevant – Make sure your goal is in line with your dealership’s goals, values, and mission
Time-based – Be specific about when you will have things done and when it is time to measure if you have succeeded or not
Example: Our internet marketing team will be posting one blog per week, via our strategic schedule, every Thursday, starting the first week of September (9/5/19) until mid-December (12/12/19) – at which time we want our organic traffic to have increased by 3% month-over-month.
Specifics – What? One blog post per week. Who? Internet Marketing Team. How? Strategic schedule
Measurables – 3% increase in organic traffic month-over-month
It is achievable? Yes, a 3% increase can be setting the bar high, but if a sound strategic plan is built and executed, it can be achieved.
Is it relevant? Yes, an increase in organic traffic means more people are finding and coming to your site.
Time-based – Every Thursday, from 9/5/19 to 12/12/19
You know your audience, you’ve set your goals, now it’s time to dig a little deeper and find what you may be writing blog posts about.
Keyword research is a part of every Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. Moreover, just like all of the other pages and content on your website, blog posts should be optimized. Finding interesting keywords and phrases will also help when it comes to brainstorming ideas!
Some of the best content marketing research tools, in my opinion, are:
- Google Search Console – Analyze the keywords your dealership’s site ranks for and ones you may want to improve upon.
- Utilize Related Questions & Auto-Complete – After you’ve entered your query into Google, scroll to the bottle and see what searches relate yours. Also, note if any auto-complete boxes pop-up when you are typing your query.
- BuzzSumo – See what topics are being talked about and shared across the web.
- Answer the Public – Get the what, when, where, and why questions related to the topic you may want to write about.
It is also essential to read and keep up with blogs yourself. Stay up-to-date with the industry and see what other dealers, leaders, and your competition might be blogging. Read blogs that are not related to the automotive industry as well. Find posts you enjoy or articles that where helpful you, and analyze them. Ask yourself, “Why did I like this?” “How was this helpful to me?” Take notes, or bookmark them so you can reference them later.
4. Generate Ideas
Researching should get your mind going and uncover a variety of ideas you will want to cover. It may also give you a lot of pieces and segments they need to put together. If you feel stuck, brainstorming is a great way to build upon ideas and start to organize them.
Individual – Ask yourself a question or read one sentence about a topic you might cover. Then, set a timer for 3 minutes and write down everything that comes to your mind! This can free your mind and unlock a connection, a new idea, or a fresh perspective.
Team – Gather your marketing team and a variety of others from your dealership. Bringing everyone together and seeing what they think is not only a great team-building exercise but a great creative format.
Customers might ask salespeople the same things over and over. Service advisors might have been asked similar questions about a part quit often. The receptionist could get calls throughout the day to clarify one particular thing.
Gathering everyone together could unlock a lot of things. Building your post from the ground-up with multiple point-of-views only makes sense as it will be seen by just as many once you post it.
5. Build a Schedule
Think of one blog post like installing a new spark plug – this is just one aspect of a big machine. If your goal is to have an efficient engine, replacing your spark plugs will get you closer to your goal. Similarly, if your goal is to attract more people to your website, building a strategic content marketing plan will help push you towards your goals.
A well-structured plan keeps you organized, on task, on topic, and on time! Your plan should be clear and adaptable. So, if you get stuck you can turn to it, or if a leader happens to be absent, someone else has to take over and not miss a beat.
Before building a plan, you may want to perform a content audit. This involves organizing all of you current assets to make sure you won’t be duplicating content and to find additional opportunities. Finding all of your current assets can tricking. I recommend scanning through any marketing folders you have or your team may have, searching your Customer Relationship Management System (CRM), and your Content Management System (CMS).
Along with in internal content audit, you will want to consider an external audit. Gather information on any upcoming events, sales, or specials your dealership will be hosting. You can inform your publics about these events through an informational blog post.
Once all of your current content, plans, and new ideas are gathered, you are ready to build a schedule.
Schedules do not have long and complicated. Often, you can just combine your goals and ideas. A simple example could be:
|10/17/19||Rina||5 Tips for Keeping Your SUV’s Cargo Space Clean|
|10/24/19||Chris||Fixed Ops Digital Halloween Party Announcement|
|10/31/19||Sydney||Prepping Your Car for Winter|
Your schedule may be more in-depth and in include check-in dates, editing, images, notes, SEO review and more. There is no right or wrong answer, do whatever is best for your team and strategy. Just remember to keep it organized and consistent!
6. Write & Edit
It is time for all of your research and planning to be executed.
Much like building your schedule, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to writing a blog post. There are some general guidelines and dos or don’ts, but every blog is or should be unique.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Audience and Tone – Remember that your targeted publics are your fuel. They are why your choice to write about what you are. Keep in mind what they like to read, where they read, and how much time they have.
Point of View – First, second, or third person. They can all be used for a blog post depending on your topic, audience, and tone.
Search Engine Optimization – Don’t throw out all of the keyword research you have done. Find ways to use those words and phrases in your writing creatively. Also, don’t forget about the user’s experience. Make sure your post is easy to read from multiple screens and browsers. If you use images or videos, which you likely will, make sure they are relevant and load quickly.
There are many other reasons SEO is important when writing content.
Remember, writing just about everything involves telling a story. No matter what the blog post is about, be bold, gripping, relatable, and creative! Stories are what people remember, and if people can relate to your content or find it useful, they will share it.
Before posting, editing it crucial! Have others on your marketing look over your post multiple times. They should be inspecting your concepts, structure, SEO, spelling, and grammar. Pass your article through the editing process 3-4 times to ensure quality before your post and promote it.
After editing and revision, it time to post your blog and promote it!
Content writers often spend 40% of their time writing a post and 60% of the time promoting it.
Sharing your content on social media is vital! It lets your audience knows you have something to offer. Creating shareable content expands your reach and rewards.
Don’t slack! Take time to create posts with unique synthetics and images or graphics. Create social media posts that entice people to click-through to your post and let it do the rest.
8. Follow Up
A strategic marketer is always looking for ways to learn and be more efficient. That is why your job is not over after you post and promote your blog.
It is vital to keep up with it! If people leave comments or ask questions, engage them in a positive manner. Starting a discussion around your blog can lead to more questions and posts.
Learn from everything that happens after your blog is posted. Are people sharing it? What is the average time-on-site? What is the bounce rate? You will learn both in the short-term and long-term what works and what doesn’t.
9. Bonus Tip - Reach Out
If you have questions, feel stuck, or confused – reach out! Contact industry leaders, consultants, or friends.
Some people might fit into all three categories, like us here at Fixed Ops Digital. Although we may not handle your blog we do provide world-class SEO and content marketing services. We will surely be able to answer your questions or point you in the direction you need to go!