Digital Marketing: Billboard vs Engagement
“At the moment, our research shows buyers making 90% of their purchase decision before contacting the dealer.” And there it was. I had been having thoughts like these swirling around in my head for a few months now. But when Charles Bowles at Trader Interactive spoke with me, I had no idea how much our industry had shifted.
I have a theory about Digital Marketing in our construction equipment industry and I believe it can be considered in two ways.
- First, is what I’d like to call Billboard Marketing, which refers to digital strategies geared towards establishing and maintaining digital visibility. These approaches are often additional marketing strategies, while continuing the existing methods of communication.
- The second approach is called Engagement Marketing and includes digital activities to connect and develop engagement opportunities with your target audience. Dealers who implement Engagement Marketing consider their digital marketing presence as transformative and suggest these methods could replace most, if not all, past marketing approaches.
There are three aspects of Digital Marketing that I would like to look at and compare Billboard and Engagement strategies. They include Websites, Email Marketing and Advertising campaigns.
Most dealers have a website today, which is a great start, but the buck doesn’t stop there. Listing your equipment, providing contact information and location falls under the Billboard approach: you present your information to visitors and hope they contact you. However, for Engagement Marketing, your website should provide a virtual visit to your dealership; images and videos of your inventory, and related documents showing the quality of the equipment and records of its health and maintenance. The icing on the cake would lead the visitor to a button they can click on to take them onto the next step. (Replace “Contact for more information” with “I’m interested in Buying”) But let’s be real, this call to action isn’t the icing, it’s the entire cake! How do you measure whether you are leading your visitor into an engaging relationship? Make sure you provide ample information about the machine so they can decide on the spot. If there’s not enough detail, Bowles says 90% of visitors will go to check out another listing to find what they need. Hop onto Google Analytics to help you assess whether you’re Engaging or Billboarding.
The next common aspect of Digital Marketing is email campaigning. Email campaigns are a great way to stay connected to customers and present new products. To use email campaigns effectively, it is important to consider your audience and develop strategies in order to create a continuing conversation. Mail programs such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp provide the tools to send information to tens of thousands of people. A Billboard approach sends the same message to everyone who drives by it – no matter who they are or what they are looking for. We don’t want to use email campaigns the same way. Instead, consider a more strategic approach, engaging different segments of your audience based off their interests. Provide a mixture of Equipment For Sale messages and industry, fleet focused education. Use the tools provided by the email platforms to understand who is interacting with your campaigns and change the messaging and frequency for each segment to further engage your audience. While email campaigns can feel like a one-way communication, change your mindset and remember, email is most effective as a conversation tool. So, create campaigns that encourage your audience to talk back!
Finally, Digital Advertising, whether Google, Facebook or others, are designed to bring visitors to your digital dealership: your website. The Billboard approach will stop at bidding on generic words (ex. Caterpillar excavator, Komatsu bulldozer, Case backhoe, etc.) which will hopefully bring visitors to your website to see what your dealership has to offer. But let’s keep in mind that digital advertising can be expensive, so the set up and focus of your advertisements should be focused for an Engagement approach. Let’s milk every opportunity! How about bidding on specific machines that are in your inventory? Specific combinations like Komatsu D65EX, for example, will have less bidders, making them cheaper and bringing visitors exactly to what they are looking for, the machine on your website.
The digital marketplace is real and becoming the source of future sales. All leading industries are showing signs of transformation into the Engagement model of digital marketing. Automotive sales, Commercial trucks are some but do not forget about Amazon and similar services. We are all proof that Engagement Marketing and Sales keeps us coming back for another slice.
We will continue this discussion soon.