I wish I started blogging sooner.
That's one regret that most online marketers share, myself included.
Blogging has a unique ability to grow and nurture an audience of interested consumers. Many thought leaders today have become well-known because of their blogs.
What I'm about to share with you works extremely well in driving traffic and leads because the focus is less on your dealership and more on your readers (i.e., customers).
Consumers are going online to research products and services. Your blog is a distribution point where consumers can get the education they need to make informed purchase decisions.
But having a blog isn't enough, especially if it's being used to spew useless sales-related information.
I talk a lot about having a strategy and following through on it. That's where I observe many dealerships get hung up. Nothing in business can compensate for the lack of strategy. Without one, you'll flip-flop your way to burnout and defeat.
Here's an 8-step process that you can use to create and launch a successful dealership blog in 2017. Don't have time to read the full post? Use on of the jump links below.
|How to Get Organized|
|How to Define Your Objective|
|How to Create a List of Blog Topics|
|How to Create an Editorial Calendar|
|How to Stay Relevant to Your Audience|
|How to Include Additional Value|
|How to Email Your List|
|Bonus Email Strategy|
There's nothing worse than wasting valuable time tracking down documents and resources. In this example, we're going to use Google Drive and Google Docs as the hub for all strategy creation.
Start by going to drive.google.com. Once you're there, click on the "NEW" button in the top right corner. Select, "Folder" from the drop-down menu.
Name your folder something memorable. I chose, "Dealership Content." The "Dealership Content" folder will become the centralized location for all dealership content-related items.
Inside that folder, click on the "New" button in the top-right corner of the screen and select, "Google Docs." This will open a new browser tab with the text editor loaded.
Title your new document, "2017 Dealership Blogging Strategy." Feel free to format the text with fonts however you'd like.
From the "Insert" menu, select "Table of Contents." This will insert a dynamic table of contents into the document that will update as you add to the document.
With these items in place, you're ready to move on to the next step.
One of my favorite marketing-related quotes comes from the Disney Movie, "Alice in Wonderland."
When Alice arrives at a point in her journey where she realizes that she's lost, the Cheshire Cat appears in a tree above her.
She asks, "I just wanted to ask you which direction I ought to go?"
The Cheshire responds will a brilliant piece of marketing advice.
"Well, that depends on where you want to get to."
Confidently, Alice replies, "It doesn't really matter, as long as I..."
"Then it really doesn't matter which way you go!"
Simply having a blog is not sufficient. Hoping that your blog will attract droves of customers to your website is also naive, especially if you aren't clear on your blog's purpose.
In your Google Doc, type, "Blog Objective." Select your text, and make it a heading. Once complete, hit enter (return) on your keyboard.
Articulating the purpose of your blog is important. It will act as your compass and will help you determine whether you are truly providing value to your community.
If you're stuck, try answering these three questions that will help you gain some clarity.
1.) Who are your readers?
2.) What do they need?
3.) How will they change as a result of reading your blog?
By honestly answering those three questions, you should be able to craft a simple purpose statement for your blogging efforts.
For example, here's a sample statement:
My readers are off-road enthusiasts (who are they) who are not leveraging all of their truck's potential (their need). Reading the ABC Trucks blog will help them get to know their truck, aftermarket accessories, off-road tips tricks, and locations so that they can enjoy their vehicle to its fullest extent.
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After completing steps one and two, you're already further ahead than most dealerships. Congratulations.
But now we're going to start diving into the nitty-gritty.
Most people get overwhelmed and give up because they struggle to come up with topics. Not knowing your objective and audience makes this task even more challenging.
Since we're going to use off-road enthusiasts as the example throughout this post, here's how you come up with topic ideas.
Create another heading in your Google Doc called, "Topics."
Check out my last post about the five must use websites to create traffic-worthy content. Inside, you'll discover a method for finding topic suggestions using a tool I love called Soovle.
To summarize, Soovle is a keyword suggestion tool that leverages autosuggest data from a variety of search engines such as Google, Bing, YouTube and Amazon.
All you need to do is start typing a search, and Soovle will get to work revealing the most popular searches across search engines. You can click on any of the suggestions to visit the original location.
Doing so will help you know what topics your audience will want to learn about, and should help you create a list of subjects.
As new ideas come to you, or as your research gets more in-depth, return to your blog document and add them to the list. Your Google Doc is a living document that can be shared with your entire internet team.
Even though Google rewards consistency, Google doesn't suggest what that "consistency" means. Some of the most influential, wealthiest bloggers I know, only blog once per month.
Whatever you choose, make it realistic and take some of the pressure off. The more pressure you feel around blogging, the less likely you'll be to follow through.
Create an editorial calendar by opening Google Calendar. Navigate to your calendar settings by clicking on the "gear" icon.
Next, click on the Calendars link. This will take you to a screen where you can create a new calendar.
Create a new calendar by clicking on the "Create new calendar" button at the bottom of the page.
Fill out all the fields on the page to setup your new editorial calendar. For this example, I created a calendar called, "Blogging."
If there are others at your dealership who will share in the content creation task, you can share this calendar with them and also edit their permissions.
From there, all you need to do is insert your blog topics on the dates that you'd like to publish them. That way everyone on your team can see (yourself included) when new blog posts are scheduled.
People use to say, "Content is King," and I admit that I used to believe that.
But how can content be king if it sucks?
What I've come to learn is that relevancy is king. Without relevancy, your blog doesn't stand a chance.
Consumers are looking for information that will enrich and enhance their lives. They aren't looking to be forced into a cookie-cutter persona where every piece of the content applies to them.
If you look closely at this example, you'll be in one of two camps. Camp A which believes the numbers represented aren't that high. Camp B that which sees how high the numbers are.
Because those stats are accurate to what's happening with many dealerships out there. Sure it would be nice to have hundreds of thousands of visitors to your website each month, or year, but I don't believe that's realistic for the state the automotive industry is in.
When done right, your blog can act as the salesperson that never sleeps.
24/7, 365, it will work in the background by helping attract and nurture your audience.
Most dealership blogs fail to provide additional value. The result is the opposite of what we're trying to achieve by setting up your blog properly.
Don't scare readers away by including a tacky call-to-action at the end of your blog posts. All the credibility you're seeking washes away with the infamous, "Check out our inventory," CTA.
Rather, offer more resources to your blog readers. They will love you all the more for it. Include calls to action to other relevant information. Doing so will solidify your credibility and nurture your readers into shoppers.
At FlexDealer, we add extra value in a variety of ways. For example, if you checked out some of my previous posts, you probably noticed that they are quite lengthy.
To make the information even more accessible, I thought it might be cool to make downloading the entire blog post (guide) as an option.
When you click on the CTA, you get a pop-up that asks for your name and email. Entering their information adds the reader to our email list (which we'll talk about in a second), so that, with their permission, we can continue to communicate with them about the topics they are interested in.
Creating a download of your guide doesn't have to be difficult. First, start by going to the Google Chrome app store.
Search for "Print Friendly" and click the "Add to Chrome" button. Doing so will install the print-friendly plugin to your web browser. Once installed, it will appear in your browser extensions.
Navigate to your blog post url. Once it has loaded, click on the "Print Friendly" icon.
Don't ask me how they came up with the name for this extension, but once you click the button, it will generate a print-friendly version of your entire blog post, including links. Just click on the "PDF" button to download a pdf of your post.
Next, head over to Dropbox.com. If you don't have a Dropbox account yet, sign up for free, or you can use any online storage platform. If you do, create a folder where you can upload your new PDF.
Once your pdf is uploaded, click on the "Share" link. You'll see a pop-up with some options for sharing.
Go ahead and click on the "link settings." Select "Anyone with a link" as your sharing option and then click "Save Settings."
All you have to do from here is copy the Dropbox link of your pdf into your email autoresponder so that when people sign up for your blog, they'll receive it in their inbox.
Every time you publish a new blog post, make sure you email your list. The trick is to only email segments of your list that have shown interest in the topic you've published. This is the best way to keep your audience segments engaged.
At FlexDealer, we use ActiveCampaign because it offers a robust feature-set for a reasonable price.
ActiveCampaign has done an excellent job at presenting your email list data in an easy-to-consume dashboard.
They've also made it super easy to create and manage behavior-based automated emails.
When you're ready to email your blog list, all you have to do is create a new campaign.
ActiveCampaign makes designing and sending a campaign super easy with their intuitive wizard.
FlexDealer finds that about 30% - 32% of our readers will open the original sent email. That means that 70% of our list isn't basking in the goodness that is the FlexDealer blog.
That might sound low, but it's a pretty standard number.
So, to get around that and increase blog traffic and readership we follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Send your email and then wait for a week
Step 2: After one week, filter your sent list by those that are "unopened."
Step 3: Change your subject line, and re-email your "unopened" list
Okay, here's the recap about how to launch a successful dealership blog in 2017.
1. Get organized: Create a folder and document to store all your blog's crucial information. This will include post archives, image assets and whatever other items you'll need to save time and energy.
2. Set your blog's objective: This will help you keep your blog's subject matter focused and relevant to your ideal audience.
3. Create a list of topics: Do you leg work upfront and never struggle to find ideas again. This will help you stay motivated rather than discouraged not knowing what to write.
4. Create an editorial calendar: Stay on task and publish within a schedule that is realistic.
5. Stay Relevant: Your blog is not the place to pitch. Offer your readers the information that will help them grow a relationship with you.
6. Add more value: Something as simple as getting them to sign up for your blog newsletter can go a long way in nurturing the relationship and building credibility. Get creative and don't be afraid to try different calls-to-action.
7. Email your list: As soon as you're published, email your list. Make sure that it's an opt-in list so that you are compliant with email spam legislation.
8. Re-email your list: For those that didn't open your initial email, wait one week, change your subject line and send the email again.
When you focus on the items in this post, you'll create more shareworthy content and have a greater ability to attract, engage, and convert high-quality vehicle shoppers on auto-pilot.
Have a question or comment? Sound off in the comments below!
Michael is the CEO and fearless* leader at FlexDealer. An enthusiastic team chearleader and defender of transparent business practices, he relishes long motorcycle rides and big ideas. As a bestselling author and keynote speaker, Michael works with dealerships of all sizes as well as fortune 100 and 500 companies to rise above the clutter and dominate the web. When he's not playing 'dad' to three crazy kids, he's shooting the breeze with industry leaders on his internationally-embraced podcast, The Dealer Playbook.
(* notwithstanding large insects)
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