Will blogging for car dealers come of age in 2011?

by · January 18, 2011

A few years ago when the idea of blogging for car dealers was essentially a taboo subject, blogging itself was just becoming more widely accepted as a legitimate business marketing tool. Today, business blogging is almost a must-do, like having a website is. But for auto dealers, blogging for the dealership is still rather undefined, despite maturities that blogging has experienced in other industries.

This is largely due to the sudden rise of Social Media, which can also be described as micro-blogging. Now, MySpace.com may not call Facebook and Twitter the rise of Social Media because afterall MySpace was the biggest site of its kind at the time to go mainstream. But the point is that with Facebook and Twitter going mainstream like they have, dealers began tapping into that trend before ever taking off with blogs the way some industries had.

This is not a bad thing, it was just a matter of timing.

If you were to create a time line of the major milestones or phases for dealership and the web, it would go something like this…

Late 90’s: Autobytel breaks new ground in the car buying experience, but few dealers have good websites.

Early 2000’s: Dealers struggle with the challenge of establishing and maintaining a good web presence due to lack of good tools.

Mid 2000’s: Dealership CMS and CRM mature. Dealers take to PPC as means to attain website visitors.

Late 2000’s: Dealers abandon PPC and delve into SEO.

2008: Dealers experiment with blogging and microsties and online video.

2009: Economy hits the dump and Social Media gains acceptance. Dealers flock to micro-blogging.

2010: Dealers want to go back to basics, but realize that Social Media is here to stay.

2011: ???

So where are we going this year? Will dealers abandon Social Media or stick with it? Will PPC make a comeback or will SEO hold steady? Maybe this will be the year for inbound marketing, a term made most famous by HubSpot, which purses a permission marketing approach primarily through blogging, micro-blogging, and email.

We are big advocates of inbound marketing and believe that blogging for car dealers is primed for a second phase in its evolution, one that will be more tangible for dealers. By tangible I mean that dealers will learn to see and measure how their blog is or is not working for them. It won’t be easy but the dealerships that pull it off will have achieved something few of their competitors will.

This is not something you can take lightly at the dealership if you want to see results. There is no technology that solves this problem like an Auto Dealer CMS gives you a website and like an Automotive CRM gives you a relationship management system. A blog technologically is relatively simple but producing content, accumulating subscribers, and engaging customers over long periods of time is labor intensive process that requires vision, commitment, and determination.

You can’t expect amazing results if you treat it like a third wheel.

As you map out 2011 for your dealership, consider the role a blog can play. It’s not just a means to an end for Automotive SEO anymore. Blogs have become more than that. They play a pivotal role in the CRM process all the way from cultivating new business to drumming up repeat business. It’s time to get in the game.

Producer and Host of the AutoConverse Future Mobility & Connectivity Podcast, Ryan began working in the automotive industry in 2001, establishing his roots in online vehicle merchandising before expanding into digital marketing and now multi media for Automotive B2B. You can connect with Ryan on LinkedIn.