Digital Dealer Conference

It’s very easy for us as former dealers to point our fingers at others and tell them that they’re doing it wrong, which is why we rarely do it. There are times, though, when it becomes necessary. Such is the case with what we’re seeing at Digital Dealer where dealers are pulling their triggers on “innovations” that are often little more than shiny objects with no value.

There have been some very good products and services released at Digital Dealer 18 in Tampa, but for every good one there are plenty of things that do little more than sound good in a sales pitch without having the ability to deliver tangible results. These can be distractions. They can mislead. As a general rule, we look at the core functionality of a product or service without allowing the accessories or “upgrades” to cloud our judgment.

For example, we see plenty of website providers releasing a flurry of new ways that will allegedly generate more leads, but very little attention is being focused on the core. At the core, a website is about delivering inventory to prospective customers online. That’s where a website’s true strength or weakness should lie, not on the other little things. The recent change by Google to push for “mobile-friendly” websites for better organic search rankings should be at the top of mind for website providers, but only two that we spoke to even brought up the subject.

Another thing we noticed was the increase in bells and whistles for something simple like website chat. At the core, chat is about ease of functionality for the website visitor (both desktop and mobile) and the methodology behind the conversations. When appropriate, conversations should point towards becoming leads while maintaining a focus on customer service chats. We saw plenty of add-ons and fancy updates, but only CarChat24 produced a tangible focus on the core of their product as the key to their advancing technologies.

Lastly, there seems to be expansion in technology used for content marketing. Again, there were tons of solutions rolling out that showed how content could be syndicated, how it would be duplicated, and how it could be rolled out to venues of increased exposure, but there wasn’t much (and by much, we didn’t see anyone) discussion about the quality and promotion of the content itself. Content marketing is arguably still the most under-served aspect in a dealership’s digital playbook, yet nobody at Digital Dealer seemed to have the right solutions. It’s not about automation. It’s about quality.

As the automotive industry grows savvier to the realm of digital marketing, it gets easier to fall into the traps set with each shiny new object brought to market. Focusing on the core will help dealers and vendors find true success.