Industrial Marketing Blog

8 Online Marketing Challenges that Equipment Dealers Face in 2017

Posted by Brian Shanahan on Jul 3, 2016 12:05:40 PM

Let’s face it: Marketing has changed more in the last few years than it has in the past 40. Today’s world is changing faster than ever and can easily cause information overload.

When equipment dealers develop marketing strategies, they’re still categorizing media as traditional and digital. However, marketing has become multi-screened, and media channels are becoming intertwined.

Your website must serve as an online storefront that’s as organized and inviting as your physical locations. Your online store should convert visitors into customers just like your trusted employees do.

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Did you know? Almost 95% of of B2B purchase decisions begin with a Web search.

Your website is an extension of your physical locations, so it should represent the core values and priorities of each of your company locations, not treated as a distant stepchild.

It’s important that the look and feel of your dealership is consistent across all channels, inclduding online. Static “brochure type” websites aren’t useful to potential customers anymore.

On average buyers look at over 7 websites prior to purchasing new or used equipment.

These days, people are using the web to research everything they intend to buy. In fact, today’s buyers are at least 60% through their buying process before contacting a supplier.

Outlined below are 8 challenges your dealership is likely facing and how to solve them in the digital world.

Challenge 1: Mobile Friendly Website 

Most dealerships do not show up in a Mobile Search. Most equipment buyers check out multiple websites on their smartphones before making a purchase decision. This is a huge problem. If your website has issues functioning, loading, or appearing on a smartphone, then you’re missing out on at least 50% (or more) of your audience.

Responsive web design has become more important as the amount of mobile traffic now accounts for more than 50% of total internet traffic. Google announced Mobilegeddon (April 21, 2015) and started to boost the ratings of sites that are mobile-friendly when the search was made from a mobile device. This has the net effect of penalizing sites that are not mobile friendly.

Bottomline, Google won’t allow you to rank well in their search engine if you don’t provide a good Web experience to the smartphone user. Period. It is a pass/fail test. It’s like closing your dealerships and not allowing at least half of your foot traffic the front door.

Solution: You must have a mobile responsive website that integrates your equipment inventory into your website and does not use iFrames to publish your content. A responsive website allows users to access your site by a variety of devices and presents the website differently depending on the size and layout of the device (desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone).

Further Reading:

Challenge 2: Local Search

Most dealers are unaware that Google is setting you up to win, not get buried by the large national companies. Many dealers don’t realize this, but in 2015 Google implemented its new algorithm that often favors local businesses rather than larger national companies. 

Think about it: When you’re on your smartphone and you Google “oil change,” it shows you the nearest service locations. This happens with all searches, including businesses that sell equipment. Try it out. 

Solution: Be sure that your business listings in local directories have been claimed and optimized to make it easy for people to find each of your locations. Be sure your physical address, phone number, hours, etc. are all correct and consistently listed.

Further Reading:

Challenge 3: Online Equipment Inventory Built with iFrames

Most dealers are using OLD technology to push out inventory to their websites, and this is causing major issues with how you appear (or actually don't appear) in search results. The first issue is that Google doesn’t index iframes with websites.

If you are wondering what an iframe is, it is an HTML document embedded inside another HTML document on a website. The iframe HTML element is often used to insert content from another source, such as an inventory platform, into a Web page. 

Solution: The solution is easy. Directly integrate your equipment inventory into your own website using an API to pull inventory from your point-of-sale or inventory system so it's actually displayed as inventory on your website with unique URLs.

We recommend you avoid using outdated equipment listing platforms (i.e. MarchineryTrader, TractorHouse, MachineryFinder, etc.) as your sole solution to list equipment online. Google downgrades you every day for using this approach and it does little to help build your own online presence.

Further Reading:

  • Google: Frames
  • What is an API                                                                                

Sound familiar? If these challenges resonate with your situation, schedule a free consultation with Shanahan Strategy. Worst case, you spend 15-minutes and walk away with some ideas & advice that could make an immediate impact! — Book a Consultation

Challenge 4: We're Too Small to Matter Online

Stop thinking that you’re just a small dealership and don’t matter online. This is absolutely FALSE.

Google has updated its entire algorithm for everyone win, including local businesses with multiple locations! The question is, are you set up to win or is your approach riddled with problems and bad decisions?

Solution: Get online and quit living on RENTED land. Ensure that your website is the primary online storefront, not someone else’s website or platform. You want to OWN and CONTROL your content and only supplement your marketing strategies with external platforms when absolutely necessary.

Don’t send buyers to your competitors because of an accidental click in iframes or allow all your traffic to be sent to someone else’s website. Keep buyers on your site just as you would try to keep a customer in your showroom.

Further Reading:

Challenge 5: Leveraging Email Marketing

If you're not yet taking advantage of email marketing, then you're missing one of the most effective tools in your marketing tool kit.

In fact, current estimates are that email has an effective reach of 2.9 billion people. As such, email marketing isn't just important - it should be a key part of the marketing plan in every dealership, particularly because of its value for both customer acquisition and customer retention. 

Solution: Email marketing is a powerful channel for driving real business results and achieving measurable ROI. Although it’s relatively easy to get started, you should have a detailed plan and specific goals to get started. This plan should include elements such as: subscriber acquisition, list segmentation, send frequency, email types, content strategy, metrics and more. 

Further Reading:

Challenge 6: Building Relationships in a Digital World

This can be tricky because buyers now have so many choices. You want to have a close relationship with your customers online just as you do in the physical world.

I’m sure some customers text you and send you holiday cards, but think about how to retain and grow relationships in an online world when they have so many choices. 

Solution: Integrating your business systems (CRM and Point of Sale) with your website to provide a customer portal with invoices, record of inventory, etc. is important. 

Another way is through social media marketing. Four in five American adults use Facebook or other social media platforms. People love to interact and feel wanted online. When done right by choosing the right platform(s), your equipment dealership can build trust and loyalty through social media.

Challenge 7: Slow Lead Response Time By Sales

In general, B2B leads receive staggeringly slow responses from sales teams. Consider this, a lead response study of 2,241 US companies found that:

  • The average first response time of B2B companies to their leads was 42 hours
  • Only 37% of companies responded to their leads within an hour
  • 16% of companies responded within one to 24 hours
  • 24% of companies took more than 24 hours
  • 23% of the companies never responded at all
This is both a sobering statistic of businesses failing to make lead response a priority, and also a brilliant opportunity for responsive sales teams willing to engage leads before their competition calls them back.

When buyers are on your website (your online storefront), they fill out a form to request information about a piece of equipment. How long does it take your sales team to respond? Do they respond right away or do you give them enough time to engage with your competitor?

Solution: Reach potential customers before they leave your business’s website using tools like Calldrip. When a buyer fills out a form on your website, your salespeople are automatically notified on their phones. If one salesperson isn’t available, Calldrip’s system moves to the next salesperson available.

An available salesperson answers the call and is notified that someone just requested information. The salesperson is then prompted to call the buyer back right away. This allows you, the dealer, an opportunity to engage the buyer before they leave your website or find a competitive alternative.

Further Reading:

Challenge 8: Metrics for Success

In life, it’s often the small details that define success over failure—and it’s exactly the same when running your own website. Website metrics are not the most glamorous subjects, but you should never underestimate their importance. Without tools like Google Analytics, you’ll never know what’s working and what not. You need data to make good decisions and know where to invest for the future.

Solution: Tracking the most basic metrics relating to your website will give you an advantage over someone who doesn’t bother at all. You can use real-world data to confirm what works on your website and what doesn’t, identify areas for improvement, and spot any abnormal results (such as those caused by a site outage). That’s why leading companies and marketers allocate resources to tracking key website metrics as a daily, weekly, and monthly routine — something you should do, too.

Further Reading:

Final Thoughts

Although a few dealers have implemented leading edge sites, the challenges each of you face in the digital spectrum happen more frequently than ever. Here are a few top equipment dealer websites that have addressed the challenges outlined above:

If you want to succeed online, take some time to define your goals, understand where you’re falling short, and how you can improve your effectiveness using real metrics.

Learn the basics to strategic and highly successful online marketing with our 31-page ebook, “Internet Marketing - A Step-by-Step Guide to Setup and Execute Leading Strategies” or set up a free 30-minute consultation with Shanahan Strategy.

 A Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing

Topics: Lead Generation, Online Marketing

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