Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Scrappy Marketing on a Budget: Measuring Email Campaigns

In our Scrappy Marketing series finale, we'll be covering how to measure the success of your campaign. Once you have planned and implemented an email strategy, your campaign is off and running. If all goes well, you are effectively engaging prospects, generating leads, and retaining consumers. Of course, simply starting an email campaign is not the end of your journey – the next step will be to analyze the success of your efforts and see what lessons you can take on to your next campaign. To do this, you’ll want to:

Monitor Your Campaign: 
It can feel great to finally hit that “send” button after a great deal of preparation, but you’re still not done. As the campaign progresses, it is important to monitor the campaign for changes – either successes or issues – so you know if any changes need to be made even as the campaign is ongoing. In other words, you cannot manage what you do not measure. Keep in mind that you should not overreact to initial data, as it may not be representative of how the entire campaign will perform and you don’t want to impulsively and unnecessarily disrupt all of your planning. However, if more data comes in and you see troubling trends emerging, then it may be time to consider making some changes – we’ll talk more about those potential changes in the next point.

Here are the 4 key performance indicators (KPIs) to pay attention to (1):

1. Deliverability: The rate at which emails successfully reach the inbox of your intended recipients

2. Open Rate: The rate at which recipients who have received the email decide to open your message

3. Click-Through Rate (CTR): The rate at which recipients who have opened the email click on your Call-to-Action (CTA) links

4. Unsubscribes: The rate at which recipients who have received your email remove themselves from your subscriber list

Making Changes: You should not only monitor your campaign as it is happening, but also measure your total campaign results once the campaign is complete so that you have a complete picture of your overall achievements and shortcomings. Collecting and analyzing campaign performance data allows you to make changes and improvements, either to a current campaign or future campaigns. Here are some basic recommendations that may help you make effective changes to your campaigns in order to improve your KPIs, depending on what adaptations the data suggests are needed (1):

1. Deliverability
  • Double check that you are adhering to CAN-SPAM best practices (federal guidelines for sending emails) and not ending up in recipients’ spam folders
  • Remove inactive recipients or email addresses from your subscriber list so your numbers are not artificially deflated and to maintain your email database accuracy

2. Open Rate
  • Use A/B testing (comparing 2 emails with 1 difference between them) to experiment with various subject lines in order to find the most appealing for your audience
  • Experiment with sending your email during various times or on different days in order to find the best window of opportunity for audience engagement

3. Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Be sure your CTAs are offering actual value to your audience
  • Be sure the language in your CTAs is clear and understandable
  • Be sure the imagery and design of your CTAs are appealing and capture attention (consumers most often see them as a colored button or as blue underlined text)

4. Unsubscribes
  • Ask if your email has:
  • Actually provided value, or has just wasted their time
  • Strayed from your brand or your audience’s preferences
  • Inadvertently confused or tricked them with unclear meaning

Segmenting Your Audience: Before launching your campaign, you should consider dividing your subscriber list into different groups, based on factors that are important to you, including age, income, geographic location, or inventory interest. Doing so allows you to target specific groups with individualized campaigns that are catered specifically to that group, increasing your campaign’s odds of making a connection. As you analyze your campaign after it ends, you can also use the data to further segment your audience based on how they interacted with previous campaigns.

For example, after a campaign concludes, you could classify your audience into those who did not open the email, those who opened the email but did not click on the CTA, those who clicked on the CTA but did not contact your or make a purchase, and those who did contact your or make a purchase. Going forward, then, you can send future email to your audience segments based on where they are in the purchase lifecycle, which enhances your ability to get them the information they want or need at the time that is most relevant to them, thus helping you nurture your leads and close sales.

Eventually, after a number of campaigns, you may even be able to develop specific buyer personas – including ideal customer profiles (ICPs) – in which you group your audience into segments based on variables that collectively group together and predict the likelihood of a campaign’s success with that persona segment.

In conclusion, we hope this series has helped you understand the basics of email campaigns. When the marketing budget is tight, and the money just isn’t there for an expensive advertising campaign, crafting dynamic emails is a great way to successfully maximize exposure and grow sales. 
Trader Online Web Developer

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Scrappy Marketing on a Budget: Implementing Dynamic Email Campaigns

In a highly competitive market, the struggle for exposure can be difficult and expensive, and sometimes your own resources aren’t available for a costly campaign blitz. This is why RV dealership success requires a nimble-minded ability to think outside the box and develop advertising solutions that don’t break the bank. In other words, RV dealers need to learn how to be scrappy in marketing without spending a dime – or at least, spending very few dimes.

It’s important to keep in mind that being scrappy with resources doesn’t mean a dealership’s marketing strategies should suffer. Even on a tight budget, dealers can maximize exposure, cultivate a sterling reputation, develop a leading voice, and become a powerhouse in sales. In Part 3 of our Scrappy Marketing on a Budget series, we’re discussing how that success can be achieved when dealers Implement Dynamic Emails.

Previously, we discussed what it takes to initially plan an email campaign, including building your subscriber list, getting organized, and choosing your content. Once your plan is in place, you can begin the implementation phase. You will learn a lot as you gain personal experience, but the following tips for designing emails, setting subject lines, and previewing and testing your campaign should be a solid foundation for getting started:

Designing Emails: Many online resources offer great tips for email design, and we’ve collected a few fundamental recommendations here:
  • Use high quality images and visuals: For the background, as well as within the email, utilize images that look professional, engage the reader, and keep the text easy to read.
  • Make sure the email is responsive: Be sure the email can be read on all devices, keeping in mind that 67% of emails today are read on smartphones and tablets.
  • Communicate a clear Call-To-Action: Specifically urge the customer to engage in the behavior you want (which is usually clicking on a link that takes them to a listing, landing page, or blogpost). It’s important to remember that people won’t typically look at your email for more than a minute. If you want users to see and click on the CTA, keep it “above the scroll” (above the point where users would have to scroll down to find it) and use engaging language – a prompt like “Join the Fun” is better than a simple “View Here”. And if you have more content, you can always use two CTAs – one closer to the top of the email and one near the bottom.
  • Include links to your website and social media accounts: The more ways you connect with consumers, the closer they’ll feel to your brand, and the more likely they will be to become or remain customers. Giving consumers multiple ways to connect helps you build relationships.
Setting a Subject Line: You’ll need an engaging subject line to immediately grab a customer’s attention and convince them to open the email in the first place, and personalizing the subject line is the best way to accomplish that. If you can get a customer to open an email with an eye-catching and interesting subject line, you’re already beginning to develop that prospect into a lead. Here’s how to effectively optimize and personalize a subject line:
  • Research your audience: Study the demographic you’re targeting with the email and figure out what topics and language would most align with their needs, interests, and styles. And remember that you are a guest in a crowded inbox – do what you need to do in order to stand out, but don’t be rude or offensive.
  • Include recipients’ first names: Through your ESP, you can set each email that goes out in a campaign to feature the name of its individual recipient in the subject line. Emails that include a first name in the subject line have a higher click-through rate than those that do not – just be sure your subscriber list is updated with the correct names.
  • Consider using emojis: If it fits your industry and your brand, consider placing emojis into the subject line. Research has found that 56% of brands that place an emoji in their emails have a higher open rate than those that do not.
  • Establish accurate expectations: Use the subject line and pre-header text to let consumers know the value contained within the email, without overselling or misrepresenting the content. You want prospects to be excited to open your email, without being disappointed once they see it.
  • Avoid rookie mistakes: In addition to avoiding hyperbole in your words, don’t trip into the pitfalls of using all caps, incorporating too many exclamation points, or over-explaining the email. You might think those things communicate passion, but really they make it seem like you are shouting. Subject lines should be more simple and cheerful than rambling and frantic.
  • Pre-check your subject lines: There are a number of tools out there that will let you test how likely your subject line is to drive a conversion. We recommend this tool from Co-Schedule because it provides recommendations on how to improve and adjusts your score as you live-edit the subject line.
Previewing & TestingYou’ve designed your email and set a subject line, so now you’re good to hit “send,” right? Not so fast. Though you have put in considerable effort to assemble the email, is it as good as it could be? Are you certain everything is correctly spelled and formatted? Is one subject line or CTA better than another? To be fully confident in an email campaign, your last step of implementation is to preview and test the email.
  • Double check CAN-SPAM rules: Take time at the end of the process to double- and triple-check that your email meets all federal requirements.
  • Review for appearance and responsiveness: You’ll want to make sure that the email looks appealing, content can be read and understood, and the email can be viewed across devices and across email providers, like Gmail, Outlook, and others. To check emails, you can review both HTML and text formats.
  • Click the links: The last thing you want to do is send out an email hoping to get prospects to visit your website, listings, or blog, only to find out the CTA link didn’t work. Avoid frustration and embarrassment by testing that all links effectively direct users to the targeted webpage.
  • Utilize A/B testing: To really maximize your efforts, conduct a simple test at the beginning of the campaign. Make two versions of the email, with a single difference between them. This can be different subject lines, different headers, or different CTAs. Whatever the change, be sure that it is only one, single difference between the emails – if you change more than one thing, you won’t be able to figure out which difference affected the test results. Select two small groups of subscribers, sending one email to one group, and the second email to the other group, then compare open and click-through rates between the two groups. Whichever email performs better, that’s the email to send to the full, remaining subscriber list, as it should provide you with the most exposure and engagement. A quality ESP should offer A/B testing as a feature of their service.
Once you have designed your email, set a subject line, and previewed and tested the email, you’re ready to pull the trigger on your email campaign. If all goes well, you’ll begin effectively engaging prospects, generating leads, and retaining consumers. Of course, once an email campaign is implemented, you’re not quite done – the next step will be to monitor and measure your success, and learn important lessons for the next campaign – we’ll cover that topic next time.

And there you have it. When the marketing budget is tight, and the money just isn’t there for an expensive advertising campaign, crafting dynamic emails is a great way to successfully maximize exposure and grow sales. And if you’re looking for more ways to pursue Scrappy Marketing on a Budget, future posts in this series will discuss measuring email campaign results.
Trader Online Web Developer

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Scrappy Marketing on a Budget: Planning Dynamic Email Campaigns

In a highly competitive market, the struggle for exposure can be difficult and expensive, and sometimes your own resources aren’t available for a costly campaign blitz. This is why RV dealership success requires a nimble-minded ability to think outside the box and develop advertising solutions that don’t break the bank. In other words, RV dealers need to learn how to be scrappy in marketing without spending a dime - or at least, spending very few dimes!

It’s important to keep in mind that being scrappy with resources doesn’t mean a dealership’s marketing strategies should suffer. Even on a tight budget, dealers can maximize exposure, cultivate a sterling reputation, develop a leading voice, and become a powerhouse in sales. In Part 2 of our Scrappy Marketing on a Budget series, we’re discussing how that success can be achieved when dealers Plan Dynamic Emails.

Previously we’ve discussed:

In this article:
  • Planning Dynamic Email Campaigns
As you develop and implement email marketing campaigns, you’ll continue to learn more and more about what works for your dealership and your audience. Plus, the Internet is overflowing with guides about sending effective emails (like this field guide from MailChimp, or this ultimate guide from HubSpot). So that you don’t have to scour the web and spend hours and hours reading all those guides, we’ve collected the most relevant planning tips for email campaign beginners. While the following recommendations don’t exhaustively cover everything about email, they should give you a solid starting point for meeting the basic email marketing best practices as you plan your campaign:

Selecting an Email Service Provider (ESP):
 Unless you employ your own email specialist, you’re likely going to need some help putting together and sending out emails. ESPs offer user-friendly software to create, develop, and implement email marketing strategies. Many of these companies have starting packages which are free, with affordable upgrades available for purchase, making them perfect for a scrappy marketing team. Popular ESPs include MailChimp, MailerLite, TargetHero, SendInBlue, ReachMail, Benchmark, and Constant Contact.

Getting Organized: Before you start signing people up to receive emails, you’ll have to decide what the purpose of your email campaign is, what type of content can best serve that goal, and how frequently that content needs to be shared. Because emails should go out on a regular basis, it is best to organize, schedule, and track that content via a content calendar. As your email reach grows, you may even offer various options to customers based on how often they want to receive emails or the type of content they prefer. The ongoing development of your email program will require a strong commitment to staying organized.

Selecting Content: Once you have a basic plan, it’s time to select the exact content that will go out. Emails can share expert content, exclusive offers, company updates, new product details, industry news, upcoming dealership events, or popular social media posts - just to name a few. Your content is up to you, and will depend on what you can offer and who your audience is - just be sure that what you share is professional, insightful, and aligned with your email marketing goals.

Gaining Subscribers: There are a number of effective ways to get people to sign up to receive your emails, including requiring an email to access certain parts of your website or to download certain content, asking social media followers to subscribe via a landing page, or collecting emails in-person while at tradeshows or in your dealership. From an ethical standpoint, people should always know when their email is collected, what kind of emails they may receive, and how often they will be emailed. Always state your purpose when collecting emails, avoid buying pre-collected lists from outside parties, and only send what you say you will - you don’t want to be known as an annoying “spammer.” Following these best practices for gaining subscribers will help you maintain a robust list of followers who are interested in your content, and also helps maintain your reputation as a quality industry leader.

Once you have selected an ESP, organized your efforts, selected specific content, and gained subscribers, you will be set-up for success and ready to actually implement a dynamic email marketing campaign. And, of course, our tips and tricks for implementing email campaigns will be coming soon.

And there you have it. When the marketing budget is tight, and the money just isn’t there for an expensive advertising campaign, crafting dynamic emails is a great way to successfully maximize exposure and grow sales. And if you’re looking for more ways to pursue Scrappy Marketing on a Budget, future posts in this series will further discuss email campaign implementation and analysis, as well as community service. Stay tuned.
Trader Online Web Developer

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Scrappy Marketing on a Budget: Benefits of Dynamic Email Campaigns

In a highly competitive market, the struggle for exposure can be difficult and expensive, and sometimes your own resources aren’t available for a costly campaign blitz. This is why dealership success requires a nimble-minded ability to think outside the box and develop advertising solutions that don’t break the bank. In other words, RV dealers need to learn how to be scrappy in marketing without spending a dime - or at least, spending very few dimes.

It’s important to keep in mind that being scrappy with resources doesn’t mean a dealership’s marketing strategies should suffer. Even on a tight budget, RV dealers can maximize exposure, cultivate a sterling reputation, develop a leading voice, and become a powerhouse in sales. In our first edition of our Scrappy Marketing on a Budget series, we’re discussing how that success can be achieved when dealers Craft Dynamic Emails.

Despite new forms of communication constantly emerging, email remains an important tool in any marketing and advertising strategy - plus, it tends to deliver a solid bang for your buck. In 2018, marketing professionals ranked email as the most effective digital media channel, over social media, SEO, content development, direct mail, affiliates, and display advertising. That’s likely because email’s return on investment (ROI) sits at a whopping 3,800%, returning $38 for every $1 spent. In fact, many Email Service Providers (ESPs) offer free starting packages, usually with reasonably-priced upgrades available.

Email is not only affordable for scrappy marketers on a budget, but also the quality of leads it generates is higher than other methods and it often works seamlessly in conjunction with other marketing campaigns you have going on. As you think about incorporating email into your strategy, consider these other benefits:

Email is the primary form of communication in the United States. In fact, among US adults who use the Internet, 85% of them have email, a greater number than those who use search engines or social media. Almost every person who could potentially buy from your dealership is going to have email, making an email campaign a great way to generate new leads or re-engage previous customers. In short, go where the people are, and they’re on email.

Email grows your influence through its ability to serve a variety of purposes. By keeping your dealership top-of-mind, email can help maintain and expand a consumer’s awareness of your brand, while also providing expert content, promoting products, and sharing exclusive offers. The access you gain via email can become an important aspect of building relationships with prospects and nurturing them into leads and sales - as well as continuing to maintain and grow relationships with your current customers.

Email effectively generates leads and sales
. Consider these powerful statistics: Two-thirds of customers have purchased a product directly resulting from a marketing email, and buyers who received email marketing spent 138% more than buyers who didn’t receive email offers. Email campaigns consistently prove to effectively generate leads and sales and, in fact, email marketing acquires customers 40X more effectively than Facebook and Twitter combined. That’s not bad, considering how impactful social media has become in our society.

You own your subscriber list. As you develop your email program, a primary component will be getting people to sign up to receive your emails. What is great about collecting emails is that once you have your growing subscriber list, you own it and can store it in your own files. Unlike with social media, you don’t have to worry about losing your contacts if your account is canceled or if the platform itself happens to shut down. If you have a problem with one email provider, you can simply move on to another one while maintaining your subscriber list.

Here’s the short version: Email is hugely popular, ESPs offer free basic packages with affordable upgrades, and dynamic email campaigns can expand your dealership’s reach, generate leads and sales, and deliver a profitable ROI. Add all those benefits together and incorporating an email strategy into your scrappy marketing efforts should be an obvious decision.

Well there you have it. When the marketing budget is tight, and the money just isn’t there for an expensive advertising campaign, crafting dynamic emails is a great way to successfully maximize exposure and grow sales. And if you’re looking for more ways to pursue Scrappy Marketing on a Budget, future posts in this series will further discuss email campaign planning, implementation, and success, as well as community service. Stay tuned!
Trader Online Web Developer

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Why Tracking the Customer Sales Journey Matters

Prior to the Internet, a consumer’s path to purchase was relatively linear. They relied heavily on local RV dealerships for knowledge and information about various units, coming directly to you – the dealer – at the beginning of their decision-making process. With the rise of online research, however, it is very rare for today’s customers to do their pre-purchase research in the store. This is particularly true for consumers looking to make major purchases – like an RV.
In fact, only 18% of big-item consumers do their research by talking with a representative in-store, while a massive 82% conduct research online before making a major purchase. It is also important to note that the research these buyers conduct is not simple or brief – most customers now complete between two-thirds to 90% of their sales journey before making contact with a dealer. The buyer’s path-to-purchase no longer starts and ends at a physical dealership, but instead twists and turns online as the customer comes into contact with an average of 30 “touchpoints” before making their purchase, from ads and search engine results to listings on RV Trader.
Most buyers are getting the majority of their pre-purchase research online from multiple sources.
When buyers rely on a number of channels – each providing various pieces of information about a product – you have to figure out which of those touchpoints has made the biggest difference for your dealership. Analyzing sales-influence is an important consideration, because it helps you understand not just which touchpoints are sending you the highest quantity of leads, but also which sources are providing you with the highest-quality leads. This knowledge allows you to make smart investments when allocating your marketing dollars in pursuit of ultimately selling more RVs.
Identifying the encounters that contribute to lead generation is called “attribution analysis” – or simply, “attribution” – and it is an essential element of lead intelligence that should guide a dealer’s advertising strategies.
At this point, almost every dealer conceptually understands that a basic online presence is important, but too many RV dealers still do not fully subscribe to the belief that consumers are significantly relying on the Internet to guide their choices and that the collective influence of those online touchpoints can be powerfully persuasive. If you truly understand your consumers and their shopping patterns, including which online channels consistently drive qualified buyers to your site, you’ll know which strategies are most effective and cost-efficient for extending your reach, establishing stronger connections, and selling more RVs. Additionally, you can use this valuable data to better inform your sales conversations by incorporating information from the consumer’s path to purchase into your nurture conversations.
In other words, attribution analysis can help you understand which of your marketing efforts are generating the most business and are worthy of further investment, and which services are not providing value and no longer deserve your attention. Attribution information also helps you get to know your customers and the paths they are taking to find your RV inventory, helping you to better connect, form relationships, and close sales.
That’s why attribution matters – because identifying how digital touchpoints contribute to lead generation and quality traffic for your dealership provides you with a goldmine of lead intelligence data that can inform and optimize your advertising and sales efforts.
Understanding and examining attribution data can be a true competitive advantage for RV dealerships. If your dealership is missing out on that valuable lead intelligence, stay tuned to the RV Trader blog, as future articles are going to break down the various attribution models, how to set up attribution at your dealership, and specific strategies for using lead intelligence data. Until then, we want to know what you think: Does your dealership use attribution analysis? How has attribution mattered for your dealership? Let us know in the comments below.
Trader Online Web Developer

How to Create Content That Will Have Consumers Coming Back For More

By now you know the importance of content marketing from our last post, but it’s time to dive a bit deeper on how to actually put this technique to good use. It’s important to give your content a purpose - that’s why building a content strategy is crucial and can help you determine how to manage all of the amazing content you create. Content can definitely just live on your site, but with a solid strategy in place, it can reach more consumers and can even help you generate leads. Let’s take a look at a few steps to build your content plan/strategy and how to get the most bang for your buck. 

Set Your Goals/Mission - Setting goals is an important part of any business strategy, and this is no different when building out a content plan. We often focus on the how, but it’s also crucial to look at the why. So, why are you investing in content marketing, what are your content goals, and how are you measuring them? Determine your goals and the KPIs you want to track right off the bat - some examples could be:
  • Increase in site traffic
  • Enhanced SEO
  • Increased Brand Awareness
  • Social Engagement
  • Clicks
  • Leads/Conversions
Setting this information right off the bat allows you to define your expectations and also allows you to determine what success looks like. If you’re not hitting these benchmarks down the road, it might be time to re-evaluate your strategy.

Determine Your Audience - Knowing who you are reaching is an important step in creating a content plan. Start off by conducting a bit of research on your consumers. Who is your average buyer and what do their demographics look like (age, gender, education, income, etc.)? If you have social platforms, take a look at your top-performing pieces of content to see what your audience is most receptive to. If you haven’t posted consistently on social before, you can always rely on other industry pubs for supplemental articles to get you started. Gathering this information on the forefront can help you determine who your buyers are and what content they will likely engage with in the future.

Determine Your Channels - There are multiple ways to distribute content and different types of content perform better on different channels. Once you determine your audience, you can also track “where they are hanging out” so you can better target them. Some of the more common channels for distribution include:
  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.)
  • Your website/blog
  • Email
  • Advertisements
Keep in mind, you can always adapt one piece of content to perform well on various channels. Say you have an article on “Top 5 Things to Look For When Buying an RV". You could turn that blog post into 5 different posts on social and add it into your email newsletter. Feel free to play with your content to see what your consumers like.

Think of Content Ideas and PRODUCE - Once you’ve determined your audience/channels and set your goals, it’s time to get to work. There are a variety of content types to choose from including blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, photos, social posts, and more - look for examples of each and see which types would best fit with your audience and goals. If you’re unsure, try out a variety of content types and see which mediums your consumers engage with; and keep in mind, consumers on different mediums may prefer different types of content - so it’s good to develop a wide variety. Once you’ve selected the types of content you want to run with - it’s time to produce. Some pieces of content are going to take longer than others, and that’s okay. Good content takes time, but if you need something to post in the meantime, share articles from industry resources and leaders and take a look at RV Trader’s blog for sharable content - just remember to give credit to the source. 

If you’re not sure how to create content, check out a few of our favorite free tools:
  • Canva - Canva allows you to easily create and edit images to share on social, blog posts, and more. The app also lets you create banners, brochures, presentations - you name it, Canva can do it. This is one of our favorite tools and we highly recommend checking it out.
  • Animaker - This tool lets you create high-quality animated videos. With this program, you can create multiple video types and can even create infographic videos.
  • iMovie - If you have an iOS device, iMovie is a great tool for creating and sharing videos. While this tool can seem intimidating, it’s actually very straight forward and there are a number of good training videos out there you can reference to get started.
  • Kapwing - Have a hilarious idea for an RV-themed meme? Kapwing allows you to easily create memes by simply uploading a photo and adding text - these are fun for social sharing.
  • Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator - It can be hard to think of blog ideas, but that’s where Hubspot’s Blog Generator comes in. This tool is full of unique topics and ideas that will pertain to your specific business.
  • Audacity - Curious about starting a podcast for your business? Make your vision a reality with Audacity. This tool is a free, open-source, cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. Remember - you’re an industry expert, so this is a great way to share your knowledge.
Create a Calendar - Once you’ve picked your distribution channels and built up your content library - it’s time to distribute what you’ve written. Creating a content calendar is a great way to ensure that you are posting consistently on a wide variety of topics and is an ideal way to get all of your content scheduled, and you can identify multiple writers within your organization that are passionate about a topic to break up the workload. This could be as simple as using an online calendar or spreadsheet to determine content due/scheduling dates, but if you are posting a lot of content you might want to look into a content management tool. CoSchedule is a content calendar for WordPress users that helps keeps you organized while saving you time. With this tool, you can collaborate, schedule, and even automate your posts.

Track Performance - Last but not least, after you post your content, it’s important to keep track of how it’s performing. To do this, you’ll want to take a look back at the original goals and KPIs you set in place for your content marketing strategy. Determine if you’re meeting those targets and if you’re not, feel free to tweak your strategy and test new methods - it’s all about finding what works best for your business.

Content is a powerful tool and we hope these tips encourage you to plan your very own content strategy. Have any content-related questions? Feel free to drop us a line in the comment section below. We’d love to help.
Trader Online Web Developer

Monday, July 15, 2019

What’s The Fuss About Content Marketing?

Consumer expectations have changed over the years, and now more than ever before, people are expecting more from brands. They don’t just want a discount on products - they are craving information, personalization, and relevant content that fits their specific needs. 

But what is content marketing, exactly? Content marketing is a type of marketing that involves the creation and sharing of online material (such as videos, blogs, social media posts, etc.) that does not explicitly promote a brand but is intended to stimulate interest in its products or services.1 This approach is strategic, effective, and comes across in a more authentic way to consumers. Many top companies are using this style of marketing in order to reach new audiences and to show consumers they aren’t just a brand trying to sell them a product - they are also a useful resource. 

With all that being said, you might be wondering, “what exactly can content marketing do for my business?” Glad you asked. Let’s dive into 5 overall advantages of content marketing: 
  • Builds Brand Awareness - Now more than ever before, customers are researching extensively online before making purchases - both large and small. They crave information and by you creating relevant content, you’re not only meeting their needs, but elevating your brand to a higher level in the process, and who doesn’t want that? When creating content, you have the power to tell your brand’s story and showcase what makes your business unique. It also gives you the opportunity to position yourself, and your business, as an expert in the industry - subtly gaining trust with a consumer before they walk through your front doors to buy something.
  • Cost-Effective - There are all different kinds of marketing methods, but that fact is, consumers are becoming less receptive to in your face sales advertisements; with 71% of readers say they were turned off by content that seems like a sales pitch.2 Don’t get us wrong, those type of ads can still work, but they typically cost A LOT more than content marketing. In fact, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads.3 Time is certainly the biggest investment of content marketing because creating high-quality content isn’t always quick and easy, but the rewards are worth it - trust us.
  • Increases SEO - “Just Google it” has become a common phrase we hear on a daily basis because we use search engines for just about everything these days. In fact, 93% of all buying decisions start with an online search.4 So when a consumer searches for something relevant to your business, are you showing up in the first few spots of the rankings? Good content (educational, relevant, unique, not overly self-promotional) can help heighten your organic search rankings, ultimately driving more traffic to your website. It is important to note, search engine algorithms are constantly changing but if you continue to produce new and relevant content, your website will rank higher than other dealerships that don’t invest in a content strategy. 
  • Feeds Your Social Strategy - If you’re not on social media, it’s time to join the bandwagon considering 90% of marketers consider social media marketing to be important to their overall marketing strategy.The great thing about content is that it doesn’t have to live in just one place (your website). Content can also help build and strengthen your social media strategy. If you’re not sharing engaging content on social, you’re not going to have an audience. On the other side of the coin, if you’re creating content your followers care about, they are more likely to like, comment, and share your posts - getting more eyes on your brand.
  • Builds Deeper Customer Relationships - You are already an authority in your field - there’s no doubting that. Why not share the knowledge and expertise you have with your visitors? Content marketing is a great tool that can help you build trust and loyalty with potential buyers. Even if a consumer is just starting their research, they are more likely to buy from a business they have built some kind of relationship with - even if it’s just online. This “relationship” can be as simple as reading your blog or watching the videos you produce over time. These customer relationships can result in leads, and when these consumers are ready to buy, your dealership will be top of mind.
Creating content is an essential component of any digital marketing strategy, and 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing.6 The time is now to leverage content marketing for your business and we’ll show you how to do it. In our next post, we will be covering how to create relevant content and how to build your content marketing strategy - stay tuned. 

1 Webster’s Dictionary

Trader Online Web Developer

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

It's Time to Take Your Customer Service to the Next Level

Providing excellent customer service isn’t just a good business practice, it’s required if you want to get a significant leg up on your competition in today’s market; particularly considering that 89% of consumers have switched to a competitor following a poor customer experience.(1) Customer service has the ability to either make or break your business - plain and simple - and customer expectations are ever-rising with 54% of all consumers say that they have higher customer service expectations than they did just one year ago.(2) So, when you think about it, are you really offering your customers one of a kind service? Even if you are, there’s always room for improvement and we have a few tips to take your customer care to the next level - it’s not as hard as you might think.

Be Personal (Online and in Person) - Today, personalization is key in business and there is access to more consumer data than ever before. Use this data to your advantage so you can get to know your customers on a deeper level and augment their experience based on the information you find. In-person encounters at your dealership will always be considered “personal”, but try taking them to the next level by being polite, authentic, and addressing your consumers by name when you get the chance. Although Chick-fil-A is considered a fast-food restaurant, they always make their patrons feel valued by treating them as people and not a number/sale. The company is known across the country for their customer service and treat the term “My Pleasure” as a way of life. Don’t forget to personalize your service over the phone and through live chat as well. Your customers want to feel valued and appreciated however they choose to contact you.

Provide Insider Tips and Advice - Customers come to your dealership to either browse or purchase a unit, but it’s important to keep in mind that you have the opportunity to take the relationship to the next level. We encourage you to share any advice or insider tips you might have with your customers. Remember, you are the expert. Feel free to share your favorite road trips, national parks, maintenance tips, etc. Customer service isn’t just about making a transaction, it’s designed to build relationships with customers so they will come back for more.

Go the Extra Mile - Consumers expect great customer service - so why not surprise them with a little something extra? is an online marketplace for pet supplies and they are widely known for their excellent customer service. Chewy takes their customer service the extra mile by surprising select customers with custom dog portraits with their purchase - at no additional cost. These portraits have been shared across social media and customers go crazy for them. You might be wondering what this has to do with your dealership - stay with us. After a customer buys an RV from your dealership, you could implement Chewy’s idea in a similar way. Try sending your customer a gas gift card after their purchase saying something like, “Dear, ____. This road trip is on us. We hope you are loving your new RV and we greatly appreciate your business.” We suggest including your contact information as well should they have any questions or concerns about their new RV. Another cost-effective idea could be sending customers swag from your dealership (water bottles, pens, etc.) so they can rep your brand and feel like a valued customer at the same time.

Be a Good Listener - Listening to your customer is crucial for excellent customer service. You might think you know exactly what they need, but let them express their needs when it comes to buying an RV - after all, this is a large purchase. It’s important to guide them along the way and to be their resident expert after they’ve expressed their non-negotiables. We know it’s important to make the sale, and if you’ve had a specific unit on your lot for a while, it can be tempting to push that RV - but hear your customer out to make sure you’re helping them find exactly what they are looking for.

Look for Ways to Improve - Even if your customer service is top notch, there is always room for improvement. A great way to find areas of your business to improve is through customer surveys. We suggest sending out a survey after a customer has purchased their RV so you can understand their experience on a deeper level. We recommend asking questions like this:
  • How would you rate your experience with our dealership?
  • Are you satisfied with your purchase?
  • How could we improve your experience with our dealership?
  • What could our employees do better? etc.
Survey Monkey lets you design your own questionnaire and create unlimited surveys for free. You can even include incentives for completing the survey, like a percentage off your next purchase or entrance into a giveaway.

Training - We recommend making customer service training a requirement at your dealership. There are a ton of online customer service training options out there or you can create your own custom workshop at your dealership. In between training, you could also share a customer service tip of the day during meetings or post them on a bulletin board in your break room. Make customer service part of your company’s overall mission and make sure your employees are all on the same page when it comes to providing top-notch customer care.

Going the extra mile with the customer service you provide doesn’t have to be difficult. Making small adjustments and improvements can go a long way in building customer loyalty and can help ensure sales for years to come. Keep in mind, Americans will pay 17% more to do business with firms with great reputations when it comes to customer service.(3) How does your customer care set you apart from the competition?

1 Harris Interactive
2 Microsoft
3 American Express

Trader Online Web Developer

Friday, June 7, 2019

Investing in Your Employees

Your employees are the lifeblood of your business and finding the right team members for your dealership isn’t always easy. On top of that, according to Human Resources Today, turnover can cost your dealership anywhere from 16% to 213% of your past employee’s salary. That’s why it’s increasingly important to let your employees know you value their work by investing in them both personally and professionally. We’ll dive into four different ways you can strategically nurture your employee relationships to avoid turnover and increase overall productivity and success in the workplace.

Increase Training - Onboard training is pretty standard - but are you offering additional training to current team members? It’s important to continually provide opportunities for training and educational workshops to show employees that you value their current expertise and want to help them grow and expand their skill set. There are always new and improved techniques to try - especially in the sales world - and the more you equip your employees with the latest and greatest, the more they can help your dealership thrive. We’d recommend hosting the trainings specific to your dealership yourself, but then leveraging an online solution for more general training. There are even some free options - like these from RAIN Group. No matter how you choose to source this information - we’d suggest developing a library that your reps can reference as needed, in addition to continually adding new programming for them to leverage.

Invest in Technology and Tools - Help your employees help you by offering them the tools and technology they need to better do their jobs. According to the Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index, “3 out of 4 respondents say their employers don’t give them access to the latest technology to do their job efficiently.” When employees are not equipped with proper technology and tools, they can become discouraged and unmotivated to do their best work. Not sure what your employees might need? Start an honest and open conversation. It will help you in the future - trust us. A few top resources that we recommend would be:

  • Tableau makes it easy for your sales team to see and understand your dealership’s data by automatically turning numbers into visual charts and graphs.
  • Wistia gives you the power to record your webcam or screen so you can conduct an online demo or record an online presentation to share with your team.
  • FullStory gives you a better understanding of what potential buyers are doing on your site by recording every visitor’s session on your website.

Encourage and Allow Feedback - Feedback, both good and bad, can help make a business stronger in the long run. That’s why it’s crucial to give your employees the opportunity to make their voices heard. This could be in the form of an anonymous survey or an open forum at a dealership meeting - though you will most likely get the most honest feedback if you let the employee maintain their anonymity. No matter how you receive the feedback, avoid getting defensive when suggestions or issues come in and be sure to hear your employees out fully before responding. By eliciting feedback, you’re giving your team members the opportunity to share their feelings, shed light on problems, and make the workplace better all around. We recommend doing these surveys on a quarterly basis so you are keeping a pulse on morale throughout the year. These don’t need to be extensive surveys - just enough to let your employees know you care about their experience with your company.

There’s No I in Team - It’s easy to have a lone wolf mentality when working in sales. But it’s still crucial to make sure your employees feel like a team and that’s why giving your employees the opportunity to come together is so important. A study by the Kenexa Research Institute found that companies with highly engaged employees achieve twice the net annual income of companies whose employees aren’t engaged. Team building activities are so important to businesses - both large and small. They help to engage and retain employees by improving communication and encouraging collaboration. Host a happy hour, set up a scavenger hunt, or participate in a community service project as a team - the opportunities are endless - and keep in mind, you don’t have to do something overly extravagant. No matter what you choose your employees will appreciate your efforts.

We hope these tips have encouraged you to find new ways to invest in your employees. After all, they are the ones who have helped make your dealership what it is today. If you’re looking for more employee-focused tips, check out our previous blog covering the importance of Employee Appreciation. Do you have any tried and true methods of investing in your employees? Let us know your suggestions in the comments below.
Trader Online Web Developer

Thursday, May 9, 2019

How to Deal With Negative Reviews or Complaints

Online reviews are not only important, but they are crucial to the success of just about any small business today. Consumers value the opinions of their peers and while we hope you receive 100% positive reviews, there are times when customers leave less than flattering comments. How you respond and handle these reviews has the ability to either make or break your business, especially considering:
  • 67% of consumers are influenced by online reviews (1)
  • 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations (1)
  • 74% of people who see customer reviews on a business website say they would contact the business (2)
And as much as you might want to, you can’t brush negative reviews under the rug. We’ll give you a few tips on how to deal with these kinds of messages and comments head-on.

Read the Review Thoroughly - Seeing the first sentence of a negative review can be surprising, and can even spark a moment of anger or frustration. But before you make it personal or start getting defensive, it’s important to put yourself in your customer's shoes. Read the entirety of their review and take a few moments to understand it, and reflect on it so you can understand where your customer is coming from right off the bat.

Understand What Happened - Hold off on responding until you get all the facts - but get those facts quickly. Immediately consult anyone within your dealership who might have worked with this specific customer. Get their side of the story and see where the issue might have occurred.

Respond Quickly - Wishing away a bad review is impossible - as much as you might want to. We encourage you to quickly deal with reviews head-on, whether they are good OR bad. Consumers want a response, and they want it fast. In fact, according to the Local Search Association, most consumers expect a brand or business to respond within 24 hours - so make sure to avoid passing that mark at if all possible. We suggest responding as soon as you see the comment, especially when dealing with negative reviews. It’s important to keep in mind that you aren’t just responding to one unsatisfied customer, you are catering to anyone and everyone who reads that online review.

Take the Conversation Offline - After you have crafted your response, we recommend adding a closing sentence that offers to take the conversation offline if needed. Try something like this, “If you’d like to chat about this concern further, my name is XXXX. Please feel free to reach me at (insert phone number, email, or both).” Adding this simple sentence shows customers that you care enough to take additional time and effort to solve their problem quickly.

Stay Calm, Cool, Collective, AND Professional - Never get heated in a response to a customer. It’s crucial to stay professional at all times when dealing with negative reviews. Start by addressing the customer by name and apologizing for their less than satisfactory experience. As we mentioned earlier, if a specific comment warrants a phone call, offer that option to the customer as well.

Put a Positive Spin on the Situation - We aren’t going to sugar-coat it - responding to negative reviews isn’t fun, but try looking on the bright side of things. Look at responding to reviews as not only an opportunity to right a wrong but also as an opportunity to promote the best parts of your business. Try promoting what your business does well while addressing the consumer’s issues at the same time. For example, “Our dealership is widely known for our excellent customer service and we apologize for missing the mark.”

Look at it as a Learning Experience - Negative reviews give your dealership and employees the opportunity to grow. We suggest going over these types of reviews with your entire staff to make sure they are all on the same page and know exactly what types of issues might spark negative feedback. Customer service is #1 so give your employees the opportunity to take action in the future to eliminate issues before they even occur.

Remember, if you respond to reviews the right way and address a customer’s complaint, you could always receive an updated review from the same customer praising how you handled the situation. Reputation is everything in the business world and we want to make sure you are always looking your best online. So, good or bad - make sure you’re responding to your online reviews and tackling any issues head-on and professionally.

1 - Moz
2- Stat Labs
Trader Online Web Developer

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Using Facebook For Your Business

We covered the importance of social media as a whole in our last post, but this month, we wanted to touch on a specific platform that you should be using to your advantage - Facebook. Let’s dive into what Facebook can offer your business and how you can use it to take your dealership to the next level.

Facebook continues to be one of the largest growing social media platforms available with 2.32 billion monthly active users worldwide (1). That number is jaw-dropping and continues to grow as consumers crave more connection, not only with their peers, but with businesses. They rely on social media as part of their path to purchase - and businesses are seeing the result; particularly considering that 78% of American consumers have discovered retail products to buy on Facebook (2) and 77% of B2C companies said they have acquired new customers through the social media platform (3).

But if you’re going to put the time and effort into your Facebook presence, you need to have a clear understanding of what it can really offer your business.

Let’s briefly break it down.

Facebook gives you the opportunity to grow awareness for your dealership’s brand, it allows you to connect with your customers in a new, organic way, and lets you reach an untapped market of people who might be interested in what you’re selling.

If you’re not sure where to start - or are just looking for some overall guidance around Facebook - we’ve got some best practices for you to consider.

Take the First Step - Joining Facebook and setting up a business page is fairly simple, but if you need assistance - keep reading - we’ve got a great product for you. There are thousands of small businesses utilizing the platform, so if you want to stay competitive in your market, we definitely suggest taking the first step and creating a page of your own. 

Have Up-to-Date Information on Your Page - Consumers search for anything and everything on the Internet and they often browse Facebook for business information like hours, phone numbers, websites, etc. So whether you’re just starting a Facebook page, or if you’ve been on the site for years, it’s crucial to make sure your page information is updated. We’ve seen a lot of businesses with bare “About Us” sections even though this is a place to tell potential customers what you offer. We recommend including a few sentences highlighting your dealership’s mission, expertise, or anything that might make you stand out from the competition. 

Have Eye-Catching Profile & Cover Photos - In this day and age, first impressions are everything - especially when it comes to social media. You’ll want to make sure both your profile photo and your cover photo stand out considering they are the first things consumers will see when they visit your Facebook page. We recommend staying consistent with your photo choices so you can build brand awareness and stay recognizable as users scroll through their feed - but don’t forget to include your branding on the imagery. 

Post Regularly (but not too much) - It can be hard to determine how often to post on social media, but according to Inc., posting once a day on Facebook is the ideal amount. It’s important to avoid over-saturating consumers with content so that when you do post, they are ready to react and engage with it. The best time to post on Facebook, according to Hootsuite, is between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday and 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. on the weekends - keep these days and times in mind when posting your content for optimal engagement. 

Share a Variety of Content - Facebook is an awesome way to show off your inventory, and we recommend using it for that purpose, but it’s important to keep in mind consumers want to see more than just what’s on your lot. We’ve said it time and time again, but you are an industry expert and consumers crave the information you have to offer, especially when they are thinking about making a big purchase. That’s why we encourage you to post a variety of content. For example, creating/posting videos or blog posts on “What All New RVers Need to Know”, “Tips for Finding Your Perfect RV”, etc. can be useful information that your customers want to engage with. We encourage you to be a resource for your potential customers.f you don’t have time to create this type of content on your own, you can always share it from other industry sources. For example, the RV Trader consumer blog has lots of this content that you can easily re-post. 

Respond to Consumers in a Timely Fashion - We have grown accustomed to instant gratification, especially when it comes to social media. That’s why it’s crucial to respond to your customers as soon as you see their message or comment on Facebook. Think of each inquiry as an opportunity to grow your relationship with this customer. Check your notifications regularly or, better yet, have push notifications set up on your mobile device so you know exactly when you have a comment or message that you need to respond to. Keep in mind that Facebook shows how quickly you respond directly on your business page - and like we said earlier, first impressions are everything on social media. 

Utilize Facebook Stories - Facebook Stories allow you to share content that showcases your business directly from your mobile device. Facebook Stories were designed so you can engage with your audience in a more frequent and casual way. You can share short videos and photos and they’ll appear at the top of the News Feed in a highly visible area. We recommend experimenting with Stories as it can help humanize your brand and show off your business’ personality. Learn more about stories, here.

There you have it. The tips you need to know on using Facebook for your business. Are you interested in having a presence on social media, but just don’t have the time or resources to make it happen? RV Trader can help. Our GoSocial product can kickstart, or supplement, your existing social media efforts by managing your Facebook for you. GoSocial includes weekly posting and management for Facebook, a dedicated monthly advertising spend, and in-depth monthly reporting - saving you valuable time and costing a fraction of what it would take to hire a team. And if you don’t already have a page, we’ll even help you set one up. If you’re interested in learning more, contact your RV Trader representative today at 1.888.543.0101. They’ll walk you through all the details.


Trader Online Web Developer

Friday, March 29, 2019

It’s Time to Get Social

The importance of social media is steadily growing as more and more people join these platforms on a daily basis. We don’t see this trend dying out anytime soon - and we’ve got the numbers to prove it
  • There are currently 3.4 billion active social media users1
  • There’s a new social media user approximately every 10 seconds1
  • The average daily time spent on social is 116 minutes a day2
  • 21% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that they can reach on social media3
Those numbers are undeniably impressive, so even if your current marketing strategies are working, it might be time to consider jumping on the social media bandwagon. It’s important to stay competitive and to reach your customers where they are - and they’re on social media. Let’s dive into exactly why you should be including social media as a part of your overall business strategy. 

Builds Brand Awareness -
Building awareness is so important when promoting any brand or business. That’s why 44% of local businesses said they depend on social media to generate brand awareness. And we’ll let you in on a little secret, your competitors are most likely included in that 44%. So, the time to get ahead of your competition is now - start having a social media presence of your own. Being on social media allows you to stay visible and relevant to both returning and new customers. By posting consistently on social media, you have the opportunity to be a voice in your industry and the local community - keeping consumers coming back for more. 

Allows You to Engage With Your Customers -
As we briefly mentioned, your customers are already on social media, so use that to your advantage. If you haven’t entered the social media space, the opportunities are endless - you have the power to reach a completely untapped market of people who could potentially be interested in either buying an RV or looking for advice from a trusted source just like you. It’s also important to realize consumers love authentic engagement, and social media lets you interact and build relationships with potential customers in an organic way. 

Helps Show Your Brand’s Personality and Expertise -
Social media lets you show off a bit, and there’s no harm in that. It’s important to remember you are an expert in your field - there’s no need to be modest. Social media gives you the opportunity to share your expertise and advice with your customers and position your dealership not only as a place where someone can make a purchase, but a place where interested buyers can come to gain knowledge about the RV industry as a whole. Don’t forget that social media usage can be fun. When posting on various social channels, you have the opportunity to show off your dealership’s personality through the different content that you post. Another thing to keep in mind is that consumers love brands with personality - and it’s crucial to humanize your business so potential buyers feel a true connection with your brand, even before visiting your dealership in person. It’s important to put the focus on the conversation you are having on social media rather than just the inventory you’re trying to sell. Posting inventory can be great, but sharing advice, tips, and tricks can also go a long way in building more of a relationship with your potential buyer. 

Can Help Drive Leads and Increase Traffic -
If new information or content is just sitting on your website, it’s going to take a lot longer for consumers to find it. That’s where social media comes in handy. When you are consistently posting (and linking your site) on social media, you are giving consumers more of an opportunity to find this valuable content on your website, in turn, boosting your traffic. 

Don’t forget that social media can be used as a tool - make sure you are using it to your advantage. And if you want to have a presence on social media, but just don’t have the time or resources to make it happen - we get it. That’s where RV Trader can help. Our GoSocial product can kickstart, or supplement, your existing social media efforts by managing your Facebook for you. GoSocial includes weekly posting and management for Facebook, a dedicated monthly advertising spend, and monthly in-depth reporting - saving you valuable time and costing a fraction of what it would take to hire a team. And if you don’t already have a page, we’ll even help you set one up. If you’re interested in learning more, contact your RV Trader representative today at 887-872-3373 - they’d love to walk you through it.

If you’re craving more social media content, you’re in luck. We’ll cover specific social media channels and tips on how to use them in future posts - stay tuned. To hold you over until then, check out our tips on using Instagram for your business here.

Trader Online Web Developer