Archive for category Online Marketing

Why I feel most Irish Car Dealers don’t get the Web

Nesselsdorf T - 2 cars in Tatra Museum
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The recent bad weather has made me really think about changing my car. The car I have is just an absolute nightmare at navigating through snow or anything that is slippy enough to make a 4 legged animal lose their grip once in a while. The rear wheel drive aspect doesn’t help either.

I’m not fortunate enough to have the money to outlay on a fancy new 4×4 or anything of the sort, so a modest used front wheel drive car with little cost to change will suffice.

My first port of call, like a lot of people in Ireland I’d say was CarZone. There were mountains of offers available and a lot of what seemed like extremely great prices. I must have emailed at least 30 different car dealers to get an idea of how much I would be looking in therms of cost to change to one of the cars of my choice.

The email was pretty detailed, with information on my car, the mileage, features, size of the engine etc and all I basically asked for was a rough estimate on how much it would cost to buy the particular car in question.

And this is where it all went terribly wrong from an Internet point of view.

Car dealers have had it so good for so long that they are generally way behind in terms of running their business online. “Who’d ever buy a car online” is something I’d hear a lot – well quite clearly, not many people would be willing to buy a car online, but one thing is for sure, they will research to their hearts content as to what car they are most interested in owning.

I guess it’s not surprising that a business that has never needed the Internet to make sales, can overlook the power of the web and be quite poor at it, but what I got in return, I must admit that I was quite shocked by it.

The first response I received was quite impressive, although the way in which the email was presented was a little unprofessional it responded nicely to my query and gave me a clear indication of an estimated price to change. I didn’t feel like I was getting a good deal, so I thanked him and let him know that I expected to get more for my car. I didn’t get a response to this, which is fair enough.

The next response to my email was from one car dealer who thought the best way to make a sale from my email was to simple say “I’d have to see the car”. Not a “Hi Tom”, nor a “thanks for your email, but I’m not interested in taking your car” and not even a simple “good bye”. No this car dealer felt that his simple and quite rude response was in someway going to make me drive half way across the city to see a car that may not even be what I’m looking for.

It’s very sad to say that he wasn’t the only car dealer that thought this type of response was sufficient. No, pretty much every other car dealer that emailed me had the same tone. Typically for me, if I don’t receive a half decent response or no response at all, I tend not to do business with that company again. However, I thought that since car dealers are only now starting to take the web seriously that I would give them all the benefit of the doubt and since only 9 car dealers responded to my email (yes only 9 out of 30!), it wouldn’t be hard for me to respond to each individually.

My responding question to “I’d have to see the car”, was :
“Hi

Thanks for your reply,

I totally understand that you would need to see my car before you can give me a price on the cost of change. But would it be possible for you to give me a rough estimate on cost so that I can see if it’s worth my while driving over to you to your car.

Thanks a million,
Tom”

Quite a reasonable response I thought???

Yet, I only get 2 responses to those 9 emails. One responded with “I can’t give you a price, I’d have to see the car”. The other car dealer came back with a really great email, explaining that he couldn’t give me a definitive price but it would be between x and y and that I should pop over and have a test drive. I was please with this type of response as he clearly took more time and effort to respond to me. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it out to him beofre the car was sold – but I will definitely look at this car dealer in the future if he has car that I’m interested in as although he had a poor start, his final response really made me feel like he wanted to do business with me.

I’m sure plenty of car dealers would be happy to point out that they get a lot of “tyre kickers”, a phrase obviously borne out of this industry. But the problem with that is, that rather than treating everyone as a potential customer, they are treating them as a “tyre kicker”. I was someone with a little cash to spend, ready to do a deal at the right price, yet I was treated like someone who was never going to do a deal at all.

Of the others that didn’t respond, I’m sure there were many reasons why they didn’t bother responding, from not being interested in taking my car as a trade-in, to not having the car I was interested in in-stock anymore. Fair enough, but the thing is, I’ll remember those people that didn’t respond and I won’t ever give them my business in the future.

I think it’s fair to say that CarZone is hugely important to most Car Dealers, in terms of generating business from the web. This is probably another one of the reasons Car Dealers haven’t felt the need to take control of their web presence. When a website as busy as CarZone is sending you regular sales leads from the web, there seems to be no reason to have a website at all.

I have heard through the grapevine that car dealers aren’t as happy with CarZone as they were in the past, due to many reasons such as price and problems with the new owners. I can’t comment on how bad the situation is, but I have noticed new competiting car dealer websites popping up and taking a slice of the market, something you wouldn’t have seen a year or two ago.

We all know that the web will continue to become more important as we head in the future and there are only a few Car Dealers who take the web seriously. Therefore those that don’t will most definitely be left behind. At the moment, for most small car dealers a presence on CarZone at the moment is a sufficient way of marketing your business online. But “marketing” doesn’t end with just being visibile on a hugely popular website.

Car dealers clearly need to understand how important it is to interact with potential customers over the internet to truly maximise the opportunities it brings to them. They should teach their staff how to interact with potential customers through email. They should understand that because sending an email is so simple, so should the ability to interact with a sales person through it be too.

There are clearly constraints to the business in terms of being able to give prices etc over email but this should not stop them from being able to entice people to come out and meet them. If their ultimate goal is to get someone onto to their forecourt, give them a reason to come out. “I’d have to see the car” as bluntly as that would never make me visit a car dealership and I’m sure I’m not alone on that front. Engaging with me and explaining to me why you can’t give me a price would put me at ease and allow me to make my decision as to whether or not it’s worthwhile travelling to the other side of the city rather than going to my local dealer.

I know for a lot of people in the car dealership trade that this will be a massive sea change in how they work. But it’s not hard and it’s not really far removed from your current working methodologies. So in short you should be trying to do it now and get ahead of the rest, because if you do, you well most definitely be ahead of the competition in terms of your online customer service.

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IEDR to give 10 SME’s a €10k Website Grant

.ie: Ireland's official Internet address
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The Irish Domain registry, the IEDR have created a €100,000 fund to help boost SME e-commerce. The idea of the fund will be to identify 10 SME’s who can take advantage of a €10,000 grant to to build an eCommerce website to help grow their business online. In an age where online buying continues to grow significantly, only 21% of Irish companies with websites have the ability to handle transactions online.

I’m personally delighted to see this incentive from the IEDR and it’s something that the government really should take note of. This incentive by the IEDR will help 10 businesses start to trade online and see the true potential that the web can bring their business.

I don’t say it often about the IEDR, but “Well Done” on this one – great idea!

As of now, I’m not sure how one goes about being included in the process for being selected, but when I find out I’ll post it here.

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Online Marketing has gone to the dogs

It’s been nearly 8 years now since I started online marketing company 2bscene. At the time, there weren’t many dedicated online marketing companies around. Most companies offering online marketing services were either web design or advertising agencies trying to cash in on what was clearly going to be a massive growth area of business.

Search Engine Optimisation was still pretty much in it’s infancy and I had built up 4 years experience of search engine optimisation of websites before I started 2bscene. God, in those days it was a hell of a lot easier to rank than it is today.

Of course, Google Adwords wasn’t around then, so there were fewer online marketing opportunities. That’s why we suggest using Web Chimpy they can truly market your company and help boost your business. We did have a number of online advertising options, but they were limited generally to banner advertisements and advertorials.

There was nothing as popular, nor as effective as Google Adwords is today. Banner advertisements were beginning their steep decline in click through rates and search engine optimisation was hardly heard of.

In fact organic search engine optimisation was the only real option for many businesses to get found online, yet little knew about this little secret never mind recognise it’s potential.

I have to admit, I didn’t come from a marketing background when I started 2bscene. I naively opted to study music and live my dream rather than contemplate choosing a college course that would enhance my career! However marketing was something that always interested me greatly.

I had gained significant marketing experience (and interest) in the companies I had worked with before setting up 2bscene and felt I could effectively build and grow a company selling online marketing services. Online marketing was a new and exciting way for businesses to promote their brand and there were very few companies offering the service in Ireland. Therefore the only thing I could be judged on was the results I achieved.

Fast forward 8 years and oh how the landscape has changed.

I had many reasons for setting 2bscene up as a solely online marketing services company. One of the main reasons was to distinguish my business from other web design companies.

At the time web design companies were popping up all over the place, everyone you talked to knew someone who was a web designer. Of course, you could still only count the good ones on one hand, but the surge in growth of these cheap and nasty web design companies was rapidly helping to deteriorate the web design market. From students working from their parents bedroom to the fly by night web designers who have disappeared off the face of earth, they all did little to enhance the reputation of a “web designer”. In fact, they did the complete opposite.

I get it all the time from new clients “we had a falling out with our web designer” or “we can’t get in touch with our web designer”. The perception of a web designer followed through in many advertising campaigns with the likes of IBM featuring web designers off snowboarding while their was a disaster taking place at the office. Web designers became a breed of people who could simply not be trusted to be there in a time of need.

The student type web designer brought web design to a level where a lot of people expect web designers to work for free or next to free. In their naive approach to business, they’d undertake to do a job only to realise they would bore with the client and their requests quite rapidly. In some cases, they thought the best solution was to do a huge amount of work for free in order to get the client off their backs. And of course, there were those who simply said the job is too big for me and disappeared, never to be contacted again.

Now the same thing seems to be happening with the online marketing industry. In fact, everyone wants to be or claims to be a search engine optimisation expert nowadays. I’ve never in my life encountered so many people in any other industry I’ve worked in, that claim to know more than the expert they have hired to do the job for them.

A times it can be a major struggle to have a reasonable discussion with a client/potential client about how best to market their website. There are a lot who feel that they are near experts in search engine optimisation because they have done “a lot” of research on the subject. A little knowledge is probably the most disruptive of all.

It doesn’t help much when businesses like “Snap Printing” decide that they are all of a sudden web marketing and web design experts because they now offer these services to clients. Pretty much all of our clients have been approached by UK online marketing companies offering to get their site listed at the top of Google for €x per month which is clearly a total scam. Yet, clients still question and compare the work we do, to what these shower offer.

Look let’s face it, search engine optimisation is not rocket science and is not hugely difficult when you know what to do. Anyone who has done even the most basic research on search engine optimisation could possibly rank a site for a non competitive keyphrase, that’s fact. But there is one key skill to search engine optimisation that I feel is the most important strength and that is… experience. Because search engine optimisation is changing all the time, having the experience to notice the changes that have occurred and why makes the job a whole lot easier.

Google Adwords and other pay per click solutions are similar. Pretty much anyone can get an account set up and get your site listed in the top results, but the value add from a professional comes in when they help you get the most bang for your buck. Experience is what makes the pros stand out from the rest.

I find it incredibly sad that the industry has come to this as I feel like the bubble is about to burst on the whole industry. In the past, there was a massive burst bubble for the web design industry. Web designers admittedly charged well over the odds for a simple website that never had a chance of generating a return on the investment. This led to many businesses believing that having a website was not a worthy investment for their business and opted not to have one at all. Web designers in the past year saw a massive rush by the companies without websites finally realising that the web was the way to go, but again a lot opted for the cheap option rather than choosing a true professional to do the work.

When I look around at the new so called experts that are leading the industry today, I find it hard to see any real quality. It seems to be the same old faces who you can rely on and trust. The problem with that is that a lot of these are too busy to handle the smaller clients and therefore the smaller online marketing companies are picking up the pieces and doing a pretty woeful job.

A recession is no better time to weed out the poor companies, but I just hope it doesn’t take too long for these guys to get found out!

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New Twitter… pretty cool

Today was the first day that I’ve been able to access the “New Twitter” layout and I am really liking it. There is much fanfare out there with people believing this move has been solely driven by Twitter’s need to generate an income from their much loved service.

For me, although it is a massive improvement on the old interface, I find it hard to see people moving away from using third party software such as Tweet Deck and Twhirl as a means of interacting with Twitter. The problem with using Twitter through a browser is that you’d need to keep an instant eye on it. Facebook didn’t have this problem as from the start it was a very image orientated social network.

Not every has been given access to the new Twitter just yet – but it’s definitely coming your way soon!

Here’s a screenshot of my Twitter Timeline:

New Twitter Timeline Screenshot
New Twitter Image

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