Search Engine Guide: Seizing the Power of the Internet in Automotive Marketing

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It has been more than 40 years since E. Jerome McCarthy introduced the marketing mix of the four Ps - product, place, price and promotion. Practitioners since have applied these marketing fundamentals in time- and battle-tested ways, ever honing their craft.

Today, as the Internet plays an ever-increasing role in consumers' lives, marketers are progressing beyond the four Ps to stay competitive and leverage the power of online intelligence to continually evolve their marketing programs.

For automotive shoppers, the Internet has become the main tool to research their purchase decisions. Seventy percent of U.S. consumers research vehicles online before buying, making the Internet the richest source of information of in-market shopping behavior for auto marketers.

The Internet now is the best choice for automakers to reach and learn from consumers, and it provides automotive professionals with a vastly better way to quantify and qualify the most important aspects of consumer attitudes, shopping behaviors, in-market vehicle demand and the conversion of demand to sales.

Also, the Internet, along with various search marketing and advertising tools, has enabled customer acquisition techniques and efficiencies never before possible. And it has enhanced the quality of intelligence and accelerated its availability. Insights derived from this data can be used to develop highly customized marketing programs geared toward consumers' specific purchasing behavior.

In the automotive industry, where leveraging the full power of the Internet is still a developing trend, embracing online shopping data to attract customers will be a key success strategy. Automakers need to proactively use the Internet and its wealth of consumer information to act, change, optimize and enhance marketing strategies. Decisions based on ad-hoc data are outdated and potentially misleading because of small sample sizes and inconsistent methods.

Instead, decisions need to be fueled by actual behavioral data garnered through online research behavior. By analyzing their own performance relative to rivals, automakers can adapt quickly to successes and trends in the industry.

As you read this article, an estimated 160 new vehicles were purchased in the United States alone, generating an estimated $4 million in sales. Imagine the possibilities of incorporating the full potential of the Internet and search marketing to generate even more impressive results. The opportunity is out there, ready to be seized, but it is only as good as the marketing strategy behind it.

For more articles from The Direct Marketer's Essential Guide to Search Engine Marketing, visit www.dmnews.com/search .

A PDF of the guide is available at: http://www.dmnews.com/pdffiles/semguide.pdf

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