The focus of this month’s column is on two different “Smart Software” applications developed to help your dealership increase sales by improving the visibility of your product and services, and providing a quicker and lower cost of acquisition and capturing prospects’ interests.
These apps use technologies that are in wide use worldwide and are evolving quickly as marketing tools for farm equipment dealers. In fact, many of your customers, especially the larger and most savvy of them, are already familiar with and using these applications.
Improve Your ‘Visibility’
A preponderance of Internet users are utilizing search engines like Google, Bing and others to track down information on the web. Capturing those looking for farm equipment and driving that traffic to your dealership’s website should be a major marketing objective. To determine how often customers and potential customers are coming to your website, you must monitor the number of “hits” and its “unique visitors.” These numbers will tell you whether your customer and prospects, a.) are finding your business; and b.) are finding the information on your site useful.
This is becoming vitally important as more and more people utilize Internet ‘searches’ to replace paper ‘storage’ of information that was the practice of the past.
Once a farmer or other customer “finds” your dealership during a search, the questions become: Can they easily find the information they’re searching for on your site? Will they find other information that will cause them to be more inclined to buy equipment, service or parts?
More visibility means more “hits.” More hits mean more potential sales.
It can also mean less expense and time on the dealership’s part in answering questions about your products or services. If the answer can be found easily online, then customers will spend more time on your site and are more apt to stop in to the dealership. The alternative is to call the store and speak to one of your people. There is a trade-off between making information consumers are looking for easily accessible on your site (or providing links to other sites) and the time your staff must take to answer questions.
A simple way to test the popularity of your website is to “Google” your own dealership’s name and see whether it is a top ranked site. The so-called “Page Ranking” is the result of a very sophisticated method of analyzing the links to your site, the number of hits on your sites and other factors that are part of the secret sauce of Google and other search engines.
There are many more sophisticated ways of analyzing the success of your site. Google Analytics is one, but there are many others that provide a historic perspective. Most will tell you the number of visitors, how long they spend searching and which pages of your site they viewed.
Tricks for Increasing Traffic
Good website design is vital. You have done well if someone finds your site and can easily find what he or she is looking for. The efficiency of finding information means searchers are more likely to return, and more likely to buy from you. A poorly designed site is frustrating and sends the wrong message to customers. Here are some basics techniques you can utilize to help.
Test and Use Keywords: If you were searching for your own website, what keywords would you use? Would you look for “farm equipment” or “farm equipment parts” or “chopping corn heads?” It may be helpful to get a different perspective on how buyers use key words. Ask someone else to read your page and suggest what they think your keywords or phrases might be. The more effective key words you use, the more traffic you’ll generate.
Name Each Page: This is vital. Each page of your website must have a title that describes what is on the page. “Untitled” will not work! The more descriptive the title — including keywords — the better.
Use a Lot of Links: Google and other search engines keep track of the number of links to and from your website. To increase your traffic, link to as many other websites as possible. Also, have others link to your website.
One dealer I know surveyed all of the computers within his dealership and found most of his employees had their home screen linked to non-business related sites Facebook. Once he asked each employee to link to the dealership’s homepage, traffic to his website increased and his page rank improved significantly!
Use “User Friendly” Graphics: If you utilize graphic devices on your website, make sure they are search friendly. Some creative website designers like to use fancy flash screens and videos to create motion and sound. These are cool, but search engines often have a difficult time identifying the information being presented when using these attention-getting techniques. In most cases, you should avoid using these.
Designing an effective and profitable website can require expertise. Don’t be afraid to invest some money to get it done right.
Utilize QR Codes
You’ve probably seen these graphic devices as they are being increasingly used by retailers. QR means “Quick Response” and is essentially another form of bar coding.
QR codes are designed to be read easily to convey information quickly. The rapid adoption of smart phones means that many farmers and other potential customers have the ability to utilize QR codes. The way to do it depends on the type of phone. The capability to read QR codes is built in on Google, Android, BlackBerry and Windows phones. For Apple iPhones, there are more than 50 paid or free apps available to read the QR codes.
Why is this important?
A prospect who reads a QR code with his smart phone has almost immediate access to whatever website or URL that is assigned to that particular code. Some dealers who use this technology will place a QR code on each machine at a farm show or in their showroom. Once scanned, the farmer will have the technical or promotional information about that specific machine. In addition to a quick response with accurate information, there may be little need to give the prospect a costly piece of literature. The information is literally in their hands immediately.
Another benefit is you can also capture information about the person who scanned the QR codes. This information, to the extent allowed by privacy laws, will help your marketing efforts. In some states, this might include name and contact information.
To test how the QR code works, use your smart phone and QR application to scan either of the two codes in that appear in this column. If successful, you’ll either be on the homepage of Lessiter Publications or Currie Management. In your dealership, a QR code might be used for a specific machine or a specific parts or service sale promotion.
The electronic marketing techniques discussed here are proven methods for improving the point of contact with customers and prospects, as well as increasing the visibility of your website. They’re simple and most are inexpensive and can be put to use today.
George Russell can be contacted at GRussell@CurrieManagement.com.