Moving its website and digital marketing in-house has transformed Benfield Motor Group’s online presence, according to group digital sales and marketing manager Mark King.
King will recount Benfield Motor Group’s digital journey over the past two years, which now sees the 34-dealership strong independently owned family business become one of the UK’s leading automotive online retailers active on several social networks including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, when he speaks at AM and Auto Trader’s Digital Marketing Conference on February 4 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry.
By transferring its web development in-house and from its marketing agency, Benfield Motor Group has been able to update and respond online in minutes rather than having to write detailed briefs which can take around two days to implement.
King commented: “We now have an in-house web developer and two digital marketing executives who look after content and it means we can distribute the messages we want in the way we want and when we want them to go.
"Establishing the in-house team has meant we have a flexible and fluid web presence and we feel as though we are much more on our toes.”
The group’s learning curve extends to social media, also handled by the in-house team, which has led to higher levels of engagement with Benfield’s online community.
“If there’s one big lesson we have learned is that it is the simple and often least expensive promotions and engagements on social media which net the best results,” added King.
One of the group’s biggest successes of 2013 was a straightforward promotion of a newly opened Krispy Kreme Doughnut store opposite one of their dealerships involving both retailers retweeting each other’s content and a £25 voucher give-away which added 100 followers in just a few hours.
King said: “Partnering local businesses such as restaurants and promoting each other on social media as well as commenting on topics specific to local dealership areas has attracted positive feedback in the past year.
"We have undertaken some complex campaigns on social media some of which have required video postings from followers but we are just not ready for that in the UK yet.”
In 2013 King was faced with the challenge of increasing sales without upping the resource and so embarked on a radical retraining programme which now sees the group’s sales teams much more active on social media stimulating consumer interaction at grassroots with impressive results.
“We had to drive more sales but with the same level of investment as 2012 and so we worked smarter and at a different level. By focusing on our conversion rates from online interaction to showroom traffic and eventually to the sale itself, we achieved more sales in 2013,” said King.
“In 2014 we will be improving our technical development by making our website responsive to ensure consumers receive the same high level of online experience whatever device they happen to be using.
“We will also be turning our attention to improving our aftersales presence on our website. It is without doubt a complex area which cannot be simply replicated online but we are determined to improve our website aftersales information, offers and consumer interaction in 2014.”
Social media will continue to be on Benfield’s agenda but King believes the team has now gained a deeper understanding of its place and value across the Benfield Group.