By Debbie Kirlew
As digital becomes increasingly sophisticated and complex in the race to gain traction in a crowded landscape, automotive digital marketing and website providers have made significant gains in the past year. New clients have been added, existing business expanded and fresh services created to meet new demand, with some suppliers experiencing global expansion.
A year of impressive growth, including signing JCT600 in September, brought the total number of dealerships the company represents to 325.
Marketing Delivery managing director Jeremy Evans said: “This year, growth has come from dealers of all shapes and sizes, including growing business from our current client base. Last year, our growth was just over 40% and we didn’t expect it to continue at such an impressive rate, but this year growth has been an extremely strong 30%.”
Marketing Delivery has also added Richmond Hyundai’s three sites in Guildford, Southampton and Portsmouth; 10-site Endeavour Automotive, based in London and the Home
Counties, came on board in June; Alan Day Volkswagen was signed in March, following the agency’s involvement in AM’s Digital Dealer conference in 2015; and its most recent client was Jacksons, with multi-franchised dealerships on the Channel Islands and Isle of Wight.
Existing clients that have expanded include John Clark Motor Group, growing from its BMW dealers to its Jaguar and Land Rover division. Cambria Automobiles extended Marketing Delivery services to its new dealerships and took on the Jaguar and Land Rover territory around South Woodford in north London following the acquisition from Pendragon this summer. Many clients have also added Marketing Delivery’s social media and data analysis to its email marketing services.
Computer software and digital services provider GForces is increasing its presence in mainland Europe, the Middle East and North Africa and the Far East and over the past five years has achieved ambitious growth margins of 30%-40%.
Tim Smith, group strategy director, believes product quality and service delivery are the keys to its success: “We definitely deliver on the wow factor, with a fully responsive platform, key
integrations like CAP data, and high-definition image apps that display stock at its absolute best. And with nearly 600 million user interactions logged through GForces websites, we have data that can back up our claims when it comes to approaching new clients.”
Over the past few months, new project launches include Dick Lovett Aston Martin; Seal Garage; Haywards Motor Group; Lipscomb; Marshall Motor Group; and most recently Harwoods, as well as many manufacturer projects, such as with existing clients, Mazda UK and Jaguar Land Rover.
Smith believes research and development investment, presence at trade shows, conferences and expos and client testimonials (its latest client satisfaction survey shows a record high of 99.1%), are crucial for growth.
In the past 12-18 months, Bluesky Interactive has grown its client base by 23% and now works with 26% of the top 200 UK dealers, a 6% growth over the previous time period.
“Customers shop around when looking for a car, so looking the same as everyone else isn’t desirable at all. This is why we deliberately choose to keep our key offering as completely bespoke websites” Lauren Cooke, Bluesky Interactive
Marketing and client relations manager Lauren Cooke highlighted bespoke design – such as HR Owen, JCT600, and Caffyns – rather than templated website layouts, and the service the company provides as core elements of its success.
She said: “Customers shop around when looking for a car, so looking the same as everyone else isn’t desirable at all. This is why we deliberately choose to keep our key offering as completely bespoke websites, allowing us to flex to meet our client’s individual identities.
“We try to make sure we constantly deliver the right level of service by resourcing our client services team appropriately, making sure every client has a dedicated team that know their business inside out.”
New clients include JCT600 (appointed July 2015 for web design and development and pay-per-click campaigns); HR Owen (December 2015, web design and development); LSH Auto (June 2016, providing a simple site while its bespoke site is under development, digital marketing consultancy, social media and search management and marketing services); Caffyns (December 2015, web design and development); Agnews Group (appointed March 2016 with a bespoke website being built); and TrustFord.
Having almost trebled its franchise dealer customer base in the past 18 months with a 191% increase, Autoweb has rapidly grown its digital marketing customer base, the fastest-growing area of the business.
Head of digital Martin Dew believes success is a result of its “knowledge and experience of the automotive industry and of web design and digital marketing” and by offering the “full package” of website creation, digital analytics and other digital marketing activities such as SEO, PPC and display advertising.
Autotorq has repositioned itself, expanding beyond its traditional yet global business providing used car platforms, website design and development into data mining, analytics and consultancy. With growth of 20-30% each year over the past five years, Autotorq expects a performance this year “well beyond” its previous increases.
Chief executive Stewart Niblock said: “We started looking at the Ubers of this world, various experts and several retail companies, how they use real-time data across multiple
platforms rather than just web metrics. Real-time data means immediate analysis and action can be taken there and then on the day. Hindsight plus insight equals foresight.”
Detailed data from several sources is brought together to create a picture of an individual for targeting or profiling of other potential buyers. As such, much growth has been the result of providing new smart data services to existing clients, although new clients include Jeep and Fiat in France and Italy with a UK rollout on the horizon.
Branson Atterbury, head of planning, said: “Our best campaign to date generated leads at a cost of £2.72 each, when £20 or even £40 per lead is not unusual. Profiling and targeting results in much higher conversion rates.”
Autotorq was appointed by Bugatti to launch a data-driven residual value project in the US, with the UK and the rest of the world to follow. The company has also signed a contract with a high-end manufacturer to provide data modelling and consultancy worldwide, starting in the UK. Existing client Infiniti has been extended to the Benelux region in Europe and Asia Pacific providing web and data services. In addition, its SEO campaigns in the UK, Netherlands and Germany have delivered a 165% increase in organic traffic for clients.
Website-centric agency Denison Automotive has expanded its technology to meet the evolving demands of delivering web services and continues to develop its 15-year relationship with Perry’s, which operates 40 dealerships in 26 locations.
Marketing director Steve Chippington said: “We have remained fairly static in terms of business growth, although our clients have been with us for five years as a minimum. We pride ourselves on delivering a bespoke service and view ourselves very much as an extension of our client’s marketing department.”
Chippington also makes some observations about the automotive retail digital and web market, which he outlines as a few dealer groups utilising in-house resources, the larger dealer groups largely opting for specialist web provision typically with “one of the two major suppliers”, and many other dealer groups using one of the smaller specialists, the category in which he views Denison Automotive sitting.
He said: “With so much dependent upon the effectiveness of marketing, it’s really important for the client to take control and manage the process in every detail. The real issue is that each dealer group should set their own unique marketing strategy and work with the best suppliers to make it a reality. It is unlikely to be a one-stop shop.”