Dealers on the hunt for new ideas to elevate their online marketing strategy won’t be disappointed this week at the 2012 NADA Convention. To help you complete your mission, here are six items you need to look for while walking the show floor.

1. Mobile Websites and Applications: Google predicts that 85 percent of mobile devices will be web-enabled by the end of 2012. And with mobile traffic increasing exponentially on dealer Websites, attendees will be rewarded if they return to their stores with a better marketing platform. 

But before you land on your new mobile website solution, be sure to check how it functions on Apple and Android mobile devices. You may also want to find out what solutions your local competitors are using to see if they’ve found a better solution.

2. Chat Software: Less than 25 percent of dealer sites are using online chat. If you’re apprehensive about using such features on your site, please reconsider. Installing such software can immediately increase high-quality, first-party online leads by 25 to 40 percent.

Best of all, the technology continues to evolve. For instance, solutions are now being integrated with third-party data sources, which should make the chat experience more valuable for your customers. One such provider is CarChat24, which has integrated data from into its chat console. 

Additionally, dealers using and may want to stop by the “Contact At Once” booth to learn how to create a unified chat experience on these third-party classified sites, as well as on their own websites.

3. Internet Reputation Marketing: More dealers are realizing that online reviews impact their advertisings’ return on investment, especially since consumers visit more than 18 digital sources — OEM and consumer pricing sites — prior to contacting a dealership.

Leveraging the power of customer reviews will be one of the biggest opportunities for dealers this year, and there will a number of strategies available to dealers to help them implement their reputation marketing plans, including in-store and post-sale strategies. Remember, the best time to capture a customer review is when your customers are in the dealership. And satisfied customers will be more than happy to post an online review when tactfully requested. 

Dealers also should visit internet reputation management providers to see which program best fits their store’s culture, workforce and budget. A few fee-based IRM platforms include, and the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN).

4. CRM Software: The glue that holds a dealership’s Internet department together is its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, so it’s crucial that you keep your system updated. Many dealers would be surprised to discover how outdated their CRM software is. Dealers should stop by their current providers’ booths to see what they’ve been working on. Providers have been promising better business intelligence tools, lead-handling workflows and mobile connectivity. Dealers whose contracts are coming up for renewal should be shopping aggressively at NADA 2012, especially since most contracts require a multi-year commitment.

Just remember to weigh the benefits of the solutions you check out, as increasing conversion rates just a few percentage points can easily justify the cost and inconvenience of changing your CRM system.

5. Google Adwords Management: Dealers looking for a low-cost way to increase traffic on their website will most likely consider increasing their Adwords spending in 2012. And as spending for pay-per-click traffic increases, dealers will be seeking out the best tools and vendors to optimize their budgets.

When considering Adwords vendors, be sure to investigate services that offer A/B testing and Google MultiVariate Testing. Finding the optimal landing-page experience that converts clicks into leads should be the goal of all Adwords vendors, but, sadly, this is not the case. Just be sure to investigate all options for third-party Adwords management. Conversations with potential vendors should focus on their fee structure and, more importantly, how customizable their landing pages and conversion testing will be for the dealership.

6. Increasing Show Rates: A new breed of software solutions is coming to market to help increase lead-to-show ratios. Conference attendees should book an appointment with companies such as to better understand how dealers are using targeted incentives to increase show rates after a consumer calls, chats or submits a lead.  

Most dealers have strong visitor traffic to their Websites. The need now is figuring out how to leverage that traffic to increase sales and profits. That’s why you’ll see plenty of tools this year that focus on visitor conversion strategies.

Brian Pasch is CEO of PCG Digital Marketing. E-mail him at [email protected]