It’s a web wide world

  11 July 2011

Our annual Web Workshops are always one of the most popular and successful seminars in the Auto Retail Network calendar; and this year’s events have been no exception. In the last two weeks, more than 100 delegates have learned, discussed and debated issues such as optimising mobile websites, turning online browsers into buyers and how to respond to social media – not to mention the rather more arcane but vital topic of internet law.

What I found fascinating was not just the quality and depth of the discussion, but also the way in which our industry engages (to use a suitable buzzword) with the internet has developed since we first started running these events way back in 2008.

Four years ago our focus was ‘maximising revenue’ from the internet. The workshops were centred on some website basics such as design, functionality and search engine optimisation. The delegates were largely business owners and sales directors – this was all about getting some (or all) of your sales stock online and presenting it correctly.

Fast forward to last year and we were the first in the industry to focus on social media (primarily Facebook) as dealership websites and online activity became more than just a sales tool, but also a powerful way of communicating with customers. Once again, there were business owners and sales directors in the audience – but this time they brought their marketing people along, too.

This year it was time to go ‘beyond the basics’ and look at more complex functions, many of which have only been developed in the past 12 months. The delegates? Business owners, sales directors, strategy directors, marketeers and a whole bunch of new recruits, internet marketing managers.

Okay, this is a self selecting sample but I am mightily encouraged that auto retailers now see the value in having online experts at the heart of their marketing strategy. As the rapidly changing content of our Web Workshops has demonstrated, nobody can predict where this fast-moving aspect of our industry will be in 12 months’ time – but it certainly isn’t going to go away.

Rupert Saunders

Have a great week, both in and out of the showroom. If you’ve a story for us: rupert@auto-retail.com

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