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Dealer’s Voice: Digital dealer conference offers insight

Published October 3, 2013

The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) hosted its fall Canadian Digital Dealer Conferences in Ottawa on Sept. 17 and Toronto Sept. 18.

The conferences attracted large audiences and featured a who’s who of digital marketing experts from across North America.

This is the fourth series of conferences TADA has hosted and produced. I’ve attended several, and found they provide tremendous guidance and insight for dealers and marketing personnel who want to better understand online tools.

The conference began with a presentation by digital marketing expert Paul Potratz. He demystified the term “big data” and explained how dealers can uncover details about their customers and people who visit their websites.

With the increase in online data over the past few years, Potratz says dealers aren’t so much competing with each other as they are “with all of the noise out there.” He offered practical tips to enhance their engagement with customers and prospects.

One speaker discussed how vehicles are becoming increasingly connected — for usage-based insurance, safety and security, vehicle relationship management, infotainment systems, mobile offices, driver assistance, navigation and traffic.

The term to describe this connectivity is telematics (the use of wireless devices and black-box technologies to transmit data in real time back to an organization).

A popular topic among digital marketers is website conversions and optimization. One of the speakers offered tips on how dealers can increase web traffic and conversions, just by reducing the number of fields on a form.

The final speaker discussed several digital marketing topics, such as artificial intelligence, shopping behaviours, websites, search-engine marketing and optimization, social media and targeted marketing.

In the months ahead, many dealers will be implementing some of the ideas and strategies they learned. Don’t be surprised if your local new-car dealership begins connecting with you using new digitals and mobile platforms.

If there is one thing the conferences have taught me, it’s that online marketing and advertising are changing rapidly, and dealers need to understand the new tools and platforms in order to connect with their customers.

Camaro raffle

During the Toronto conference, I drew the winning ticket for a new, one-of-a-kind 2013 Camaro ZL1 in Prostate Cancer Canada’s Rock the Road raffle. The winner was Brad Deakin of Burlington, who purchased his ticket in support of research because his father had prostate cancer.

The customized Camaro features the autographs of the Legends of Canadian Motorsport: Scott Goodyear, Paul Tracy, Ron Fellows, Alex Tagliani and Richard Spenard.

The car was donated to Prostate Cancer Canada by TADA, and all of the proceeds from the raffle will be directed to prostate cancer research.

The Camaro visited 24 community events throughout the summer in promotion of the raffle, including the Yorkville Exotic Car Show, Taste of the Danforth, Ribfests across southern Ontario, Tim and Brenda’s Show and Shine, and Crusin’ for a Cure Canada.

The 10,000 tickets available for the raffle sold out in early September, two weeks prior to the draw date. The raffle raised $170,000 for cancer research and helped educate men about the importance of early detection.

This column represents the views of TADA. Email president@tada.ca or visit tada.ca. Benny Leung, president of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, is a new-car dealer in the GTA.

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