I have been a proponent of “Hub and Spoke” and “Content Marketing” components within automotive digital marketing strategy for many years and have written, published and created entire teams of people to deliver what is essential a hub and spoke social media marketing strategy. HOWEVER, I may be in disagreement with several points in this article and the comments made beneath it… Or, at least having a different perspective.
Because most dealership websites are provided by Cobalt (an ADP Company), Dealer.com, Clickmotive, KPA/TK, Dominion, or any number of other established providers, in many cases the result of an OEM mandate or endorsement, I do not recommend and have not seen much noteworthy success with using one of these fairly “standardized” dealer website platforms as the dealer’s “Content Hub” of choice. I believe that a different type of site platform should be put into service by car dealers as a content hub within their “Hub and Spoke” social media marketing strategy, at least the part that is focused on content marketing.
As all three of you and many others know, I once created over 600 dealership content hub sites for use in an extensive and for the most part grossly over-reaching “Hub and Spoke” strategy when my team launched the ADP Social Media managed services solution for ADP Dealer Services in 2008… By the end of 2010 we had 660 dealerships on the program, and there was a whole lot of learning during that 2 years development and launch program.
Please believe me when I say that even as far back as 2009 there were many people within the ADP Digital Marketing team that wanted and insisted that content for marketing purposes should all be published on the dealer websites supplied by various ADP dealer website solution teams. Even before the latest changes to Google’s SERP generating algorithms and subsequent updates, we found that trying to take website platforms designed primarily for promoting dealership inventory and not built for frequent content postings, and sharing of that content by all visitors to the site, was simply not very effective.
What we found a couple years ago, and what I still find to this day, is that the compromises required by the OEM mandated dealer website providers for the 10,000 of 17,000 or so total number of franchised dealers who are even remotely willing to consider content publishing for marketing purposes, so reduces the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy as to neuter it. Yet, when we use a website platform that is optimized and designed to be used as a “Content Hub” with application layers syndication to the major social media networks, easily and readily adapted to multiple content sharing and appending apps, such as “If you like this article, you may want to check out these related posts…” type of technologies, along with Google verified authorship compliance, category and tagging features and other more social media 2013 type technologies… THEN the hub and spoke concept simply rocks and drives so much traffic, engagement, marketing communications objectives and SEO benefits to both the hub and the dealer’s eCommerce random access website (RAW – Larry Bruce) when appropriate reference and citations are implemented specific to relevant content posted and distributed from the hub, that we have a WINNING CONTENT MARKETING STRATEGY.
So what types of platforms make good “Content Hubs”? Well, let’s start with the Ning Network platform that the ADM Professional Community, dealerELITE.net, AutomotiveSocial.com, AutomotiveReputation.com and several other Content Hub purposed sites targeted to car business people have been built on by professionals such as myself, Brian Pasch, J.D. Rucker (@0boy), David Kain, Chris Saraceno and several others have done. Not saying it is perfect, far from it, I have monthly meetings with the development team at Glam Media and they can be quite frustrating, but it does work, as shown by the success of the ADM Professional Community and over 30,000 monthly visitors from SEO alone.
Then there is WordPress and all the various “Theme” builds and templates designed to make it function as a great “Content Hub”. Joomla, Drupal and many other platforms are all far better designed to serve as a content hub than any of the top 5 dealer website platforms that I am familiar with.
As for how to manage the schizo appearing strategy of having more than one website… That has been covered so many times I do not feel the need to repeat it in a comment. But, once again let me state that due to the low costs involved and the increased effectiveness of purpose specific platform selection, along with the marketing reality of not wanting to take a “Buying Today” car shopper and send him/her right back up-funnel and into the research and info gathering mode by thrusting all sorts of content in front of their faces, which may distract them from their initial purchase intent that brought them to the website… ONE WEBSITE IS NOT ENOUGH FOR AN OPTIMIZED AUTOMOTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY at the dealership level.
A Content Hub strategy requires a site platform optimized for its use as a centralized publishing point and a high frequency of such publishing in order to be as effective as possible. And… Publishing a steady stream of content, much of which is relevant to customers focused on research and info gathering to a dealer’s eCommerce site may not be in the best interest of that site’s role as a lead, phone call and showroom traffic generator.