Selling vehicles isn’t like it used to be. In the past, you could depend on a steady flow of potential car buyers after placing a few ads on the radio or in print. Today, customers take a more active role in the buying process. Instead of visiting the dealership, they’re doing online research. That’s why it’s imperative to have a marketing strategy—especially a digital marketing one—to guide potential consumers to your car dealership.

In this guide, we’ll explain what digital marketing is, discuss why it’s important, and provide several digital marketing strategies to help you reach more customers and boost your sales.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is a multifaceted approach to promote services, goods, and brands using the internet and electronic media. It relies on various channels, such as mobile apps, websites, social media platforms, and instant messaging, to improve customer engagement.

Essentially, if a marketing campaign involves online or electronic communication, it’s digital marketing.

Why is digital marketing important for car dealerships?

There are many benefits to implementing a digital marketing strategy for your car dealership. Here are some of the advantages:

Increase online visibility

The first organic (unpaid) search result in Google Search has an average click-through rate (CTR) of about 28%. This means that if your website link is in this top spot, you are likely attracting more potential customers.

If your car dealership relies only on conventional marketing strategies, it’s time to make changes. While radio, TV, and billboards play an important role in marketing and sales, their impact has lessened in today’s environment. Consumers now spend most of their time online, so engaging with them there will boost your sales.

Personalize the experience

Digital marketing allows you to market the right products to the right customers. And tailor your actions to provide better value to your audience. For instance, when a potential car buyer visits your site, allowing them to personalize their experience will help you better meet their needs. This may be through a chatbot feature, newsletter subscription sign-up, or by publishing relevant and browsable content so viewers can find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems on their own.

Engage with customers directly

Social media is a great platform to ensure engagement with your potential buyers or target audience. Social media platforms can help you engage potential buyers and create a community where they can ask questions, voice their concerns, and be part of a conversation.

By responding to specific questions, your car dealership can be seen as a knowledgeable and trustworthy market leader. This can lead to potential customers being more likely to buy a car from you, as a bond of trust has been established—a bond that may be lacking between your competitors and potential buyers.

The fact that you can immediately and directly engage with your target audience allows for valuable feedback opportunities from prospective buyers. This allows you to continuously improve your digital marketing strategies as your target audience evolves.

5 Digital Marketing Strategies Your Car Dealership Should Consider

Here are some of the best digital marketing strategies to help you attract and retain today’s connected car buyers:

1. Email marketing

Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective digital marketing strategies. In fact, it has the highest return on investment of all kinds of marketing, averaging about $42 in return for every $1 spent.

And personalized emails convert better. Research conducted by G/O Digital revealed that about 35% of car buyers prefer emails based on their interests. Further, 28% said they would click on a car dealership email if it includes a model, color, or style they’re interested in.

With today’s sophisticated data sets, you can segment prospective customer audiences based on a wide range of selects, including their current car’s make, model, and Black Book value, those most likely “in the market” for a new car, and other demographics, such as hobbies, income, and more.

2. Social media marketing

A study conducted by the CMO council revealed that 23% of buyers talk about purchasing a new car on social media and about 38% say they’ll consult social sites prior to purchasing. So, if you’re not posting and advertising on social media platforms, like Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you’re likely missing out on opportunities.

An effective social media marketing strategy includes sharing useful, relevant, and interesting content on various social channels several times a week. It also includes engaging in conversations on your pages, posting inventory and happy customer photos, responding to reviews, and making your dealership contact details easily accessible.

3. Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the process used to improve the viability and visibility of your website through online searches. Implementing good SEO strategies will, in time, increase the likelihood of your website being served to people searching for car dealerships. According to Google, 95% of car buyers use digital research as a source of information. In fact, twice as many begin their search online than by visiting a dealership. So if your website isn’t performing well and isn’t one of the top displayed sites on search engines, you’re losing 95% of potential opportunities.

Perhaps the two most important tactics of a strong SEO strategy are high-quality, keyword-focused content publication and link building. While it may take time for search engines to recommend your website over others, you will no doubt improve the quality and quantity of your site traffic, thereby increasing the likelihood of your website getting discovered by people looking for a new car.

To create relevant content using the right keywords, you must understand your target audience. For example, if you want to attract potential buyers searching for California car dealerships, consider including terms like “automotive car dealers in California, “auto car dealership in California”, or “car dealerships near me” within blog posts or on your website pages. But to really improve the quality and relevancy of your content planning, use a keyword research tool to best identify and discover new industry-related keywords. Many free and easy tools exist, including Spyfu and WordStream, and help you identify the right keywords.

4. Mobile optimization

Mobile devices changed how buyers research cars they want, as well as how they discover new or different vehicles. A study commissioned by Facebook revealed that 71% of consumers use their phones during the vehicle purchasing process, and about 58% said that in the future they only intend to use their smartphones for all their vehicle research.

A mobile-first and responsive dealer website is more crucial than ever. Google and other search engines rank websites on the overall page experience. This includes, among many other factors, the usability of a website on a cellphone and the page load time. Ensuring your website is optimized for mobile devices increases your SEO rankings and chances of gaining new customers.

Here are a few tips to implement yourself or pass to your web developer:

5. Video marketing

Video marketing refers to the strategic use of videos to promote and inform about services or product inventory and to boost engagement on digital and social channels.

About 66% of marketers say they’ll either increase or maintain their spending on video this year. By its very nature, video marketing better captures viewers’ attention. It’s also more engaging than other mediums, such as imagery and text. In fact, according to a study by Google, 64% of people who used YouTube while purchasing a car were influenced by it. That’s more than magazines and newspapers.

Here are a few tips on creating effective video marketing at your car dealership:

Accelerate your car dealership’s operations now

Understanding your buyers is the first and most important step in developing successful digital marketing strategies. Through a combination of social media, email, website, and video marketing tactics, you will improve your car dealership’s online visibility and reach a more engaged, interested audience.

If you want to improve your digital marketing strategy, consider using AutoPoint marketing. This robust suite of solutions connects all the dots of the customers’ vehicle lifecycle. It offers every tool you need to promote sales, launch effective digital marketing campaigns, supply proper documentation, provide maintenance support, and improve customer retention. Let us work with you to create a digital marketing strategy so you can rise above the competition.

A successful marketing plan is critical for the growth of your dealership. Coming up with a successful marketing campaign for the dealership website can be tricky. The automotive industry is highly competitive, and its trends constantly shift.

To that end, here are some of the best actionable tips to make your car dealership marketing campaign more advantageous.

1. Optimize Your Efforts at SEO

In today’s market, many car buyers begin their journey online. Increasing your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can increase the traffic you get to your dealership website, and this can gain you new customers. You need to ensure that your dealership makes the first page of results on both Google and Bing. Choosing your keywords carefully, ones that have a rather high volume of searches with low competition is one method of doing this.

Another method of increasing your SEO rankings is to list yourself in a variety of qualified directories. This can increase your chances of being located when customers search for local dealerships.

You might also begin a blog for the website or add a few new pages that will provide your customers with useful information. Including content helpful to car shoppers will drive even more traffic to your site while also increasing online leads. Some topics you might cover include:

Focused content that adds value to your customers or intended customers can help drive traffic to your dealership page.

2. Blog for a Successful Marketing Campaign

Publishing content that’s educational on your blog is a great form of digital marketing that can help you ensure that you remain relevant to your customers while also boosting engagement on your website. You might utilize a blog in a variety of ways, but one of the best ways is to build trust with prospective car buyers.

A blog post can assist you with streamlining the process of buying a car as readers seek out the various car dealerships in their area. Knowing this, you can use your blog to build a relationship with them.

When they learn how you care for your community as well as that you’re an industry expert, your audience can gain confidence in knowing that they’ll get excellent customer service from you, both before and after the sale.

3. Emails to Your Target Audience

Email marketing continues to be a great marketing strategy for car dealerships that want to remain in touch with their clients. Consider this — how long have you had the same address for email? Your target audience tends to keep their email addresses for quite a few years too. Customize your strategy for email marketing based on services you offer, the seasons, or other helpful information necessary to car buyers. This can even include service reminders and blog posts, like:

Emails like the ones above will remind customers to have their service work done, or come see the new models — either one of which will bring them into the dealership, giving you an opportunity to make a sale.

4. YouTube

Have you ever found yourself searching for a video about something you were thinking about buying? Your customers do this too. Before they visit your lot, clients might be searching for videos about a vehicle they’re interested in or even your dealership itself. YouTube is quite an influential tool for shoppers. The number of views for those videos that show features, test drives, and walkthroughs is quite high. Because viewers tend to use mobile devices for this as opposed to computers, your videos also need to be mobile-friendly.

5. Social Media

This can be a massive influencer when it comes to millennials and purchase decisions. Having an active feed means that you can notify your followers when you get new stock, which can be an incentive for them to visit, and it can help your business seem active and busy. It’s also a fantastic way to form relationships with both current and potential customers.

Facebook, often the top choice for many companies looking to utilize social media, is a spectacular place to begin. It offers the most adult users, and they tend to be the target audience for car dealers. Be sure you’re posting a variety of content, including testimonials, articles, videos, and more.

Twitter utilizes short posts that consist of only 380 characters or less. This is the ideal platform to advertise any current offers or update customers when you get new inventory. Make sure you include engaging photos to draw a bit more attention to what you’re posting.

6. Referral Program

You may be tempted to focus entirely on the vehicle side of your dealership, but you have to keep in mind that the customer service side of things can also help you when it comes to driving sales.

You might consider a referral program in order to encourage your customers to share their experience with your dealership among their family and friends. This can help you grow your lead database and your business overall.

One great way to do this is by using a loyalty program. This will reward customers for telling their family and friends about your business. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to get even more qualified leads in to talk with your salespeople about purchasing a new vehicle, all while helping those same salespeople earn more money.

Put Your New Successful Marketing Campaign to Work

An effective marketing strategy for car dealerships will increase sales with the generation of leads. It will engage with your existing customers in a way that’s meaningful and solidify the brand in the minds of the target audience.

Coming up with an actionable marketing strategy for your automotive dealership will take quite a bit of research and time.

Optimizing your efforts at SEO, creating a successful email marketing campaign, posting informational videos on YouTube, blogging about your business, being active and engaging on social media, and using a referral program can all help you grow your business.

Use these tips to add more sources for new leads and customers, encourage repeat business, and most of all, grow your dealership.