The Test of Time
The year is 1990. A prospective customer sets down his newspaper with an ad offering “no-haggle pricing” for a new car brand by GM: a Saturn S-Series. He has been eyeing that exact model for weeks since it appeared at the local dealership.
The customer heads to the dealership, walks the showroom floor, and learns about all the amazing bells and whistles of this car. Trailing, the salesman says he can really see him driving this beautiful piece of American manufacturing.
The customer stops by four or five other dealerships in town to compare pricing, but he ultimately returns to this one because it has the color he wants. Sold. He is excited about his purchase. They go through the paperwork and financing, and the Saturn is all his.
Fast Forward to 2016
Customers no longer rely on newspaper ads for vehicle information, nor do they even have to leave their houses to see what a certain model has to offer. The car buying process begins five to seven months ahead of time, and it almost certainly begins online. The customer does research on various cars of interest, comparing the specifications, pricing, and lease options.
After months of studying and decision-making, he or she heads to the dealership offering the best deal, oftentimes with the intent to purchase.
It’s no surprise that the car buying process and auto industry has gone through dramatic changes over the past few years. Customers have all the information at their fingertips through hundreds of sites like Craigslist, Edmunds.com, and CarsDirect that allow them to fully research and vet their options. They can even buy a car online and get it delivered to them if that’s what they want.
A Consumer’s Market
With the recent surge of vehicle purchases and influx of used cars re-entering the market, simple economics point to an impending consumer market for the auto retail industry. New vehicle demand will dip, which puts customers in a situation of power. With more and more dealers fighting over smaller pieces of the pie, they cannot rely on traditional sales practices to win over customers.
One of the changing expectations (read as requirements) is a personalized experience. Dealers rarely need to inform customers of the vehicle specifications when they enter the dealership; customers get that info online. What dealers need to focus on is owning the customer experience.
One way to create a more personalized experience is to identify customers and the platforms they use for research and then market to them with a customized message. With technology, you can virtually read a customer’s mind — or at least make a pretty good guess about your audiences’ interests based on online actions.
A “Good, Better, and Best” Approach to Marketing
The Good: Traditional Marketing
Dealers often personalize marketing based on a bit of research. They gather information from their CRMs, geographic and demographic information, regional market trends, and inventory cycles.
The most basic form of tailored marketing attempts to speak to large, general audiences. Segmenting audiences and marketing to these groups can help increase marketing ROI. However, this is only step one, and it is where most dealers stop.
Customers expect to be, at the very least, shown relevant material. With traditional marketing, blanketing an audience with information will reach the right customers but also the wrong ones, too. And the further and wider the approach, the more expensive marketing becomes. Why spend the dollars if you are wasting the vast majority on people who aren’t interested or in the right situation to purchase your product?
Customers today demand an even more tailored experience than simply advertising available inventory and store hours to them. What can your brand do specifically for them?
The Better: Retargeting and Remarketing
The average customer today interacts with 19 digital touch-points when researching a vehicle. What if one of those 19 touch-points was your website? How are you winning over that visitor and placing your dealership top of mind once he or she leaves?
Retargeting and remarketing tools allow dealers to capture the consumer’s attention. A remarketing plan allows businesses to reach customers who have already shown interest in your shop by visiting your website, and putting your ads in front of them over and over even when they leave, keeping your name top of mind.
With a relatively inexpensive display advertising plan, dealerships can reach this already engaged audience with a custom message or offer to return to your site. Retargeting helps with brand recognition and message penetration, and can help influence a decision.
Beyond simple retargeting, the most effective marketing programs are dynamic.
The Best: Dynamic Retargeting
Retargeting is a step in the right direction, but to really hit home, dealers must create an even more personalized and relevant customer experience. Reaching customers with highly targeted messages will improve the chance that they purchase from your dealership, offering more effective ROI than simple retargeting.
With the right data partner and implementation, a dynamic retargeting plan not only reaches those customers that visited your website, but also shows them relevant messaging or images directly related to the exact pages visited or clicks made on your site.
For example, let’s say a customer already knows her vehicle preference: sedan, truck, SUV, luxury, etc. She’s likely done some research on a few models she likes. She knows her budget and lands on a few viable options. Those vehicle options are sold at your dealership. She does a search for “Vehicle X” on Google, and your shop pops up. She clicks around, viewing vehicle specs, costs, etc. She then decides to continue to research.
You could consider that customer lost forever in the world of internet browsing, or you could take that data from her visit to your website and leverage it by showing her a highly relevant display ad on the next website she visits, featuring the vehicle she just researched on yours.
She sees “her” vehicle associated with your shop three, four, five times on other sites and finally, when she is ready to purchase, she thinks of your dealership because it is top of mind.
Customers who have already made it to your website and are showing extended activity — searching specific makes, models, financing, VDPs, etc. — have a high level of purchase intent. A smart dealer will not let those highly valuable customers go. They will use dynamic retargeting to capture them and win the sale.
Besides display advertising, a data partner can help you reach those same customers on other mediums, including following up with highly personalized email campaigns: We saw you checked out Vehicle X. Did you know it’s our most popular model based on these features and it’s on sale through the end of the week?
Dealers small and large can make a big impact by capturing customers’ attention online during the research phase. With the proper implementation and an experienced digital partner, remarketing can help you meet customer expectations and win over more sales.
Visit dealersocket.com/automotive-display-marketing to learn more about digital remarketing opportunities. DealerSocket’s expert team can help you win customer touch-points and keep your business top of mind.
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