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:
Test your website: Consider testing your site pages on several devices to learn page loading times, whether the content is legible and accessible, how well the design and features work on smaller screens, and if the navigation is easy to use.
Use CSS to make your site responsive: Responsive websites automatically and smoothly adjust the layout and flow of content based on the size and resolution of the device. You can use CSS to implement media query ranges, also called responsive breakpoints, so browsers load different webpage layouts depending on the device.
Choose a responsive website theme: Because responsive sites perform better on all devices, consider installing a new responsive theme when designing a new site. To determine if a theme is responsive, access a demo before installing it. Theme demos often include previews of how pages will render on different-sized screens.
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:
Know what your audience wants in the video: When you organize each video, consider what your audience would like to watch. For example, if you’re filming a tour of your dealership, consider asking yourself questions like, “What areas of the dealership are customers interested in?”, “What do customers want to know about our dealership?”, or “What questions do buyers have about our dealership?”. When planning each video, always keep customer needs top of mind.
Showcase more than your dealership’s inventory: While your auto inventory may be your dealership’s focus, buyers want to know more about your dealership’s values, policies, team, and how you can help them after the completed sale. Instead of only filming walk-throughs of every new vehicle, consider capturing everyday life on the lot and introducing key team members on the floor and in the service department. You’ll educate and build relationships with future customers.
Stay on brand: Is your dealership customer-centric and friendly? Or are you known for a more serious buying experience? Whatever the brand personality, make sure to highlight this when recording. Keeping a consistent brand voice allows your dealership to capitalize on its brand reputation and share it with new audiences.
Keep it short: People know no longer have the interest or attention span to watch several five-minute videos in a row. Thus, when creating video, keep it short. Videos that are up to two minutes long get the most engagement. After two minutes, there’s a significant decrease.
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.