Digital marketing is where the business is at for car dealerships today. These are the must have skills needed to win at connecting with the best auto customers, closing them, and maximizing their lifetime value.
It’s no secret that the vast majority of car shoppers and owners are heavily relying on digital connections to find car dealers, select vehicles, choose who to sell their old vehicles to, and where to get service. Auto dealers now live and die by their digital marketing skills. If you want to stay in business and grow, here are the factors you need to master, or at least hire well for.
You already know that looks are a huge part of successfully selling cars. You can’t afford to drop the ball on looks when it comes to your marketing either. Otherwise you can have the best designed dealership, most beautiful rides and best dressed sales team. Only to never get a customer on your lot due to your online presence.
Online is where your first impression starts today. Obviously, this begins with a good digital marketing strategy and funnel design. Though the execution and end design will make all the difference. This will show up in your auto dealer website, mobile websites, landing pages, Google ads, social media posts and emails.
These assets don’t have to be overly complicated. They just have to look good and work. Simple can be better.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Car dealerships need to have a great SEO team. This is absolutely critical for being found. Without good SEO you’ll remain invisible to consumers. Whether they are searching on Google from desktops, using Siri on their phones, or are using smart home devices like Alexa or Google Home, your SEO will ensure you show up when they are actively looking to buy and sell cars.
Statistics show that 75% of car buyers use the internet to research. So do 68% of service customers.
SEO is complicated. What works is constantly changing. What worked a year ago can be completely irrelevant. Keywords and competition require constant research. Then this data needs to be used to continuously update and optimize all of your digital marketing and assets. This is really a full time job. Often a full time job for a whole team.
3. Data Analytics
Everything in business depends on being able to make good decisions. The better your data, the better your decisions will be. Fortunately, car dealers have more access to data than ever before. The trick is not only getting it, but watching the most important metrics, knowing what to ignore, and the ability to interpret the figures correctly.
Some numbers are a major distraction or are very misleading. Understanding how they really work together, and how to test and optimize correctly will make or break dealerships. Done right, this information will enable dealers to enjoy pinpoint accuracy and maximize every dollar for maximum profit.
A big part of this today is mastering customer personas. That is knowing your ideal clients, how they shop and their customer journey. That reveals where and when to best market to them, the best mediums and how to create personalized experiences and funnels that really convert.
4. Reputation Management
Being visible and getting found is just the top of the iceberg for winning customers and maximizing profits today. Before consumers will take any action they will want to do their homework on you. Perhaps even more than your finance department will do on them before making an auto loan. 83% of those surveyed say online review sites substantially helped them in selecting a dealership.
There are four main parts to this:
● Cultivating positive online reviews ● Managing online reviews ● Proactively seeding the web with positive information ● Ensuring your staff and ex-employees leave positive reviews of the company and CEO
You don’t have to worry about soliciting reviews from unhappy customers. They’ll the first and most vocal to post online. Yet, it is those who are most likely to leave positive reviews that are often least likely to do so without being prompted. Ask for them. Make it easy for them.
Make sure your staff are saying positive things on sites like Glassdoor too. Appreciate the value of more amicable exits for employees so they don’t bash you online either.
The most successful digital marketers also maintain a monthly budget just for pushing out positive content that builds their SEO, brand and positivity online. This includes blogs, articles, videos and press releases.
5. Customer Relationship Management
All sales businesses are relationship businesses. The lifetime value of a loyal auto customer is huge. It can range from referrals to first auto purchases, trade-ins, repeat business and more referrals for multiple generations.
Some customers will need to build relationships with your team and brand before committing. Though once you land one, you can’t afford to let them go to the competition.
This may begin with social media or live chat sessions on your dealer website. Then grow into ongoing conversations and rewards and updates.
Best practices likely include adding every contact to a robust CRM database, loyalty programs, upsells and special offers, regular calls, text messages and surveys.
Don’t just make sure they are okay or satisfied. Make sure they are happy. Turn them into powerful ambassadors.
6. Social Media
Social media is one of the most powerful and valuable platforms for car dealerships.
Use it to run ads, for brand storytelling, to generate referrals, and to provide customer service. Run contests on it and unleash great special offers.
V12 data shows 84% of all automotive shoppers are on Facebook. 24% used it to purchase their last vehicle. Even way back in 2013 Twitter was responsible for driving almost $1 billion in auto sales.
7. Marketing Automation
Clearly there is a lot to do to ace digital marketing for car dealerships. The odds are you don’t have a large dedicated internet marketing team. You can’t do it all yourself. The only option for doing this efficiently and profitably is to automate as much as possible.
This can be done with email services like Mailchimp, social media management dashboards like Hootsuite, bulk text messages, IVR and AI phone systems, and ringless voicemail drops and voice broadcast campaigns. Data shows that text message campaigns have a 99% read rate, with 90% being read within 3 minutes of delivery. This also leads to a 31% response rate, which beats out virtually any traditional marketing you can think of.