Like most businesses, car dealerships used to rely on traditional marketing methods such as word-of-mouth, referrals, direct mail marketing, radio, television and billboards to get sales. However, times are changing and these methods are becoming a thing of the past.
Auto dealership marketing is evolving. Today, a car buyer’s journey relies on much more than surface marketing. Potential customers put time and effort into researching brands, makes, and models before requesting more information or to take a test drive.
The younger millennials and Gen Z generations are at a point in their lives where they’re looking to buy their first vehicles. They are no longer reacting to traditional marketing methods but, instead, they are searching for companies that have high positive reviews and stay connected with their customers online. Therefore, having a good car dealership digital marketing strategy in place is critical in attracting and connecting to this market for car buying.
We’ve compiled a list of digital marketing tactics across various marketing channels that car dealerships need to take advantage of in order to maintain competitiveness and relevance within modern day marketing.
Selling cars is a very personable experience and one that comes with information gathering and trust. You aren’t just looking to sell a car and move on from there, you are looking to build relationships with your customers and have them grow for many years to come. These relationships are built through trust and knowing your customers and them getting to know you. Social media is a great way to bridge the gap between your business and your current and future customers.
Social media allows you to share information about your business to a wider audience and a place to interact with people regularly. The content you create online allows you to create brand awareness, communicate with customers on a wider stage, share information about your inventory and so much more. If your dealership isn’t using social media to its fullest potential, you could be missing out on a large number of customers and growing your business and potential car sales.
1. Connect To A Wider Audience
Widen your current customer base by reaching more people than ever before. Social media allows you to simply and easily reach users interested in your content and within your target market.
2. Communicate With Your Customers
Now that you have your market’s attention, show them what your business is all about and what makes you unique from everyone else.
Buying a car is a personal experience, so it’s important to ensure your dealership communicates with potential customers on social media in a way that fosters long term relationships, not just a quick sale.
Social media allows you to immediately answer any questions potential customers may have and provide them with timely information on vehicles you have to offer.
Users react more positively and acquire more trust when a business shows its ‘human’ side. Social media is the perfect place to highlight employees, events happening around the dealership, and community engagement pieces that can help bridge gaps between your business and potential customers.
3. Connecting To Your Website
In the automotive industry, you know how important your website traffic is to the success of your business. You want to have a healthy balance of customers that are browsing your website, looking at your inventory, and eventually converting to book a test-drive.
The first step is trying to send as much traffic to your website as possible. Posting on social media can help boost traffic to your site. Create content that relates to specific web pages, specials, or certain makes and models for people to check out. Once you begin seeing traffic rise from social media, you can then convert your new traffic into potential customers.
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Search Engine Optimization (SEO), is a useful tool to improve your website traffic, and place in the search rankings. Performing regular SEO tasks and processes helps to identify any errors or issues on your website that might be hindering your lead traffic, or conversion rate. There are a few practices you can take to improve your SEO:
1. Regular SEO Audits
You can’t improve if you don’t know where the issues lie. Having a look at your website and how it’s performing is a critical step in improving your online presence.
An SEO audit takes a closer look at things such as site speed, backlink and domain health, and your analytics: bounce rate, page views and visitors, etc. Once you comb through your website from the backend through an audit, issues can be clearly identified, and from there, you can begin to put an actionable plan in place to remedy them. If you are curious about SEO audits check out our blog on how to perform an SEO Audit for your dealership
2. Content Updates
Updating your website’s content is another key step in any SEO strategy. This requires taking a look at the metadata: metatags, meta descriptions and keywords.
Metadata is essentially just information about information. It is a way to speak the language of the search engine, so that you draw in the audience you’re trying to attract. Adding metadata to your content also ensures that your website’s content is relevant, which will increase your site’s domain score. In other words, it makes you a more credible source in the eyes of the search engine.
3. Link Building
Another SEO tactic is to create and launch a link building campaign. While it might take some time, gaining organic links from credible sources is a surefire way to increase your own domain score. The higher your domain ranking, the more likely that people will see your website, thereby increasing traffic. Additionally, having a link to your website on another relevant, popular website, will draw in your target audience.
Paid digital advertising is broken down into three separate pay-per-click (PPC) groups: paid search paid display, and paid social.
1. Paid Search
Paid Search ads are ads that are shown at the top and bottom of the search engine results on platforms like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Your ads are shown to individuals when they search using keywords related to your ad.
It’s important to think outside the box when deciding which keywords to bid on. For example, potential customers may search for generic keywords such as “buy new car” or “car dealerships”. They may also search for specific models or features, such as “7 seater vehicles” or “buy a 7 seater vehicle near me”.
Knowing what keywords to bid on stems from knowledge of the competitiveness of your local Google Search market and from your site’s organic search results.
2. Paid Display
Paid Display ads are image ads shown on websites relevant or chosen websites. These are normally found at the top or sidebars of websites and promote your brand at higher visibility than most other ad formats. It’s important to target these ads specifically based on user keywords, behaviours, and website content to improve click-through rates.
3. Paid Social
Paid Social ads are shown across various social media platforms to their users, the most common being Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Social media ads offer the most variety in terms of design and usability and are generally consumed at a much higher rate than other ad types.
Social media also offers the opportunity to remarket to those who’ve previously interacted with your dealership’s page. A wide variety of warm audiences can be curated based solely on the data provided by the social media platform.
It’s easy to understand that in order for car dealerships to get ahead in the digital world, their website needs to perform at the optimal level. Not only does this begs for a user-friendly website design, but also some detailed oriented optimization tactics to be implemented into the website itself.
It’s said that the best car dealership websites are those that actually help the customer find the car they want, rather than focus on selling any car for the sake of a sale.
The best car dealership websites help the user quickly evaluate vehicles based on their own financial situation and compare costs between models and against their own budget without having to involve the dealership or change the site. Creating a car dealerships website that meets these requirements is just one piece to the puzzle, the next is optimizing the website to perform at its highest capacity
Website optimization is an all-encompassing term that defines the process of using tools, advanced strategies, and experiments to improve the overall performance of a website. For a car dealership’s website, these actions are taken with a focus on both bringing traffic to the website and also converting the traffic into sales.
To get traffic onto the website, content creation and linking are the best places to start. Making sure the website displays content that is up to date and relevant in a timely fashion is an important part of keeping the website fresh and clean.
Taking advantage of monthly promotional offers to advertise and other opportunities for content are great ways to stay on top of the content creation side of things. Once the content has been established, linking everything to the website helps improve the flow of traffic to and from your website.
Linking things such as social accounts and paid advertisements to the website are key tactics to implement to help direct traffic to where it needs to be.
Once traffic has arrived on the website, converting the traffic into sales for both products or services offer becomes the next task. This is done largely by doing things such as adding call to action buttons, such as a “buy now” on every page of the website to provide users with an easy route to purchase, displaying contact information prominently, or providing customer reviews to encourage a purchase.
Making the buying process as easy as possible while also providing information to create trust in the buying process for the customer are foundational strategies to operate on in the car dealership industry.
If you are curious if your website is performing well, check out our 10 minute website scorecard.
Like every industry, the auto industry is quickly moving towards digital as opposed to traditional marketing methods. A strong digital marketing strategy can help your dealership maximize its online presence and leads.
Here at Newfound Marketing, we provide a thorough consultation and personalized inbound marketing, SEO, website optimization, social media, and paid advertising strategies. For more information and ideas of how you can generate online leads for your car dealership, give us a shout!