While many of the actual sales made are still done inside a dealership, it is no longer where the buying journey begins for most consumers. Buyers today are informed and connected. They often research even small purchases, let alone major expenditures like buying a vehicle.
For this reason, it is vital for dealerships to maintain both a strong online presence and manage their online reputation. Unaddressed reviews or reports could be killing a business without the dealership staff being aware – if they aren’t switched onto digital marketing and reputation management.
Where Do Buyers Begin the Auto Purchase Process?
Google or Bing are the main choices in the USA. However, although not directly searched in most cases, Youtube also often features strongly in the decision making process.
This is because the decision-making process for large expenses involves first finding some selections that the potential-buyer likes, followed by the comparison of features, and reviews of the vehicle and company behind it.
The buyer is not only looking for a car they like that is of a good design, but they also want to know that the company they buy from has a good reputation.
Top 6 Tips for Auto Dealership Digital Marketing
Having a positive and dynamic online presence is vital for increasing car sales. Leaving client issues unaddressed or questions ignored could be significantly impacting a dealership’s bottom line by hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost sales.
So, here are our top 5 tips for digital marketing:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Ongoing SEO not only helps to increase sales but also trust with search engines, and that results in more stable earnings. SearchEngineWatch.com reported that “70% of Consumers Researching Cars Turn to Search Engines First” – that’s a buyers market worth making the effort to keep a large slice of the pie.
- Visual Marketing – Human beings by nature are visual creatures. It is also a more relaxing way to gather information on a subject. Watching a video or seeing a virtual reality image of something provides buyers with insights in an effortless way.
Article marketing campaigns can also be significantly impacted by the visual aspects, such as the videos or vehicle images that are included. What’s more, these images and videos can make it into search results, and as we already know, images can grab attention faster and easier than words. So, make sure the automobile visuals used are the best possible.
- Customer Reviews – These can often make or break a sale for dealerships. Although professional reviews can help and do a great job of highlighting vehicle features and even areas that are lacking, potential buyers put a lot more trust in ‘real’ customer reviews. They want to know exactly what the experience was by those that have been through the process.
When a dealership has happy customers, they should do everything possible to encourage those customers to post a real review on review websites, the dealer’s website, or social media.
- Paid Advertising – For this, be sure to use a professional and test out different ad creatives, landing pages and platforms to find the best fit for the brand and products. However, once the initial experimentation is done, paid advertising can deliver highly stable results. This is because not only can the dealership’s adverts show at the top of search engines, but via platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the advertising can be highly targeted to the types of people that are more likely to be interested in the vehicle being promoted. This ability to target terms and personas can deliver effective returns that can be scaled.
- Social Media and Forums – While many people search for reviews, seeing that a dealership is responsive to questions and complaints can also help to increase consumer trust levels. The key is to accept and own what the customer says and to try and turn all situations into a positive one.
A customer that starts with a bad experience or issue, but then gets amazing customer service and support that goes above and beyond are more likely to write great reviews, give good feedback, and become a loyal customer of the brand. Make sure the dealership owns all of the comments, reviews, and brand mentions for searches such as DealershipName reviews, DealershipName support, DealershipName unsatisfied, etc.
- Personas – While targeting specific markets is good, using and also micro-targeting personas can greatly increase sales. Creating stories, articles, or social media presences using personas that people can relate to can help to encourage them to buy. In this sense, it can also be done for social media marketing campaigns or adverts, making sure the ‘style’ of the adverts seen exactly match each persona the dealership is targeting.
If a dealership does all of the above effectively, they should be able to stand out from the competition. While being at the top of Google can help to grab lots of leads, it is important to genuinely care about and support the customer base, preferably with lots of online proof that your dealership does go above and beyond.
The vehicle and its features are a big part of the purchase research phase, that’s true, but buyers also want to be able to trust and rely on their dealership both during the buying process and after the sale completes. After-sales service adds a significant amount of additional comfort and security when a buyer decides to commit to the purchase.