Digital marketing utilizes online tools to engage customers and heighten awareness of a business and its products/services. Social media, company websites, email, blogs and all the tools and features utilized in these online domains all encompass digital marketing.
For car dealerships, digital marketing can be crucial to reaching customers and engaging them, too. More importantly, digital marketing fuels brand loyalty and leads to customer retention. Here are 10 types of digital marketing efforts that dealerships can utilize to enhance their visibility, increase brand loyalty and boost customer retention, too:
- Email/text lists
- Dealership blog
- Social media outreach
- Augmented reality tools
- High-end digital photography
- Online advertising
- Video content
- Online chat functions
- Loyalty program sign ups (online)
- Google Business Profile
How Does Digital Marketing Increase Brand Loyalty?
Car dealerships might wonder how utilizing digital marketing will increase brand loyalty. The simple answer is that life is now online. Brand awareness needs to be digitized, and customers—especially younger buyers—want tools that allow them to research their buying options online.
Many customers research companies online. If they can’t find a modern website, social media accounts or even an active Google Business Profile, they might assume the business isn’t so modern or reputable.
A digital presence increases brand awareness and could help to build trust, too. The more tools and resources that a business offers its customers online, the more customers might identify with the brand and make purchases from the business. If the company or brand consistently offers tools that help customers with their buying decisions, the customer also might feel a greater trust in the brand and its products.
The Go-To Guy also explains that digital marketing can help keep a business in a customer’s mind and provides companies with a means to further illustrate their brand voice. The Go-To Guy notes that digital marketing also provides a conduit for communication between the customer and the business.
Digital Marketing for Dealerships
There are many digital marketing channels that car dealerships can utilize to reach out to customers and expand their visibility. Dealerships that are interested in elevating their activity in the digital universe can explore these marketing strategies.
To boost communication with customers, businesses create a mailing list that now either focuses on email or text messages. Dealerships should ask customers if they want to sign up for the mailing list, though. Spamming anyone could be a legal issue and drive away customers, too.
Some customers prefer to receive text messages. However, others might avoid this type of communication as it can lead to additional cell phone charges and use up their data plans.
What messages can dealerships send to customers on their email or text list? Think about news related to upcoming new models, promotions, sales or even special events. Emails can help increase excitement and awareness about new model year vehicles, and they can be used to ensure customers are aware of special APR or lease promotions, too.
Car dealerships also could choose to send out coupons related to car services or other deals. These special offers might be tied to a holiday or a customer appreciation event.
Start a Dealership Blog
Blogs can be an effective way to optimize the dealership’s messaging and gain visibility via search engines like Google. Blog content can focus on car care tips, car history, events at the dealership, news for the dealership or any content of interest.
Optimizing blog articles requires integrating keywords that are commonly used in search queries. A marketing professional can help dealerships uncover the best search terms to use in content. It’s important, though, that these terms are used organically and that content provides meaningful data to consumers. Simply ‘stuffing’ keywords into articles can earn the business a penalty from Google. Keyword stuffing is deemed a ‘black hat’ SEO technique, and businesses should avoid it at all costs.
Social Media Outreach
Social media platforms can be an important part of a car dealership’s digital outreach. The most popular social media site is Facebook, and it might be the platform that is easiest for car dealerships to navigate. Facebook has more than two billion monthly active users; the site lets businesses post live videos to announce sales or company news, photos and more.
All social media platforms invite communication between customers and businesses. However, each platform might have its own unique focus. Instagram is used for photos and short videos, YouTube is only for videos, Twitter focuses on short updates and TikTok also utilizes short-form video (it’s also a very popular social media platform for younger generations).
Dealerships don’t necessarily need an account on every platform. Dip a toe into social media and start using Facebook to establish a social presence. Don’t forget to link social media profiles to the company’s website; this can help customers find the dealership via these channels.
Augmented Reality Tools
Interactive online tools provide an immersive opportunity for customers to explore products from home. While virtual reality requires users to have a headset (which can be an expensive investment), augmented reality is more accessible to a wider audience; augmented reality experiences can be accessed using a smartphone or a tablet.
Deploy augmented reality experiences to heighten the online user experience for customers. These tools can lead to more trust, as they help customers explore products and better understand them. In addition, these tools can help a business stand out from the competition.
How does augmented reality work? The experience accesses the camera of a device. Users capture the environment in which they want to use as the background for the augmented reality experience. Once the environment is captured by the camera, they can deploy the experience.
Augmented reality combines digital graphics over the real world environment. For example, users can see their face via the phone’s screen and apply digital cosmetics to preview different products.
For car dealerships, an augmented reality showroom can allow the user to place a car in their backyard, driveway or garage. They can use their phone to explore the vehicle, look inside it or even change the paint hue.
High-End Immersive Digital Photography
The features and tools that a company offers on its website to benefit customers also can be a part of digital marketing. Not all car dealerships have the budget to create an augmented reality experience for customers, but they might have the financial means to incorporate interactive and immersive digital photography to benefit their customers and online visitors.
EVOX Images offers 360 degree spin photos that help customers explore vehicle models at home (or anywhere). These images let customers use their mouse or their fingertip to rotate a 3D image of a vehicle and see it from any angle.
EVOX Images also offers panorama photos that are designed as interior spin photos. Using a fingertip or mouse, customers can look all around the interior of the vehicle.
Interactive images can positively impact the online user experience. Like augmented reality tools, interactive photos also can create a memorable online visit—solidifying the dealership’s brand and name in the customer’s mind.
Digital marketing also includes online advertising. As more consumers spend time online, this form of digital outreach is yet another way to reach customers who are surfing online. Facebook and Google could be popular sites on which to advertise.
Dealerships also could design an ad that is unique to the digital space. For example, carousel ads include numerous images and users can scroll through these images and click the product that interests them. With carousel ads, every product (or car) can link to a unique web page. Carousel ads also might link to a form that lets users enter their info to receive more information about a vehicle.
On YouTube, videos are the only source of content. Unlike TikTok and Instagram, YouTube videos can be long or short. Some could be a few hours in duration.
Car dealerships can establish a YouTube channel to post engaging content about new cars, the dealership and other news. Dealerships can provide a tour of their showroom, introduce their sales team, and more!
Video content is another way for businesses to explore their brand voice, connect with customers and provide valuable information and resources to their customers, too.
Online Chat Functions
Online chat options can be used for customers shopping for a car from home. These functions serve to provide customers with answers to their questions and to help them on their car search.
Chat options can help buyers feel supported as they research their options. These tools also can enhance communication between the dealership and the customer.
However, good customer service via online chats is imperative to ensure that the customer leaves feeling positively about their experience. A bad experience won’t help the dealership’s brand or its reputation with customers.
Loyalty Program Sign ups (online)
Loyalty programs can offer discounts for repeat customers on services like oil changes and/or tire rotations. Some car dealerships structure their program as a VIP Club; they might charge a fee for membership and offer numerous benefits to members.
If the dealership offers a loyalty program or even a VIP club, make it easy for customers to sign up online. Provide a link on social media and the dealership’s website. In addition, the dealership can promote their club or program via social media, too. Make sure customers know that this perk is available to them.
Google Business Profile
A Google Business Profile is typically the first entry that pops up on Google if a user searches for a business. Has the dealership claimed its profile?
A Google Business Profile links to photos, contact information and even reviews. This profile can help customers understand a business’ reputation and find its website easily. Claim the profile and keep it updated. Encourage customers to leave reviews and respond (positively) to those reviews.
Digital marketing is a powerful tool the dealerships can and should utilize to connect with customers, elevate their visibility and help establish more customer loyalty, too. Explore the different tools for digital marketing and harness the power of online connection.