Car dealerships might rework their marketing plans to navigate changes in the market. While not all dealerships might create a formal marketing plan, they might follow a path of strategies to keep consistent messaging and to heighten their visibility and outreach to customers.
Dealerships might implement advertising campaigns online (or even via radio or television). They also might focus on other marketing activities, too. To remain visible with consumers and to stay competitive, car dealership marketing plans should include these tactics:
- SEO strategies
- Blog content (editorial calendars)
- Social media calendars
- Customer outreach emails
- Advertising opportunities
Here’s Why SEO Matters
SEO stands for search-engine optimization. In order for dealerships or any business to be visible online and to appear at the top (or near the top) of search engine results, the website and the affiliated content should be optimized.
This means that dealerships might include keywords that are popular search queries; these keywords can be included within product pages on the website or a blog. In addition, optimization also can be as simple as claiming the Google Business Profile. Keep all business information consistent across sites, too. This means the dealership’s info found on the dealership website should match the Google Business Profile.
In addition, dealerships can ask customers to review them on their Google profile. These ratings can help visibility, too. Dealerships also could choose to use other features via their business listing; dealerships can add photos to provide customers with more info. Dealerships also should update their business hours if hours change.
While no one really knows the secrets behind Google’s algorithms that determine ranking, adding keywords to content could help boost visibility and page rankings. However, keywords in content shouldn’t’ stick out; they need to blend into the content naturally.
Stuffing keywords into content also is considered a ‘black hat’ SEO technique. Keyword stuffing involves adding irrelevant keywords into an article or page numerous times; this is distracting to readers, and those who stuff keywords probably don’t care about the quality of content. Keyword stuffing and other ‘black hat’ techniques could result in penalties from search engines.
Create Blog Content
Not all dealerships have a company blog, but a blog could be another means to provide quality information to consumers. For dealerships interested in starting a blog, creating an editorial calendar could be helpful.
An editorial calendar is a schedule that outlines the topic of a blog by week, month, etc. Editorial calendars can help dealerships understand articles they need to write and ensure that they don’t duplicate content, too.
Each month, dealerships can map out their blog articles and also include any relevant keywords that need to be included in each article. Some businesses title their articles based on keywords. This can help guide the article and help the writer zero in on the keywords, too.
For example, keywords might include “cheapest cars 2022.” The dealership can highlight the least expensive 2022 models that they will offer.
Social Media Calendars
Dealerships are typically active on one or more social media platforms. The most popular platforms include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter; dealerships might manage accounts and pages on one or more platforms.
Facebook is the most popular social media site with 2.93 billion monthly active users. Instagram also is popular and is owned by Meta (which also owns Facebook). Instagram focuses on short videos and photos.
YouTube features only video content. Dealerships might create videos on their YouTube channel that highlight new models or videos that provide a look at the showroom.
Twitter has more than 237 million monetizable daily active users. Twitter posts are limited to a specific number of character counts and the platform is used for daily updates or to share news, photos, etc.
Managing social media posts and content can be challenging for dealerships that don’t have a designated social media manager on staff. While daily posts are ideal, even a few social media posts per week might be enough to keep the dealership visible.
However, to simplify the management of social media accounts, dealerships can (and should) integrate a social media calendar into their marketing plan. This calendar is similar to an editorial calendar; it outlines the posts and content that the dealership plans for each day, week, etc.
Some social media posts can be fun and spontaneous. A social media calendar enables dealerships to schedule the posts that are the highest priority for the business; this could include posts on sales/promotions, new models, updates to hours and special events, too.
Customer Outreach Emails
Does the dealership have a customer newsletter or email list? If not, why? Outreach emails enable dealerships to keep customers up-to-date about promotions and sales and any news about the dealership, too.
Customer communiqués also could focus on a buyer’s specific vehicle. For example, dealerships could distribute emails to remind a car owner when to schedule specific maintenance appointments or when their lease is about to expire.
Customer outreach should be a part of the dealership’s marketing plan. These emails (or texts) can ensure that the dealership stays visible with past and current customers.
Advertising Opportunities and Outreach
Advertising is likely a part of marketing for most dealerships. With the rise of internet marketing, many businesses have pivoted to online ads. These digital ads can be targeted to a specific area and buyer. They might include carousel designs to promote/highlight different models and they also might link to forms that let potential buyers enter their information.
Advertising budgets for business could vary. Those with smaller budgets might outline the advertising opportunities that provide the best outreach for the price.
Other Marketing Tools
Marketing plans also could include tools and resources that the dealership will add online to enhance the customer’s shopping experience. Marketing new cars can now include interactive experiences like 3D car stock imagery, augmented reality showrooms and even virtual reality experiences.
Dealerships can integrate 3D spin images online to allow the customer to use a fingertip (for mobile devices) or a mouse to rotate the car and explore the exterior and interior. These images provide more visual data for customers who prefer to shop and research online.
Augmented reality showrooms can heighten the user experience, too. These showrooms are accessible using the camera from a smartphone or a tablet; the camera captures the user’s environment, and a digital graphic depiction of a vehicle appears within this environment. The camera shows the digital image of a vehicle, and, using the phone to navigate, the consumer can walk around the vehicle, look inside or even swap out the paint color.
Interactive elements amplify the marketing of vehicles by improving the online journey and the shopping experience. While photographs can provide visual information about a vehicle, 3D elements like spin photos showcase the car beyond a standard and flat image.
Is a Marketing Plan Necessary?
While not all dealerships will create a formal marketing plan that outlines their year-long communications, mapping out content via editorial calendars or social media calendars can help dealerships ensure that important updates don’t slip through the cracks. Dealerships need to be visible online, and optimizing blog content and web pages can help increase page rankings and improve website traffic, too.
In addition, dealerships also might focus on advertising online to reach out to potential customers. Not all dealerships have an extensive ad budget, and those with limited budgets might seek out the ad opportunities that provide the best return on investment.
Dealerships also should not underestimate the power of the email list. Providing regular email communications to past and current customers can help keep the dealership visible with these buyers but also provide valuable resources to these customers related to their vehicle purchase.