Car dealerships might use a variety of tried-and-true marketing tactics to help increase customer traffic or to draw attention to specific vehicles, too. Online advertising, email outreach and even special promotions could help dealerships increase their visibility.
Is the dealership in a marketing rut, though? If the same tactics are used again and again, what have been the results? If the dealership isn’t pulling in the sales figures they want or if traffic has seemingly dwindled, it could be time to get creative with marketing.
Here are five marketing ideas that dealerships can use to expand their outreach, their visibility, and, hopefully, boost their sales figures, too:
- Incorporate augmented reality into the website
- Get active on new social media platforms
- Participate in local events
- Provide interactive and visual tools online
- Create and develop the brand
Augment the Customer’s Reality and Encourage Vehicle Exploration
During the pandemic, many companies tried to incorporate online tools that helped simulate the in-person experience for online shoppers. Augmented reality is a type of technology that overlays digital graphics on top of a real environment.
With augmented reality experiences, customers could preview different products in their home. These experiences let customers see how they looked in certain cosmetics and even paint their walls a new color all without any permanence.
The auto industry had to pivot online during the pandemic, too. Augmented reality tools also were incorporated online via manufacturers’ websites to let customers preview a car in their backyard, their garage or even in their living room.
Augmented reality experiences are accessible to any consumer with a smartphone or a tablet. With this technology, the customer captures their environment with the camera and the augmented reality experience inserts a digital image of a vehicle (or other product).
Some augmented reality auto experiences allow customers to walk around a life-size depiction of a model. Others let customers look inside the cars, too. Customers might even be able to change the paint color of their selected vehicle.
Younger generations—like Generation Z—are comfortable with these unique and interactive experiences. These young buyers might use augmented reality via social media; photo filters like those found on Instagram and Snapchat could be considered a type of augmented reality technology.
Incorporating tech-centric and interactive experiences like augmented reality could allow dealerships to increase their marketing impact related to younger car buyers. In fact, My Total Retail reports that Snap’s data revealed that “…92 percent of Gen Z consumers want to use augmented reality (AR) tools for e-commerce.”
These experiences also could appeal to all buyers who research their vehicle options online; previewing a car at home could help buyers better understand a vehicle’s design and its features.
Get Active on New Social Media Platforms
Change is the only constant. Technology changes constantly and newer social media sites are rising to prominence. Dealerships might be comfortable with their Facebook and Twitter pages, but more outreach and activity on new social platforms could help the dealership expand its visibility.
Where are younger buyers congregating online? Many don’t use Facebook. Instead, TikTok has become the video-centric social media site of choice for the younger generations. In September 2021, TikTok’s monthly active users (across the globe) reached one billion.
Almost one year later, that number has likely grown. Who uses TikTok? Statistics reveal that one-fourth of users are aged 10 to 19. Slightly more than 22 percent are 20 to 29.
While TikTok users are younger, even older users are getting in on the trend. A little more than 20 percent (20.3) of users are 40 to 49.
Dealerships interested in getting active on TikTok should check out a few videos on the platform. TikTok focuses on shorter video content. Dealerships might want to stick to topics that are snappy and easy to digest in video format; think about car tips or other interesting topics.
Participate in Local Events
Dealerships might already be active in the community. Yet, community events could be a fun way to expand visibility and show support, too.
Many communities offer local events like parades, fairs, etc. Dealerships could consider hosting a booth, walking in a parade or even sponsoring a local sports team. Local community events can help boost brand recognition of the dealership and even allow communities to put a face (or faces) with the name.
Provide Interactive and Visual Tools Online
Augmented reality experiences allow customers to preview a vehicle from any location (with the help of a smartphone or tablet). However, not all dealerships might be inclined to add this feature to their website.
There are many other resources that dealerships can include online to provide interactive and visual experiences for customers. For example, 360 spin photos let customers use their fingertip or their mouse to turn the car around or even explore its interior. These photos are available via EVOX Images and can serve as a resource for customers researching cars online.
In addition, dealerships also could include animated images that capture the attention of website visitors. These photos can show a vehicle driving into a photo or rotating. Animated photos offered by EVOX Images also create an immersive experience for customers to understand a vehicle’s paint trims; as the car’s viewpoint changes (while spinning, driving, etc.), the color also could change, too.
Create and Develop the Dealership Brand
Interactive resources and participating in community events can help elevate a dealership’s visibility and draw in more potential customers. However, some dealerships fail to create one key marketing element that could significantly impact their image.
The dealership’s individual brand and culture set the business apart from the competition. This is why some dealerships focus on a mascot or even bring the owner into advertisements or other marketing endeavors.
Some dealership owners have their own unique or even quirky style or personality. This serves as a calling card to their business and their brand. Other dealerships make their entire team focus on advertising to highlight their culture.
What is the dealership’s brand? How do customers remember the dealership?
When shopping for a vehicle, it could be easy for dealerships to blend together for customers who are visiting many different locations and businesses. Dealerships that have a unique culture or an interest hook could hook customers, too.
The dealership’s brand needs to be consistent across all marketing messages. In addition, creating a positive culture also is important to the overall brand. While a memorable mascot could stick into a customer’s memory, if the overall in-person experience is less than pleasant, that quirky mascot really didn’t aid the process or boost sales.
For dealerships that haven’t created a brand, it’s never too late. Decide on a brand concept and focus the messaging around values that are important to the team. It’s also never too late to adopt a mascot or even to promote a specific mission; maybe the dealership helps support a local animal shelter. To promote this community focus, the dealership could host a donation drive for the shelter (maybe customers bring in supplies).
While dealerships might be comfortable with their current marketing endeavors, it also could be time for an evaluation of the impact of the marketing plan. Conduct a marketing audit and review the success of these endeavors related to sales and customer retention. It could be time for the dealership to embrace new ideas and a new way to market the inventory.