Moving inventory off the lots wasn’t difficult when the supply was crunched and demand was high. While many dealerships had fewer cars to sell, many were able to sell their inventory at a higher price tag. Some vehicle models were so popular that dealerships sold out in a blink.
Now, though, the market is normalizing. Dealerships might find that some cars are more difficult to move, especially as higher interest rates scare away buyers. If sales are sluggish, digital marketing tactics can help dealerships increase their visibility. Here are 10 digital resources that help dealers reach more customers and move inventory off the lot:
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Social media platforms
- Google Business Profile
- Targeted online ads
- Interactive digital images
- SEO initiatives
- A company blog
- Augmented reality tools
- Expansive online search query tools
- Online chat functions
The Benefits of Pay-Per-Click Advertising
Pay-per-Click (PPC) advertising is an advertising opportunity offered by many search engines (including Google). Ads are tied to search queries or keywords; when a user searches for a particular phrase, the business’ ad will appear. When the user clicks the ad, the business is charged for the ‘click.’
PPC ads are useful in that they allow businesses to use search engine activities to increase their visibility on the search engine. These ads require businesses to bid on keywords; the winner isn’t just determined by which business bids the higher amount, though. Google looks at the Quality Score, which, according to Wordstream, factors in the user’s experience, the relevance of the keywords to the business and the click-through ratio (CTR). The Quality Score and the bid amount are used to determine which business wins the keyword auction.
PPC advertising is a winning choice for businesses because of its high return on investment. Wordstream reports that these ads offer an 800 percent ROI!
Advertisers can reach more potential customers, too. In fact, since these ads are based on search query terms, businesses might reach a customer who they didn’t even have on their radar. For consumers, these ads are beneficial as they are relevant to their search. PPC ads help consumers find businesses that can meet their needs (as determined by their searches).
PPC ads are a simple and cost effective means for dealerships to expand their visibility and reach new customers. However, dealerships need to bid on keywords that are relevant to their business and remember that placing the highest bid won’t guarantee that they will win their auction. The user’s experience via the ad and the CTR also come into play.
For more information about PPC ads and the bidding process, Wordstream offers a Bid Management Guide that provides bidding tips.
Get Active on Social Media Platforms
Social media platforms are one the simplest resources online for businesses to expand their reach and engage with customers. There are many different platforms and each one has a unique content strategy and focus.
Facebook is the most popular platform with the most monthly active users. The platform also is fairly simple for businesses to use and allows them to post videos, write posts/updates and include pictures, too. Facebook also lets businesses use the Facebook Live streaming option; businesses can post a video in real time that updates customers on sales, new vehicles, or anything new happening at the dealership. These videos stay posted on the business’ Facebook page so followers can watch it at their convenience.
Instagram is owned by Meta (Facebook’s parent company). Content focuses on photos and short videos. This platform is the ideal space for dealerships to include slideshows of new vehicles.
Twitter has been in the news for months since Elon Musk announced his intent to purchase it and has since acquired the company; Musk is now rolling out changes to the platform that require users to pay for the infamous blue checkmark that was often considered a status symbol. The platform remains a great option for businesses to update followers on news or events or to simply engage with followers online.
YouTube is a popular social media platform that focuses solely on video content. Dealerships can start their own YouTube channel and post long or short videos. This platform is a great opportunity for dealerships to provide a closer look at available inventory via walkaround videos that show both the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Some dealerships also offer test drive videos to help viewers and potential customers understand how a vehicle handles on the road.
TikTok is a newer social media platform that’s popular with Gen Z. TikTok’s content favors short videos. Dealerships can use this platform to post quick updates or even to let followers see a new model that has just driven into the dealership. Dealerships also could post car care tips or other helpful advice.
Dealerships might choose a few social media platforms and post on just these platforms. Active engagement on social media, though, helps businesses stay visible online and communicate with customers and followers. Many younger buyers are active on social media, which is another reason why engagement on these platforms should be a priority for businesses.
Claim and Update the Google Business Profile
Every business can claim its Google Business Profile. When an individual searches for a business on Google, the profile will be the first result that is shown on a mobile device. When searching for a business on a PC, the profile will appear on the right of the page.
Dealerships should claim their profile and update it regularly. They also need to ensure that the contact information they included (phone number, address, email, etc.) is consistent. This contact information should be listed the same as it is on the dealership’s website, social media channels, etc.
The profile also lets businesses post pictures and enables customers to leave reviews. Dealerships should respond proactively to all reviews.
Targeted Online Ads
Search engines offer PPC ads, but other online sites offer advertising opportunities, too. For example, Meta lets businesses place ads via the company’s different platforms. These ads can be targeted to a specific demographic and even zero in on a particular location.
Since ads can be targeted, businesses only reach their intended audience. In addition, digital ads also allow businesses like car dealerships to advertise more than one product or service. Carousel ads let users click through a slideshow of different products; each product can link to a different web page or even direct users to a page that lets them enter their contact information.
Online ads have displaced standard print ads in that these digital opportunities let businesses target only the audience they want. Digital ads can also let businesses reach new audiences and expand their reach to different geographic regions.
Interactive Digital Images Engage the Consumer
The majority of consumers research cars online before they visit a dealership or move forward with their purchase. While customers consult different websites, the dealership websites are often part of the research process, too. Does the dealership’s website provide unique resources to customers that help them explore their vehicle options?
Integrate interactive digital images into the standard photo slideshows for vehicles. Encourage customers to immerse in their online experience. For example, 360 spin photos (from EVOX Images) depict a 3D image of a vehicle; customers can use a fingertip or a mouse to interact with these images and rotate them in a full 360 degrees. Panorama spin photos showcase the interior of the car, and, again, individuals can use a fingertip or their mouse to explore the car.
For customers shopping at home, these interactive images serve as a valuable resource to help customers understand the features of each car they like.
SEO Initiatives Help the Dealership Be Seen
SEO isn’t digital in that it’s a specific experience or resource. SEO is a methodology, a tool for ensuring that businesses don’t disappear on the internet. Optimizing content on a website or a blog requires businesses to include specific keywords that are commonly used as search queries on the popular search engines.
These phrases should not be obvious in the content and they shouldn’t distract the reader. Instead, keywords are used as a tool much like a card catalog for the internet. When content is optimized, it should rank high on engines and increase the business’ visibility related to specific searches.
A Company Blog
Creating a company blog lets dealerships update customers and anyone who stumbles across the content about events, sales and other activities at the dealership. In addition, blog content can include entertaining articles about ‘best places’ in the area (like restaurants) , helpful tips and lifestyle content, too. Use relevant keywords to optimize the content and help increase the page rank and the dealership’s visibility on the search engines.
Incorporate Augmented Reality Tools
Augmented reality is used to create preview and try-on experiences for products. When customers are shopping from home, augmented reality helps bring the in-person experience to life online. Dealerships can create an augmented reality showroom that lets customers choose their environment with the smartphone or tablet camera and drop in a 3D graphic image of a vehicle of their choice.
These experiences can let you view the image of the car via their camera and enjoy an at-home walkaround tour of the car. Some augmented reality experiences also let customers look inside the car or change the paint color.
EVOX Images includes a library of digital assets compatible with both augmented reality and virtual reality technologies. Dealerships can use these images to create their own unique showroom that intrigues customers and keeps them engaged.
Expansive Online Search Query Tools
Dealerships can reach more customers and keep more customers on their website by creating more expansive online search query tools that let customers tailor their search to find the exact car they want. Let customers search by price, by make/model, by MPG or even by fuel type. The best search tools let customers narrow down their results by allowing them to choose every feature they want for their vehicle and viewing only the vehicles that offer these features.
Creating effective search query tools provides a resource for online buyers to understand their options and find the car they want without looking at other sites.
Online Chat Functions Offer Help Online
Customers researching cars online might surf onto the dealership’s website and start looking for available models. Can they reach out to a salesperson for help online? Provide resources like chatbots or chat functions that let customers reach out for more information. Simplify their search; don’t make it more difficult for them to find what they need.
Digital resources help dealerships reach out to more customers and, ideally, sell more cars. These resources can include digital ads targeted to a specific demographic, PPC ads that let customers see the dealership’s ad when it relates to their search query, SEO that enables the dealership to rank higher on Google and even company blogs to provide quality content, tips and other updates to customers. Interactive resources like augmented reality showrooms and spin photos help customers shopping from home understand the features of the cars they like and explore the cars online, while online chat functions help them reach out when they need more information. Embrace these digital solutions to increase visibility and reach more customers online.