Continually trying to increase sales is the never-ending battle of most dealerships, whether at a branch level or nationwide.
Keeping up with trends and new opportunities can be hard work, but it is work that is worth the effort for those serious about driving sales.
At the time of writing this, the number of dealerships in America is heading towards twenty thousand. That’s a lot of competition for anyone marketing online. However, it is not an impossible battle and some strategies can cut through all of this to drive sales.
COVID19 has also resulted in less foot flow from either fear-driven self-isolation or restrictions imposed by the government. It has caused a surge in online activities, especially online shopping. It has also increased the desire for private transportation now, as people become increasingly concerned about being in crowded public transportation.
With the introduction of virtual reality in many dealerships, this number is likely to only grow further. Virtual reality showrooms allow dealerships to be more compact and infiltrate areas that weren’t previously cost-effective. Fewer setup costs, less stock, and smaller premises requirements all lend towards the likelihood of more dealerships in the future.
Of course, we may also see things more entirely online. Virtual reality and augmented reality can give people a clear understanding of a car, video support, and ‘at home’ test drives help to settle any other questions.
Either way, the message is clear, if a dealership is to succeed long term, it needs a strong online presence.
Why Dealerships Should Incorporate Digital Advertising
The first thing to consider is that research is a key part of the buying process. This is something that strongly influences a buyer’s decision. Yet, this research is rarely done on dealership websites.
Instead, it is performed mostly via video reviews and third party websites. Has anyone checked your dealership’s online reputation? Do any of the top review sites link to your dealership? If not, article marketing, reviews, and other digital insights could be worth exploring.
COVID19 has also shown us that things can change rapidly in regards to real-world sales. Many businesses had to completely close down or go bankrupt because they weren’t ready to switch to online selling, or didn’t adapt quickly enough.
Getting effective online sales channels in place and continually adapting them to the market means that a dealership can be more stable and last long term, more or less regardless of what is happening in the real world.
During normal conditions, sales should be steadily increased and help increase profits. Then, should the crisis continue, a second or third wave or COVID 20 suddenly come along … sales can remain reasonably stable and even pivot towards only selling online (as all channels and platforms are already in place).
Digital advertising is also extremely cost-effective (once set up properly), transparent (conversions can be tracked), and highly targeted (each campaign can target the exact demographic of the campaign).
What Are the Best Online Channels for Marketing Automobiles?
While almost all online marketing channels can drive some sales, some fit automobile sales better than others. Here we look at the top strategies a dealership should test out:
- Social Media – This is a two-part strategy. Firstly, posting regularly and showing expertise in online discussions can greatly help to increase a dealership’s reputation when someone reaches the point of wanting to buy. Responding to questions and users also shows that a dealership cares about its audience and customers.
Secondly, most social media platforms also offer paid advertising that is highly targetable, as they have a lot of information about all of their users. This means specific advertising can be targeted at specific audiences, which normally results in increased conversions.
- Google and Bing Ads – By paying for advertising, a dealership can grab the top spot for related searches. This can help to increase consumer confidence, as well as also reinforce branding.
When a customer sees a paid ad, and then also discovers the same website in the search results, seeing the brand twice can inspire them to click – which also helps to increase free organic sales from search results.
- Virtual Showrooms – While a relatively new idea, it is an effective way to show off cars. This will likely be on the main dealership website but can be promoted via other media platforms. Being able to view vehicles in virtual reality is the closest a customer can get to see a new vehicle without actually going to a showroom in person.
- Expert Reviews – These often influence buyers, and so are worth reaching out to as a dealership. May pride themselves on honesty and sometimes as being a bit brutal, but if approached in the right way, reviews can significantly increase consumer confidence.
- Article Marketing – This is a multifold approach. By posting on established and related blogs, dealerships can harness the audiences of those websites. However, linking to the dealership website can also boost the search engine rankings of the main dealer website. Then, if articles rank well in search engines, the articles themselves can also drive sales organically through search result traffic. Of course, make sure to include videos and high-quality images of each car.
Things to Consider Before Starting Digital Marketing for a Dealership
One of the most important things is to not be false and obvious. Online shoppers are smart and can often spot fake or paid reviews, simply because they are too ‘salesy’ and 100% positive. Honest reviews, realistic answers, and genuine support are appreciated by informed buyers.
When starting with social media or search engine paid advertising, be sure to set a budget carefully and run tests for a while before increasing the budgets. When set up correctly, these approaches to digital marketing can deliver quite consistent conversion results. This means that if a campaign can achieve a conversion rate consistently, it could be highly scalable:
Campaign Conversion Example:
Invest $1000 seems to result in $1400 income on average – a profit of $400
Investing $100,000 should result in $140,000 income on average – a profit of $40,000
The numbers can be significantly better than this, but the above example is a simple example of how these results can be scaled, once a channel has been tested and effective conversions produced. But, in the beginning, it is wise to control the budget strictly, as there have also been cases of significant losses where companies have simply thrown money into untested digital marketing campaigns.
Because of this, it is also wise to use experts, whether in-house or outsourced. Each channel has its quirks and things that work or don’t work. An expert can not only save a lot of time with the testing phase but can greatly increase sales. They will also know how to identify the best audiences for campaigns and micro-target the campaigns to that audience – greatly reducing costs and also increasing conversions. Of course, no campaign is perfect from the start, and so an expert should also continue to help tweak and optimize the advertising to gain the best returns possible.
Any dealership that isn’t using the majority of these digital marketing approaches is giving sales to their competition. So, why wait?
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