Car prices have been higher as demand has increased, and cars might have moved off the lots without much effort. As interest rates for car loans might be higher in response to the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes, some models might not be so easy to sell. Inflation also might be influencing buyers to put a new vehicle purchase on hold especially if it isn’t a ‘must.’
Dealerships might find that their once barren lots are starting to become a bit more crowded. Marketing can draw attention to available models, and dealerships can use these marketing tips to help move inventory and sell those cars that might not be driving off the lot quickly:
- Create social media ads and update social media accounts
- Highlight dealership sales and promotions
- Review responses
- Be mindful of SEO
- Claim and update Google Business Profile
- Provide customers with tools to explore models
Why Social Media Marketing is Crucial for Dealerships
There are numerous social media platforms that car dealerships can use to elevate their visibility online and interact with and engage with customers. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter are all popular platforms that provide different outreach opportunities.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform; according to Statista, Facebook has 266 million monthly active users in Canada and the U.S. (as of the end of the third quarter in 2022). However, globally the platform has more than 2.9 billion monthly active users.
With a Facebook account, dealerships can post pictures, videos and create more extensive text posts, too. The dealership can update its hours and post any news for customers. Facebook is fairly easy for businesses to use and update frequently.
Instagram is owned by Meta (the parent company of Facebook). The platform was photo-centric, but as the rise of TikTok has created competition, Instagram now also focuses on short-form videos. Instagram is a great platform for posting photo slideshows of new models or perhaps creating short videos showcasing a specific model.
TikTok is a platform that is favored by the younger generations. It focuses on short-form videos. Businesses might be delving into TikTok to reach younger audiences. Quick walkaround videos could be an ideal choice for this platform. According to Wallaroo Media, TikTok has more than one billion monthly active users. TikTok is a fairly young social media platform; it launched in 2016. In contrast, Facebook became widely available in 2006 (a decade prior to TikTok’s debut).
Dealerships might or might not gravitate towards Twitter. The platform is text-focused; in fact, character limits on the platform might mean that more extensive posts need to be broken down into multiple tweets. However, Twitter is a great option for sending quick updates to followers.
Social media sites/platforms also might offer advertising opportunities. Dealerships could create carousel ads that include multiple models marketed in one ad or they might focus the ad on a single new model. Social media ads and other online ads often let businesses target their message to a particular demographic and even zoom in on a specific geographic region.
Highlight Dealership Sales, Promotions and Events
Customers can’t take advantage of sales, promotions and/or special events if they don’t know about these offerings. Car dealerships can and should update their website, blog and/or social media accounts to draw awareness of any new deals, promotions and events.
Is there a low APR deal for a particular model for qualified buyers? Promote it! Has a used model been marked down for a quick sale? Highlight the model and the sale online and via social media.
Dealerships also might create a page that is devoted to highlighting all the sales and incentives for specific models. Update the page often and make sure the link to the promotions page is easily visible on the dealership’s home page.
Respond to Reviews
One way that potential customers might find out about a dealership and its reputation is via online reviews. These reviews could be overwhelmingly positive with a few negative comments sprinkled in. However, some dealerships could have many poor reviews.
While no business wants poor reviews from customers, how a business responds to those reviews could be revealing of their culture or customer service savvy. Businesses should take the time to respond to reviews—both positive and negative.
Responding to customer comments shows engagement and a willingness to listen to the customer. Don’t just read reviews, be responsive, too. In addition, dealerships also could encourage customers to leave reviews for the business.
Be Mindful of SEO
If a business’ blog or website isn’t optimized, it likely won’t rank well on the search engines (most notably, Google). Optimizing content can focus on integrating keywords of widely used search phrases or including content focused on the location or geographic area near the dealership (e.g. Best Burgers in San Antonio).
Consistency also is important to effective and impactful SEO. Dealerships should ensure that the address and all info for their business is consistent across all platforms.
In addition, businesses shouldn’t try to outsmart the search engines by stuffing keywords. The term ‘keyword stuffing’ means that content includes keywords that are used throughout content that doesn’t blend organically. Keyword stuffing is considered a black hat SEO technique and it could result in a penalty from Google.
Claim and Update Google Business Profile
One way to draw awareness to the dealership and its inventory is for the dealership to claim and maintain its Google Business Profile. When an individual searches for a business on Google, this profile will be displayed near the top of the search results.
A Google Business Profile includes reviews, location information and other data, too. Businesses should claim their profile and maintain it regularly. In addition, any address and contact information for the dealership should be consistent with listings on the dealership’s website and social media pages.
Provide Customers with Tools to Explore Models
More consumers are choosing to research and shop for cars online. What resources does the dealership provide these customers?
The online experience cannot simply be limited to showing one photo of a vehicle. Customers now want to explore vehicles to learn more about their options.
To amplify the user experience online, dealerships might include more immersive tools and resources. Augmented reality showrooms, extensive photo slideshows and interactive images can all be used to help buyers who are researching their new car options online.
EVOX Images offers dealerships with many digital assets to elevate the online experience. Dealerships can select from an extensive library of interior stock photos and exterior stock images for different models to create slideshows that help their customers explore a specific vehicle. EVOX Images also offers a library of assets that are compatible with augmented reality and virtual reality experiences; dealerships can integrate these images into an online virtual reality or augmented reality showroom.
Dealerships also could choose 360 degree exterior spin images that let customers engage with a 3D depiction of their favorite car model. Spin images let the customer use either their fingertip (for mobile devices) or a mouse to interact with the 3D image and rotate it to view the car from any angle.
EVOX Images provides panorama spin photos to invite customers to explore the interior of the vehicle. These images let the customer look around the interior of the car; this image experience simulates sitting in the front seat of the car. Customers can look at the back seat or even peek up at the moon roof.
Dealerships could incorporate professional stock images and 360 spin images from EVOX Images to include in the social media marketing efforts. Invite customers to scroll through a slideshow of car images on Instagram or on Facebook.
While there isn’t one magic marketing solution that can move every car off a dealership’s lot, marketing strategies can help elevate the dealership’s visibility and draw attention to available vehicles. Dealerships can use a combination of marketing tips to help engage with customers and help elevate the online car shopping experience for their customers, too.