The competition in the automotive industry is fierce, which is why dealerships need to continue to evolve in order to keep up. The need to constantly evolve is always important, but it’s especially crucial now since the way automotive consumers find, research, shop for, and purchase vehicles has drastically changed.
Dealerships who rely on the same traditional marketing strategies instead of adjusting to meet the demands of today’s consumers may not remain competitive for long.
The new year is right around the corner, so now is the perfect time for dealers to revamp their marketing strategies. Here are 7 dealership marketing strategies for 2021:
Create A Digital Dealership Experience
In 2018, only 1% of automotive buyers in the U.S. purchased their vehicles online. But in 2020, it was reported that 1 in 10 automotive buyers made their purchase online. The percentage of consumers who purchase their vehicles online is expected to continue to grow in the next few years, which is why dealers need to invest in creating a digital dealership experience to stay competitive.
Every dealer should focus on moving as much of the car buying process online as possible. For some dealers, this could mean allowing consumers to complete the entire transaction online. But for others, this may mean simply moving other aspects of the purchase process online.
For example, consumers who are in the early stages of the purchase process may have a number of questions. Automotive dealerships should be available to answer these questions via phone, video consultation, or live chat.
Consumers in this early research phase of the purchase process may also need to see videos and 360-degree images of each vehicle in your inventory. If possible, allow consumers to take a virtual test drive through your website as well. Moving these aspects of the purchase process online will make the experience more convenient for the consumer and minimize the amount of time that they have to spend at the dealership.
Partner With YouTube Creators
Automotive-related YouTube videos rack up over 1.9 billion views every month. The vast majority of these views—about 93%—belong to videos created by YouTube creators. The remaining 7% of views belong to videos created by automotive brands and dealerships.
Not only are creator-produced videos watched more, they also have higher engagement rates than videos produced by automotive brands and dealerships.
Because creator-produced videos are so popular, automotive dealerships should consider partnering with creators to reach a wider audience.
For example, consider partnering with a popular YouTube creator to highlight a new make or model of vehicle that has arrived at your dealership. Invite the creator to your dealership to film themselves taking a test drive or exploring the luxurious features of the vehicle. This type of video content can help consumers picture themselves in the vehicle.
Plus, since the content is produced by a creator rather than a brand or dealership, consumers are more likely to trust it. This means the information in these videos could be used to help consumers decide which vehicle to purchase.
Produce High Quality Video Content
Partnering with YouTube creators is an effective way to use video marketing to grow your dealership. But partnering with YouTube creators should not stop you from also producing original video content.
Take advantage of your exclusive access to showrooms, auto shows, and production plants to film behind-the-scenes videos for your consumers. Invest in producing high-quality videos that highlight a specific vehicle’s benefits and features. Create short digital films that tell a story about the lifestyle of the consumer who purchases a specific type of vehicle.
Dealers can also create short how-to videos that show consumers how to perform simple maintenance tasks at home. Or create buying guide videos that provide consumers with information on shopping for the best deal, comparing different makes and models, and financing the purchase of a new vehicle.
Videos that are produced by brands and dealerships may not get as many views as creator-produced videos, but they can still play an important role in your marketing strategy. These videos can be used to increase brand awareness, generate buzz, and establish your dealership as the go-to automotive experts in your community.
Target the New Type of Car Consumer
The global pandemic has created a unique opportunity for automotive dealerships to market to a completely different target audience. Many people don’t want to rely on ridesharing services or public transportation as a result of the pandemic. To avoid these forms of transportation, these consumers are exploring other options, including purchasing a new vehicle.
These consumers are not traditional car buyers. In fact, if it weren’t for the pandemic, these consumers would have no interest in purchasing a vehicle. Because they aren’t traditional automotive consumers, dealerships may need to adjust their marketing strategies in order to speak to this unique market segment.
These new buyers are typically younger consumers who live in urban areas. They may not have ever purchased a vehicle before, which means they aren’t sure where to start. Dealers must guide these consumers through every step of the purchase making decision and help them conduct research on their options in order to close the deal.
Investing in this strategy could pay off in a big way. In the U.S. alone, it’s estimated that about three million people who don’t currently own a vehicle are considering purchasing one. This means targeting this new type of consumer could be incredibly profitable for automotive dealers.
Optimize for Mobile Shoppers
Google reports that 60% of automotive-related searches are performed on a mobile device. Furthermore, some of the top mobile searches are related to dealerships. Based on this data, it is clear that dealerships must invest in mobile optimization to attract these consumers.
There are many different ways to optimize your dealership’s website for mobile devices. Some of the best ways to optimize for mobile include:
- Make sure your site loads quickly. The longer it takes to load a page, the more likely it is that the user will leave your site. Speed up your site by removing spaces, commas, and other unnecessary characters from your code. Don’t use flash or pop-ups and reduce the number of redirects to ensure your page loads quickly.
- Simplify your site design. Make it easy for users to quickly find the menu and navigate to other pages. Don’t overload each page with content. Mobile users should not have to zoom in to read the content on your website.
- Use a responsive web design. This type of web design, which is preferred by Google, delivers the same content to users regardless of whether they are on a mobile or desktop device.
Failing to optimize your dealership’s website could make it difficult to capture new mobile leads. This is because if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, users are five times more likely to leave before finding the information they need.
Manage Your Online Reputation
Savvy automotive consumers thoroughly research their options before deciding where to purchase a new vehicle. One tool that consumers use to vet their options is online reviews on sites such as Google, Yelp, and Cars.com. The information that consumers find on these websites could help them determine whether or not to do business with your dealership, which is why it’s so important to manage your online reviews.
Start by creating accounts on each of the main automotive dealership review websites. Then, take the time to respond to every positive review of your dealership. Thank the user who left the review and tell them how much you appreciate them sharing their positive experience with the world.
It can be hard to read a bad review about your dealership, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore negative comments. It’s important to respond to these reviews as well. Thank the user for bringing their poor experience to your attention. Help them resolve the problem they are upset about.
Your responses—to both negative and positive reviews—are public. The consumers who visit these sites to determine where they should go to find a new car will see that you are handling every positive and negative comment in a professional manner. They will also see that you are committed to making things right for customers who had bad experiences at your dealership. Seeing this could persuade them to choose your dealership for their automotive needs.
Offer Irresistible Deals
According to Google, searches for the term “is it a good time to buy a car” skyrocketed at the start of this year. Searches for the best deals on cars and trucks also grew by 70% this year. This data indicates that finding the best deal on a new vehicle is becoming increasingly important for today’s consumers.
To attract consumers to your dealership, focus on promoting irresistible deals and discounts. This could mean offering no-interest financing for a specified period of time. It could also mean offering cash rebates. For example, some dealers offer consumers hundreds or thousands of dollars in cash if they purchase a vehicle within a certain timeframe.
Be creative when it comes to determining how to sweeten the deal for these price-conscious consumers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new types of deals and discounts to see how effective they are in attracting customers to your dealership.
Implementing one or more of these innovative automotive marketing strategies can help your dealership achieve new levels of success in the year ahead.