Car dealerships might already know the basics about marketing. Advertising, online content, events and other tactics can drive traffic, increase leads, and, ideally, increase sales, too. Yet, there might be a few tactics that aren’t on the radar, and these hidden strategies could also help give traffic a nudge.
What are the dealership’s marketing strategies, and are they effective? If the dealership is moving inventory but isn’t getting such great traffic online, there might be some solutions. Even if the dealership thinks that their marketing programs are ideal, use these under-the-radar marketing strategies and tips to help boost business.
What NOT to Do in Marketing
Before delving into tactics that perhaps the dealership hasn’t pursued, there are a few strategies that aren’t the best in helping to market the business. What are some tactics or marketing strategies to avoid? Here’s a list:
- Mentioning the competition in online ads (Google will not look favorably on this)
- Not addressing complaints positively (online responses are a form of marketing. Be positive even to those who’ve had bad experiences)
- Ignoring online complaints (respond promptly and kindly)
- Not being active on social media
- Not updating the company website
Competition is Fierce, but Don’t Mention Them
Car dealerships are competitive. The automobile industry can be a tough market. Knowing this, dealerships might think that an online ad mentioning a competitor will draw attention.
That type of ad will draw attention, but it might not be the attention that the dealership craves. Instead, Google’s eyes might zero in on the ad. When this happens, Wordstream reports that the dealership might earn a Google time out.
Instead, the site recommends bidding on keywords that are related to the competition’s brands (like Toyota, etc).
Negative Response to Online Complaints/Reviews
While, yes, some of these poor habits are business practices, too, they are all part of marketing. How customers perceive a business either attracts them or keeps them away. If those online see online negative reviews not being answered, how might this appear? What if potential customers see that a salesperson responded to a complaint with vitriol?
Customer service is a part of the company culture. How businesses manage these relationships may be crucial in how they are perceived by potential clients and customers, too.
Online Silence in Response to Reviews
The team might not have time to respond to every customer review online. However, engaging could be important to ensuring that customers—especially unhappy customers—feel seen and heard.
Try to respond to negative reviews in a timely and constructive manner. As for positive reviews, if there is no time to write a full response, reply with a ‘thumbs up’ or a smile. Engaging helps others who are reading those reviews understand that the company cares enough to read reviews and respond.
The online world is now filled with many different social media platforms. On how many of these platforms is the dealership active? If there is social media silence, it’s time to get on the social web.
Social media pages and accounts are an easy way for dealerships to engage with customers and potential customers, too. These accounts also give the dealership an online presence. Get social!
What are the best social media sites for dealerships? Facebook is the most popular social media site, and YouTube isn’t far behind. If the dealership isn’t active on social media, investigate the different platforms and find the social site that’s best for the dealership and its culture.
Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube might be great options for many dealerships. Instagram is focused on visuals—photos and video. Facebook lets users post long messages, share videos, pictures, etc. Twitter, however, requires that users post shorter messages. YouTube is only focused on videos.
Engage on social media. Post videos about the dealership or share photos of new inventory. On Facebook, post messages to engage followers. Posts don’t have to always be serious; wish followers a happy holiday, take polls about favorite Halloween candy brands. Get creative, but don’t be anti-social.
An Out-of-Date Website
New car shoppers go online to do their research, and the dealership websites are often one of the last sites they visit. What does the dealership site say about the dealership?
If a website features old graphics or outdated inventory, potential customers won’t stay on those pages long. In fact, they could surf on over to the competition.
Websites don’t have to be incredibly high-tech, but they should be current. As more customers go online to find their car, think about adding photo slideshows and immersive content like spin photos.
Under-the Radar Marketing Strategies to Embrace
If dealerships now know a few marketing strategies to avoid, what are a few tactics that tend to be underused for marketing? Dealerships might know the obvious marketing strategies like events, ads, etc., but here are five other things they might need to think about:
- Bidding on competitors keywords
- Understand Google Rankings
- Know when to pivot
- Get targeted
Bidding on Competitors Keywords
Using keywords in ads and online content helps businesses rank higher. This, in turn, gives them greater online visibility.
While mentioning an actual competitor isn’t ok by Google, bidding on competitor keywords to use in ads can help dealerships. These keywords should be focused, again, on the brands sold by competitors. Weave the keywords into ads and other content, and then keep an eye on rankings.
Understand Google Rankings
Dealerships that don’t have a good grasp of search engine optimization might not understand that the right keywords can make all the difference. However, once dealerships begin optimizing their content, they can’t just throw it out there and do nothing.
There are many resources that allow dealerships and other businesses to audit their pages and monitor the strength of those keywords. Dealerships should be able to see rankings, page views, etc.
Online ads also can be monitored. If dealerships are advertising via Facebook, auditing the ad campaign should be fairly simple.
Know When to Pivot
If a marketing strategy is stale, it’s not going to be as effective. To ensure messaging and campaigns remain fresh and on-target, dealerships need to know what’s trending in the industry.
For example, buying a car online is now a huge trend, and it has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Many dealerships had to pivot to online sales, but they also might have had to create campaigns around website engagement. Dealerships might have invested in augmented reality platforms that allowed customers to preview cars.
Stay on top of trends, and pivot when and if necessary.
In the past, ads for car dealerships appeared on radio stations, on television and in print. To reach the right audience, dealerships might have focused on a particular radio station or advertised at a particular time.
Online ads can be much more targeted. In fact, ads can focus on specific age groups, areas and more. To increase sales, interest and engagement, get targeted! Identify the target audience and focus ads and their deployment to these specific demographics.
While not all marketing strategies will work for every dealership, there are a few simple strategies that dealers can use to help increase visibility, raise engagement and, hopefully, boost leads and sales, too. However, there are also a few things businesses shouldn’t do that would reflect poorly on the dealership and its culture.
Respond to reviews when possible, because customers want to be seen and heard (especially those who had a negative experience). Don’t invoke the wrath of Google by mentioning competitors in ads, and don’t ignore social media. Get social, embrace a positive culture and pivot strategies when necessary.