Consumers today shop, research and conduct their daily lives across an ever-increasing number of digital outlets and online channels. These trends have been further accelerated by the pandemic and marketers across industries are quickly trying to adapt and evolve to today’s online standards.
The automotive industry is certainly no exception. Consumers shop for cars across digital and also expect to conduct many tasks virtually. A Cargurus.com report revealed that 55% of shoppers now say they prefer NOT to visit the physical dealership. Capgemini reported similar findings, with 49% of US shoppers preferring to avoid the dealership for financing and deals.
Whether or not these trends revert back to some type of pre-Covid behaviors remains to be seen. However, digital channels are not going away and consumers will continue to expect more digitally sophisticated experiences from dealerships.
Email can be a strong platform to connect with your current and prospective customers throughout the purchase journey. Regardless of the many channels available to market to your audience, email should be an integral strategy when conquesting new sales and reaching out to your current base.
Numerous studies have been conducted that prove that email marketing is at the top of the list in terms of customer acquisition and retention and new revenue generation:
- 81% of businesses say that email drives customer acquisition, and 80% for retention. (Emarsys)
- 59% of marketers cite email as their number one source of ROI. (Emma)
There are numerous ways a dealership can use email to engage with consumers. For example:
- Online Surveys – get to know consumer preferences or get feedback on services
- Welcome Emails – welcome to the family!
- Service Reminders – consider using an “add to calendar” feature
- Happy Birthday Emails – consider offering a discount on an oil change or other service
- Quarterly or Monthly Newsletters – in addition to promotions, feature staff highlights, customer service hours, dealership news, or monthly contests
- Inventory-Based Emails – send automated emails to interested shoppers when you lower prices and add or remove inventory on your website
More than half the world is using social and dealerships must meet their customers on the channels they are using.
According to Emarketer, 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active social media users (Emarketer, 2019).
Social media is also growing in terms of its reach and impact with statistics showing that 54% of users research products on social. (GlobalWebIndex, 2018).
Here’s several ways to use social media in your dealership:
Social is a great way to further the reach of email campaigns or other types of marketing channels. For example, when offering discounts on parts and services or specials on new and used cars or updates to inventory, this messaging can attract an even bigger audience when shared on social media.
Have a planned schedule for placing ads and consider targeting users by interest, location, demographics, in-market purchase indicators and more. Ads can increase brand awareness, site traffic and social media presence.
- Build Loyalty
A consumer will probably not use social media to buy a car outright but having a social media presence can go a long way in establishing trust among consumers so they turn to you when they are ready to purchase. Social media allows a dealership to listen to and engage with customers, monitor what’s being said and respond to any complaints as quickly as possible.
A majority of consumers today immediately go to search engines when starting the car-buying process. A dealership’s online presence is a huge factor in determining success at this initial point in the purchase journey. Strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Paid Search advertising strategies will ensure that car-buyers can find your dealership in search results. A comprehensive strategy should include your website, keyword optimization, pay per click campaigns, link building, online reputation management and quality content.
According to a study by Digital Air Strike, a huge percentage of car buyers turn to online review sites before making a purchase. In fact, 70% of car buyers say that online dealership reviews influence where they choose to go. Additionally, 24% consider review sites to be the “most helpful” factor when it comes to making purchase decisions. Be sure to monitor your online reviews, quickly and constructively respond to negative reviews, and continuously encourage your customers to leave reviews about their purchase experience.
Posting videos can boost engagement and interest in dealerships by displaying inventory and information where most consumers research first, making your dealership the go-to place for interested car shoppers.
A study by the Aberdeen Group noted that video marketers generate 66% more qualified leads per year and a 2019 study by Social Media Today found that including a video on a landing page can increase conversions by 80%. Rendrfx also found that 80% of users recall a video ad they viewed in the past 30 days.
Research by Wyzowl found that 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service when both video and text are available on the same page. As consumers are searching online, a dealership video has the unique opportunity to engage with captivating and educational content.
Overall, digital and traditional marketing should complement each other. A good marketing strategy should blend different channels and elements based on each dealership’s unique audience.
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