When it comes to auto dealer marketing, these days, the first rule is not to talk about the dealership. According to a new study from Google, a customer can make as many as 900 digital interactions in the lead-up to purchase. By comparison, the same customer will only visit two dealers in the process.
This doesn't represent an entirely new way of doing business. Dealerships have long known that customers can take months to process a car-buying decision. But with the ease of information readily available on mobile, consumers are now researching while standing in line at the grocery store, waiting to pick up their kids or over lunch. Getting those customers in the door is a matter of how you interact with them in the micro-moments during the path to purchase.
You need to be where people are looking, and that doesn't start in your shop window. With the majority of car research done online, it's critical that your dealership is visible in search results. Make it easy for shoppers to find you. Make sure your local listings on search is up to date—Google notes that despite the focus on mobile research in the automotive buying process, searches for "car dealerships near me" have still doubled in the past year. Additionally, with the increase in mobile search, make sure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly.
Videos have a huge impact, so be sure you have some out there. And that means more than commercials on local access cable. According to another Google study, 69 percent of consumers who used YouTube during their car search say they were influenced by the digital videos they saw. Giving a 'digital showroom' video can help draw them in and grab their attention before they're ready to commit to a visit.
Consumers are looking for answers to their questions. Know what those questions are and offer them a place to easily find those answers, positioning yourself as the expert in the process. Do they care about seating or towing capacity? The questions a minivan shopper has will likely differ from those of a customer out to buy a compact sport utility vehicle. You can accomplish this with content marketing or even native advertising - content developed in a way that is helpful and meaningful to the consumer but built seamlessly with your brand as the voice, the expert, so consumers will be more inclined to buy from you over another dealership offering the same car.
Keep in mind that your customers are doing much of their research on mobile, and be sure your site is optimized for it. Consider the user experience in terms of your buttons. Mobile Marketer notes that one in three consumers who used mobile to buy their car used their phone to locate or call a dealer. Make sure these actions are easy to complete on your mobile interface.
Most importantly, keep in mind that, while the number of dealerships has plummeted, according to Automotive News, car sales continue to increase. Adopting these automotive marketing strategies can help you take advantage of the opportunities this shift represents.