Once, automotive digital marketing was the gold standard by which all other industries built their marketing strategies. Due to the economic downturn, the automotive industry has been in a rut in recent years, but that is changing. A survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers reveals that 44 percent of automotive CEOs are optimistic about the global economy, yet only 39 percent say their organizations are prepared for this upsurge. The Local Solutions team here at Cox Media Group believes that the industry is entering a third wave of growth — and automotive digital marketing will be at the heart of this resurgence. To maximize opportunities to increase revenue, here are some best practices to consider.
Evaluate What's Working — and What's Not
Automotive digital marketing has gone through rapid change over the last few years, which means the things that brought your dealership success before may not be as effective now. It can be challenging to stay on top of the new trends and incorporate them accordingly. Our Local Solutions team saw this in action when we were asked to help a Seattle Chevrolet dealership. The dealership's strategy included local television spots and search engine marketing (SEM) but was lacking targeted display and mobile device targeting. Digital display and mobile targeting have grown to be crucial tools for reaching local customers. The Pew Research Center's 2013 study confirms that 93 percent of smartphone owners use their phones to go online, so if your automotive digital marketing plan overlooks mobile, consider it incomplete. Further, eMarketer points out that a 2013 Nielsen survey revealed that 48 percent of U.S. marketers said multiscreen advertising was "very important" to their marketing efforts in 2013, and a full 88 percent expect it to be very important in 2016.
Put Social Media at the Wheel
Smart marketers understand that traditional marketing, although still a large part of your marketing plan, needs to coexist with online content you share with prospective car buyers. With its Hummingbird algorithm, Google has made it clear that content is king, transforming what kind of content is acceptable to yield higher SEO rankings. We leveraged SEO and social media strategies to help a Tampa-based dealership improve its online presence to combat decreased foot traffic and stand out against competitors in a busy local market. By integrating Google+, Facebook and YouTube into its social media portfolio and investing in more relevant SEO keywords, the dealership saw a 48 percent increase in organic search results, getting their inventory in front of more car buyers in the area.
Automotive News reported on an executive panel at its World Congress in Detroit earlier this year. The overwhelming message from this gathering of marketing experts was "digital first." If the leading car brands are making automotive digital marketing a top priority, local dealerships should follow suit. Doing so will give you the ability to drive new leads and enjoy new revenue streams as the auto industry comes roaring back.