If you've read my automotive blogs before, you know that social media advertising and the proper use of it is something of a soapbox of mine. If you've read others, you know it's a soapbox I stand on regardless of the industry. Now I'm going to tell you why. Recently, Cars.com posted a study online. It was targeted at mobile users, and what it revealed will show you something that is true worldwide regardless of industry. It will also prove that you need to have a strong web advertising presence, and that now is the time to learn to effectively use marketing automation and social media to your greatest advantage. The internet is, quite simply, today's automotive advertising battleground.
By the end of 2013, the number of persons in the United States alone who intended to purchase or lease a vehicle within 2 years jumped by 73%. Now, that would seem to be good news. I mean, if they're shopping online, they see your website more often, right? The rise in internet shopping means that your webpage traffic is increased. This is where advertising is key.
This is where it starts to get complicated though. Customers are also shopping around on their mobile devices. Placed, Inc and Cars.com surveyed respondents about their mobile use while on the dealer lot. Almost consistently, those consumers were looking up competitive deals and vehicle prices at other dealerships, while also checking stats and calculating payments. They also often look up reviews of the vehicle and the dealership.
Offering price-match guarantees, accurately and proactively communicating the reason for price discrepancies, and maintaining a strong mobile and internet advertising presence will help avoid the situation of a hot lead becoming an “I'll be back” that never returns.
In fact, respondents that were using their mobile devices on the floor are 72% more likely, according to this study, to visit other dealerships the same day. Nearly two thirds of mobile users visited another dealership within a day, while only 36% of those not using a mobile device did the same. Of those that visited another dealership after using mobile devices, more than half of those did so because of information directly acquired from their mobile device while considering a vehicle right in front of them.
Because of this surprising fact, I did some research into what makes for a successful web presence so I can supply you with a list of tips to help keep more of this traffic in your customer pool. Using this information can help you keep customers involved and engaged in your dealership and services, and enable you to edge out some of the competition.
Optimize your website and maintain a company blog.
Using tools like search engine optimization (SEO) can go a long way to helping you appear more frequently when customers search for your site. Once customers get to your site, you now have a chance to start customer interaction, celebrating customer success stories and offering tips and tricks to help maintain a vehicle. To boot, the more content you put up for your customers, the more knowledge they gain, and they'll feel that you really go the extra mile to help them know what's best for their vehicles. This improves customer relations and makes customers feel more engaged with your business. Make sure your website works on mobile devices as well, so that customers can look you up when they are at other dealerships. The trend of mobile vehicle viewing is prevalent, so you might as well take advantage of it!
Maintain a social media account.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Social media and mobile marketing are essential. Maintaining a social media profile where you educate and engage your customers through trivia games or contests, stories, sharing experiences or helpful hints, will make your existing customers more loyal, and in turn that means that they are likely to refer other customers to you. Always be sure that you are engaging and communicating with your customers, old and new, in as many ways as possible.
Offer an email newsletter.
Say that you don't make a sale right away, perhaps because your current deals don't match up with a given customer's needs. However, you gave the customer a good experience, and nobody else had a deal on the particular vehicle they wanted. Your newsletter goes out the next month, and that vehicle or a similar one is on sale now. Through clever online automotive advertising and proper use of electronic advertising channels, that customer knows that you're offering what they need. Offering updates on what you're up to as well as which new vehicles are going to be available soon will also help.
Ask customers to post reviews.
Preferably on third party sites, as this makes the good press you get from customers look more trustworthy and nonpartisan. This means that you'll increase traffic through your site and dealership just by giving satisfied customers a place to sing your praises.
Have staff available to reply to emails, maybe even a chat service.
Customers will have questions. If they can get some of them answered before they go into a dealership they will be more likely to stop in for a visit, since you were so readily available and willing to give them information in a way that they didn't feel pressured to buy.
These tips are just barely scratching the surface, but coupled with the stats given above it's a pretty strong bet that online and mobile advertising are only going to become more important as time goes on. So take the opportunity now and get mobile. Get automated. Make sure you can stay relevant and effective in a changing marketing world.
As an added tip for online marketing, check out our web tracking service!