With growing competition and constantly changing consumer behavior, dealerships need to stay ahead of the curve to attract and retain customers. In this blog, we’ll outline the 5 best car dealership marketing strategies that can help you grow your business, attract high-value customers and reach your goals.
- Develop a strong online presence
If you’re not online there’s a good chance many customers won’t even know you exist. On top of that, if you’re not leveraging effective digital marketing strategies, you’ll likely get buried under your online competition.
While your showroom still plays a vital role, car buyers are looking to accomplish more online before they visit your dealership. In a consumer insight report from Think with Google, 66% of car buyers said they would be comfortable experiencing a vehicle (feature highlights, walkarounds) completely online or with a mix of online and offline. And 63% of respondents said they would even consider ordering their future car online.
If this type of digital experience is out of scope for your dealership, you can still boost your online presence to win customers in other ways. Many shoppers want to get answers about vehicle details, pricing and inventory before they visit the dealership in person. The result of all this online research is that customers visit fewer dealerships before they make a purchase—the average car buyer visits 1.5 dealerships before making a decision, with 41% of shoppers only visiting one dealership. Having the right information available on your website could be the deciding factor on whether or not a customer chooses your store.
Here’s what you can do to enhance your web presence:
-Have detailed information about all of your vehicles
-Upload high-quality photos of the interior and exterior of your vehicles
-Have a frequently asked questions section on your website
-Provide up-front pricing and financing options
-Be transparent about inventory and transit times
-Clearly post your location, hours of operation and relevant contact information
The more information a potential car buyer can get from your website, the better. Shoppers are looking to spend less time inside the dealership and typically only want to visit for test drives or to finalize the purchase. If you’re able to help them with their research and decision-making, they’re more likely to do business with you.
- Leverage digital marketing
Digital marketing is an important extension of your online presence that can expand your audience and increase sales.
You likely already have a database of customer emails that you can use to send helpful reminders and updates. Regular communication with your customers keeps your business top of mind and can establish you as an authority among the competition, increasing the chances that customers come to you when they need to buy or sell a car.
Social media marketing can go a long way in improving brand awareness and reputation. If you don’t have the time or resources to run full social media campaigns, try to have a presence on whatever platforms your customers use most often. Responding to customer inquiries and reviews on social media is one of the best ways to provide great customer service. It can also be a deciding factor for a potential buyer to choose your dealership over the competition.
You may want to consider paid online advertising as well. Pushing your website to the top of search results or having your banner ad on the right websites are quick and easy ways to get your name in front of car shoppers. Leveraging advertisements on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn or other relevant websites makes it simple for customers to click over to your site and enter the sales funnel.
Finally, you might consider investing some of your marketing budget in video advertising. Dealer Marketing reports that only 21% of dealerships say they use web video advertising, despite consumers calling web video “a critical component of their car-buying research.” Video captures attention and gets your point across faster than just about any other form of advertising. Video content performs better than text or still image content across all social media platforms and has even been shown to grow revenue 49% faster than marketing that uses non-video content. Web video ads can be placed at the beginning of relevant YouTube videos or in the ad space on other websites. Additionally, video test drives are becoming more popular among people shopping for cars.
- Optimize your website for SEO
Online car-buying is here to stay: Most online buyers (62%) had previously purchased a car online, as reported by Progressive, with only 3% saying they were unlikely to purchase a vehicle online again. That’s why having a strong online presence and optimizing your website for search engines are crucial to ensuring customers find you online. With 59% of car buyers doing online research before purchasing, you’re going to want to be included in their search.
Having a quick-loading and mobile-friendly site as well as keyword-optimized content can make a huge difference when it comes to your search engine presence.
If all this seems intimidating, don’t be afraid to outsource your SEO work to a professional. Like social media and email marketing, having good SEO is key to building your business and shouldn’t be ignored when it comes to your car dealership’s marketing strategy.
In addition to standard search engine optimization, you should also be aware of local SEO. Businesses like car dealerships that rely heavily on customers in their nearby vicinity can benefit greatly from appearing in local search results. The process to get ranked for local SEO is similar to general SEO with a few special requirements that involve optimizing your online presence.
For good local SEO, be sure to include these items on your website:
-Your dealership’s physical address
-Descriptions/pages for your products or services
Be sure to also add your location information to business listings and map platforms like Google Business, Yelp, Yellowpages or wherever else customers might go to find local businesses online. Generating and sharing customer reviews, responding to frequently asked questions and reviews, or sharing photos are all good ways to improve your local SEO.
In general, having good SEO will mean that your online presence is aligned with what your customers are looking for and that it’s easy for your customers to access the information that they need. Keep this in the back of your mind whether you decide to do your own SEO, or you decide to hire it out.
Google vehicle listings
Google recently introduced a simplified method for showcasing for-sale vehicle inventory from your dealership. By implementing the vehicle listing markup on car details pages, you can provide consumers searching for a car with basic vehicle information along with availability details. Moreover, you can monitor and fix the structured data required for this feature using Google’s Search Console reports and tools.
This new development streamlines the process of vehicle listing for dealerships, making it easier than ever to reach potential customers. However, it’s important to use this markup carefully in order to adhere to Google’s guidelines. If implemented incorrectly or abused, there are potential risks for manual actions.
- Hold dealership sales events
Toyotathon, Lexus December to Remember, Chevy Red Tag Sales Event, Mercedes Winter Event, the list goes on. There are many dealership sales events so it can be hard to keep track of them all. Why so many? They work! Special car sales events are a great way to attract attention and bring in new customers. These events effectively create buzz with a festive atmosphere and a sense of urgency from a limited-time opportunity.
While the big players in the automotive industry have created their own holidays (like Hondadays), there’s an opportunity to piggyback off of other holidays to draw attention to your dealership. There’s no shortage of car dealership event ideas: Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all popular choices for sales events across the country.
While we’re on the subject of attracting customers to your location, we should also talk about the importance of curbside appeal. First impressions are everything, so make sure your dealership looks its best from the street. This means keeping the parking lot clean and well-lit, upgrading your signage and making sure the exterior of your building is in good repair. Not only do you want to shine a spotlight on your cars, but you also want your dealership to look inviting and well-maintained.
Make sure you’re doing your vehicles justice by presenting them in the best light possible. If cars are poorly lit or awkwardly positioned on your lot it’s possible that they could go unseen by a potential customer. If you’re having a sale or special offer, add highly visible signage to attract potential buyers.
- Team up with local businesses
Collaborating with local businesses can help dealerships increase their visibility in the community and reach new customers. Partnering with local businesses can also create opportunities for cross-promotion and co-marketing. Some effective partnerships for car dealerships can include local car accessory shops, car washes and restaurants. You might also consider expanding your cross-promotion opportunities by getting involved with local business clubs, community groups and school boards. An easy way to start is by researching what establishments are active in a small radius around your dealership.
Source inventory and ship to customers with Montway
Whether you’re moving vehicles to your lot or delivering a car to a customer, Montway Auto Transport is here to help. With over 15 years of experience, Montway excels in arranging full-load and single-unit deliveries. Whatever your dealership requires, our extensive carrier network has the equipment and expertise to handle it. Montway has over 15,000 carriers operating in every state across the country, including Alaska and Hawaii. Learn more about how Montway works with dealerships, or speak with us directly at 888-998-4161.