The world of marketing is constantly changing. In the auto sales industry, the automotive digital marketing trends 2019 has to offer are vitally important to you and the success of your dealership. A few years ago, a bit of radio and print advertising would have been sufficient to bring customers in the door, however, today’s consumers are being influenced by other forms of media — most notably online. If you’re not taking advantage of tools to reach buyers online and on their mobile devices, you are losing business to your competitors who are certainly looking at digital marketing as a way to gain an edge.
Because the marketing world has changed so dramatically for the auto industry, we decided to put together what we call the Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing for Car Dealerships. This guide will show you what marketing trends are most important for you to embrace and how each of these can work together to help you attract and retain today’s connected car buyers.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
Pay per click (also known as PPC) advertising is an excellent tool in any digital marketing arsenal. With PPC, it is possible for your company’s links to show at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) within days or even hours of the campaign beginning. PPC advertising takes the form of sponsored listings on the search engines, and they can also appear as a banner or other ads on websites, apps, videos and on social media. Ads can include videos, images, logos or be fully text-based.
It is important to understand that even though you are essentially paying for ad space, there is still a lot to think about if you want the best results from your ads. Good PPC marketing isn’t just “set it and forget it,” instead you will need to scope out the competition, learn what your customers are searching for and understand how to create ads that resonate with consumers. Plus, there are options like “retargeting” available today that can be highly effective when they are properly utilized. Putting together a PPC marketing program is one of the best ways to drive customers to your website and in turn your dealership, from day one.
Car buyers, and consumers, in general, spend hours each week on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. If you’re not taking advantage of how easy and affordable it is to market through these platforms you are missing out on a great way to connect with your target audience.
First, make sure you have a business page or account for each of the major social media networks. Setting this up should only take a few moments and simply requires you to provide some basic business information and add a profile photo. After you have an account, you’ll want to share the information with your current customers and link to these accounts on your main website.
Gaining followers may take a little time, but it will pick up once your current customers and interested consumers realize you’re active. At this point, you’ll want to post regularly and provide useful, interesting content. If you use social media as a full time platform for advertising, you will not gain that following you desire. Instead, share useful, interesting content and watch these accounts grow. Social media is a must-use tool for any company hoping to gain digital traction today.
That being said, you will also want to share any special deals, sales or events your dealership may have too. You’ll find that you won’t just reach your own fans, but that the deals may get shared “virally.”
The old adage states “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” That should help you understand how valuable a video is. In the automotive industry, video offers you a great way to connect with customers and show them exactly what you have to offer. Creating videos of some of your new arrivals or showcasing your showroom as a whole is a great way to build interest and bring in new potential customers. Pairing your video marketing efforts with social media will allow your videos to be shared far and wide–giving you additional recognition throughout the community.
With today’s high-powered smartphones and tablets, it doesn’t take a ton of equipment to create a basic video and make it available for consumers to view 24 hours a day.
When you’re thinking of the ways to reach many potential customers (or leads) quickly and easily, don’t forget about email. Gathering and curating an email marketing list isn’t that difficult. You can set up your website to collect addresses of interested individuals or you may be able to reference information from those who have visited your showroom in the months prior. When you have a highly-targeted email list, your message is most likely to go to those who would actually have an interest in receiving it and who may follow up with you.
With this information at your disposal, the goal is to create short, snappy emails that build interest without seeming like an intrusion on the recipient. There is much advice out there on how to create a good marketing email. However, you’ll learn through experience which messages are actually read by the recipients, which inspire customers to click through and ask for more information, and which go straight into the digital trash can.
Email marketing can be one of the top digital marketing strategies for car dealerships when done correctly. However, poorly worded emails will simply be ignored or could even drive traffic away from your firm. That’s why it is important to learn as much about this form of marketing as possible before you attempt to execute this strategy.
Your website is one of the most important ways you have to connect with customers. It can serve as an online catalog, so to speak, and helps interested individuals contact you directly by phone or email. While some people will find your website directly (i.e. typing in ABCCarDealership.com), others will only find you when searching car-related terms through a search engine. That is where SEO comes into play.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially, it requires you to build your website in a way that search engines are more likely to show it when someone searches for a related term. This is not done by “stuffing” keywords in places they don’t belong, but instead by creating websites that will naturally include words likely to drive traffic (and using other methods of making your site more appealing to the robots that index for Google and the other search engines.) Good SEO is an important way to help show off what you have to offer to the web searchers most likely to become customers.
Direct mail is a valuable marketing tool, even in today’s highly-digital marketplace. Direct mail is the best way to make sure your message reaches the ideal target. Direct mail is interesting because it can be used alongside digital marketing methods. For example, you may send out a postcard that directs the recipient to a website highlighting new vehicles on your lot.
A good direct mail campaign requires creativity, knowledge of your target market and will require you to put together a list of prospective recipients–normally those based in your immediate geographic area.
Today, marketing usually doesn’t mean just creating one ad and hoping it works to bring customers to your dealership. It involves working with a number of different marketing opportunities and using them together to create a “funnel” of interested consumers who will ideally one day become your customers.
We hope you have learned a few things from our guide! Remember, for a car dealership, digital marketing is vital for keeping existing customers and attracting new ones. Don’t forget:
- Putting together an automotive digital marketing strategy is important if you hope to succeed with today’s ever-changing consumers.
- PPC is a great way to reach customers quickly and can be a good first step in digital marketing. However, it does take effort and knowledge if you hope for it to succeed.
- Social media is one of the best places to connect with consumers in their own space.
- SEO is important for all types of websites–small and large, as search engines such as Google and Bing will normally be your top website referral.
- Different types of marketing can all work together to build brand recognition and bring customers in today and down the road.
Digital marketing is a complex matter. If you want the best results, you need to understand your target audience, know the marketing options inside and out and track everything you do to see what works and what needs to be tweaked. Reach out to us at Ballentine today and let us work with you to create a digital marketing package that will help you rise above the competition. We are proud of our work as one of the top automotive digital marketing companies and are certain we can help you grow your dealership to new heights. Contact Ballantine today to get started.