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Last year, the internet was the number one information source for vehicle buyers shopping.1 In fact, during 2016, 88% of vehicle buyers used the internet to shop and 78% of that 88% used third-party sites to research vehicle options. Dealerships today are facing a decline in showroom traffic, but maybe the bigger concern is their lack of influence in the average vehicle shopper’s buying journey. Dealers would be wise to learn how to gain this influence back and act fast – before every dealer hops on board and the advantage is lost.

You Need To Stop Fighting These 3 Market Forces Click To Tweet

Google recently announced new research that proved “being there and useful” in consumers’ initial auto searches led directly to dealership visits.2  But what does “being there” really mean? Google discussed five “micro-moments” that many consumers face during their car-buying process:

  • Which Car is Best?
  • Is It Right for Me?
  • Can I afford it?
  • Where Should I buy It?
  • Am I Getting a Deal?

Dealers know that an online search presence is necessary and more and more dealerships are focusing on their websites, digital advertising, and latest digital marketing trends. Digital marketing is now a necessary aspect of any dealership’s marketing strategy.

For all goods and purposes, dealerships are “there”. Vehicle shoppers can find vehicle images and prices on dealer websites. They can view inventories, see incentives and offers, schedule appointments, contact the dealership, and even chat with a representative. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. Just like a bad relationship, dealerships aren’t being “there” for their consumers the way consumers want dealerships to be “there” for them.

Consumers demand a lot and expect more out of dealerships than ever before. They’re turning to third-party sites to answer the questions they have during their “micro-moments”. On third-party sites, they’re able to spend hours researching multiple brands of vehicles, comparing prices, and adjusting payment plans. Consumers have taken the reigns out of the hands of dealerships and there are three main market forces at play that are making this possible.

1. Social Factors

Six out of ten car buyers are undecided at the start of their shopping process.3 They’re spending 59% of their vehicle shopping time online, rather than visiting a dealership. Consumers are communicating on their own terms. In fact, “walking in” is the most common initial point of contact between a dealer and a potential customer. They’re researching a larger variety of makes, models, and purchase options now than at any other time in history – which means they’ve already made up their mind on what they want to buy before that initial point of contact with a dealership. Dealers must have a system in place that reaches their target consumers earlier in their buying process, before they’ve had time to choose new or used, make and model, your dealership or someone else’s dealership. All of this begins online.

2. Economic Factors

With 60% of consumers undecided at the beginning of their buyer’s journey, more and more customers are defecting from one brand to another each year. In response, the auto industry has focused more time and money over the last 15 years on customer satisfaction than ever before. But consumers are less concerned with brand or dealership loyalty and more focused on what they want in a vehicle.

The good news is, as more and more customers defect from their dealerships, those customers are available for the taking. There are literally thousands of conquest buyers willing to consider your dealership’s inventory! If you are able to provide those defective customers with the perfect vehicle at the perfect price via the perfect medium, you’ll be able to take advantage of this particular market force and out-sell your competition every time. The opportunity to gain conquest buyers and replace defective customers is available, but it will only work for dealers who allocate more of their marketing dollars towards effective conquest strategies. With the right conquest strategy, you will be able to utilize the opportunities this economic factor creates and attack the available market by providing car buyers with the information and service they’re looking for.

3. Technology Factors

All of these factors have been created by our third and final market force: Technology. There are more marketing and shopping options available for dealerships and consumers than ever before. This is why Google’s research says you must “be there” and “be useful”. Dealer’s must meet car buyers’ demanding needs by focusing on the user experience and what they see as valuable. Technology has made it possible for third-party sites to be useful to consumers as they search for their ideal vehicles. Dealerships must use unique technological strategies in order to reach and serve customers better than competing sites. By expanding your influence beyond your dealership, you’ll increase showroom traffic!

Consider Omni-Channel Marketing

If your digital marketing isn’t proving to be enough to move vehicle shoppers away from third-party sites and into your dealership, it might be time to consider improving your existing strategy in order to influence them. You’ve heard of omni-channel marketing, but have you considered omni-channel response-driven marketing? If you combine an omni-channel, response-driven marketing campaign with today’s technological advancements, you’ll be able to develop a marketing campaign that’s geared for the thousands of in-market conquest buyers that have yet to begin their search for their next vehicle.

Common marketing strategies focus on a new mail piece, or flashy email layouts, but a strategy that offers conquest buyer’s the ease and convenience they desire with the information and offers they want, will out-perform normal conquest response rates and produce a steady flow of conquest leads for the dealer each month.

Picture It This Way

Imagine an omni-channel marketing campaign where your ideal customers are carefully targeted with digital and direct marketing that leverages the power of convenience and curiosity to influence their responses. They see digital ads that market specific monthly payments on the types of vehicles they are interested in. They’re invited to visit a webpage with a specific offer for their [year] [make] [model] trade-in. While there, they can browse through your entire inventory of new, used, Certified Pre-Owned, etc. They can choose a preferred monthly payment and request a lower payment. They can compare incentives. They can enter any other vehicles they own to determine the trade-in value of those vehicles. All of this information provides the answers their looking for during their “micro-moments”.

One study revealed that a consumer’s car-buying journey can include as many as 900 digital touch points during a 3-month period.4 But with this campaign, your customers won’t have to move from one website to another. They will see marketing across all channels that will engage with them and point them towards one tool that can answer all of their questions. Why would consumers turn to third-party websites when one tool could let them choose a vehicle that’s right for them, that they can afford, all while knowing that they are getting a good deal? More importantly, they will know exactly where they should purchase this vehicle – at your dealership.

This is what J&L Marketing can offer. Our Conquest Growth Strategy is designed to be the ultimate in innovative marketing solutions. It doesn’t just offer a means to an end, but goes the distance through each step of a buyer’s journey. By using this type of customer-centered marketing, in-market customers will move through your marketing funnel quickly and easily – sending a flood of hot leads to your dealership month after month after month.

Rather than fighting trends, dealers should utilize marketing efforts that take advantage of the forces at work to out-market and out-sell their competition – before it’s too late and everyone has figured out the secrets to conquest marketing.

  1. https://oemsolutions.agameautotrader.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/10223_Car-Buyer-Journey-keystats-FINAL.pdf
  2. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/dealership-micro-moments-auto-searches.html
  3. http://agameautotrader.com/agame/pdf/2016-car-buyer-journey.pdf
  4. https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/consumer-car-buying-process-reveals-auto-marketing-opportunities.html
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