It’s no secret that car shoppers are visiting fewer and fewer dealerships before purchasing a vehicle.

In fact, it’s common for them to only visit one dealership during their buying journey.

Instead of doing their shopping at a dealership, they’re spending nearly 15 hours, over the course of several months, researching vehicles online.

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They research pricing, determine their trade-in value, compare makes and models, and locate dealers near them – all from the comfort of their homes, offices, mobile phones, etc.

This means walking in remains the most common initial point of contact between a vehicle shopper and a dealership.

The reality is, consumers today are in control.

They’re doing the research and making decisions based on their own discoveries. They don’t wait for a sales team to answer their questions. They want to find all the answers they need online, and, if you don’t provide those answers, they buy from the dealer who does.

In order to reach today’s vehicle shoppers and influence their buying journey, you have to understand how consumers shop for cars – step by step.

Step 1: Provide the Answers They Need

Sixty percent of vehicle shoppers are undecided at the beginning of their buying journey.

This means that you consistently have a large pool of in-market shoppers who are willing to consider your dealership.

All you have to do is convince them that you have what they need.

The problem is, you no longer have control.

They’re doing their research and narrowing down their choices on their own.

These shoppers are spending 83 percent of their time searching for information on third-party sites like Edmunds, KBB, Car and Drive, blogs, and forums – even Facebook and YouTube are used by vehicle shoppers to narrow down their search. In fact, third-party sites are the most-used sites for online car shopping.

This is due to two different issues.

One, consumers find dealership websites helpful during parts of their shopping experience, but don’t find them as trustworthy as third-party sites. And two, they don’t provide all the answers consumers need to know before purchasing a vehicle.

Here Are the Questions Vehicle Shoppers Are Seeking Answers To:

 

  1. Which Car is Best for Me?
  2. Is it Right for Me?
  3. Can I Afford It?
  4. Where Should I Buy it?
  5. Am I Getting a Deal?

These shoppers narrow down their search moment by moment as they find answers to these questions.

They begin their research with a broad range of makes and models. Then, they narrow down their choices one after another until they’re ready to choose a vehicle that’s right for them, at a dealership near them, that offers that vehicle at a price that works with their budget.

Nothing else will do.

Step 2: Advertise Everywhere They Are

To find these answers, shoppers search for information at home, at their office, in their car, at the mall, etc.

When they’re in the market, nothing is off limits. They’re searching everywhere on the internet, they’re doing it all the time, and a large percentage of these shoppers (53%) use multiple devices.

This means dealers MUST provide a truly consistent omni-channel message.

While one channel might not have as strong of an effect as another channel – because shoppers will interact with each channel differently – every channel a shopper interacts with is critical to making a sale.

Each channel is necessary for providing a shopper with the information they need to purchase a vehicle and each channel is a worthwhile investment of time and money.

The good news is, today’s technology allows dealers to produce consistent marketing messages designed for each of the channels (and devices) used during a vehicle shopper’s journey.

Step 3: See the Results

Because shoppers are relying so heavily on digital sources to make decisions about their next vehicle purchase, it is critical that dealers set up a successful digital marketing strategy in order to meet vehicle shoppers repeatedly and effectively throughout their buying journey.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to track tangible results.

While the end goal of any digital marketing strategy should be increased showroom traffic and sales, it’s not always possible to diagnose the shopper’s marketing interactions that led to their visit and purchase.

Because of this, it’s important to conduct a market analysis and customize a digital marketing plan that fits your dealership before you begin any digital marketing. Then, optimize your budget for the moments that matter most.

By consistently making updates and changes based on what your data shows, your efforts will generate the best results. If you’re able to continually optimize your digital marketing in order to drive the most leads at the lowest costs, you’ll love your ROI.

The Final Step

All of these steps work together so you can create a digital marketing strategy that gets the results you need to combat today’s market and reach car buyers before, during, and even after their buying journey.

They solve the problem of reaching vehicle shoppers by meeting shoppers where they’re at with information that’s relevant to them.

As you and your marketing follows their buying journey and serves ads that speak directly to their needs, you’ll be able to advertise to customers the way they want and expect.

This is the strategy you need to feel confident as you increase your showroom traffic and sell more cars.

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If you enjoyed this blog and want to learn more about digital marketing, sign up for our upcoming webinar: Digital Marketing 201. Our digital marketing strategist, Tyler Wilson, will walk you through each step of the digital process so you can feel confident in your understanding and implementation of digital marketing.

If you don’t want to wait for the webinar and want to learn more now, schedule a meeting with your local Business Growth Strategist. They’re here to help you grow your business and discover new ways to accomplish just that.