Digital Marketing and selling cars are not the same as they used to be. The old, familiar ad placements don’t yield the same results, and consumers take a more active role in the vehicle buying process.
The majority of automotive shoppers begin their journey online by finding and comparing dealerships’ websites, vehicle listings, and reviews. Ninety-two percent of car buyers go online for information, and search is the most commonly used vehicle-research tool.
Once vehicle buyers finish their research, they often convert by emailing, texting, calling or walking into the dealership. To drive more high-quality callers and shoppers in 2021, automotive marketers need to be online. Digital marketing is more than a great website. It also means developing organic SEO, employing a digital ad strategy, and being easy to find everywhere buyers are searching.
Adapting your strategy to maximize digital marketing’s potential increases your visibility and allows you to communicate with customers when and where they are shopping. Since so much research is done online, not having an online presence makes you invisible to most shoppers.
When they first begin to shop, six out of 10 car buyers are open to considering multiple vehicle options. Even though more than half of the buyer’s journey happens online, they may consult salespeople repeatedly throughout the process. Digital marketing makes sure your dealership can be found online and that your salespeople are available to undecided shoppers.
An automotive digital marketing strategy is no longer just an option. It is the best way to guide consumers to your dealership, position yourself for growth, and retain critical market share. Here are seven essential digital marketing strategies for 2021.
A dealership’s online presence is a significant factor in connecting with buyers early in their purchasing journey. When customers start comparing prices and reading in-depth vehicle reviews, you have an opportunity to build brand awareness and cultivate a lead. Valuable and relevant content keeps shoppers on your website longer and inspires them to bookmark it to come back for more.
Most buyers use multiple websites, including aggregate websites like Autotrader, to investigate vehicle options before buying. A mobile-friendly and fast vehicle search page is essential to keep your dealership website relevant and competitive.
To meet and exceed customers’ online expectations, your dealership website should:
- Provide convenience
- Allow them to research on their own, conveniently, and at their own pace
- Options to search by price and calculate potential payments
Vehicle detail pages are important to shoppers. It’s worth investing in excellent design, high-quality photos, vehicle highlights, and thoroughly detailed vehicle specifics. Attractive images with multiple views take extra time and effort but powerfully improve the success of online listings.
Before internet research, car shoppers depended on friends, family, and salespeople for information. Today’s shoppers rely heavily on their internet research to yield the right decision.
Digital marketing presents your dealership when and where buyers are searching for information and vehicles. You want to lead them to your website but don’t want to leave other online opportunities on the table. Instead, take the lead from buyers and make sure you have a presence everywhere they shop.
Car shoppers start with a problem. They seek their solution on:
- Aggregate sites like Car.com or Edmunds.com
- Google or another search engine
- Websites of local dealerships
- Manufacturer websites
The easier it is to find your dealership on these online locations, the more likely a shopper will come across your website during their research process. If your website meets their expectations, they are more likely to pick up the phone or walk in the door to your dealership. When they do, they will have some trust level already established through their experience of your dealership online.
Nothing pays off like leads from a free Google search result. Organic SEO is what gets your website listing near the top of the first page of Google and other search engines' results for specific keywords.
At the very top of the page are paid ads. Under those are the organic SEO listings. Although paid ads work very well, it’s always a better ROI if you can attract customers organically.
Consistent and authoritative content written for both readers and SEO is the cornerstone to building organic SEO. As you continue to post and people continue to read your posts, your website starts showing up in online search results. Google’s algorithm for organic search results changes several times a year. Still, high-quality content that adds value is a tried-and-true strategy to increase your company’s rank in the results.
Once your blog posts and web pages start ranking on the first page for one or more keyword phrases, that content can continue to bring in new leads for months or years without any additional investment. As your company continues to publish fresh content, you can win a high rank for other keywords.
Unlike content marketing that can take consistent effort and time to pay off, paid ads are designed to generate results quickly. Whether on Facebook, Google, or another platform, paid ads have a small space to compel buyers to take action. Small changes in headlines, calls to action, and design can impact ad results.
With paid advertising, you are guaranteed reach. With specific targeting and effective ad design, you can obtain more qualified leads. Google has over 240 million unique visitors in the United States alone. At J & L Marketing, our automotive online ad solutions include paid search, display ads, paid social with full-funnel targeting, and VIN-specific advertising.
Online advertising comes with excellent market analysis tools that provide rapid and ongoing feedback on your ad performance and results. You can use those insights to create the best strategy, refine, and improve.
People care what their friends and family think, and three out of four buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. Online reviews influence shoppers more than salespeople or advertising. A few detailed and enthusiastic reviews on key sites can drive a steady stream of leads because they do the most challenging part of sales: establish trust.
A few satisfied customers will leave reviews without prompting, but social proof is too crucial to leave to chance. A systematic approach to asking happy customers for reviews shortly after their visit steadily builds your dealership’s online reputation.
Be sure to monitor your online reviews. Quickly and proactively respond to negative reviews. A well-managed customer complaint can turn into positive social proof if shoppers see your team went the extra mile to make things right.
When a shopper visits a page that is not mobile-friendly, they wait about three seconds before leaving to find a competitor who can deliver an optimized mobile experience.
In this multichannel, multi-device world, shoppers move from one device to another as they research and shop. As you develop your digital marketing strategy, it is vital to remember that the car shopping experience occurs across multiple devices. You want to be able to engage buyers from any device.
Growing numbers of customers rely on mobile from the first step of preliminary research through to the final decisions about what to purchase and from which dealer. If your website works best on larger devices, you’re losing a growing section of the pool of active shoppers. A mobile-friendly interface for websites has never been more important for car dealerships.
Knowing that buyers are using different devices lets you use a multichannel, multi-device digital marketing strategy. Specifically, you can customize content to mirror a shopper’s goals by channel or device.
Some activities are easier on a desktop or tablet. A larger screen and additional user control are better for customizing vehicles, watching videos, comparing specs, and reviewing warranty information.
On the other hand, mobile users want to share a car listing quickly and easily with their family and friends. They want to call the dealership or a salesperson with one easy click or book a test drive right online. Mobile is excellent for browsing, sharing, and quickly making contact.
A smart content strategy optimizes user experience by adapting functionality to screen size. Mobile users will appreciate the ease of use, and desktop users will appreciate the depth of information and greater visual detail.
The best place to find car shoppers is online. Digital marketing makes sure your dealership can be discovered multiple times during the research and shopping process. Whether they search on your website, see your listings on an aggregate site, or click an ad on Google, digital marketing engages undecided buyers. It presents your dealership as a solution to their vehicle problem.
Car shoppers are already online. Is your dealership there to greet them? Find out what the automotive digital marketing experts at J & L Marketing can do to drive more customers to your dealership.