In 2017, customers visited an average of 2.7 dealerships before making a purchase. In 2019, this number decreased to 2.3 dealerships, according to a Cox Automotive study. While on the surface, this may seem like a great advancement for the industry, it means customers are spending more time shopping online and less time speaking with the team at your dealership.
With this in mind, customer loyalty is key in the car buying process. You must focus on not only generating new customers but also on retaining existing clients.
Customer retention is a crucial metric that few businesses are (surprisingly) concerned with — less than a third of business executives cited customer retention as a priority! Between customers shopping more for vehicles online and other dealerships not concerning themselves with customer retention, this is a huge marketing and sales opportunity for your business.
Keep customers coming back to your dealership for their second, third, and fourth vehicles by using these eight digital marketing tactics:
1. Take Advantage of Customer Match Strategies
One of the best digital methods of customer retention is known as “Customer Match.” This strategy involves uploading online and offline customer data to Google’s network to generate personalized, targeted ads on YouTube, search engines (YES! Paid search), the Google Display Network, and Gmail.
Using this method, car dealerships upload customer info such as phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses to the platform to re-engage previous buyers. Google then matches this information with online profiles to determine who receives the ads. From relevant YouTube ads to top-of-inbox messages, Customer Match sends your ads to former customers who have a high likelihood of purchasing again.
Naturally, you may be wondering how this technique works, considering the push for consumer privacy online. To ensure customer privacy, Google requires that all customer information is collected from a consumer in a “first-party context.” This means marketers can use information supplied by consumers from website and app forms, in-store events or forms, etc. The consumer must provide the information to your dealership in a manner that indicates they consent to receive advertisements in order for the information to be considered valid for customer match advertising efforts.
In addition, Google can utilize this data to send your ads to audiences with similar interests and demographic information to your core group of customers. It’s a customer retention and acquisition strategy all in one!
2. Use Marketing Personalization to Your Advantage
Automotive sales professionals know not to use the same sales tactic for every customer. Some customers may need to take their time and research different options, while others prefer to decide on the spot.
Knowing this, why would you promote your dealership the same way to all customers?
Instapage defines marketing personalization as “the practice of using data to deliver brand messages targeted to an individual prospect.”
A survey from Epsilon found that 80% of participants stated they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences.
A few ways to provide a personalized marketing experience include:
- Tailoring email marketing messages to each customer, using their names and buying interests
- Communicating directly with customers on social media
- Developing individualized landing pages as part of a larger personalization campaign, featuring the buyer’s name, purchase interests, and related content
- Personalized follow-up videos from their previous salesperson
- Service or car accessory product recommendations based on previous purchase history
While marketing personalization is a core tactic for retaining loyal customers, it can quickly become intrusive. Refrain from using too much personal information in your marketing campaign. While demographic and economic data may be important to your dealership, customers certainly don’t want to see their private information show up in an email message or social media ad. Also, never purchase or sell customer information to organizations or individuals outside of your dealership. Trust and transparency are fundamental for developing a lasting customer relationship, and this action will destroy those efforts in seconds.
3. Provide Value Long After the Purchase Is Made
All too often, dealerships make the mistake of forgetting about a customer once they’ve driven off the lot with a new car. But if you want this customer to return for a second vehicle or maintenance and repairs, your dealership needs to provide continued value long after they sign on the dotted line.
Providing additional value doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as having a salesperson follow up a few weeks after the purchase. Or, you can send out a monthly newsletter to customers filled with car maintenance tips, deals on service appointments, and dealership updates.
Offering free resources and helpful content is also an excellent way to provide ongoing customer value. For instance, think about creating downloadable guides demonstrating how to fix common problems associated with a particular vehicle. Work with your sales and service teams to brainstorm a list of helpful guides, content, or experiences your team can deliver to better serve customers long after the transaction is complete.
4. Show Proof of Customer Satisfaction
There’s no denying the power of a testimonial or review. These statistics from a BrightLocal study prove just how influential customer reviews are:
- 91% of 18 to 34 year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
- The purchase likelihood for a product with five reviews is 270% greater than a product with 0 reviews (Spiegel Research Center)
- 70% of consumers who are asked to leave a review go on to write one
- 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses (including 95% of people ages 18 to 34)
Your dealership likely has a review system in place already, whether for internal purposes or on Google, Yelp, and other review websites. Use these reviews to your advantage and as part of your customer retention strategy.
Consider leveraging your reviews by:
- Including a few in each email newsletter sent to current customers
- Highlighting positive reviews on your social media channels
- Displaying reviews prominently on your website
- Featuring customer reviews throughout the car buying process
You can also take it a step further and ask some of your loyal customers to help you film testimonials for your marketing efforts. When taking this route, be sure that each testimonial and customer experience is sincere and not overly staged. If possible, try to select customers who have purchased more than one vehicle from your dealership or are loyal to your service center.
5. Consider Pricing Promotions for Loyal Customers
Although a spectacular lineup of vehicles and a 5-star sales team is enticing, most customers are looking for the best deal in town. With this in mind, consider implementing pricing incentives for customers who return for a second, third, or fourth (and beyond) purchase from your dealership.
For instance, think about offering discounted maintenance services to those who purchase a vehicle from your dealership. Or, provide frequent service center customers with a loyalty program.
Work through the possible options with your sales, service, and finance teams to see which pricing promotions are viable for your dealership and roll them out to continued customers.
6. Stay Top of Mind With Email Marketing
Did you know 49% of consumers want to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands on a weekly basis?
Email marketing is an effective and cost-efficient way to promote your brand to new and existing customers regularly. Plus, marketers love the versatile nature of email marketing, as it allows them to accomplish a myriad of promotional and customer retention goals using one platform.
When focusing on improving your dealership’s customer retention, use email marketing to:
- Follow up with previous customers.
- Send a regular customer newsletter featuring new services, events, your sales team, and more.
- Distribute your dealership’s blog and marketing content to interested customers.
- Deliver exclusive promotions to loyal customers.
If you’re still skeptical about email marketing, keep in mind that 80% of marketers stated that email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention for their business.
Best of all, email marketing allows dealerships to think outside the box and flex their creative muscles. From subject lines to the email format, your messages need to stand out from the rest of a consumer’s inbox. Brand awareness alone doesn’t drive high open or click-through rates! Innovative and effective marketing tactics, on the other hand, do.
Also, be ready to test every aspect of your email marketing strategy and determine what best converts one-time customers into returning members of your dealership.
7. Utilize Social Media Advertising
There’s a good chance that your past customers are already following your dealership on social media. But, are they seeing your posts and updates? While you can pester customers to follow you and subscribe to your notifications, how many will follow through?
However, these customers are still active on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, so meet them where they are.
Use paid social media ads to remind customers of your service department, the latest inventory additions, promotions, and more. The more customers see your brand on their newsfeeds, the longer you’ll stay top of mind.
8. Capture Customers’ Attention With Remarketing Ads
After purchasing a vehicle, customers won’t think about your business until their first service appointment or when they’re ready for a new vehicle. This is a long time between interactions with your business, leaving plenty of opportunities for customers to shop around for other dealerships.
Adopt a remarketing ad strategy to ensure customers remember your brand long after their purchase. From paid search ads for specific keywords to display ads using the Google Display Ad Network, you can place your brand in front of customers throughout their online activity.
Of course, each remarketing ad must serve a purpose. It’s not enough to slap your logo on an image of a vehicle, upload it to the Google Display Network, and call it a day.
Use remarketing ads to encourage previous customers to sign up for vehicle maintenance appointments, participate in a new promotion, or browse the latest selection of cars on your website. Remember, each remarketing ad campaign you create should have a goal and a call to action to help drive your efforts and overall results.
Retain Loyal Customers With Our Help!
Customer retention isn’t a nice addition to a marketing strategy. It’s an essential part of every dealership’s day-to-day operations.
And, Bain & Company discovered that a 5% increase in customer retention correlates with at least a 25% increase in profit. Couldn’t your dealership do with at least 25% more profit?
Let us help you put these digital marketing tactics into action to keep customers coming back to your dealership. Schedule time with a marketing pro from J&L Marketing or stop by our booth at NADA 2020 to strike up a conversation!