Today’s savvy consumer spends more time researching vehicles online before they even step onto a dealership lot. According to insights from Think with Google, seeing a 360-degree video of a car was more than enough to convince 56% of auto shoppers to buy it, without test driving it first.

This change in consumer mindset opens a world of possibilities for your dealership and should change how you market to leads and customers. Focus a good portion of your marketing strategy on digital channels.

Consider some of the following digital channels that online shoppers are visiting when researching which vehicle to buy:

  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Sites
  • Professional Vehicle Evaluation Review Sites
  • Consumer Review Sites
  • Organic Online Searches
  • Dealership Websites
  • Blogs and Forums

Reevaluate Your Customer Targeting Strategy

Reach more online car shoppers by reevaluating your customer targeting strategy. You must connect with today’s auto consumer where they are at.

Start the reevaluation process by asking the following questions:

  • Have you implemented any specific strategies to target the online consumer?
  • Are you effectively engaging online with your customers who need service options for their vehicles?
  • Have you changed your online messaging to evolve with life events in your customer’s lives, such as birthdays and customer milestones?

Once you can answer these questions, you can move forward with the process of developing a digital marketing strategy to reach online consumers and cultivate customer loyalty.

Tips on How to Reach Online Consumers

Use the following tips to develop a digital marketing strategy that resonates with online auto consumers, so they visit your website and then stop by your dealership. Stay ahead of your competition by implementing these trends that can help you optimize online engagement with consumers.

1. Use Data for Insight Value

Take full advantage of Google Analytics as a powerful resource for analyzing traffic to your website and blog. If you want to reach more online shoppers and increase sales at your dealership, you cannot mismanage invaluable marketing data. Don’t let all your investment into advertising and online marketing efforts go to waste because you’re not understanding Google Analytics data effectively.

The four basic goals you should start with for conversion on your website are:

  • Leads
  • Phone calls
  • Chats
  • Texts

Evaluate the health of your data management strategy such as cleaning up your data, inspecting it, and getting alerts if something is wrong. If you don’t review the collected data accurately, you can waste your marketing budget on advertising that isn’t converting.

  • Review traffic sources
  • Review your budget
  • Review conversions
  • Measure site engagement

Implement the following Data Management Checklist to ensure that you are properly managing your data and making it work to increase sales at your dealership:

  • Confirm that Google Analytics (GA) is correctly installed on your sites
  • Verify that your four conversion goals are working accurately
  • Track consumer engagement by installing tag manager scripts
  • Create custom channel groupings for specific analysis purposes
  • Create Assisted Conversion Reports summarizing channel data
  • Confirm KPIs for vendor performance with GA data reports

Use the data to create actionable insights moving forward so you can develop key performance indicators (KPI) for your digital marketing plan. These KPI’s will help you measure what’s working and what’s not. Make marketing decisions based on various data points – both onsite and offsite – to optimize your efforts and not waste valuable time and money.

Online Competitive Analysis

2. Create a Mobile-Friendly Website and Blog

Fast site load speeds and easy mobile viewing on all browsing devices help increase ranking in search engine results pages (SERP). When your site is mobile-friendly, you can reach more online car shoppers. If a website does not load in two seconds or less, 47% of consumers will leave it.

3. Improve Brand Image Online

According to Circle Research, 77% of business owners attribute their increase in sales to their branding efforts. Use an omnichannel approach to deliver a consistent message on all social media platforms, online ads, your website, and blog. Ensure that any brand ambassadors like customers, employees, or social media influencers deliver the same message.

4. Create Reader-Friendly Content

Stay consistent and write reader-friendly, educational content on your blog and website. Real-time content and personalized ads effectively reach today’s savvy digital buyers. Personalized ads and offers have been a critical factor in 62% of consumers who made a purchase.

5. Cultivate Customer Loyalty with Engagement

Reach more online car shoppers by actively engaging with them on all social media platforms. Approximately 2.1 billion people have social media accounts, with 7 out of 10 actively engaging daily, and 4 out of 10 using social media apps. Social media is an invaluable resource for connecting with leads and customers and sending them to your website or blog. Actively respond to followers who tweet you or ask questions online.

Add real-time interaction on your website by integrating chatbots. Juniper Research estimates that chatbot integration will save up to $8 billion for businesses by 2022. Chatbots can save your sales team time as they become an initial support level to filter requests by visitors to your site. Millennials love the streamlined experience of using chatbots, which opens the door to reaching this target market.

Chatbot For Customer Loyalty Engagement

6. Promote Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Customer reviews are a powerful marketing tool for your dealership. Embed customer reviews on your website. Pay attention to the following popular review sites where customers are likely to post reviews on your dealership:

  • Yelp Reviews
  • Google Reviews
  • BBB Reviews
  • Facebook Reviews
  • DealerRater.com
  • Cars.com
  • Edmunds.com
  • KBB.com

Ask and you shall receive. Ask your customers to complete surveys to ascertain their satisfaction level with the experience from the first touchpoint to the last. Ask customers who post very positive responses on the survey for permission to use their testimonials on your website and in email marketing. Ask customers to record their testimonials on video.

Remember to follow these tips when trying to get positive reviews:

  • Provide consistent, exceptional customer service
  • Always prioritize the customer over sales
  • Never compensate with payment or special offers for reviews
  • Take the initiative to ask for reviews from satisfied customers
  • Never ask for a positive review from a customer
  • Make sure to thank customers for their positive review
  • Address negative reviews and apologize if necessary
  • Never act offensively over negative reviews
  • Make changes according to customer complaints
  • Never post fake reviews to promote your dealership

7. Use Video Marketing to Your Advantage

It is important to use video marketing to your advantage to compete as a dealership in this digital age. A recent Automotive Shopper Study completed by Google showed that “46% of consumers visit dealership websites after watching video content.” These consumers are more likely to search through the inventory listed on your website after watching a video used in an advertisement or promoted on social media.

Consider the following tips on creating videos for various platforms:

  • Twitter – Video content is prioritized on Twitter so you can get more impressions as it generally appears higher on followers’ feeds. Focus on live stream videos and mini looping videos for this venue.
  • Facebook – According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of Americans are active on Facebook. Load videos directly to your Facebook Fan page rather than posting links to videos on YouTube or Vimeo. Videos posted to Facebook generate 30% more views than those posted to other social media platforms.
  • YouTube – Make sure videos posted to your YouTube Channel have the right keywords and strong titles for search engine optimization. Vehicle walk-arounds by salespeople and tips from the service department work well as YouTube videos. Create short tutorial videos that last no longer than one minute. Make sure to post these videos on your dealership website.
  • Instagram – You can post vehicle walk-arounds or behind-the-scenes videos of your dealership on Instagram. Live stream videos when new and exclusive inventory comes in to generate excitement for your dealership.

8. Educate Your Sales Team on Digital Marketing Tools

Make sure everyone in your dealership, from the sales team to the service department, is on the same page regarding your updated digital marketing strategy. Host a lunch-and-learn to educate your employees and management team on the various digital marketing tools and strategies you will employ to reach more online auto consumers.

Follow this checklist while training your employees on your new digital marketing strategy:

  • Encourage computer proficiency so the sales team can use various digital tools and platforms to engage with the online auto shopper effectively.
  • Make sure everyone faithfully and consistently uses all the digital tools and employ KPIs to measure the progress of the sales team.
  • Inspire positivity among your sales team and encourage them to remain professional and polite in all online interactions with leads and customers.

Reach More Online Car Shoppers Today with These Tips

Hone your digital marketing strategy so that you can maximize the impact your dealership can have on online car shoppers. Let the J&L Marketing team help you integrate these tips into the marketing strategy for your dealership.