With the new year approaching, you’re probably wondering what marketing strategy your car dealership should adopt next?
Should you hop onto that new social media platform, increase your ad budget, or go all-in on print marketing? Perhaps you’ll look into developing an app exclusively for your dealership.
While all of these avenues are valuable marketing assets, we suggest investing in the following five strategies in the coming year.
1. Event Marketing
When the majority of the car buying experience occurs online, spending your marketing budget on events may seem illogical. However, events allow you to reach new customers outside of your venue while also driving current customers to make new purchases.
For example, by sponsoring a local event or partnering with another local business for an event outside of your dealership, you are actively getting your brand in front of potential new customers. Consider sponsoring a little league team, a local charity event, or a regional festival for more brand exposure in 2020.
Also, hosting events at your dealership can entice current customers to make new purchases. These events don’t need to be extravagant, either. While you can organize large promotional events, consider hosting events such as:
Free Car Wash Days
If your dealership has a car wash or can partner with a local non-profit organization to wash cars, host a Free Car Wash Day on your lot. While their cars are being cleaned, customers can browse your existing inventory, talk to your sales team, and learn more about your dealership.
Customer Appreciation Events
Invite your loyal and returning customers to an appreciation event. Treat them to food, beverages, activities, contests, and more throughout the occasion. Instead of going for the hard-sell, focus on entertaining your customers and showing them how much you appreciate their business. In turn, they’ll stay loyal to your dealership when it’s time for their next vehicle or maintenance appointment.
Vehicle Safety Clinics
Everyone wants to know their vehicle is safe and in the best condition possible to carry passengers. Partner with your local police department, fire department, doctor’s office, or other safety organization to conduct free vehicle safety checks or a clinic at your dealership. Use the opportunity to highlight the safest vehicles in your inventory to interested attendees.
2. Content Marketing
If your car dealership hasn’t already invested in a solid content marketing strategy, 2020 is the year to do so.
Content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Such a marketing strategy requires your dealership to diligently create educational content for each stage of the buyer’s journey, from consideration to post-purchase.
The content you create can take the form of a:
- Blog post/article
- Social media post
- Email message
Your options are unlimited.
However, it’s not wise to dive into a content marketing plan without a set strategy. First outline the average buyer’s journey and their content needs at each stage.
For instance, someone at the beginning of the purchase process may be searching online for vehicle comparisons. With this in mind, create an in-depth informative article comparing similar vehicles. Or, if someone is right on the cusp of signing up for a test drive, send them a personalized email with content about the vehicle they’re interested in, such as a walk-through video or maintenance tutorial.
The goal of content marketing is to drive a purchase decision with the assistance of relevant and captivating content.
Also, ensure that your website functions properly and is optimized to accomplish your various content marketing goals prior to launching your strategy.
3. Customer Reviews and Testimonials
Trust and transparency are two core values customers expect from car dealerships, particularly since buying a car is a large investment that requires multiple stages and lots of decision-making.
On top of allowing customers to review your business internally, encourage them to share their experience on social media or review platforms such as Google Maps. Use these reviews to help influence potential customers by showcasing previous customer experiences.
Customers likely have already scrolled through your online reviews; why not use them to your advantage? Give your potential customers peace of mind by leveraging customer reviews throughout the sales process.
In addition, ask your most loyal customers if they would be willing to provide testimonials for your dealership. Place these testimonials on your website for customers to read or view at their leisure. As they see and read about satisfied customers, they’ll find comfort knowing that purchasing a car from your dealership is the right decision.
4. Personalized Marketing
The best marketing strategy your dealership can implement in the new year is to take steps to fully understand your customers.
Not all of your customers are from the same walks of life. Some may be looking for luxury vehicles with pristine amenities, while others are more concerned about gas mileage and safety features. You wouldn’t use the same sales tactics for these two consumers, so why would your marketing strategy?
Seek to understand your customers through buyer personas, and implement this insight using personalized marketing strategies. From email marketing newsletters and campaigns to targeted ads, deliver individualized content, offers, and messages to consumers to bring them through the purchase process.
5. Search Marketing
If your dealership isn’t at the top of Google and Bing, who is? The competition.
To attract the attention of customers searching for vehicle information, car dealerships must operate the following search marketing strategies.
Local Search Marketing
According to RevLocal, local search marketing is “a form of search engine optimization that helps local businesses show up in relevant local searches.”
RevLocal also reported that 78% of local mobile searches end with an offline purchase. This means, when customers search for “car dealership in [your town]” or “cars for sale near [city],” you want your dealership to appear in the search rankings and map listings.
To accomplish this, your dealership needs to claim and fill out online business listings on platforms such as:
- Google Maps
- Industry listing websites
These listings contain the vital info users are searching for such as your address, phone number, customer reviews, photos, and other content.
In addition, make sure your website has your business name, address, and phone number prominently displayed as well as other local content.
Organic Search Marketing
Referred to also as SEO (Search Engine Optimization), this strategy utilizes your website, content, and keywords to organically rank on search engines such as Google and Bing. This process begins with identifying competitive and opportunistic keywords for your dealership to rank for before strategically incorporating them into your website and online content.
Search engine algorithms also review a number of other factors when determining the ranking order of a search, such as:
- Mobile friendly/adaptive website design
- The number of backlinks to your website
- Website security
- Website accessibility
- Social signals to/from your website
- Visitor experience
- The technical format of your website
Organic search strategies require constant efforts, updates, and analysis to ensure you’re meeting your ranking goals and driving qualified traffic to your website, and ultimately, dealership.
Paid Search Marketing
Lastly, paid search marketing allows you to pay for advertisements based on relevant search queries. Car dealerships can pay per click or per ad impression depending on the type of campaign they choose to run.
This marketing strategy requires you to bid on specific, relevant keywords often searched by your consumers. As a result, your advertisement is placed strategically in the search results with the goal of getting users to click on it.
With a competitive paid strategy, car dealerships can see a great return on their investment. Google reported that for every $1 spent on Google Adwords, businesses earn an average revenue of $2.
One huge opportunity for car dealers looking to launch a paid search marketing strategy is VIN Specific Advertising. This tactic pairs your current inventory with paid search ads targeted at consumers directly searching for those vehicles.
Partner with a Search Marketing Specialist
Since all three search marketing strategies are vital to the success of your dealership, it’s in your best interest to partner with a certified search marketing specialist. Do your best to avoid adding the responsibility of search marketing to another sales rep’s already full plate.
Invest in These 5 Marketing Strategies Today
Ready to make next year your dealership’s best year yet? Then it’s time to start planning your marketing efforts and executing a successful strategy.
The team at J&L Marketing is ready to put our marketing knowledge and expertise into action for your business.
Visit the professional J&L Marketing team at booth 3266C at the 2020 National Automobile Dealers Association in Las Vegas on February 15–17.