Dealerships once content to drop fliers into a mailbox are shifting their focus. Marketing has become increasingly about having a strong digital presence across channels.
Looking back on 2020, in surveying dealership owners, DealerNewsToday reported that dealers are moving their marketing focus to involve key areas including:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) — shifting away from a reliance on third-party listings
- Social media marketing — increasing spend on key channels, such as Facebook and Instagram
- Google Ads — homing in on the power of Google Ads clicks
- Display Ads — re-marketing across the internet to increase reach
This shift is a natural reflection of the world. Regardless of what product or service you are selling, you have to maintain a strong online presence to reach consumers.
For dealerships today, the reality is that your competitors are already flooding the online market. They are already promoting ads, pushing sales online, and improving their digital presence.
To succeed, you will need to join the digital marketing arena and outpace, outmaneuver, and outthink your competition.
The good news is that with the right strategy, you can improve your own efforts while simultaneously implementing some key tricks to re-market to your competitor’s website visitors.
Every online marketing campaign, whether that be social or display ads, must begin with good data. Quality data translates to better results with less spend.
One remarkably powerful set of data you can use to begin capturing your competition’s business is a report showcasing all of the following information about your customers:
- Data that shows you everything down to the town and subdivision where your competitor’s customers are located.
- Data that shows you where in these areas your competitors are selling the most cars. This gives you the opportunity to see where your marketing efforts are not taking hold and where you have room for improvement.
- Data that shows where your competitors are missing out on sales in the area. This can be impactful. Seeing your competitors' gaps allows you to think strategically about how you can fill them in.
- Data on makes and models your competitors are selling. This helps you see what vehicles you should be targeting.
While a report this detailed was once a pipe dream, today, this data is available. All it takes is working with a trusted agency to pull these reports. Starting with quality data will help you make the right choices as you optimize every campaign.
For example, you might see that a nearby McKnight Auto Dealer is struggling to sell in a specific neighborhood. Seeing this gap, you recognize an opportunity for your dealership to market to this area more effectively.
The next step is to check out what ads McKnight is running and to look for reasons why they might not be working.
Before beginning a campaign to retarget to your competitor’s audience, take some time to understand what ads are being run by the competition. Looking at existing ads can help inform the decisions you make as you build out your next campaign.
There are two key tools that are free and easy to use that surface existing ad information.
First, head to Google’s Ads Preview. Here, you can type in a search term, such as “BMW Service,” choose a location, and even pick a mobile or desktop view.
After clicking “Search,” you will see what ads are being run in this area for the keyword term.
Next, head over to Facebook’s Ad Library where you can see what your competition is running on Facebook. Once again, you can type in the keyword term, select all ads from the drop-down, and see what ads are being displayed for each search term. Once you land on the next page, you even have the option to filter through the results by company, platform, media type, active status, and impressions by date.
Checking out current ads can be helpful in two major ways:
- You can see exactly what your competition is doing. This allows you to analyze what might be successful in their current marketing tactics and where there is room for you to fill in the gaps.
- You can also see how your own ads are displaying. Whether you run your ads on your own or via an agency, this gives you a chance to see how your ads stack up against the competition in the area.
Armed with a detailed data report and the knowledge of what ads are being run, it is now time to start analyzing.
Every ad campaign should be backed by careful analysis and planning. Rather than simply throwing a display ad out into the digital atmosphere for your customers to see, you should analyze your own weaknesses as well as determine the strength of your competition.
Before starting a new ad campaign, identify where you’re losing market share. What top paid media channels are your greatest weakness? Where is your competition outpacing you?
For example, if you are leading the pace in Google Ads, it might be time to look at how well you’re doing across social channels.
Take a targeted approach to pick up the pace in areas you need it the most.
The next thing you should focus on is how your competitors are succeeding. Compare your initial report against the ads you researched. If you notice your competitor is doing particularly well in a neighboring town, do some research into what channels they are using to win over customers in that area.
This can help you determine where you are being left behind so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
Another great method for increasing your reach is to determine what customers of your competitors are searching for.
This can help you find gaps where your competitors are not meeting those search needs.
Next, you can build a strategy around paid ads, SEO, and social media tactics to fill in these holes, outmaneuvering your local competitors.
Finally, your digital domination strategy needs to involve one final key trick, which is remarketing to your competitor’s audience.
Within Google Ads, there is a powerful tool — the ability to remarket display ads to your competitor’s audience.
This underused method can provide you with huge gains when it is used well.
Essentially, by entering in your competitions’ URLs, you can retarget your ads to the same people who have visited those URLs.
To be effective, take note of the following three key tactics.
First and foremost, be sure that any URLs you are inputting into your remarketing campaign are from competitors within your radius.
Look back at the report broken down by town and neighborhood. Think through what competitors are also operating in the same area as you, and choose URLs accordingly.
Rather than simply entering every single web page of your competition, be systematic.
Choose URLs that make sense for your campaign. For example, if you plan to run an ad marketing a car service, choose your competition’s service page URLs. Or, if you plan to target consumers looking for a new car, choose your competitors’ new-inventory URL.
This will help make your campaign more effective. You want to drive your ads to an audience that was looking for the same exact service or offer from your competitors’ websites.
Remarketing to your competitor’s audience is a waste of marketing spend if you don’t take the time to create better ads and more meaningful landing pages.
Peruse the competitions’ webpages. Look for what they are doing well and what they are doing poorly.
Before you run a campaign, craft compelling messaging. Winning over your competitor’s clients is harder than marketing to your own loyal audience. You will need a unique value that draws them to your dealership.
Once you have built out a robust data set on your competition, you have analyzed their ads, and you have set up your own campaign to retarget to your competitors’ audiences, it is time to run your campaign.
Running an ad campaign should be a process of testing and adapting. Never simply set an ad campaign and forget it.
Keep analyzing the data coming in and change your strategy accordingly.
After one campaign ends, take what you have learned and repeat the process.
Remarketing is a powerful strategy that can allow you to overtake your competition if you constantly adjust to the data you gather.
In today’s competitive landscape, it is not enough to simply be present online. Your dealership has to show up in a powerful way and dominate the digital market. From improving your display ads to increasing your social reach, now is not the time to let off the gas.
At J&L Marketing, we can help you learn more about how you can outpace your competition online. We have years of experience adjusting dealership strategies to exceed their competitors online. Additionally, we are constantly on the cutting edge of technology, taking advantage of the latest tools available for marketing your business online.
If you want to learn more about digital domination, start by replaying our recent Digital Domination for Dealers webinar. It takes a deep dive into digital marketing, explaining in detail the reporting methods you can use to understand your competition’s online presence and key information on how you can leverage this data to take the lead.
For dealerships looking to improve their digital presence, we also invite you to reach out to our team. We will be happy to provide you with a consultation, taking a look at your current marketing efforts and seeing where we could help you improve. Our goal is to ensure you have access to the best data available paired with top-notch marketing tools. We look forward to talking with you soon.