Here's hoping 2021 won't throw us for quite the loop that 2020 did while we prepare for precisely that. Now is the time to get in the game with these evolving automotive marketing trends.
Dealership Website Optimization
Online research and e-commerce are growing like kudzu. More consumers are heavily researching car stores and inventories as a starting point. The car-buying process begins online for over 80% of your customers, and (as of late) it even ends there for some. Over two years ago, Business Insider issued a warning that is now a bit haunting.
"It's clear that there is a tremendous opportunity for dealers to reshape the purchase process on their terms by moving more of their own processes online while catering to the evolving needs of their shoppers," stated Max Steckler in the web article. Steckler is the Vice President of CDK Global, an automotive commerce group.
Well, we've moved past opportunity to necessity now. Today, high-end websites built for speed and mobile compatibility are required. Semrush reports that 57% of consumers won't recommend a business with a difficult mobile site. That's right. Over half of consumers will denounce your store because of how your website displays on their phones. It's a cold world, isn't it? What's more— 51% of consumers abandon ship on a website that doesn't load at rapid speed. Literally, a one-second delay results in a 7% drop in sales. Before you hang your head in defeat, take heart. All you need is the right type of web design to check all the boxes including: speed, mobile-friendliness, and ease of use.
While you're digitally renovating, don't forget the integration with third-party platforms. The ultimate goal of your website experience is to take all your in-store options online. The ability to accessorize and checkout seamlessly is critical!
Dealership Digital Customer Experience
The “Age of the Customer” means everything to a car dealer. In a world where customers want rapid information, the Chick-fil-A customer experience, and the best deal on the internet; dealers have their work cut out for them. Digital is wrapping its tentacles around car buying like the kraken, that doesn’t mean your ship will go under.
- Ensure your website's live chat is monitored by skilled salespeople and quick typists.
- Social media should not be an afterthought either.
- Your presence and responsiveness across social media platforms should be a high priority. If you don't already have a dedicated social media manager, 2021 is the time to pull the trigger on that position. Those canned messages ("Thank you for contacting us!") will only pacify for seconds. Personal responses are critical.
The bottom line is...customers want to reach dealerships quickly. More dealerships need to update messaging apps on their websites, be available on social media, and answer emails quickly. A strong brand presence, loyal customers, and personable communications—whether in-store or online—are key.
Customer Journey Marketer published an article about the customer's journey as it relates to digital marketing. The writer, Gary Deasi, stated, "when it comes to making a purchasing decision, customers will increasingly a) turn to the advice of their peers, and b) gravitate towards the organizations who have done the best job of earning their trust based on their experiences interacting with the brand."
The impression that quick, professional online interactions have on your consumers will hold your future. In digital marketing, there is even a term for it: digital Darwinism.
Local SEO Marketing
Local search engine optimization marketing works to ensure that your store shows up, in search results, for consumers within a predetermined radius. There are several ways to that end, and you should be aware of them, if not implementing all of them.
Google My Business
A proper GMB profile is the foundation for local SEO. Start by checking the GMB Dashboard to claim your listing. Then, you'll ensure your listing has all the right information your customer would be looking for, such as NAP, categories, web info, and more.
Local Print Media
Articles and advertisements in local newspapers, magazines, and the like will get you in front of customers in your area. There's still a section of the population who prefers print, and almost all print media also have digital versions.
Geo-Fenced Online Advertising
Geo-fencing is digital advertising to customers entering a certain geographic threshold. Some dealers choose to display an ad on apps and browsers to customers entering a competitor's lot, while others choose other local businesses. Ads run for 30 days and vary greatly depending on budget.
Website Footer and Content
The footer of your website should contain your dealership address. Within your site's body text, make sure to mention local towns and cities to reach people in your target area. Both will optimize your site to appear to local car buyers.
Speak To Customers’ Intentions
Creating a compelling blog for your website may be a good idea. On the one hand, well written and regularly updated content can reach consumers who are in the research stage of buying a car. When the information they need comes from your store, the consumer is more likely to stay on your site. On the other hand, poorly written articles that only surface occasionally may cause your website to appear unprofessional. Anything slapped together, or halfway done, should be avoided.
Great content for your website are blog posts like "The 10 Most Fuel Efficient Vehicles of 2021". Researchers are googling this kind of information as they begin the process of buying a car. With the right SEO, and writing voice, you can easily produce an article that is consistently sourced and shared throughout the car-buying community.
Make 2021 Your Year By Watching These Marketing Trends
Digital marketing is the unofficial theme of 2021. Focus on a stellar website, an unmatched online experience, heavy digital presence, and strategic advertising this year. You do not have to do this all by yourself—using 3rd party software like vehicle configurators, local marketing companies, and a little bit of creativity can help boost your store’s market share in the online world.
Where are you in this process today?