While automakers may have deployed a digital-first marketing strategy for quite some time, 2019 has seemingly given birth to a growing trend of car dealers who are wading deeper into digital marketing. As the industry becomes increasingly competitive, discussions about return-on-investment, cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale are becoming more widespread than what they were ten years ago.
At the forefront of this battle are the advocates of data.
While increased online activity is crucial to helping the automotive industry connect with a generation of consumers who now expect on-demand experiences, it is not without its pitfalls. As the landscape of options for online marketing continues to grow, so does all the possible confusion. As such it is important that dealerships remember some of the fundamental basics when it comes to promoting themselves online. While we all (think) that we want to generate more likes, more pageviews and more leads, it’s important to remember that these metrics don’t always go hand in hand with more sales. More often than not, dealers may have to find themselves going "back to basics" before delving into more elaborate digital campaigns if they want to generate positive ROI.
Recently, I've had a number of conversations with both brands and dealers about structuring their online marketing campaigns in such a way that they can measure the sales output against their overall investment.
So if you're like them, but are currently having trouble seeing the wood for the trees, I’ve compiled these five best digital marketing strategies that will definitely help generate more sales for your dealership. Best of all, they're super easy to set up .
1. Be mindful of your online reputation.
One of the best methods to improve online sales conversion is to actively manage the online reputation of your dealership. To test this out, simply perform a Google search on the name of your dealership and you should see reviews pulling from a wide variety of sources appearing in your Google business profile. This is typically located to the right side of search results on desktop and at the top of results on mobile.
Google will not only display your Google Review scores but will also aggregate data from other websites like Facebook, Foursquare and even (good 'ol) AutoDeal. In order for you to increase your reputation, part of your sales process should be to help prompt customers to leave Google and Facebook reviews after completing their transactions.
If you're an AutoDeal enrolled dealership, be sure to remind your sales agents to use the mark as sold feature in their AutoDeal for Agents mobile application and we’ll help prompt your customers to leave a testimonial. Once you’ve published your car-buyer reviews, you will help attract more prospective buyers to do business with you.
Having a wide-range of customer testimonials and reviews on multiple different websites will help improve your online credibility and in some cases may often be the difference between a buyer transacting with you or a competitor. There's a wide variety of research on the importance of customer reviews and how they play an impactful role in the economics of a business, so don't just take my word for it.
2. Claim your Google Business Listing & engage in Google Answers.
If you haven’t already done so, you should claim your business listing on Google. The benefits are increased exposure in search results and the ability to publish crucial information about your dealership such as contact numbers and opening hours. All of these crucial snippets will then be easy to access in search results, without users having to helplessly navigate their way around your website.
Once you’ve claimed your business listing, you should also have your team pay close attention to the Google Questions and Answers section. From time to time, prospective buyers will post questions related to your products and services. Responding to this user-generated content will offer you the opportunity to address frequently asked questions and entice potential customers.
3. Create RELEVANT Content.
The age old phrase of content being king is true, but like with any good advice is often taken out of context. This is why, the heart of your content campaign must be relevant to your target audience. I get it, you want to make more sales, and part of the way to achieve this is to promote your special offers and discounts. However if this is your one and only approach, it's not only going to get old real quick, but it's going to massively stagnate your audience engagement levels.
Instead, take time to also focus on other forms of relevant content that are more specifically related to your products, and try to create content that answers the typical questions asked by your prospective customers (remember item 2 above? That’s a good place to start getting some inspiration).
As much as possible, avoid click-bait content. If you have a P20,000 All-In Low Downpayment offer, then you should also consider disclosing the monthly amortization amounts rather than asking your prospects to call your dealership or visit your showroom. While you might think there’s some sales magic in this approach, you’re actually decreasing the efficiency of your lead-funnel by increasing the volume of customers who are "just curious" or more accurately "just want to know the full details". These techniques can put unnecessary strain on your sales team and can prevent them from focusing on higher quality leads, hence hindering your sales conversion.
So when you're looking for solid content ideas, turn to your customers and not necesserily your sales team.Still struggling with ideas? Want some help with conceptualization and distribution? Feel free to ping me a directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Organize your online leads.
Simply responding to inbound customer inquiries through Facebook Messenger or e-mail is not enough. It is becoming increasingly important to adopt a pragmatic approach to organizing your leads and tracking where they fall in the lead-funnel. A simple method to achieve this would be to log all prospect information in a spreadsheet and have your sales team meticulously update the spreadsheet depending on what progress they make with the prospective customer.
Alternatively you can use solutions like AutoDeal’s Enterprise Lead Management service to manage all of your data in a central location. You can then filter your leads based on how they were acquired (i.e. through your website, through Facebook) and analyze which lead sources are providing the most efficient lead to sale conversion and the most economical cost per sale. Solutions like this actually make life easier for your sales team since a lot of the data is automatically recorded, reducing the labor intensive act of manually reporting. Likewise you can also filter all of your leads based on if whether or not they visit the showroom, take a test-drive or get approved for financing. Since most of your dealerships are already using AutoDeal, this is a simple and hassle free method to massively optimize your online lead-generation strategies. Remember, not all of your leads are created equal - and as such they need to be organized appropriately.
Remember, proper lead-management will drive more sales and improve your dealers bottom line in comparison to just simply generating more leads. Depending on what lead-generation techniques that you deploy, you need to prepare for long term sustained communication with your propsective buyers.
It’s worrying how much some dealerships invest in online lead-generation campaigns and then subsequently have a very weak or completely absent re-marketing strategy. While on average mid-funnel online prospects tend to complete a transaction around 45 days after their first inquiry, there are numerous car-buyers who require much longer time.
If you're using high-funnel lead acquisition channels like Facebook News Feed ads, then your conversion timeline may require as long as four months until the customer transitions from a "just curious" to a "ready-to-buy" mindset. The reason that many of these high-funnel leads tend to come at a cheaper cost is simply because they require more work to push down the funnel. They are by no means less valuable, but in comparison to the leads that you generate through direct visits to your Facebook Profile or website, they will more often than not be less urgent in terms of their purchase priority.
Remember, lead attrition, which relates to the nature of dealers losing sales to competitors due to poor re-marketing strategies is not just detrimental to your sales opportunity, but is actually affecting dealership profit margins. Likewise, deploying an effective re-marketing strategy is potentially one of the most disruptive techniques that a dealership can deploy to win business from the competition - and very few people are practicing it right now.
Interestingly, on average, prospective buyers tend to be interested in two to three different vehicles simultaneously and more often than not will always be inquiring with one of your competitors to find the best deal. A good re-marketing strategy will enable you to periodically stay in contact with your prospects and will bolster your lead to sale conversion. This can be done at very low cost by deploying eDMS, SMS or using a low cost contact center solution.
In one of our recent studies, we've found that 75% of buyers in the Philippines will typically look for the best deal by simulatenosuly inquiring with 2-3 dealers of the same brand at the same time. Likewise, if you're a Toyota dealership, be aware that 43% of people who inquire for the Philippines no.1 automaker will also make simultaneous inquiries with other brands like Nissan, Mitsubishi, Honda and Ford.
In closing, be vigilant about what you're throwing away. Just because a particular lead isn’t valuable to your sales team at the moment, doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future.