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Car dealership sales across America will reach over $1 trillion in 2020.
New and used car dealerships have the potential to be a lucrative investment to players who market themselves successfully.
But auto dealer marketing can be tricky. Not all dealerships have the funds to make professional television ads, and they don’t have a massive staff to support their efforts. But they can’t ignore the lead generating possibilities of digital marketing and the importance of internet car sales.
So, how can car dealerships improve their sales via the internet? Here’s our guide.
Knowing your audience is an overlooked step by dealerships, but is essential to creating and managing campaigns that bring-in leads. Car dealerships are localized businesses, so it’s even more important to have specific buyer personas that you try to reach.
What is a buyer persona? A buyer persona is your audience personified into a person with a name. It could be Melissa Mom or Mark Millennial. These buyer personas all come with detailed demographic information like their age, occupation, and needs from your company.
Most companies have a handful of different buyer personas within their audience. While it might seem like a lot of work upfront, you’ll be happy you did it. Buyer personas are an excellent point-of-reference for all your marketing efforts, from who to send a newsletter or promotion to, to what types of social media content to create, or what the topic of your next blog post should be.
When it comes to sales, creating these buyer personas will show you exactly who you’re targeting. You’ll be able to sell to them more personally. Using buyer personas as a reference will tell you if you’re getting the right people into the lot, help you evaluate your current sales leads, and improve your overall numbers.
There’s a saying that goes something like “everyone has a brand, but not everyone manages their brand.” A brand is your company’s core values, attitudes, messaging, ethos and imagery wrapped into one thing. Having a solid and managed brand is what separates the amateurs from the professionals.
Consistency is the main component of managing a brand. Potential customers and clients want to know what to expect from you, they want to know what they can rely on you for. When your website says one thing, and your Facebook says another and your email marketing looks completely different, this can send inconsistent messaging.
If a potential customer doesn’t have a clear idea of who your company is and what you value, you won’t be able to establish trust, without trust, it’s very difficult to make a sale. If you create a strong brand that your buyer personas relate to and connect with, you can build a community of loyal customers in your market.
To evaluate your brand, start simple. Establish the type of voice you want to have, how you want to make people feel, and what you want to be known for. Make sure that messaging is consistent from your website to your social media networks.
Most car dealerships don’t have a massive marketing staff to support them. The social media department at a dealership consists of a team of one or maybe two. It’s more effective to do a couple of things well than everything okay.
Evaluate your buyer personas and decide which social media networks will reach them the best. It’s OK to only have a Facebook and Instagram, or only a Facebook and LinkedIn. While claiming as much digital real estate for your brand is always good, if you can’t support managing it and it ends up being a negative for your brand, it’s better to not do it all.
Another mistake car dealerships make is using social media as a megaphone for all their latest new vehicles, specials, and events. While it’s important to promote your business on social media, there’s a way that lets people know, and a way that annoys people by bombarding their feed with constant updates.
This kind of social strategy will lead to unfollows and will put a bad taste in the mouths of potential customers. Simply creating and paying to promote an event for a week on Facebook through a targeted demographic, and a handful of quality updates that share useful articles and maybe a new blog about car care will get you a lot further in the long-run.
Email marketing is one of the most time-tested digital marketing tools for generating leads. Email marketing helps dealerships stay relevant to their audience and nurture leads.
Email marketing is the most successful when you don’t use paid email lists. Quality is more valuable than quantity. Get organic contact information through things like website opt-ins, social media campaigns and incentives like access to specials and assets.
Segment your email lists and target specific emails to specific groups of people. Personalize your emails as much as possible. Figure out which days of the week and times of day your audience is the most receptive.
For most businesses, your website works as a home base for your digital brand. Your website is where customers go to get information about you, and they judge you based on how well it performs, what it says, and what it looks like.
A website is especially important for car dealerships because it’s the primary place for customers to view inventory. So dealerships need to have a website where information is fast and easy to find.
Browsing an online inventory is one of the first steps in nearly every person’s car-buying journey. If a potential customer can’t easily see your inventory or know how to contact you, you’re going to lose the sale.
This tip falls into every aspect of your marketing efforts. Behind every stream of digital marketing, is content. It’s the copy in the newsletter you send, the image you share on social media, and the “about us” on your website. Content is king in today’s world of digital marketing.
But, what a lot of car dealerships fail to do, is to produce content that helps their audience, or provides them with something of value. Thinking of your audience first is at the heart of successful internet marketing campaigns. But understanding how a tutorial video or ebook guide leads to sales can be hard to see. So many dealership owners write it off as an unnecessary expense.
Bring something new to the table for your audience. Find out what they need, what they aren’t getting and fill that void for them. Consider videos, infographics, lists, and guides.
Have a plan to not only create content but how to distribute content too. You can have the best piece of content around, but if no one sees it, what’s the benefit? Don’t assume that because you posted something, that people will find it.
Include content in emails, distribute it to members of the local media, and use third-party content publishing websites. Invest in a few very high-quality pieces of content and distribute them well. It will be more valuable than paying for hundreds of pieces of generic content.
Knowing if an auto dealer marketing campaign is successful or not is only accurately done by tracking the same KPIs consistently. From tracking KPIs, you might find that a tactic you thought wasn’t working actually was working. But just more subtly than you anticipated and at a more gradual pace every month.
Or, you might find that a strategy that you thought was the reason for an influx in internet car sales actually wasn’t. Tracking results is the only way you can check your marketing efforts, make changes and improve campaign outcomes. Knowing your numbers will help you set realistic and achievable goals.
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