There were positive car sales trends in the first half of 2018. But just like any industry, the auto sales industry is subject to economic factors, global trade, consumer confidence, and disruptive technologies.
At the end of summer 2018, analysts raised their seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) forecast from 16.5 million units sold to 16.8 million. That’s good news for dealerships and car salesmen. But generating leads is getting more challenging as customers gain more control over the process.
If you want to know how to get car sales leads moving forward, this guide will help you build your strategy. Some of the tactics you’ve already used may still be worthwhile. But it’s important to recognize how the landscape has changed in the past few years.
Lead Generation Has Changed
Car buyers spend 61% of their time researching vehicles online. They only spend 13% of their time visiting dealerships in person. Across multiple industries, consumers are taking over a large portion of the traditional sales process.
Consumers are no longer reliant upon salespeople to access information. They can get all the information they need at the click of a button. Often, by the time they speak to a sales rep, they already know the make, model, and year of the car they want to buy.
Buyers have all the business and purchasing power. Lead generation for car dealers must change from an outbound model to a personalized inbound model.
While old tactics like direct mail and cold calling can still be effective, car salespeople who don’t take advantage of digital tools will fall behind their competitors. Here is a list of lead generation strategies you should employ.
How to Get Car Sales Leads in 2019
There are a few tactics you should avoid when doing car dealership lead generation.
It’s tempting for dealerships to buy lists of contacts to generate tons of leads quickly and easily. The problem with this tactic is the lists themselves. Companies that sell these lists often can’t (or won’t) verify how they captured the contact information.
Most of all those people never “opted in” to receive marketing communications from you. This is a recipe for unsubscribes and spam notifications on your IP address.
Instead of purchasing leads, try to generate leads organically. You can do this with a mix of digital tools and old-fashioned ones. When exploring how to generate car sales leads, trust your instincts. If a tactic seems dishonest, it probably is.
Start with Your Website
9 out of 10 automotive internet shoppers visit at least one automaker’s website during the shopping process. Of those shoppers, 84% visit a dealer’s site and 79% visit a third-party site.
Your website is an integral part and the final destination for potential customers to provide their information or call your dealership. Your website structure should be mobile responsive, have clear calls to action (CTA’s), and contact information should be easy to find.
Optimizing a website for conversions is a process of understanding why your visitors come to your site and what they intend to do there. In most cases, they’re looking for information about cars. They can find this information elsewhere online, so give them a reason to stay on your site.
Here are some lead generation tips and strategies:
Install Google Analytics – Link It with Google Search Console
Google analytics and Google Search Console will help you capture important parameters, such as:
- Form and phone call lead tracking
- Where your customers are coming from (Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.)
- Location demographics for your website visitors
- Keywords visitors used to find your website
- Your keyword rankings
- Your best-performing pages
The information in these tools will allow you to gather lots of data as well as make better marketing decisions down the line.
Optimize Your Website for Search Engines
Naturally, your website won’t generate many leads if no one can find it.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of changing your website so it’s easy for search engines to find. It’s an ongoing process. But if you’re successful with it, you can increase traffic and rank higher in search results.
There are many factors that determine search rankings. Website authority is important, but on-page attributes like meta descriptions and alt-tags can also affect your rankings. Internal, external, and inbound links can also affect your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Search engines look for pages that contain high-quality, relevant information relating to the user’s search query. Here’s a list of the fundamentals of SEO:
- Create unique and targeted page titles, meta descriptions, and on-page content relative to keywords you want to rank for.
- Link your website page to other valuable content both on your website and on valuable external websites.
- Check your business listings and claim them. Most of these are FREE.
- Get business reviews on major directories such as Google.
If you need help with your on-page SEO, a web developer or SEO expert can help.
Pro Tip: Start with these directories via Hubspot.
Optimize Your Website for Conversions
There should be clear conversion opportunities on your homepage. Most businesses accomplish this by placing a call-to-action (CTA) button front and center. This button could invite visitors to fill out a contact form to start the sales process, for example.
Optimizing your website goes beyond design aesthetics, however.
If your website takes longer than 10 seconds to load, your bounce rate increases by 123%. Unless you have skills and resources from a larger company, you may need the help of a web developer to lower your loading times. Decreasing loading times is a technical process that requires changes to the code and other assets on your site.
But if you can successfully optimize your website, it could be your most valuable resource for lead generation.
Add Chat and Push Notifications to Your Website
Adding live chat functionality to a website is a proven way to increase your dealership’s lead generation. Consumers have many questions about cars and financing. A quality chat agent at your dealership can produce leads just by chatting with your website visitors.
If you’ve heard the expression “content is king,” it was for a reason. Consumers spend more time reading online content than ever before. Of course, attention spans are shrinking, so capturing leads with content can be a challenge.
If your dealership doesn’t have a blog, now is a good time to start one. Write articles that your customers would be interested in. For example, most consumers have questions about their cars; content is the perfect opportunity to help them and get more traffic on your website.
Here are some blogging tips to help you get started:
- Determine how much you can write each month and up with a publishing calendar
- Focus on creating quality content, not on the quantity of your content
- Follow proper SEO techniques and use a readability tool to help with writing easy-to-read content
- Add valuable imagery, video, infographics and more to make your blog more interesting
If you don’t have time to write content, you can outsource the job to contractors. You should also consider using video content, images, helpful tools, and interesting graphics in your content marketing campaigns.
Get Active on Social Media
38% of consumers will consult social media the next time they decide to buy a car. Sometimes, they are simply asking their friends for recommendations. But your dealership could be a valuable resource in their search for their next vehicle.
If you’re generating content and optimizing your website for conversions, social media marketing can give you the push you need to generate tons of car sales leads.
There are many ways a dealership can use social media for lead generation. Here are some key tips for using social media:
Create Social Business Pages
Create business pages on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other networks.
Business pages aren’t just a great way to promote your brand. They also aid in your overall SEO by creating links back to your website. Be sure to have your automotive staff “follow” or “like” the company pages as well.
Just like your blog posting strategy, you should consistently be posting to the proper social media channels. Share your blogs as social media posts. Utilize hashtags and creatively written descriptions to entice users to click through and engage with your website.
Remember, social media is a two-way conversation.
One of the most effective ways to use social media is to engage with other users. Staying active in this way can take some time, but the results are worth it. Individual salesmen should create and network within those platforms if approved by the dealership manager.
Pro Tip: Hootsuite lets you post to up to 3 social media accounts at a time. They even offer a free account.
Post Interesting Graphics
Facebook posts from brands that included images earned 87% of all engagement on the platform in 2015.
Visual content is sometimes more effective than written content. This is especially true among consumers, who often don’t have time to read a full-length article.
Take advantage of your staff. Take pictures and generate behind-the-scenes videos of your dealership to share online.
Use Social Media Ads
Facebook’s business side provides an ad platform specifically for auto dealerships. It lets you post ads across Facebook and Instagram for maximum exposure. You can even customize your ads based on demographics, locations, and more.
Get Active in Groups
If your sales staff is active on social media, they could be joining groups and posting in them. Groups within these platforms provide numerous opportunities to share insights and answer questions. Some groups may allow you to post marketing content, but be careful. Others may ban you for it.
Many of these groups are local to the area you live in or are focused on a specific niche or category. You can even have notifications pop up on your phone when updates or posts are added in these groups.
Create YouTube Videos
According to a Google study, 69% of shoppers who used YouTube while buying a car were influenced by it.
Three of the most popular video types for car buyers include:
- Test drives of makes and models
- Videos about car features
- Interior and exterior walkthroughs of vehicles
Many of these types of videos you can make on your own with some basic recording equipment. If you have the time, you could incorporate this practice into all your new acquisitions.
Pro Tip: Need easy-to-use design tools? Adobe Spark lets you sign up for free to start making your own marketing videos.
Use PPC Ads
In general, consumers don’t like ads. But ads are still an effective way to generate leads.
Digital pay-per-click (PPC) ads are effective because they use complex algorithms and data sets to target the right people. You simply set a budget, manage your ad campaigns, and calculate your ROI.
Google AdWords is perhaps the most popular PPC ad service. But you can also place ads on Facebook and other popular social media sites.
Car dealerships use PPC ad tools like Google AdWords to get at the top of search rankings. Generally, they’ll focus on keywords that their prospective customers are typing into search.
While it may be tempting to put all your money on searches for “car dealership,” you’d likely be throwing that money away. Instead, focus on long-tail and local keywords. For example, if you’re a used car dealer in Richmond, VA, a keyword like “used car Richmond VA” might be more effective.
Using Google AdWords effectively isn’t something you can learn in a weekend. But there is plenty of material online to help in your journey. If you have trouble, you can rely on a lead generation company to help you.
PPC remarketing (also known as retargeting) is a way to show targeted ads to users who have already visited your website. Retargeting is effective because those visitors have already shown some interest in buying. Sometimes, they just need a little push.
If you’re already advertising on Google, this process is simple. Just add Google’s remarketing code, called a “pixel,” to your website. Other ad platforms, like Facebook, may also offer this feature.
Drive Conversions with Email Marketing
Email marketing has a reported $44 return on investment for every $1 spent. Customers still prefer communicating with businesses via email over any other type of communication.
That doesn’t mean you should abandon your direct mail campaign. But ramping up your email campaigns is a necessary step to generating more car sales leads.
Pro Tip: Mailchimp –Sign up for FREE and start with a email program that allows you up to 2,000 emails per month. They include templates as well.
Build and Manage Email Lists Consistently
To start, you need quality lists. It’s best to generate contact lists organically instead of buying them. You should also maintain your email lists by honoring unsubscribes and removing email addresses that are no longer viable.
This isn’t just the right thing to do. Maintaining your lists will help you avoid running afoul of CAN-SPAM laws. It will also increase your deliverability rates.
Email the Right Resources to the Consumer
Once you have usable email lists, incorporate your data into your campaign. If you have a CRM or work with a lead generation service, these can help you accomplish this. Data helps you send the right emails to the right people and avoid broad email campaigns that don’t convert.
Keep in mind that your recipients will likely do research online. To add value with email, you need to send them resources they can’t find anywhere else. This could come in the form of deals, but insider information may also be enticing.
Make Your Emails Easy to Read
Your emails should load quickly and be easy to read on any device. If you wish to use HTML emails, keep them heavy on text and light on images and graphics. These elements can be attractive, but they’re a prime target for spam filters and they can affect how your emails look on older devices.
Use Email Automation
If you can, use email automation to cut out some of the manual processes. Automated emails will trigger when contacts meet certain characteristics, such as converting on your website. Again, you can access email automation through a CRM or a lead generation provider.
Respond to Email Inquiries
And finally, respond to every email you receive. Email leads are typically warmer than cold call leads. So, spending some time each day to reply to emails is an ideal way to increase lead quality.
Do Offline Marketing
Even though everyone seems to be going digital, offline marketing still works. In fact, with the right approach, it can make you stand out.
You may already do some online marketing. If so, here are some tips to help you perfect the practice and integrate it into your digital strategy:
Keep Making Phone Calls
When it comes to lead generation for car salesman, phone calls are your bread and butter. If your dealership has a marketing department, they’ll be doing all they can to bring leads in. But there’s plenty you can do as a salesman to generate leads.
It’s important to remember that cold calls are not sales calls. Your immediate goal shouldn’t be to make a sale.
Instead, look for ways to provide value to your leads. Your goal should be to start a relationship. You can do this by obtaining the lead’s contact information, like their email address, and learning a bit more about them. Try to obtain data from everyone who walks in your door, as well.
It could be that your lead isn’t ready to buy a car right now. That’s okay! Add them to the database and keep nurturing them. Do a mix of calls between past, current, and walk-in-the-door customers.
Cold leads could become viable prospects at another time. The key is consistency. Most car salesmen try to make several calls every day.
Keep Sending Out Mailers
In today’s digital world, you’d think that mailers would be obsolete. But direct mail marketing is still an effective tool for car sales. It’s an important tool for any business that sells to their local community.
54% of consumers want to receive mail from a brand they’re interested in and 56% believe print marketing is the most trustworthy form of marketing.
Today, people are used to digital ads and marketing emails. Direct mail gives you the opportunity to stand out.
Don’t spend too much time worrying about the design of your mailer. Instead, focus on defining and targeting the right audience with the right messaging. Are you sending mailers to people who are in the middle of searching for a car, or previous customers who have had the same car for many years?
Most of your mailers may find their way into the recycling bin. But it’s still a cost-effective tactic. Even just a few leads generated through direct mail can give you a positive ROI.
Use direct mail to encourage direct contact with your dealership. You can also use it to stay in contact with old customers and boost word-of-mouth marketing.
Give Out Branded Materials
Hand branded materials to any customer that walks in your door. You can even give them a gift. Small, useful items like lip balm, key rings, or other car accessories can help make a lasting impression.
Start Up Your Car Sales Lead Generation Machine
All the above strategies work together to generate leads for your dealership. If possible, you should do them all. But even just a few can work together to jump-start your lead generation.
If you’re still trying to figure how to get car sales leads for salesmen at your dealership, contact CyberLead online or call us at (866) 347-0607. We can handle many of the lead generation strategies mentioned in this article.
All the leads we generate are exclusive to your dealership. We pride ourselves on having top domain names that achieve the best search rankings.