It goes without saying that automotive marketing is essential for automotive dealerships. Without a strategic marketing plan in place, automotive dealerships will find it difficult to attract new customers and retain the ones they have. In this article, we will discuss six automotive marketing strategies that have been proven to help get more customers as a car salesperson.
To begin, let’s discuss four old automotive marketing strategies that are still alive and well: local advertising, business cards, referral marketing, and direct mail.
Local advertising is still one of the most effective automotive marketing strategies. Dealerships can advertise in local newspapers, on television and radio stations, and on billboards. Local advertising enables dealerships to hyper-target their ad’s placement and contribute to their brand’s credibility.
Considering how visible traditional advertising is – seeing a billboard on the way to work, viewing used car prices while skimming through the morning paper – it is huge to advertise via non-digital assets. Plus, depending on your location, billboard advertising can be surprisingly affordable.
Overall, 37% of people prefer to complete a car purchase in person, with only 17% choosing to complete the transaction online. This suggests that the physical tangibility of a print ad in the local newspaper or on a billboard can offer some benefit still.
A business card may seem like a humble little piece of paper, but it can actually be a powerful marketing tool.
When used effectively, a business card can help you to make new connections, build relationships with potential customers, and boost your visibility. The key is to hand out your cards strategically and to make sure that they reflect your brand in a positive light.
For example, you might consider leaving your cards at local businesses or handing them out at networking events. You can also use your cards to add a personal touch to your online marketing efforts by including them in direct mailings or sending them along with thank-you notes.
By taking advantage of the potential of business cards, you can help ensure that your marketing efforts are paying off.
A company’s current customer base is its best source of new business. Outreach to current customers should be a key part of any marketing strategy. After all, these are people who have already shown an interest in your products or services. They are also more likely to be familiar with your brand and to have positive associations with it.
There are a number of ways to reach out to current customers. Social media is a great way to connect with them and to keep them up-to-date on what’s happening with your company. You can also send promotional emails or car purchase thank-you letters.
And don’t forget the power of personal contact. A phone call or face-to-face meeting can be a great way to forge a stronger relationship with a current customer; in fact, phone calls typically generate 10-15x more conversions than web leads.
Whatever methods you choose, make sure that you are always thinking about how you can better serve your current customers. They will appreciate your efforts, and you’re likely to see a boost in business as a result.
Now that we’ve discussed some classic automotive marketing strategies, it’s time to lean into what some modern-day, internet-based strategies are.
Any business that relies on lead generation knows that nurturing those leads is essential to turning them into customers. Automation is key in this process, and there are a number of automation tools available that can help businesses keep track of their leads and make sure they are being contacted promptly.
LeadsBridge is one such tool, and it integrates with a variety of CRMs, including those specializing in car dealerships. This way, when a lead comes in through Facebook or Google, it is automatically pushed to the CRM. And when someone opens an email, the team can be notified immediately.
This allows businesses to quickly follow up with leads that are showing interest, increasing the chances of making a sale.
Optimizing your brand presence takes quite a bit of work, but in the end, it is extremely worthwhile. The main reason it takes so much work is because there are so many different platforms that an automotive marketer has to handle, including:
With this in mind, let’s go into the four most important aspects of online automotive marketing.
We discussed this at length in our hub article “What is Automotive Marketing?“, but reviews are extremely important for automotive dealerships. In fact, they can be the difference between a customer choosing your dealership over another.
So, how do you get more reviews? The best way is to simply ask your customers. You can do this in person, through email, or even on social media. Just make sure that you are asking customers who are likely to leave a positive review. You can also offer incentives, such as discounts or free services, for customers who leave reviews.
These reviews appear on Google whenever someone looks up your business and maintaining a good amount of stars, between 4.2 and 4.5, is optimal. Logically, this makes sense; a business with all 5-star reviews and very few bad reviews seems a bit too good to be true. But a business with mainly good reviews, and some bad ones that have been resolved by the company – those are the businesses that seem reputable.
And frankly, the more reviews you have, the better your business will look; would you rather purchase a used car from someone who has only had 5 happy customers or 450 happy customers?
For your website, there are a few key automotive marketing strategies to keep in mind: organic search and holistic website functionality.
If you optimize the keywords you rank for online by producing quality content like blog posts, you can stand out from the competition and rank better. This will allow your website to rank for organic search, and especially if you create dense content that provides buyers with ample information about the cars you sell, odds are likely that more buyers will be drawn to your dealership.
In fact, according to Google, 95% of vehicle buyers use the web as a source of information, so providing value beyond simply selling cars is a tactic that can pay dividends for years into the future.
Mobile traffic now accounts for over half of all web traffic, so it’s absolutely essential that your website is optimized for mobile devices. If it isn’t, you’re likely losing out on a lot of potential business. Luckily, there are a number of ways to improve your website’s mobile friendliness, including:
If you want to ensure that your dealership is the first one that comes up when someone in your area searches for a specific type of car, then you need to be using local Google Ads.
Google Ads allows you to target potential customers in your area specifically, and it can be an extremely effective way to increase foot traffic to your dealership.
At the most basic level, managing local Google Ads is not extremely difficult. When you have set up a Google Ads account, you can go in and target your local area in a variety of ways.
You can set up your account to have keywords targeted for a geographical area, meaning for people searching within that region, your keywords will appear at those specific times.
You can also setup keywords to appear for general searches relevant to what you offer as an automotive dealer. For example, if you recently had a large influx in used Hondas at your dealership, you could bid on keywords like “used Hondas”, “used Hondas near me”, and “used Hondas in [your city]” to appear for people searching for those keywords.
The good thing is that, in general, Google will automatically make your geographical keywords appear more frequently for those people closest to the region your Google Ads account is set up for.
In this case, the keyword “used Hondas near me” would appear more often for people who are searching that term while near the area your dealership is in.
Developing advanced keyword and negative keyword lists is not something that a lot of automotive marketers prioritize currently, solely because Google Ads is still in its infancy at 22 years old. By creating comprehensive negative keyword lists, marketers can make it simple to bid on keywords that they want their ads to appear for while simultaneously minimizing ad spend.
In the future, we plan on releasing a holistic guide to developing proper Google Ads keyword and negative keyword lists; until then, here are a few tips to start from Google.
One of the most important things you can do for your automotive dealership is to grow your email marketing list. According to McKinsey, email beats social media marketing when it comes to new customer acquisition, and it’s not even close: it is 40 times more effective than Facebook or Twitter.
It is also important to note that your email list is a group of people who have given you permission to send them marketing material, and it’s an extremely valuable asset.
There are a number of ways to grow your email list, but one of the best is to offer a incentive for signing up. For example, you could offer a discount on a service or a free gift with a purchase. In the automotive industry, this could appear as offering a gift card or even utilities like spare tires with a timely purchase.
Once you have a list of email addresses, it’s important to send helpful and relevant content. No one wants to receive a barrage of sales material, so make sure the majority of your emails are informative and useful.
This means that it may be necessary to take on someone who can produce short-form content for you offering tips related to cars. This is realistically not something that takes too much work to brainstorm; just imagine what somebody may search up when thinking about cars. “How to change my oil”, “why is my car making a weird sound”, “how do I choose a new/used car”… the list goes on.
Traditional advertising might sound like a thing of the past, but it can actually be quite effective when combined with other modern marketing strategies. There are quite a few automotive marketing trends circling around the internet currently, but there are only a few that are actually as effective as people make them out to be:
Business cards are often overlooked as a form of advertisement, but they can be very useful if distributed properly. Additionally, current customers should always be kept in mind and outreach to them should be a priority.
On the modern side of things, automation can help to keep leads moving through the sales funnel and increase efficiency. It is also important to have a strong online presence that is optimized for search engines and mobile devices. By sending useful content via email, you have a strong way to keep current and potential customers engaged.
By implementing some or all of these strategies, you can improve your dealership’s marketing efforts and see an increase in sales.
One non-digital automotive marketing strategy that we did not mention throughout this article is handwritten notes. Our research shows that customers highly appreciate handwritten notes, and they are also a form of outreach that is low risk and high reward.
Print marketing is mostly dead, but there is a difference in how people feel when they get a handwritten note compared to a printed note. When someone gets a handwritten note, it feels more personal. It shows that you care about your customer. This will help you keep more customers and also make more people refer their friends to you.
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