As the automotive industry continues to evolve, digital marketing has become an essential tool for car dealerships and manufacturers. But with so many different ways of being seen online, it can be difficult to know where to start.
That’s why in this article we’re going to take a look at how you can optimize your automotive digital marketing strategy for 2023 and beyond. We’ll cover topics such as targeting specific audiences, utilizing data-driven analytics, and leveraging new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) to maximize how efficient you are with every single action you take.
By taking these steps now, you can ensure that your dealership remains competitive in the ever-changing landscape of the auto industry. So let’s get started!
Considering how ‘online’ modern society is, car dealerships need to have a well-rounded digital marketing strategy to reach their target audiences effectively. Without doing so, they will consistently lose out on optimizations that rival dealerships pick up instead of them, ultimately costing them business.
So, for car dealerships to optimally use digital marketing strategies, a mindset switch needs to occur. Adjusting your understanding of the market from a traditional automotive marketing mindset to one that is forward-thinking and digital-leaning is key to increasing dealership sales. Without a holistic mindset adjustment, how can you realistically expect to stay competitive in the modern landscape?
There are hundreds, thousands of automotive marketers, all vying for the same prize – convincing automotive shoppers that their dealership is the right one to go to. The sooner you integrate this philosophy into your digital retailing, the more satisfied customers you’ll have and the more potential buyers you will reach.
There are numerous benefits to investing in digital advertising for your automotive business, including the following:
There are quite a few different strategies that you can implement online to set yourself apart from the competition. Let’s start by discussing automotive social media marketing; it’s something we covered more in-depth recently, but we’ll give you a short synopsis here.
Social media allows car dealerships to reach their target audiences on a more personal level. With platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, you can easily create ads that are tailored specifically to your desired demographic, but even further than that, when you post content on any of these platforms, you can get feedback directly from your customers and see how they feel about specific posts.
Is there a high amount of interaction on Tweets where you shout out your service department? Are there more likes on posts that shout out a limited-time offer? Being aware of these metrics is becoming more crucial now as we transition away from the traditional automotive sales model into the European agency model.
Once you have an idea of what people tend to interact with most on your various social media accounts, lean further into those kinds of posts to snowball greater and greater interaction, which will help you reach even more potential car buyers. You can also use these platforms as a platform for customer engagement by responding to comments and feedback in real-time -don’t underestimate the power of this strategy.
During the buyer’s journey, there will be questions at some point – perhaps they’ll go to Google for the answer, or they may reach out to your customer support team directly. Or, considering how popular social media platforms are nowadays, they could just directly message you via Tweet or Facebook post.
If you make it a core part of your time as an automotive marketer to respond to these messages promptly, it will show potential customers that you actually care about what they want, and about answering their questions. And that feeling is what makes a person loyal to a brand – the feeling of “they get me and they care about me”.
In the automotive industry, mobile optimization is essential for success. With more than half of all web traffic coming from mobile devices, your website must be optimized for these users.
This means having a responsive design and making sure that content loads quickly on any device, which sounds like a very basic standard to meet, is crucial. But surprisingly enough, it is all too common to find a dealership website that runs fine on a desktop computer, but loads extremely slowly on a mobile phone.
This may stem from a variety of problems – not lazy-loading images, improper caching, or no minification of server-side files. The point is – when you build your website, ensure that it is optimized for both computers and mobile phones.
You can determine if there is an issue with one version of your website over the other by going through Google Analytics and comparing the bounce rate of your website on desktops versus mobile. If there is a significant difference between the two, there is almost certainly some form of optimization that needs to get put into place.
Take a look at our website’s statistics for example. Overall, the main KPIs that we want to pay attention to here is bounce rate and session duration. There is clearly a correlation between what device our customers are on and these metrics; if someone is on mobile, they are more likely to bounce from our website, be on it for a shorter amount of time overall, as well as browse fewer pages. This suggests some mobile optimization is a good move.
You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to tell if a certain medium has long loading times, and it even breaks problems down into different sections. Our website, for example, seems to run better on desktop than mobile, which suggests we should optimize our code for mobile devices.
Content marketing is another form of digital marketing that can be used to both engage customers and increase brand awareness. You can do this by creating content such as blog posts, videos, and podcasts related to the automotive industry that are designed to help inform and entertain your target audience.
This is one of the most essential digital marketing strategies across all industries – a focus on search engine optimization, or creating content that can help your website to organically rank well when people search for terms related to your industry, is especially crucial for automotive dealers.
If you can create useful content that will help potential customers perform preliminary research on things like your car dealership or specific car models, this will not only bring more traffic to your website but will also increase the likelihood that you will appear on the search engine results page (SERP) when people search for cars in areas around you.
To simplify that a bit, if you make quality content that anybody can find, you will get more traffic, which will make it more likely for you to appear to people in your area who aren’t even searching for those specific bits of content. This is because creating quality content and bringing in more traffic signals to Google that you are a reputable website and resource and should have a higher amount of authority in the auto dealerships space.
Leveraging Google Ads is a great way to get your dealership in front of potential customers. You can create targeted campaigns based on keywords related to the automotive industry and also use retargeting ads to reach customers who have already visited your website. Similar to creating content for your website, this is an extremely powerful strategy that, when optimized properly, can have massive results when it comes to lead generation.
Properly running a Google Ads account will take a lot of upfront optimization and analysis to understand what keywords are being used improperly, which ones are simply ineffective at generating leads, and which ones capture the right customers. Even further than that, once you understand what keywords are effective for your dealership, you need to make sure that your negative keyword list has been properly filled out.
A simple (but time-consuming) way of doing this is to look at all of the search terms that got people to click on your ad and look for irrelevant terms. Are there consistencies across the board with which people are clicking on an ad for your dealership, but don’t actually have to do with your brand or what you want the ad to be about?
Those keywords are objectively wasting your ad spend and should be placed into your negative keyword list to make sure this doesn’t keep happening. If you really don’t have the time to take a look at this, consider outsourcing your business development center (BDC) to get some extra time to do so.
Automation is becoming increasingly important in the automotive industry. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help you automate processes such as ad creation, audience segmentation, and optimization of campaigns. This will help you save time while improving the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts.
Using AI writers like ChatGPT or Jasper.ai may seem like a bit of a cheat move, but in reality, AI writers are the future, whether we like it or not. If you can get ahead of the curve as an automotive marketer and use an AI writer to help make your tasks easier and more time-efficient while still putting out a high-quality product, why would you not?
Unless you’re creating deliverables under the guise of them being completely human-made, writing content with the assistance of an AI writer can only make your time more efficient; you just have to make sure that it’s still as quality as it would be without you using the AI writer.
On the side of helping to segment audiences, considering ChatGPT knows everything on the internet before 2019 and can pass graduate-level bar exams, asking it about ways to segment your audience or to target different sub-audiences could be an effective use of your time.
Finally, it’s important to track the results of your automotive digital marketing efforts.
If you go through the entire process of setting up a Google Analytics account, creating targeted ad campaigns, writing content optimized for search engines, and begin to use social media platforms as a method for online advertising, but you don’t pay attention to what these different digital efforts are doing for your business, what’s the point? Sure, it’ll help, but if you don’t measure how successful you are in each of these different areas, you won’t be able to optimize them further, which can lead to potential roadblocks down the line.
You can use tools such as Google Analytics to measure key metrics such as website traffic and conversions, and most social media websites offer built-in KPIs that you can export to analyze elsewhere. For content written solely to entice search engines and to increase website authority, using platforms like SEMRush or Ahrefs is a great idea to see how your content performs over time, but Google Analytics is still effective in this regard, as well.
Last but not least, paying attention to and responding to customer feedback is important at all points in the car buying process. Meaning, if you haven’t implemented any of the above digital marketing strategies quite yet, you can still take a peek at what your current and prospective customers have to say about your brand. It’ll give you some key insights into how you can improve immediately.
Further than that, once you start interacting on your social media channels more, create a Google Ads strategy, and optimize your website for mobile devices, you can see how the public perspective changes. Is there more positive feedback now? Or is there new feedback that is critical of what you’ve been implementing?
Regardless of whether you receive positive or negative feedback, make sure to note what it is and always respond. In this specific situation, we’re talking about Google My Business (GMB); if someone posts a negative review, you must respond to them and show them and other customers that your online reviews matter.
Many business owners never take the time to respond to public reviews after they’ve set up a GMB account, leaving potential customers who see unanswered questions and complaints online questioning whether it is even worth going to your dealership.
Nip this in the bud before these thoughts can even form by having an active hold on your online reviews, responding to all of them with a positive sentiment in all cases.
There are many different ways to enhance your dealership’s public image in the modern day, and most of those ways come from actively paying attention to and managing the different channels on which your customers interact with you – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google My Business, your website, your Google Ads – and doing so frequently will ensure that your reputation management is optimal.
In the past, customers and car dealers merely interacted when choosing a car to purchase. The best of these dealers would thank their clients with a token afterward. However, now there is an amazing chance for both parties to form an even deeper connection through unique ways of communication, like handwritten cards.
Differentiating your customer experience plan by including handwritten notes, such as holiday cards, thank you cards, service reminder letters and appreciation cards is an outstanding way to set yourself apart from other dealers. This tells customers that not only are you pleased to be their friend, but also shows that they truly matter to you. Moreover, handwritten mailers have a spectacular 99% open rate! Investing in this strategy can make all the difference when showing clients just how valued they really are.
The indelible impact of handwritten notes is undeniable. Automotive dealerships that convey this level of thoughtful care and attention to their customers are proven to cultivate higher customer satisfaction, retention rates, and referrals than those who use printed cards alone. Writing a few extra words on paper can go a long way in forging meaningful connections with your clients, ensuring they remember you for years to come!
Car dealerships will be thrilled with our platform’s capabilities. We can quickly integrate your DMS to effortlessly dispatch handwritten cards that reach out to potential and current customers alike, something the automotive industry has never seen before! By providing these personalized notes with a personal touch, you’ll gain immense benefits from the customer’s perspective.
Check out our services if you are interested in automatically sending handwritten cards to your customers.
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