For car dealerships, the days of simply owning a showroom or signwriting your number all over your car is long gone.
In fact, 80% of touchpoints between a potential customer deciding to buy a car and actually taking a test drive are digital.
These include a Google or search engine query, trying a financial calculator, checking Google reviews of dealerships in their area and then finally arriving at your website. But, the work doesn’t end there.
How well does your website convert a browser into a test-driver or buyer?
Digital marketing may seem overwhelming due to the tonnes of information out there, but worry not, this is your one stop car dealership digital marketing guide and we’re going to walk you through it step by step.
Determine your Customer Persona
Before we can jump right into content writing and social media, let’s get the fundamentals organised first.
The first step for any business when it comes to digital marketing, which most people tend to forget, is to “know your audience.” Some businesses tend to ride their competitors bandwagon and simply copy exactly what they’re doing. But, the key to a solid marketing strategy is to know exactly who you are talking directly to and write all of your ad copy and content to that one specific person.
The more targeted your copy, the better it will speak to your ideal customers and the more quickly you will build their trust and confidence in your brand. So first of all, let’s determine who your target audience is.
Learn how to segment your audiences
A car-buyer’s thinking
Every car dealer customer goes through certain levels of thinking when taking their buying journey. Here, we will try to understand all the levels, so you can determine where you want to focus your attention.
- Did you know that six out of ten car buyers enter the market without knowing which car is best for them? This is where they ask which car is best for them.
- Once they see which models are within their reach, they narrow their choices down by listing their considerations. The question “Is it right for me?” is asked here.
- With fewer options, the buyer’s budget comes into consideration. They will ask if they can afford it, and how they will finance it, whether through leasing, loan, or their savings.
- Once they decide on what to buy they start to ask where they can buy it.
- Once they find dealers, the buyer will start asking if they are getting a deal. Which dealer should they buy from to get the best deal?
Where will you focus?
Based on these stages of the buying funnel you should offer a range of content that helps and guides your reader through to the next stage
- When a potential buyer Google’s which car is best for them, you want to be the one to answer that and give them their choices. Eg; The five best city cars in 2018
- When they narrow down by saying what their considerations are, consider content options that guide them and give them a tailored list to choose from. Eg; Volkswagen Polo vs. Ford Focus – Which is better?
- When they ask you if they can afford it, you want to be the one to help them get a loan, or help them choose based on their budget? Providing finance calculators are an excellent tool to capture leads at this stage of the buying journey.
- When they ask where they can buy, you want your dealership to be the obvious choice because you have provided so much value in the previous stages of the cycle.
- When they ask if they are getting a deal, you’ll be front of mind to provide it.
Create audiences from your analytics data
Looking into the analytics from your website provides you with a large set of audience possibilities for ad targeting and customer journey segmentation between informational and transactional intent.
Importance and how to create a buyer persona
When you understand the types of useful content you can provide, you’ll need to have a very clear idea of who you are writing it for. This is where your customer persona, or what is sometimes called a buyer persona, buyer avatar, or client profile comes into play. A buyer persona is a fictional character that businesses create to target to specifically.
Knowing who you are talking to even before you put in any efforts on your digital marketing cuts the difficulty in half! It keeps all your marketing content targeted and focused on the exact people that you want to reach.
Businesses usually create three personas. These represent the most significant portion of their target customers.
To create yours, think about how you would answer these questions about a car-buyer. You may have been in business for years and keep seeing the same types of customers buying specific types of cars. Sit down with a piece of paper and really picture these customers. Let’s invent the most typical and targeted version of these customers by answering the following questions.
What is your fictional customer’s:
- Education Level
- Income Level
- Relationship status
After this information, dive into the more detailed part. Answer these questions for each of your personas.
- What are their goals? How can your business help them?
- What are their challenges and pain points? How can your business help them?
- What are their purchasing objections? When will they decline to buy from you?
Once done with these, you will have a pretty good understanding of who you have to reach. Now, let’s get to the meaty part.
Start with a mobile-responsive website
Have you heard of the saying “If it’s not on the web, then it probably doesn’t exist.”
This is the first rule of digital marketing. If you’re not online, you’re leaving money on the table. It’s that simple. Your potential customers need to know that not only are you online, you are THE business that can truly help them. To do that, you start with what will get you there.
Start with your website. All of the Facebook marketing in the world won’t help you if you don’t have somewhere to send all of these new leads to convert them to customers. Make sure that your site is mobile-responsive; Consumers now spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones and 50% of all web traffic comes from smartphones. If your site doesn’t function on mobile you’re missing a huge opportunity.
What should be included?
Needless to say, your website should deliver your business’ message right on the first look. Typical website visitors leave if they don’t see what they need right away.
Website visitors already have questions in mind when they start searching. If your website cannot answer their question on your homepage, then they will look for another site. It is as simple as that.
Based on your customer persona, list the five most common questions or challenges that your ideal customers have. If you’ve been in business for a while, these will be the questions you hear every day.
Now, in designing your website and determining what to include, make sure you answer these questions clearly and on their first scan.
What elements should your website have?
Aside from answering the common questions of your visitors, a useful website should have these elements to get your message across.
- A smartly placed logo that is not surrounded by unnecessary visual elements. You want your logo to stand out at first glance.
- An unscattered specific menu. Showcase the pages that can help your visitors with what they need.
- A special entry point that is clear and easily seen. Does your site allow people to log in? Have a clear access point where they can quickly log in. You can also have a “start here” point, to guide your visitors.
- A powerful header or tagline that answers the “What’s in it for me?” question of your visitor. Make sure they read this and feel the sincerity of your voice in it.
- A prominent call-to-action that is impossible to miss. What do you want them to do? Sign up for your newsletter, contact you for a consultation, or head on to the services page? Make sure you show and say it explicitly on the homepage. Pro tip: For every half scroll on your website there should be a clear action for your site visitor to take.
- An organised portfolio or gallery that can show them your experience.
- A blog that is clearly linked to the menu. This will allow you to tell them stories that you can use to drive them to your website.
- A social proof section. Include testimonials, certificates and industry recognition that you can show to your audience.
- A hard-to-miss contact page and link. Have a clear button on your homepage where people can click to send you a message or call you.
- A concise and realistic solution to the reader’s problem. After all, this is what they are visiting your website for, right? Be sure to let them know why you are the best dealer and why they should talk to you.
In most cases, you will not need a shopping cart for the actual vehicles but you may want to sell various brand jackets, floor mats or engine oil’s in your website’s shop. Having a shopping cart and payment processor in this example works to your advantage.
Photos vs. Videos?
For the past several years, including a video on websites’ homepages has become a trend that most companies embraced.
Videos can be useful attention magnets, however, consider the following and see if it is a good move for you to use a video.
- A video that obstructs a website’s call-to-action hinders its overall conversion.
- A large video can result in a slow-loading website that people walk out from.
- A video can divert the attention of your users to it and away from the real message of your website.
However, also take into consideration, that if you can make your way around these, you can include a video and it might help you, instead of using photos and text only.
Most Important: Speed
If you want to get conversions, then you have to have a fast website. There is no going around this one. Slow-moving sites will deter those leads immediately.
Did you know that goldfish have a 9-second attention span? If you think that’s short, wait until I tell you that humans only have an 8-second attention span. We’ve lost our patience and if your site takes any longer than 3 seconds to load, your visitors will go elsewhere.
A 0.1 second loading time can seem instantaneous and a 1-second loading time won’t even interrupt a person’s thought process. However, a 10-second loading time is more than enough to lose your visitors’ attention. It just takes one click to leave your site and trust us when we say that they will.
Set your online sales funnel
So you were able to capture and retain their attention enough to deliver your business’ message.
The next thing you have to do is to set up a net to catch them. You have to have your leads exactly where you want them to get conversions. Creating a sales funnel will take a one time buyer or a test drive inquiry and turn them into paying customers.
Determine how you want to do this. How are going to reach the potential customers?
You’ve seen it before, the majority of websites that you visit are all asking for their visitors’ email addresses. Before you started your business, you never really gave it that much thought. But now you know that you need one, and here’s why.
An email newsletter is a way to drive visitors to your website. Another notable fact is that these newsletters are welcome pieces of information that goes straight to your audiences pockets.
You can do a series of things with a single newsletter.
- Drive customers back to your website.
- Nurture current subscribers before converting them.
- Convert the already willing customers.
- Get feedback
- Keep your brand and message front of mind when a subscriber is ready to make a purchase
People are more immersed in their smartphones nowadays. When looking for something they need, people tend to search using their phones, rather than their computers.
With this said, the importance of mobile apps cannot be denied. But the question is, is it worth your investment?
A large group of people readily welcomes mobile apps that can be downloaded for free from both Google and Apple OS. For them, if there is an app, then it is more accessible.
You can use your mobile app to boost your sales, provide in-depth knowledge and guide to your customers, offer deals, set up a booking system for your consultations and test driving appointments, and even set up a mobile payment.
Having one channel where you give your customers a way to do everything they need is a surefire way to increase your conversions.
For those who are not yet ready to invest in a mobile app for their business, you can opt to provide a free ebook or workbook for your customers.
Provide them with a step-by-step in-depth guide on how to purchase their car, or a fool-proof guide to determine which car is for them is a profitable way to add value to your customer’s lives before they ever spend a cent with you. Imagine that kind of experience as a customer!
The content is up to you, what is more valuable for your customers? What material should you provide so that they can get help and eventually go back to your site to take advantage of your services?
Pro tip: Connect your downloadable material to your email newsletter program so that you can hit two birds with one stone. Get their email addresses while giving them a map to find their way back to you.
Now reel your viewers in
After setting up your website and your nets (or lead magnets) to catch your customers, you are ready to drive traffic to you. You already have a place to direct them to where you can get the results you want.
Now let’s work on how you can get more traffic.
People turn to Google for everything they need; this is a fact.
The key to a successful digital marketing efforts for your car dealership business is not to compete with Google’s credibility, but use it to your advantage instead.
We all know that people go to Google for help, so put effort into getting friendly with Google so that you can be shown on top of search results.
How do you do that? With proper execution of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), of course.
When you work on the SEO for your website, you tailor-fit your site to target the audience that matters most to you.
You want to be seen by relevant people who want to buy a car or find information about what to buy. Working on your SEO will do just that.
To add value to your SEO efforts, these are the things that you can do for your website. This section expects that you have some prior knowledge of keyword research. If you don’t, no worries we specialise in SEO and can help you implement these techniques.
Meta descriptions and titles
In search engine results, the meta description appears below the title. Making sure your relevant keywords are there so both can boost your SEO.
Headings and alt tags
In all your content, you have to provide proper headings that include one or more of your keywords. All photos inside your content should also have your keyword as their alt tag to a degree and where it works to describe the image. We try not to overcomplicate SEO campaigns.
Off page SEO
These are the SEO efforts that you do outside of your website.
Referrals and inbound links
Give content to quality websites and make sure you include a link back to your site. In the eyes of Google, you have more credibility when you have a lot of relevant websites redirecting to you.
Remember the yellow pages? The digital equivalent of those is digital listing websites. Make sure you get your business listed to all the listings that are relevant to you. This will increase your reach and drive more traffic to your site.
When a potential car buyer starts searching Google, it is likely that they intend to buy, soon. During that critical moment, if that customer lives near you, you want to be the result that shows up in their Google searches. This is where local SEO comes in.
You may have noticed that when you search phrases in Google like “car dealers in Melbourne” or “Hyundai dealer Queensland”, aside from the usual results, you’ll get a specific search result that displays a map, a couple of businesses with contact numbers and reviews.
You want to be in that result so the customers looking for cars in your area will see you and contact you at that moment that they need you.
Pro tip: Start with the local directories that are within your area. Take it a step further with sponsorships, influencers, businesses, and media within your reach.
There is a consensus that 66% of website clicks go to the first three in the search result. So if you are not in the first three, combine your SEO efforts with paid ad placements.
Paid advertising will solely depend on your objectives and target audience. Based on these, you will have to choose between the available platforms such as Facebook, AdWords, retargeting, search, or traditional display.
Couple your campaign with a useful landing page that caters to car buyers in your area. This will ensure that if they click on your ad, they will get redirected to your website and your services that can satisfy their needs with less hassle on their side.
Widen your reach
With all of that out of your way, let’s take a look at what you have to work on regularly in order to build your brand.
Use Facebook to target your customers. Create a Facebook page for your business, and drive your customers from Facebook to your website.
You can also include a call-to-action button on the upper part of your page. Choose what you want your customers to do. Is it to go visit your website, book a consultation, or call you? Make this step as easy as possible for your customer.
Another way is to build a community by creating a group that caters to car enthusiasts. Build your brand there and build your credibility in your community.
Twitter is also an excellent channel to drive sales. Keep your Twitter-sphere updated on the new cars you have, the models to look out for, where to find you and how to call you.
Make sure to use hashtags and tag everyone that you can to expand your brand.
These little updates can grow your following little by little, making sure that for every tweet you send out, you are getting closer to your business goal.
Studies show that millennials are leaving Facebook to focus on Instagram. Here, you can showcase your brand artistically, to attract the younger segment of your audience. The benefit of Facebook ads, however, is that Facebook now owns Instagram so often your Facebook ads will appear on Instagram as well!
Show a series of high quality car photos, tell a story about your brand, show a happy customer with their new car. Link back to your website, and have a way for your followers to find you. Sell your customers their future. “This could be you, on our Instagram holding the keys to your brand new car.”
Don’t forget to make use of hashtags to target more and new customers in every post.
You may have heard that Pinterest is not the best channel for car dealership businesses. You were told that only companies with female audiences should invest time on Pinterest.
Let us tell why they’re wrong. Pinterest is a great way to spread out your blog posts or pin photos that you can couple with a landing page.
These are perfect social signals that you can spread to lead your audience back to your site and as a bonus, if you sell city cars and want to target millennial women, you’ll find them all on Pinterest.
Now for some last-minute tips. These social channels are not just channels where you can drop your content and continue with your life. No social channel will grow by itself.
Social media is a two-way conversation where you can initiate a bond between you and your customers.
Tell a story, don’t advertise. Let the audience see how real you are, gain their trust, and that you are there with them in making one of the biggest financial decisions an adult can make. Talk to them like you would a family member or a friend. Show them that you understand their struggle and build a genuine human connection with them
Remember, in social media, and anywhere else for that matter, authenticity and consistency will always be the key to a solid marketing strategy that not only generates returns in the short term but creates sustainable business practices in the long term.
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