Automotive Digital Marketing
Today’s business world is filled with savvy, digitally connected and on-the-go consumers. In order to target these modern consumers, car dealerships need to focus attention on automotive digital marketing strategy to stay ahead of the competition.
The Value of Digital Marketing
Digital marketing has been around for a while, but the prominence of the internet and connectivity with digital devices has increased the time consumers spend with online searches or applications. Prospective customers are using their devices to research vehicles on-the-go, at home or at work before making a final decision.
For example, just the process to lease a vehicle involves nearly 1,000 digital interactions. Examining these micro-moments allows you to understand the process the customer goes through and cater to their needs throughout.
Generally, car buyers are looking up information about top-rated vehicles, vehicle reviews, pricing, nearby dealerships, estimated values and other specific information that helps them to find the right vehicle and be sure that they’re working with the right dealership.
After finding a few vehicles to see in person, a car buyer will likely search phrases like “car dealership near me” or brand dealerships, so if you’re not appearing in their initial search, they may not even consider you.
As a dealer, harnessing the power of digital marketing and the car buyer’s micro-moments allows you to boost your brand awareness and ensure that you’re providing your customers with all they need along the way to make the sale.
Categories of Digital Marketing
Though some aspects of marketing stay the same over the years, customers are quite different than they were in the past. As a result, the marketing strategies and techniques need to be focused on reaching the modern customers.
Here are the most prominent digital marketing categories:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique to enhance the visibility of your website in the unpaid results of a search engine. SEO puts your site closer to the top of relevant search engine results, consequently putting in front of more prospective customers.
Search engines tweak their algorithms hundreds of times throughout the year, so it’s virtually impossible to keep up with every little change. No matter how SEO changes, however, on-page SEO is consistent.
The most common examples of on-page SEO are the title tag and meta description that appear for a certain keyword. Using keyword placements strategically within these helps users find what they’re looking for faster, but it doesn’t increase search engine rankings directly. Instead, it contributes to the click-through rate of your web page, which then boosts your rankings.
When considering on-page SEO, it’s important to look at factors like page optimization, crawl errors, keyword research and speed.
Page optimization is a critical part of SEO. No matter how large or small, all the individual elements of your website can play a role in how you’re ranked in search engine results. It’s also important to keep your website user-friendly and intuitive, which encourages users to stay longer and view more pages.
Crawl errors are technical issues like a 404 error or duplicate content. These issues can increase your website’s bounce rate, earning penalties from search engines and impacting your rankings.
Keyword research refers to the keywords that are used in the search engine to find specific content. The major types of keywords are long-tail and short-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are between three and five words, which are easier to target and have a higher focus and conversion rate. Short-tail keywords are one- or two-word keywords that are general and harder to target, but they tend to have a higher volume, competition and cost.
Speed is essential to a favorable ranking, especially with how much time users spend online. Consumers want the information they need quickly and easily, so they won’t waste time on a site that takes too long to load. They’re more likely to bounce, which means a drop in ranking and a loss of potential business.
Off-page SEO is a complement to on-page SEO that includes all aspects of your website that can be done off-page, such as guest blogging or promotions.
Link building is a strong factor in off-page SEO. The more links you have that revert back to your site, the more you’re viewed as an authority by a search engine. Though it can be a laborious process, it’s well worth the effort to attract others to link to your content. Of course, you need strong, engaging content that others want to link to, then you can work on building the links.
Social sharing also contributes to off-page SEO. This means sharing your content on your social media accounts to spread the information across diverse audiences and increase your brand awareness. If you’re creating valuable, quality content, you’ll find that your followers are also willing to share your posts and spread your reach even further.
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is like SEO, but instead of reaching the top of the results page through optimization, you pay for higher rankings. With SEO, you have a minimal cost to boost your rankings, but with SEM, you have to pay for each of the hits you have. Depending on the keywords you use, this can get expensive.
Automotive dealerships can get a lot of value out of SEM strategy, since you’re offering a paid product. With the right planning, the ROI on SEM strategy can be higher than other types of investments.
Content marketing is a strategy that delivers relevant, topical content to your audience. Content is a highly ranked factor with search engines, so the more relevant and engaging your content, the better your chances are of getting more traffic and leads.
There are many types of content marketing to choose from, though blogs, videos, photos and podcasts are among the most popular. Different types of content are appropriate for different businesses and serve different purposes, such as videos for brand awareness and vehicle reviews to drive sales.
Once you create content, you’ll have to publish it and spread it on your online accounts. You can use tools like content calendars to plan and schedule your new content to post on your social media platforms, which ensures you’re consistent and strategic about your approach.
Social Media Marketing
Modern customers are on multiple social media platforms, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Though you can use all accounts to share and promote your content, it’s best to keep the content within the context of the platform, such as videos on Facebook and photos on Pinterest or Instagram.
Almost all social media platforms offer paid advertising, though they have some unique rules and offerings. On Facebook, display ads are posted into the newsfeed of your selected audience. On Twitter, posted ads can be seen by both targeted audiences and relevant possible audiences, which gives them a broad reach. You can experiment with different social media platforms to see which one has the best intersection of advertising types and appropriate users.
In pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, the advertiser pays the publisher for each click the ad receives. It’s a lot like search engine marketing and can be found on many of the more popular social media platforms.
With Google Ads, you have an excellent chance of putting your ad in front of the right users. Google Ads works on a bidding system, which means that you bid for keywords against other advertisers with the goal of the highest ranking.
On Facebook, you create an ad, choose a target audience with specifics like age, location and interests, and then set up a budget of how much you want to pay for each click. Facebook doesn’t have the reach of Google, but it’s a little easier to target only relevant consumers and maximize your budget.
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance-based marketing in which a business pays a commission to someone for promoting a product. With a dealership, this can be for a vehicle product, such as floor mats or cleaning solutions that are offered through the dealership. This helps you earn money each time your referral results in a sale.
Email marketing is a great way to keep in direct contact with your customers. Email has high engagement, especially when utilized with personalization and segmentation. Personalized emails that reflect a customer’s interests, shopping history or simply a first name are more likely to be opened, read and acted upon. Segmentation takes that a step further by allowing you to split your audience into different groups so that your content is targeted and relevant.
Digital marketing continues to evolve, so it’s important to stay aware of trends and incorporate them into your existing marketing strategies.
Micro-moments are becoming more popular in developing buyer personas. The idea is to consider the decision-making moments and persuasion that occur throughout the consumer journey to maximize each touchpoint. As the customer journey increases in complexity, more and more of these moments are important for decision-making. They can occur on a smartphone, smartwatch, connected home device and more. To make the best of micro-moments, you need to track conversions and gain insight into the whole micro-moments funnel.
Voice and Visual Search
New technologies are making it easier for users to enable voice and visual search. There’s no doubt that this will become commonplace in the automotive industry, so you’ll benefit from utilizing voice and visual search principles early on.
Voice searches use more conversational queries and long-tail keywords, so you should maintain your website metadata. Both types of searches call for strong technical SEO as well.
Website Activity Monitoring
Websites track users and all their moves on different pages. Many users return to a website after they call, chat or fill out a form, so it’s best to monitor that activity and use it to improve the experience. You can create a customer-focused experience when they arrive at the dealership by showing that you know who they are, what they’re looking for and the best times to reach them.
Reviews are so important for building trust and credibility with modern customers. Reputation management is even more valuable for automotive dealerships since customers have plenty of choices and are considering pricy purchases.
If you’ve been neglecting bad online reviews, it’s time to focus your attention on improving ratings and reviews to impact multiple micro-moments in the customer’s journey and ensure that you’re building trust. Be sure to keep up with any subpar reviews and respond politely and professionally to the customer to solve the problem. Even if that customer doesn’t return, showing that you care about your customer’s experience will stand out to prospective buyers.
As we discussed, personalization is valuable to modern customers. They not only expect it, but it’s simple enough to include in your strategy. Marketing and sales communications that don’t address the customer’s needs and that use canned responses are more likely to fail.
Fortunately, there are plenty of e-commerce tools and options that allow you to segment and personalize your communication to increase engagement with your customers.
Digital marketing can be a slow process and involves a lot of planning and monitoring, but many tools are available to help you boost your efforts and save time.
Having a functional, user-friendly website is essential for both marketing and sales. Car buyers research online, so you want them to find what they’re looking for from your site. Your website should be optimized for search engines to make it easier to find and optimized for car shoppers to help leads navigate the site and convert from inventory pages.
Be sure that your website has effective inventory filters, strong calls-to-action, excellent imagery, current pricing and any available incentives. You should also remove outdated information, declutter the design and embed videos and information throughout the site to guide shoppers, though be sure that none of these details affect the overall speed and usability.
An accurate Dealer Management System (DMS) is a great way to ensure your website is ready for buyers. This is where you’ll keep your inventory and pricing current, track metrics, manage appointments and monitor your operations.
Your DMS powers the inventory on your site, which is what your customers need to move through the sales funnel. Be sure to check your DMS regularly and update it as needed to reflect the most current and helpful information for your customers.
Dynamic Paid Advertising
Automotive dealerships have numerous tools that can help put inventory in front of relevant, interested customers with dynamic emails and ads. These ads are inventory-specific to target and reach searchers who are looking for a certain vehicle at a dealership. With this technology, each vehicle search is precisely matched with the models you have in stock and your most current pricing to encourage buyers to visit your lot.
Dynamic Email Marketing
Like dynamic paid advertising, dynamic email marketing delivers live inventory to your customers’ email by tracking the queries for each customer and recording the vehicles they’re interested in. Dynamic email technology also personalizes follow-up for leads, which improves engagement and provides customers with relevant updates.
An integrated customer relationship management (CRM) system is vital to your sales and marketing efforts. This system will track all your customers’ information, such as demographic, location, buying behavior and more, so you can personalize your communications and ensure the right messaging and approach for your marketing campaigns.
With so many dealerships vying for customer attention, your dealership needs a solid digital marketing strategy to adapt to changes and stay ahead of competitors. This will not only help you boost your current leads and sales, but you’ll also build a lasting relationship with loyal customers.
If you’re looking for help with your automotive digital marketing strategy, M16 Marketing can help. Our dedicated team of expert content creators, website designers, SEO consultants, digital marketing strategists and developers can guide you through every aspect of your digital marketing strategy. Contact us today to see what we can do for you!