Marketing Strategy for Selling Cars
When people think about the success of a car dealership, the first thing that many people think about is probably the floor sales team. After all, they’re the people that customers remember when they walk into a dealership to shop around and book test drives.
The sales associates are right by the customers’ side throughout the entire process of buying a car, from the moment a customer enters the dealership to when they take their new car home. Sales associates might also be in charge of managing the service and maintenance process for existing customers.
What people don’t think about is the marketing department. These people are in the background, working hard to make sure that customers can find the dealership and are interested in stopping by. The marketing strategy drives customers to the dealership, whether that’s through online bookings, phone calls, or walk-in appointments. They analyze consumer preferences and identify ways to increase lead generation results, hoping to convert them to paying customers down the line.
A huge part of the marketing department’s strategy is setting the sales team up for success. They provide your sales associates with the information and tools to understand who they’re talking with, what the customers want, and how they should sell to the customers. If the marketing strategy is implemented correctly, the hand-off between the marketing team and the sales team should be very seamless and streamlined in terms of the customer experience.
Especially in a time where selling cars isn’t like it used to be, having an effective marketing strategy is more important than ever. Car dealerships are generally analog businesses with more reliance on traditional marketing and sales efforts. You’ll often find a car dealership ad while watching TV, on a billboard driving on the highway, or while listening to the radio. With the adoption of technology and consumers becoming more tech-savvy, car dealerships have to become more innovative with their marketing strategy.
In this blog, we discuss some of the best marketing strategies you can implement for your dealership, the social media platforms you should be leveraging, and how you can advertise your car business. We’ll also dive deeper into marketing for a local audience, so you can generate more traffic closer to your service area.
What Are The Best Automotive Marketing Strategies?
Finding automotive marketing strategies that work for your car dealership can be challenging. Every dealership has its own unique struggles and business model. The most important thing is to find marketing strategies that are effective for your business and help you drive sales and customers. With that said, there are a few strategies that can push you in the right direction.
- Incorporate videos
Videos get some of the most engagement in the world of marketing. Over 75% of auto shoppers say that online videos have influenced their car purchasing decision and the number of people watching test drive videos has increased by 65%. Not only are they easy to view and easy to understand, but there are so many cool ways you can showcase information. Buyers watch reviews of vehicles from car experts, 360-degree videos that show different angles, servicing and maintenance videos, accessory demos, and brand videos.
Seeing and experiencing are two of the most important aspects when it comes to buying cars. The more realistic the videos seem, the more in-depth customers can virtually experience the cars they’re considering to decide which ones they want to see in person. Customers need to see what the car looks like to understand its features, size, comfort, safety, and mechanics. Especially for buying used cars, seeing the condition of the vehicle and how well it’s been maintained are important in their decision-making.
- Optimize your website
A website is the most powerful driver of your marketing strategies. All your marketing efforts direct users back to your website in some way or another. A huge part of marketing is making sure your website is visible, on-brand, and user-friendly. A visible website means your audience can easily discover it. If they conduct a Google search related to your car dealership, your business should be one of the first results they see.
Creating a visible website means working on keywords, negative keywords, and quality content. Keywords are the specific or related words that users type into the search bar. You want to list the keywords that are relevant to your business, so your dealership will pop up at the top when people search those words. Having as many as 15-20 keywords ensure your business is visible on the internet. Negative keywords are the searches you don’t want your business to be associated with. Make sure you list out the negative keywords you want Google to avoid, so you don’t waste money and effort driving the wrong traffic.
Quality content includes any text on your websites, such as blogs, FAQs, the home page, and service pages. Not only does it increase your website’s authority, but Google will show it as a top result if they deem it relevant to the user’s search. Your content should be well-organized, with target keywords on each page, and have proper headings and sub-headings.
- Create an omnichannel/multichannel experience
Omnichannel means shoppers can buy your product using different methods, such as in-store, online, or by phone. An omnichannel experience gives the buyers flexibility to choose how they want to go through the car buying process. For example, customers can shop and compare cars online, but go into your dealership to test drive and make the purchase. They can also go in person to test drive different vehicles but ultimately make the transaction online. Adopting an omnichannel experience allows you to be competitive in a crowded market because you’re giving customers more control while making your brand memorable along multiple touchpoints.
Multichannel is using several channels for spreading marketing messages, such as a website, television, radio, billboards, email, inventory catalogs, and retail storefronts. You blend different indirect and direct marketing mediums together to get your brand awareness out as much as possible. Multichannel marketing is important because customers are using more ways to shop now than ever and if you aren’t where your customers are, they won’t see you.
- Monitor your reviews
Trust is an enormous factor in any sales transaction, especially when buying something as expensive as a car. That’s why it’s also just as important to focus on your brand reputation. Customers post online reviews of their experience, whether that’s how happy they are with their new vehicle or about the experience they had. If customers have an unpleasant experience, they’ll also post about it too.
You should continuously monitor your online reviews to thank customers for their kind words and address the concerns people have. For example, you could say “I’m sorry your experience wasn’t ideal. We value each customer and want to know how we can help you. Please reach out to our sales team.” It lets people know you care about the quality of service customers get and are always trying to improve.
What Social Media Should Your Dealership Be Leveraging?
Social media is a great place to make your dealership known and interact more closely with your audience. Here are two of the main platforms you should leverage.
Instagram is the #1 place for visual content, such as videos. You can use it to test how your audience resonates with certain campaigns, and share creative content that keeps them coming back. You can share stories, short videos, reels, and multiple pictures. Over time, your dealership will have a better understanding of what your brand needs to reflect to align with your business values and customer expectations.
Instagram is also a great way to reach many people at once. When making posts, hashtags are a great way to share your content with the relevant interest groups and audience. And unlike PPC ads, hashtags are completely free to use! An easy search can find the relevant hashtags you want to include in your posts.
It’s also a great place to engage closely with your audience. Instagram allows you to conduct polls, create live streams, ask questions, and respond to comments. Try to avoid using bots to automate the process. Real engagement helps people closer to your brand and translates the best into loyal customers.
Facebook provides significant support for business pages. Not only can you share your products and offerings, but you can also list business hours, contact information, and external links. Facebook is especially great for local advertising to attract customers in your area. You can also add forms, so customers can conveniently book appointments directly from your Facebook page.
Facebook also lets you display ads for different target groups. For example, you can have one for local customers, millennials, and first-time car buyers. You can easily set ad budgets and see how many people have engaged with built-in ad monitoring tools. The best part is Facebook offers ad testing so you can run multiple versions simultaneously to determine which one is the most effective.
Twitter is a great place to keep people updated on your business. Twitter is face-paced, and it’s perfect if you want to inform people about the latest promotions, seasonal deals, new inventory, and updated store hours. You can also add components like external links, videos, polls, and pictures to keep users engaged and gather feedback on what your customers want. You can also retweet your audience or car experts to get your brand active in the right communities.
Youtube was made for videos, so as a dealership, it’s natural that this channel is a part of your marketing strategy. You can post videos about safety demonstrations, drive tests, and new inventory. You can also post videos explaining how financing works and what to look out for when purchasing a used vehicle.
Besides the views you get on your channel, you can also embed these videos into your website. When users read blogs or browse your website pages, you can redirect them to the video that relates to the content. Since visual content is so easy to digest and is better at capturing people’s attention, it’s a win-win for marketing.
How Can I Advertise My Car Business?
The biggest tip for successful advertising is to be where your customers are. Your audience needs to see and engage with your business at various touchpoints to create a memorable experience that sparks their interest. This starts with auditing your customers’ behaviour and preferences. If your audience is mostly using their phones, it makes sense for your marketing strategy to be centered on social media. If your audience likes to reach out to the experts, focus on writing blog posts or provide resources to other car gurus and educational outlets.
You should also understand the characteristics of your audience and their pain points to create a marketing strategy that solves those pain points. Asking questions and conducting surveys are great ways to gather feedback from your audience. You can post these on your social media channels, ask existing customers as they walk out of your dealership, or send them through their emails. Once you have the feedback collected, you can map out any patterns that you could target, whether as a marketing campaign or message. For example, if many people are concerned about being able to pay for their new purchase, your marketing message could be that your dealership makes financing as easy as going on a drive.
A big part of advertising is measuring results. Whenever you release a marketing campaign or implement any strategy, you want to know if your efforts are successful. If you uploaded a video, you want to know if that video is generating views. If you updated your website, you want to know if it’s generating more traffic and leads for your business. Record these metrics regularly and compare them with the previous period. If your numbers aren’t going up, it’s time to revisit your marketing strategy.
How to Market Your Dealership Locally
Most dealerships rely on foot traffic, so advertising your business locally is important. Here are a few ways to market your dealership locally.
- Local partnerships
The auto industry is competitive because of the number of dealerships there are in the market. When you partner with businesses that aren’t in direct competition, you’re building high-quality leads while spending minimal budget. These people are already loyal to the brand you’re partnering with and, as a result, might see your brand as a reputable business. For example, if an auto body shop recommends your dealership to their long-time customers, people are more likely to trust the recommendation. Some of the other businesses you could partner with include service shops, local car washes, and auto insurance companies.
- Be active in your community
Many people enjoy attending local events in their communities, whether that be festivals, sports games, or concerts. These events are great places to promote your business to people who are in proximity to your business. In addition, people gravitate towards businesses that they can connect with. When you sponsor the events that your audience enjoys, it makes it easier for you to market and sell your business to interested people.
- Referral programs
Aside from having excellent online reviews, referral programs are an effective way to generate leads. Getting support from your previous and current customers can help you gain the trust of their network. This can help you increase your customer base fast and score more car sales. Your referral program should give customers an incentive to refer their friends and family to your business. For example, you may offer a free car wash for every fifth customer referred or $10 off their next servicing. It’s completely up to you on the value of the rewards.