Automotive Marketing Solutions—Tips and Tricks
Are you looking for a few quick ways to immediately boost your marketing approach? Effective automotive marketing requires a careful multi-pronged approach that balances different priorities. You don’t need a full-blown automotive direct mail campaign to ensure a customer loyalty program. In fact, the following tips and tricks require very little prep work and are super simple to understand. While they work best if you use them all to some degree, if you put just a few of these strategies in place, you’ll instantly improve your prospects and make your business even more competitive.
You don’t need to limit your blog’s reach to focus only on the people who are ready to stroll into your dealership tomorrow and plunk down a tidy sum for a new car. As we’ve noted elsewhere, very few people who shop for cars consider themselves to be in a position to buy at the current moment. These warm leads often don’t get as much attention as qualified leads do, and that makes sense. It seems like you’re taking a gamble whenever you spend a significant amount of time with someone who seems like they’re on the fence. But it really can’t be overstated: This majority is a goldmine and you neglect it at your peril. Focus more on conversion by using these specific tricks.
Provide Useful Advice Online... For Free
The idea of giving customers something useful for free isn’t exactly new. In the automotive industry, these free items, such as logo keychains and license plate holders that list a dealership’s name and phone number are a simple promotional tool. But you don’t need a physical product to draw attention, promote your brand and generate new leads. In the digital environment, content is the best free service you could possibly provide. Creating a website that accurately describes your business that has search engine optimization (SEO), where you’re located and the services you provide is nice, but extending that out to include a blog is essential. The blog is the portal through which warm leads will come to your site. With a solid SEO strategy and some high-quality content, you’ll start bringing in new prospective customers.
Don’t leave the blog as a passive tool, either. Make sure you provide plenty of calls to action, including contact information, and give customers plenty of ways to reach out and get in contact with you. You can write your blogs in a style that prompts a question within the reader. Readers who don’t know the answers to these questions may be compelled to reach out to you to get their questions answered, which gives you the opportunity to work on converting that warm lead into a qualified lead. Plus, positioning yourself as an expert via your blog will give you a more authoritative appeal and can help you seem more trustworthy. If you put everything useful you have to offer behind a pay wall or neglect your online content portals (including social media) under the assumption that the people who physically walk into your dealership are the most valuable potential customers, you’re missing out on a huge audience.
But don’t forget to include some sales strategy in the information you provide. Autotrader studies in 2015 and 2016 both indicate that car shoppers tend to be motivated more by desire than by practicality. If you can find a way to capture the hearts and the minds (or even just the hearts) of your audience by providing them with enticing information, you’ll go a long way toward motivating a purchase. Branding plays a part in that as well, but the content you provide can support and enhance that opportunity.
Use Your Blog to Address a Variety of Specific Needs
Capturing that huge audience may seem like a challenge, but there’s actually a somewhat contradictory logic that can allow you to reach more people at once than you may have ever thought possible. Narrowing the focus of each individual blog post beyond the scope of “anyone in the market for a car” can be essential for capturing the attention and imagination of prospective customers. It can also allow you to really inhabit that expert position in order to project your authority and expertise in specific areas.
You’ll want to write blog posts that speak to specific questions about a particular part of the car shopping or buying process or provide some advice for choosing a specific kind of car. Make sure that everything you write is specific, useful and accurate.
Going about it this way can allow you to capture that “just looking” segment of prospective customers who may not be fully honest with you (or themselves) about where they are in the car buying process. A person who does a Google search for “electric cars Canada” in order to find out what EVs are available for purchase in their area may be intrigued to find a blog outlining, in detail, which energy-efficient cars your dealership offers. They may even be convinced by a strong argument that a hybrid car is a better buy than a fully electric vehicle.
Targeting this specific need allows you to capture an audience of people who are interested in a particular concept. Allowing customers to learn more about what’s available and read some genuinely useful answers to questions that may be delaying the purchase process will help nudge them further along the path to a closed sale. The key is to make sure you’re the one providing this information. This is a proactive way to go out and fish for customers rather than waiting for them to come to you, but it doesn’t require aggressive traditional marketing techniques.
Branding may not be the end-all, be-all of marketing, but research shows that modern-day car shoppers are quite judgmental when it comes to presentation. If you aren’t using the tools available to you in the right ways, you aren’t going to stand out from the crowd. Because car buying has become such a desire-based activity for so many people, framing your brand through a lens of desirability can be an effective way of capturing new leads.
Invest in Visual Content
Autotrader’s studies show that few car shoppers use just one device to look for a dealership and decide what car they want to buy. Most use both computers and mobile devices, which indicates that diverse ad buys are important. Beyond that though, providing strong, high-quality visual content is a must if you want good cross-platform performance. Whether you’re taking pictures for your website, an advertisement or a social media post, make sure each photo is staged, lit and framed well. Don’t post any blurry photos and make sure each and every picture is aspirational. Take time to carefully review visual content before posting it. You may even want to have a few other people in your business take a look to make sure you aren’t missing out on any details.
It can also be helpful to look into some basic photo styling techniques to boost the aspirational appeal of your brand in particular. If you’re selling the same cars as another dealer across town, you’ll need to find a way to set yourself apart. In the digital age, it usually means using social media to create a specific look and feel for your brand. Think about it from the customer’s perspective. Are you really going to follow a car dealership’s Instagram if their pictures all look like advertisements? You might do so purely out of professional interest, but the average person isn’t going to want to see unattractive photos in their carefully curated feed. Aim higher and you’ll land higher, showing your customers how desirable your brand is and how aspirational the shopping experience is with your business.
Draw Back the Curtain
Remember that part of branding is selling the company itself, not just the product.
How can you make your business seem more appealing and fun? Do you have any information about your staff on your website? Staff bios can be effective, but they need to go further than normal platitudes about how everyone loves spending time with their families and traveling. You should treat these bios as both a way to promote your brand and as a way of helping prospective customers decide who they might want to deal with. Providing personal information, showing everyone’s sense of humor or even making video content that showcases a fun day in the life at your dealership can instantly make your business seem more approachable and personable to shoppers who are dreading the in-person dealership experience.
If you would like more tips and tricks, read this great resource I found for you detailing 25 Creative Automotive Marketing Strategies & Ideas. I'm sure you will find of few of these useful.