Marketing Tactics Driving Sales for Auto Dealers

August 08, 2018

With more than 17,500 auto dealerships in the U.S., consumers are not limited when it comes to buying a vehicle. And while most buyers in previous years visited an average of five dealerships before deciding, today’s consumer only visits an average of one to two locations. The growth of online retail and social media drives the majority of buyers to research vehicles and dealerships online before visiting a physical location. Additionally, more than 60% of consumers will decide on the brand, model, and price range they want before test driving the vehicle.

Capitalizing on these changes can bring your dealership to the forefront of consumers’ car buying path. Here are three strategies for reaching auto buyers earlier in the buying cycle and driving their online experience to your dealership location(s):

Mobile Optimization

The average American spends at least four hours a day on a mobile device, with 23% of buyers using their mobile device while on a dealership lot to research a vehicle (eMarketer). For 58% of car shoppers, their smartphone is the only device they will use for vehicle research. According to a study by Digital Dealer, 91% of vehicle shoppers utilize the internet, with 45% having done so both before and after visiting a dealership. Optimizing your website for mobile is the first step in presenting your dealership as an expert in the industry, especially since 73% of consumers use mobile websites over desktop.

Video marketing will also boost your mobile presence, as 61% say that video plays an important role in the shopping experience. From test drives to walk-throughs to features, videos can showcase your inventory and draw consumers in. Since 76% of mobile-first auto buyers know the exact vehicle they want before visiting a dealership, having a strong mobile presence is crucial.

Localized Programmatic

With 78% of local-mobile searches resulting in an offline purchase, dealerships that utilize localized programmatic techniques can rise above the noise of competitors.

One important localized tool is geo-fencing. Geo-fencing is a location-based technology that allows businesses to draw a custom geographical fence around their location, a venue, or other specific area to target customers. Dealerships can use it to greet customers wherever they are or send nearby shoppers notifications about current inventory, time sensitive sales, and events in the area. Additionally, when consumers visit a competitor’s lot, your app or mobile website can notify them of what you have to offer. Online-to-offline conversions can also be easily tracked to measure the effectiveness of mobile campaigns.

For local searches conducted on either mobile or desktop formats, targeting and retargeting strategies can further reach local consumers. At the beginning stages of a search, general but relevant keywords and phrases can be used to target potential car buyers. For example, “truck for hauling” or “safe family vehicles.” The buyer may not have a particular make or model in mind at this point and may even be looking at inventory from competitors. Retargeting keywords can prompt ads that relate to their search and your competitive set. As consumers continue their online research, from reviews to articles, contextual targeting can serve display ads that relate to the page’s content. When consumers click on an ad to visit your site, browse, and then leave, site retargeting promotes ads when they begin their search again. Dealerships can stay top of mind and use incentives and offers to drive online traffic to your location.

Audio Advertising

Approximately 25% of time consumers spend on mobile devices goes to music, podcasts, and other audio. Music platforms like Pandora, Spotify, Google Play, Soundcloud and Adswizz have entered the arena of programmatic audio advertising, providing dealerships with the opportunity to expand their reach of local consumers. When consumers use free audio apps that don’t allow ad skipping, dealerships have the chance to capture their full attention while including links to download an app or visit a website. Audio advertising reaches a targeted audience without the same concern for fraud or security breach as other advertising formats. With increased engagement, dealerships can gather new leads and drive online traffic to their locations.

Contact excelerate Digital to learn more about our digital marketing services for auto dealers.