Authors: Michael Sos, Product Manager
Adam Dennis, VP of Product Development
Today’s automotive customers are internet-savvy, marketing-savvy, and less likely to fall for traditional hard sales tactics.
To keep up with sophisticated, mobile-friendly customers in the online marketing ecosystem, businesses need to develop a marketing strategy that’s just as sophisticated. The key point to realize is that most customers who visit websites aren’t ready to buy just yet; they’re performing product research.
In fact, customers do the majority of their research and shopping before they hit the showroom floor:
- Nearly 80% of customers use the internet to research brands and models
- The average car buyer spends 14 hours researching new cars before making a purchase
- 68% use the internet to research and choose dealerships
- 63% of car shoppers perform auto research while at the dealership
- Mobile car shoppers were 72% more likely to visit an additional dealership than non-mobile users
- Increasing numbers of consumers would even be interested in buying cars entirely online
Clearly, dealers should cater to these research-focused shoppers, rather than bombarding them with digital sales pitches. While 4 out of 5 in-market customers may never become a lead, they will visit your website, so your online marketing campaign should maximize every opportunity to nurture those visitors.
Has your strategy adapted to meet the needs of these research-focused, mobile customers?
Focus on Shoppers First, Leads Second
Traditionally, marketers focus on lead generation and conversions. Hitting automotive customers hard with a digital pitch is the wrong approach, especially when they’re still trying to decide which vehicle to buy and where to buy it.
Instead, improve your revenue and profits by enhancing shoppers’ experiences and improving your operational efficiency. Here’s how:
- Provide information-packed content that helps customers solve their problems.
- Generate information-packed content that adds value and presents the answers that shoppers need.
- Build your brand’s reputation by quadrupling your number of positive reviews.
- Tell your story across your online network, from blogs to social media to email.
- Find and focus on the right target audience. Drive that audience to your dealership website and create a positive user experience that sets you apart from your competitors.
- Instead of selling hard, nurture. Go into exhaustive detail: create VDPs that list descriptions, features, benefits, and reviews from your store’s buyers.
- Focus first on VDP views and follow up with lead generation.
- Cultivate new buyers with deep targeting and social media advertising.
- Develop a mobile-centric, not just mobile friendly, integrated strategy.
- If you don’t have a responsive website, get one.
- Your customers and your team should both have all the information they need at their fingertips…in other words, on mobile devices.
- Ensure that your team can manage inventory, reputation, and social content via mobile devices.
- Upgrade to a reporting platform that can track your shoppers and your performance.
- Find a platform that can help you track customers throughout the product-dealer research phase.
- Develop goals and metrics that can help you analyze your dealership’s performance and drill down into your shoppers’ needs.
While lead generation and online sales are far from dead, it is vital to put them in their proper places. Today, car buyers research online first and shop second. To evolve with these shoppers, your digital marketing strategy should craft a funnel that informs, engages, and nurtures them throughout their path to purchase. This is the essence of Progressive Retail™.