2018 Dealership Marketing Predictions

By: Sarah Cross, Director of Product Marketing

At Dominion Dealer Solutions, we are always looking for ways to help dealers get ahead and stay ahead. Here are the key marketing trends that Dominion Digital Marketing believes will be most influential in 2018.

Websites and SEO

The past year was about establishing trust with website security while demonstrating engaging design; the maturation of SEO and discussions around standardizing analytics. Here are our forecasts for the year to come:

  • The “Buy Online” process with a solution that SHOPPERS will want to use (not a process that the OEM wants or that the dealer wants consumers to use) will become more commonplace.
  • There will be wider adoption of industry standards for tracking websites, enabling dealers to make apples-to-apples comparisons between vendors and promoting transparency between dealers and vendors.
  • Some vendors will stand out with a radical new design language, propelling dealers to the front of their local markets.

Digital Advertising

While we would love to talk about 3D advertisements and voice search, here are our main predictions for 2018 digital advertising:

  • Social, Mobile Apps, and technology overall are driving us to “self identify” more and more. As the dots start to connect, attribution is the center of it all.
  • Voice search is going to change the shape of keywords and how customers search. Amazon is already fielding a voice search in-home assistant with a screen, so Apple and Google can’t be far behind. Voice search keywords are long-tail search phrases. As a result, the way we evaluate, bid, and monitor search terms will change.
  • Expect Google and Facebook to play nice but to adapt/evolve to their strengths. A social, search, display, and video advertising strategy for any automotive dealer in 2018 will need to be viewed as one digital advertising strategy that benefits from a dealership’s website data.
  • More and more cords are getting cut which will affect local advertising FIRST. How many dealers are advertising through HULU? NETFLIX? ETC. Local advertising won’t “go away” but video, listed as a “Brilliant Basic” in Google’s Dealer Playbook, is the smart play.

Social Media

The influence of giants such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube are undeniable. The industry will continue to be cut throat and fast paced.

  • Anyone affected by the Equifax data breach this past year is now wondering about regulations around data collection and security. With that said, consumer protection groups have an uphill battle. The United States Senate hinted at their stance when they approved a bill back in March of 2017 that stated that ISPs can collect and sell user data without the user’s permission. If this comes to fruition, marketers could rejoice. This would enable advances in targeting and attribution.
  • Retail automotive dealerships may see an opportunity to apply artificial intelligence and machine learning to vehicle, customer, and market data in order to identify and capitalize on market opportunities sooner.

Reputation Management

The trend of the importance of reviews from a consumer research perspective will continue into 2018.

  • The rise of SMS over email to solicit reviews will become the norm due to the instant connection opportunities that SMS provides. From the legal aspect, SMS laws require double opt-in permissions from customers so that must be kept in mind. There have been heavy fines imparted on dealers who have ignored this rules.
  • Businesses will need to not only continue to ask for reviews, but also closely monitor what’s being said and engage as needed. We will see an even greater need for better tools and features that provide more ways to analyze this ‘big data’.

Email Marketing

The popularity of email marketing won’t diminish in Automotive in 2018, but consumers are getting smarter and more demanding.

  • Senders will have to up their game to access the Inbox as providers (Gmail, Microsoft, Comcast, AOL, etc.) continue to get smarter about what they deliver.
  • Disengagement will become more important to businesses and marketers alike. The antidote is to send targeted, relevant messages at courteous intervals rather than mass database “blasts”.
  • The highest value will be driven by using email as part of the marketing mix, not as standalone messaging. Email may lose some market share to other channels, but the value to businesses will increase as email becomes more of a team player.

Direct Mail

We will continue to see new features in direct mail in 2018 and beyond.

  • Expect more integration of direct mail with digital counterparts ensuring dealers are reaching customers through multiple touch points.
  • More interactive direct mail pieces are coming – whether it be through QR Codes or Purls, or Augmented Reality pieces, or even something as simple as new piece/folds/designs.simple as new piece/folds/designs.

Bring on the New Year!

For dealers, 2018 is going to be another exciting year to reach consumers in new ways and increase brand awareness with digital marketing. We look forward to working with our dealers and continuing to explore, invest, and experiment!

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