Research suggests that 60% of all automotive searches are now conducted on mobile devices. The same research (which was carried out by Google), indicates that 95% of vehicle buyers turn to digital sources of information during their research.
The road ahead for dealerships is clear; if you’re yet to transition from a bricks-and-mortar only operation to omni channel, you’re missing out on a huge slice of the market.
In today’s blog, we’re going to look at how car dealerships are embracing the digital age.
A combined approach
The automotive industry is unlikely to go fully digital any time soon – it’s important to bear that fact in mind before you embark on any kind of digital transformation strategy.
By combining traditional sales that take place in the dealership with a stellar online presence that enables prospective buyers to fully research, configure and finance their vehicles from their couch, your dealership will be implementing an omni-channel approach that’s sustainable in the digital age.
The key lies in the following five digital strategies:
1. Google search
It’s highly likely that many of your potential customers will head immediately to Google in order to start their buying journey.
That means you need to appear within search results based on key search terms relating to car brands, models, types and location. By either adopting integrated digital campaign management software or engaging with a digital marketing agency, you can build strong search engine optimisation (SEO), Google AdWords and social media strategies to capture that traffic.
2. Mobile compatibility
Try this: access your dealership’s website on your smartphone.
How does it look? Does it operate flawlessly, adapting content for your device’s screen size and capabilities or do you have to pinch and zoom to interact with the content? Worse still, does it fail to work at all?
If it’s the latter, you need to make changes – fast. Most people will visit your dealership’s website on mobile devices, therefore responsive mobile design is absolutely essential.
3. Embracing online reviews
Online customer reviews strike fear into the hearts of many dealership owners, but that’s entirely the wrong way to think about them.
Online reviews, no matter how good or bad they might be, all represent an opportunity. Those that speak highly of your dealership should be celebrated and shared, while the less favourable need to be addressed and learned from.
Remember – car buyers will base much of their decision on the opinions of other owners, therefore embracing and taking control of your online reputation should be a daily task you relish.
4. Email marketing
If you think email is a dying form of communication, think again.
With the right approach, it remains one of the most effective ways to reach a wide audience. And this is for one very good reason – every email you send has a defined endpoint (the recipient’s inbox), and a single set of eyes to engage.
If you haven’t yet dipped your toes in email marketing, now is the time to try it out. The ability to segment audiences based on buying behaviour and demographic data means you can send out highly targeted, relevant offers that are far more likely to be enacted upon.
5. Social media
During their time on your website, a prospective customer might decide to check out your social media profiles.
If they visit Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and find a dearth of updates, they may consider your inactivity on social media to be a sign that you don’t really want to engage with them.
If they instead see regular, engaging posts that display an approachable online persona, you’ll start to build brand loyalty and establish that all-important digital connection with potential buyers.
By merging the online and offline customer experience, you’ll avoid missing out on the new breed of car buyers.
Your bricks-and-mortar dealership will remain vitally important for years to come, but without a stellar digital presence to support it, your market will begin to shrink.