Does your car dealership interact with customers using an omni-channel or multi-channel approach?
If you’re yet to invest in a modern automotive platform that embraces every corner of sales and marketing by providing a unified platform for both customers and staff to interact with the brand, you’re probably undertaking a multi-channel approach.
Let’s consider the definitions:
- Omni-channel: this is another way of saying ‘all channels’, and refers to the process of combining sales and marketing to create a single commerce experience across your brand’s online and offline presence.
- Multi-channel: this means ‘many channels’, and is less integrated than omni-channel due to the fact that customers make their purchases within the closed environment of wherever they prefer to browse and shop.
For auto dealers, both approaches above replace the legacy model of single channel automotive commerce, where a customer would always start, progress and end their shopping experience by visiting the dealership.
Today, with numerous marketing channels through which customers can interact with a brand and digital presence gaining first priority, dealerships need to be ready to take control of the overlapping worlds of online and offline.
What does it mean to be omni-channel?
If your dealership embraces omni-channel, it will provide a consistent brand experience across multiple touchpoints or channels.
That means, no matter where or how a potential customer comes across your dealership (be it in-store, on your website or via social media), they’re guaranteed an experience that is uniquely yours but which isn’t confined or restricted by the channel in question. The customer may also start their journey in one channel but then move to another as they progress towards the sale. In omni-channel, your brand doesn’t lie at the core of the experience – the customer is always at its epicentre. Websites, online ads, social media, email & mobile marketing and your dealership’s physical premises are merged and used to provide a consistent, personalised customer experience for every car buyer.
Put simply, omni-channel delivers a brand experience that’s fit for the digital age.
The omni-channel approach in action
You may now be wondering what the omni-channel approach looks like in action. So, let’s consider a typical automotive customer journey in an omni-channel environment.
The following example is what happens when a car dealership uses remarketing ads on Google to directly affect the customer experience both on- and off-site.
- A customer heads onto the dealership website, browses a range of vehicles, chooses one and begins customising it. After a while, they leave without continuing any further.
- The next day, they receive an email from the dealership that thanks them for the online visit and reminds them that they forgot to choose the trim level. The customer ignores the email.
- At the same time, while browsing online, the customer is served a number of adverts from the dealership (via the Google Display network for remarketing audiences), for the exact car they were customising. They notice them, and it rekindles their love for the car. However, the customer still doesn’t act.
- After a week, the dealership steps things up a notch by featuring similar retargeted ads more readily, with a call-to-action and an offer for a giveaway, to go back to the car spec page.
- After a day or so, the customer is fully re-engaged and decides to head to the dealership to get a look at the car in person. On entering, their half-customised car is revived by a salesperson and the sales process continues.
We’ve greatly reduced the number of possible touch-points above, but you get the idea. Even though the customer has interacted with the brand across a number of channels, the experience has been consistent and not in the least bit intrusive or cumbersome.
Did they end up buying the car? You bet your bottom dollar they did!
So, what can auto dealers and manufacturers do?
To provide a consistent digital experience, both auto dealers and car makers have some work to do.
First, they need to collaborate more closely, so that after-sales, marketing and service provision are capable of influencing the customer perception of the brand. Dealers should also take advantage of advanced digital marketing tools to personalise their marketing content and service delivery to ensure interactivity with their business is based on customer preferences. If a digital lead has previously either purchased from your dealership or interacted in any measurable way with your brand in the past, make sure you reference such an intent in your campaigns. Also, make sure that the transition between different online channels or between online and offline during the customer journey is seamless and fluid.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the omni-channel approach needs to be made a strategic priority by all parties so that it continually develops in-line with customer expectations and the ever-changing digital landscape.
Is your dealership ready to go omni?