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Best digital advertising strategy for car dealerships

The automotive industry is competitive, but you don’t need us to tell you that...

You’re busy sourcing new vehicles which has become even more difficult following supply issues of semi-conductor chips and you want to spend your time selling to your customers and getting those all-important deals over the line.

You need people in the door, visitors to your website and to gain an advantage over your competitors.

You want to do all of this without overspending on your advertising budget. With costs being trimmed, old school advertising is out the window. You need a new way and you need to get there first. You also need to answer the question of how you implement your digital advertising? Do you upskill and bring it in-house or rely on a costly agency?

Consider the opportunity:

When it comes to digital advertising, you need to see it as an opportunity. One to use new technologies to promote your product, get people in the door and get them parting with their hard earned cash. And how do you do it quickly, simply and without blowing your budget? But that’s enough about you.

The best digital advertising strategies must always have the consumer at the centre. What do they want? Where are they? How can you engage with them when they’re ready to buy?

That’s what you need to think about. Once you can answer these questions, you can begin to implement the right strategy for your business. Here are a few pointers to get you started.

1. Think about the mindset of your customer

Where do people spend their time researching a new vehicle? For a big ticket item like a car they may make the eventual purchase offline but will spend hours searching online for the best vehicle and deal to suit them. This idea of ROPO (research online, purchase offline) is something that shouldn’t be ignored.

Always get into the mindset of your customer and understand how they search for things. For example, 46% of car shoppers use multiple devices during their research – that means mobile is hugely important. You also need to understand where they spend their time online – that means ensuring your ads are shown in a variety of relevant locations online and includes social media sites such as Facebook.

Don’t neglect your online presence, because your competitors won’t.

Research - How to build the best digital advertising strategy for car dealerships

2. Know the best way to engage with your audience

So, you know your customer is researching online. The next stage is to consider how and what will elicit a response from them.

If you think of the term search, you might instantly think about SEO; however, localized SEO can be expensive and lengthy. Social and search rely on customers being in platform, for example on Google, and searching for the right terms at the right time. Using these routes, you may be leaving too much to chance.

Remember, you know they’re online and they’re researching so it’s up to you to create the opportunity for them to get eyes on your deals and inventory. Display advertising for example, can broaden your audience, but also target specific segments.

3. Think about what will grab their attention

A customer has been on your site. Someone has clicked on one of your display ads on Auto Trader for example. What does this tell you?

It lets you know they’re in the market. You know they’re in the consideration phase. It’s your job to provide them with the information that matters to them. It’s all going to be down to the spec of the vehicle, the price and the potential deal.

You can provide all this information quickly and simply through feed ads. A feed ad is a form of display advertising that will be delivered and shown to a consumer when they have searched for an item or looked at something similar. In this case a car deal.

It can be tailored to them, based on location, demographic and their online activity.

4. Always be up to date

Remember, always consider the mindset of your consumer.

The deal they were shown through the display ad was perfect for them, they clicked onsite only to find the deal was gone. As a car dealership with an ever-changing inventory this is a very real problem.

But the customer doesn’t care about your logistical challenges. They care about the frustration they just felt when they thought they found a deal only to be dashed at the last minute. That
frustration will stay with them and it will be directed at you. They may not want to deal with you again, despite the deals you may have.

By using feed ads that pull data from your inventory into an on-brand templated design, you can make sure your message is always current without having to make physical changes to your ads. If a car is sold the ad won’t be shown. If a new car or deal is added it will be shown. If an offer ends or there’s a price change the ad will be updated through the feed.

This benefits you ensuring all your inventory is continually showcased in your display ads and it benefits the consumer by giving them exactly what they need at just the right moment.

5. Consider how people want to buy

If people can buy locally they will.

If they can source the best deal without any real travel time to the showroom, then it’s win win. As a car dealership, you need to cater for this local market and get them through the door. And you can do exactly that with digital advertising.

Through geotargeting technology, you can find customers in your area. And most-importantly you can serve them beautifully designed display ads based on their search history and location.

You can opt for geotargeting which is where you seek out customers in a specific geographic area, for example, Pasadena in California.

With geofencing, on the other hand, the most important thing is the person’s proximity to a specific location, for example a local car dealership.

You can cater to the needs of your customer using this technology in the following ways:

  • By creating national awareness campaigns and using geofencing to pull people into specific retailers through an enticing promotion.
  • By using geofences to message people who have been at one of your locations in a defined time period – you can serve them with deals to invite them back.

  • By creating fences around retailers of your competitors and message them on the assumption they have intent to buy.

Remember, if you know your customers are in location and have intent to buy, your digital technology strategy should always be about creating that all-important opportunity to get them through the door.

If you can get them at the right time, you’ll be ahead of your competitors.

6. Create an experience for your customer when they arrive in your showroom:

You know your customers are searching online. You know they’re in the market. You know they are close by and you know they’ll have done their research when they come through the door.
They already know about the finance options, the reliability of the vehicle, and the warranty for example.

When you get them face to face, you need to use this digital knowledge to your advantage. Don’t give them the hard sell, it’s up to you to now create a relaxing and enjoyable experience in your showroom. That’s what will help you get them over the line.

The right digital advertising strategy should always work for you, your business and your marketing budget. But it always has to work for and cater to the needs of the customer.

Without them at the centre of your strategy it simply won’t work, irrespective of how hard you source new vehicles and how cost-effective your deals are.

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