Sounds simple right? Your digital services should work together with your physical workshop or forecourt. So how come customers are left having to explain themselves several times...
How often have you had customers who highlighted a particular issue when making an online booking for a routine service only to have the service advisor ask when the customer is dropping off the car ‘is there anything else we need to look at, sir/madam?’ Not surprising they are left thinking, ‘did they not read my email/the notes on the online booking form’ and have them explain through gritted teeth.
The Digital Marketing Institute urges dealers to make their digital experience work in tandem with the physical dealership and identifies five ways this can be achieved.
1) Online used car research
We are all familiar with the fact that most of the research process is undertaken online when a consumer is deciding to replace their vehicle. Google stats make interesting reading – 95% research their next car online, and 40% who watched a video about cars or trucks went on to visit a dealer. Incidentally, almost 25% of searches related to servicing and repair.
With consumers being largely undecided about their next car at the research stage, this is a prime time to alert them to cars which match their criteria such as price, engine size, number of doors, fuel economy, etc. It is not just about providing them with the information they require, but the information they didn’t know they needed. By anticipating consumer needs, dealers have the opportunity to steal ahead of the march. After all, car buyers are more likely to engage the business that provides them with vehicles in stock which meet their requirements even if they hadn’t actively identified a particular model themselves.
2) Dealer websites aren't the first port of call
Car buyers are much more tuned into checking out the cost, comparing prices and gauging customer reviews. However, the good news is that more than half of consumers (56%) who are more likely to have commenced their search on a third-party site, end up on a dealer’s website making it imperative that your virtual showroom is up to scratch and provides all the information needed to help make a decision. But it also highlights the importance of third-party sites such as Auto Trader and CarGurus since that’s where most will start their search. And, remember to upload with all the relevant digital assets including images and video or car buyers will simply move onto the next vehicle which can be viewed in all its glory.
Thus, it brings us on nicely to the part played by technology in marketing a used car or the business itself. Video, in particular, is fast becoming a ‘must have’ enabling consumers to view the car from every angle including close-ups of the mileage for transparency. Not only that, dealers are responding to online enquiries with a personalised video of the used vehicle of interest including any features which the would-be buyer has highlighted. Such attention to detail delivers a customer experience bonus as it’s not only personal but begins to build a relationship with the dealer in the virtual space and is more likely to encourage an on-site visit. If you’re not convinced about the power of video, Google stats show 56% could well make their mind up about a car purchase from viewing a video without the need for a test drive.
It’s worth noting that virtual and augmented reality are being utilised across different industries and manufacturers are embracing the technology with BMW already using VR in its manufacturing and training processes. It won’t be long before manufacturers will be delivering a virtual behind-the-wheel experience and dealers will be sure to follow.
According to Google, a massive 60% of searches are undertaken using a mobile device with some top mobile searches referencing a dealer. Digital players in the automotive space have been banging this drum for years, but dealer websites do need to be optimised for mobile. Research from Cox Automotive last year found that whilst laptop and desktop devices maintained their status as the most preferred way to access the internet when searching for vehicles, their popularity had plateaued. In comparison, mobile search gained 11% year-on-year with 59% of consumers citing it as the most frequently used device when searching for vehicles. It is worth noting that 52% used multiple devices. The message is clear, make sure your website can be easily viewed on smartphones or you will miss out on in-market traffic.
5) Digital advertising
Not surprisingly marketing spend is concentrated on digital and it becomes increasingly sophisticated as analytics enable marketers to understand what works and what doesn’t and adjust messages for maximum response.
Third party sites such as Auto Trader and CarGurus are also part of the mix ensuring vehicles are seen by would-be car buyers whilst social platforms help reach wider audiences. By enabling the Facebook pixel, targeted ads can be delivered to consumers who have visited the dealer’s website when they use the social media platform. Lexus took this to the next level when the brand launched its NX SUV by identifying 1,000 different types of people and delivered them targeted ads which more likely to appeal. The ads reached more than 11 million people resulting in more than 10 million video views and an engagement rate of 26.67%.
What should you do?
By taking on board some of the tips here and emulating some of the most successful campaigns on a local scale, dealers have every opportunity to punch above their weight and are more likely to withstand the rigours and demands of what continues to be a dramatically changing retail space.
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