Consumer behaviour is ever-changing, and in the automotive industry it is becoming increasingly evident that, unless dealers adapt with customers’ expectations, they will be left behind.
We’ve all heard the stats. According to Google Data, 93 per cent of car purchases today are digitally influenced. Customers are researching more and they can have as many as 130 digital touchpoints before purchasing a vehicle, report Google / Verto. All this means dealership visits have dropped from five per sale to two.
So, how should dealerships be advertising in this tough market to ensure they are reaching potential customers before their competitors do?
The answer is, to be “always on”. Dealers need to shift their mindsets away from traditional marketing and ad-hoc online campaigns, and establish the key building blocks to implement an “always on” advertising strategy that continually targets customers, reaching them earlier in the purchasing cycle.
Such practices have proven to be more effective and to deliver greater bang for their buck.
It starts with a search
When customers are considering a new vehicle, or even when they are just interested in a make of car, the first thing they are likely to do is search in a browser.
Search-engine marketing enables a business to appear at the top of search results based on the keywords typed by and geographical location of the user. A dealership’s messages and listings are vital at this stage, as with the right offer and clickable conversion points, such as a click-to-call phone number, a customer is able to easily become engaged and interact with the business.
Display network and social advertising also play an important role in getting a dealership’s brand in front of potential customers, as well as retargeting those who may have shown some earlier interest. The sophisticated targeting capabilities of big digital players (e.g. Google, Facebook, Microsoft etc.) allow advertisers to narrow down the audience that sees an advert. This means that only those presenting key behaviours of a good quality prospect are shown the advert, equating to a higher chance of conversion.
Video is also a powerful selling tool, particularly in the automotive industry, as it gives customers a detailed view of vehicle from the comfort of their own computer. From 2016-19, Google Data reported a 65 per cent increase in watch-time of test-drive videos on YouTube. It also found that 72 percent of people attributed a portion of their car-purchasing decisions to online video, according to Auto CB. Not only do these findings highlight the importance of dealerships producing video promotions of their vehicles, they also point to a highly engaged audience on whom paid video advertising can be extremely effective.
Programmatic video ads – such as Youtube’s TruView – run before or mid-stream of an online video, and can present an opportunity to convert then and there through action buttons such as “Visit a website”, “Schedule a test drive” or “Learn more”. Their targeting capabilities are based on users’ digital behaviours including searches, app downloads and video views, which, like all signal and touchpoint audience-building, makes for a highly qualified group of prospective customers who are seeing the ads.
Be present and visible
Today’s customers are curious, demanding and impatient. They want instant gratification, which is why, when looking to purchase, one-in-three smartphone users end up buying from a brand other than the one they intended, reports Google Data.
This means that if your dealership is presented to customers at the right time and is providing the information that they want, they are highly likely to engage you rather than one of your competitors. But, the converse is also true and competitors could be taking business from you.
So how do you ensure you never miss an opportunity? The key is to be “always on”.
Gone are the days of running short sale campaigns and ad-hoc promotional offers. This strategy no longer works for the modern consumer who is on the internet 24 hours a day, searching, researching, scrolling and viewing.
The only way to ensure that you never miss an opportunity is to be ever-present – always running digital advertising through a variety of channels.
The messages can be changed and audiences optimised, but never let your advertising sleep because searching never does.
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