Digital Marketing Guidebook 2018

The automotive industry, today, is facing a massive storm! Because of three major factors:

  • 1. The cut-throat competition
  • 2. The technology penetration
  • 3. The increasingly empowered consumers

These three forces have left the auto dealers with no choice but to innovate. To adapt to the situation they must seize the opportunity to be innovative with their marketing efforts, disrupt the existing customer acquisition-retention model, and find newer ways to engage with their customers to stop them from going to the competitors. The automotive retailers need to rethink their existing distribution channel-based marketing and promotions model and include digital marketing into their overall marketing calendar.

Like every other industry, the automotive industry is taking a rapid shift toward multi-channel digital marketing retailing, where consumers experience a seamless integration between their initial research, interaction with the dealer, buying the vehicle and even after-sales interaction. It’s no longer a traditional tier-based interaction given the stage at which the customers stands in the sales funnel. Therefore, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and auto dealers are left with no option but to realign their strategies based on their customers’ integrated experiences.

The auto industry has bounced back from the financial crunch with a historic five consecutive years of revenue increases y-o-y. So, while that’s a comforting news, what most auto dealers tend to ignore is the fact that the industry itself it getting disrupted at an unparalleled pace. So, it’s not the time when the OEMs and auto dealers can afford to relax or breathe a sigh of relief. They need to accelerate their marketing efforts now more than ever and find newer approaches to engage with their consumers. The digital marketing in the auto retailer industry is here to stay and in fact, it will continue to reshape the auto industry for the next decade and even beyond. The constantly changing digital habits of the auto consumers along with consolidated industry competition are the key drivers to this shift in the paradigm. By adopting automotive digital marketing trends, OEMs and auto dealers can achieve enhanced targeting capabilities as well as build meaningful and long-term consumer relationships.

Let’s first understand how the traditional three-tiered retail approach is changed by the Internet:

The most basic and obvious change brought by the web in the automotive retail industry is the reshaping of the traditional three-tier system. These three tiers, as per the traditional model, would consist of: OEMs, dealer groups and individual auto dealers. This is the standard sales model within the automobile industry. Each tier represented its own set of responsibilities and duties. However, as the auto consumers have migrated to the digital platform, the lines between these three tiers have blurred. The OEMs are now seen to invest heavily into developing websites from both branding and selling perspectives. And on the other hand, the dealers within tiers 2 and 3 have their own independent websites primarily focused on sales. This, this digital redundancy has caused a major threat to the auto dealers, in the form of internal competition. So, they are no longer just fighting with external competitors, meaning other auto brand dealers, but also with others within their brand tiers itself.

The new tier-0 added to the traditional auto-industry model

It’s no longer just a three-tier game. Say hello to tier-0, which is essentially the dominant review websites such as cars.com or Edmunds.com. They have become an inseparable parts of the consumers online decision making process related to auto purchases. And these sites, because they have user reviews and a higher frequency of content updates, easily outrank the websites of the OEMs and the auto retailers. Online search has become the new starting point of the automobile consumers. Other than reviews and online search, the recommendations from families and friends on social media websites play a significant role in the purchasing process of the consumers, on the web. People are also turning to online influencers for their advice. Let’s look at a recent statistics:

According to a study done by Nielsen, 7 in 10 consumers indicate that they trust reviews by other consumers more than the brands’ advertisements.

What this means that the auto dealer’s website is no longer the entry gate to product and brand related information for the consumers. In fact, they come to such websites only after they have narrowed down their funnel after the initial web research and social media interactions. Together, search engines, social media networks, review websites have become tier-0. And the automotive dealers and OEMs must plan their game plan to effectively tackle this newly formed consumer touch point.

So, what does this new tier mean for the auto dealers?

As this new tier-0 brings with itself newer interaction opportunities with consumers, it also provides the OEMs and the dealers with more sales opportunities. Let’s look at how some of the global auto leaders are cashing in on this new tier. Recently, Auobytel bought over AuoUSA from AutoNation dealer group. This helped them in creating the largest lead mine in the USA auto market. Similarly, Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. acquired Van Tuyl, which is the fifth largest dealer group in the USA. Buffet quoted after this acquisition that, “This is to launch a consolidation of the highly fragmented business.” Such deals are creating a huge impact in the global auto dealership market, by levelling the playing field for all. They help in removing the monopoly enjoyed earlier by the OEMs and thus giving the dealers an increased capital to offer online experiences to the consumers and generate the leads on their own. This way, the buyers can essentially bypass the OEMs and directly approach the dealers after they have conducted their research through tier-0. This, to OEMs, would mean that they need to rethink their role in the overall buying journey of the consumers and embrace newer ways to go digital.

When it comes to auto shopping, 99% of consumers think it’s a hassle. It’s time to change the perception.

Go back a decade and ask an auto dealer what’s the biggest secret to the higher sales of your dealership. They are going to tell you that it’s their sales people. A saying was, “Great salesmen can sell anything to anyone.” Fast forward to the present, and you will be shocked that the scenario has changed drastically. With the Internet penetration advancing at a lightning speed, any salesman would have trouble moving the cars from the showrooms to the customers’ homes and offices.

Whether you like it or not, the Internet, social media and mobile phones are fundamental to the success to any auto business and more importantly, necessary to sustain the competition in the long run.

Not only the consumers, but their vehicles are also getting smarter by the day. Today, we have cars that were almost impossible to think about a decade ago. And it won’t be stupid at all to think about the cars in the future, that will have live music and video streaming, auto text-deliveries, pulling up directions through voice enabled searches, ordering food on-the-go, etc. The driver-less cars are not a fantasy anymore.

In short, there is a constantly rising need for the auto dealers to invest in the right digital marketing technology, not just from the product sales point of view, but more importantly, from the consumer interaction perspective.

So, the auto dealers and their salesmen cannot sell more just by being the fast-talkers. Long gone are those days! Nowadays, they have to become extremely sharp listeners more than talkers. It’s important for them to adopt the right communication vehicles where their customers are the most active, where they are the most vulnerable.

The auto dealers must adopt and excel at digital marketing transformation occurring within the automobile industry.

In India, the need of the family members is rated as the top trigger in auto shopping related decisions. It is eight times more important than better reputation coming from the car’s brand image.

But when it comes to repeat auto shopping in India, a buyer aspires to upgrade the current vehicle, more than any other reasons. With every repeated purchase of the car, the buyer wants to gain more sophistication. The most common reason to upgrade being quoted as “Because I can afford it now”.

Let’s look at the car purchase related information search patterns among consumers in different countries:

The car shoppers prefer to conduct online research and read reviews the most. An increasing number of shoppers now prefer to work with dealerships over the Internet as part of their purchase journeys and the trend continues to grow:

In 2018, the consumers are likely to spend over 6 hours daily with digital media.

The move to the digital has been stark within the automotive industry. An average auto dealer spends three-fourth of his overall marketing and advertising budget on the digital. The digital marketing revolution in the auto industry is too big to ignore now. The web is where their customers are, and that’s why they have no option but to be on the web.

And yet, just being visible on the web isn’t enough. The auto dealers need to be smart about where to find their customers, where to interact with them and where to engage them the most. It’s for this reason the digital marketing is fast gaining popularity among the auto dealers. The automobile digital marketing helps in connecting the in-market consumers directly with the dealers, making it easier for the dealers to convert them effortlessly from prospects into buyers, within their funnel.

Let’s meet Samantha – A hypothetical customer in the automotive market

Meet Sam!

Sam’s a successful young professional. She is married to Roy. She like going on planned vacations. They are soon going to have their first child. Sam is the ideal digital consumer of today’s day and age. As a consumer, she is very hard to please. That’s because she has a high level of expectations from the auto dealers. She carries out online search intensively. She expects the web to give her highly targeted and personalized results. She wants dealer websites to give her content that interests her. Sam is very impatient and can quickly close the website if she cannot find the type of information she is looking for from the dealer. She doesn’t settle by visiting just one OEM or dealer’s website. She visits multiple sites and takes into account the word of mouth from her family and friends on social media websites.

Now, let’s shape her experience with the help of automobile digital marketing:

Sam arrives on the landing page of the dealer’s website. There she finds a menu tailored to her. When she came on the landing page for the first time, she saw different introductory content as compared to the personalized content she witnessed when she visited the site subsequently. Once she has visited the dealer’s site, wherever she comes across their content, she would find the material more germane to her previous interaction with the brand or the dealer. The social media posts are presented to her in the context of her interests.

This was, not only is Sam learning about the brand and the product, she is more importantly getting engaged on personal as well as professional level. Every interaction touch point brings her closer to buying the vehicle. She even comes across special incentives and deals directly aimed at her, such as, “Great buying options for you to own a car that is safer and more comfortable for you and for your new born.” She would see the testimonials from other customers that are like her, such as newly married couples or recent-mothers, etc. It will be simple and intuitive for her to approach and interact with the car dealer this way. She would even feel comfortable in negotiating the price and features as per her expectations.

Today, over 30% of car shoppers are not satisfied with their experiences with dealers during the purchase process.

The car shoppers are spending over 75% of their purchasing process time on the web. And when they are millennials or women shoppers, they spend over 85% of their purchasing process online. These percentages are only going up with the increasing penetration of smartphones and social media. The auto dealers, therefore, need to use digital marketing to reinsert themselves into the buying cycles of the consumers, by making their buying processes a two-way interaction street again.

The car dealers are struggling big time to match with their customers’ expectations when it comes to reaching them through the web. Take a look at these stats:

  • 1. Less than ten percent of phone calls to the car dealers or showrooms are about new or used vehicles.
  • 2. Over 20% of phone calls to the customers from the car dealers go unattended.
  • 3. The average number of showroom visits before buying a vehicle has dropped from 4.5 times to less than 1.5 times.
  • 4. Over a third of consumers are actively considering buying their cars/vehicles online.

But, customers still depend upon the dealers, which is an excellent news for the automotive retailers. A recent industry report suggested that although customers may not see dealers as their primary sources of information, they still want to test drive the vehicle at the showroom before making a purchase related decision. They want the experts at the showrooms to tell them about their options, the features included, financing as well as servicing options, etc. The customers still hold a great value to the personal touch in their vehicle shopping process.

So, it’s important that the auto dealers emphasize on making meaningful connections with customers with their own individualistic traditional strengths. It presents an ideal win-win scenario for both.

Now, let’s understand the newly evolved target customers for the auto dealers on the web:

One important impact of the web on consumers’ lives is that it has created a plethora of desirable audience types for different types of auto dealers and makers. And as a result, audience targeting has become a huge for the car dealers and manufacturers. Customers’ buying journeys on the web are not linear. They have rendered archaic. On the other hand, it is evident that the dealers are increasingly afraid to shift their focus from the traditional marketing vehicles to digital marketing. What auto dealers need to realize is that they need to develop and provide their customers with diverse and unique communication touchpoints enabled by targeted messaging based on the type of audience. The automotive consumers are increasingly seeking engagement from the dealers. They are willing to change themselves for gaining such engagement.

63% of car buyers start out their purchase research with a specific brand in mind, but only 20% of them stick to their original brand choice. This shows that 43% of them are willing to divert to those who provide the highest engagement opportunities, whereas 37% are still untouched.

The women power in car shopping

In the US, 51% of cars are purchased by women. And in a combined family car purchase decisions, women have over 85% of influence when deciding to buy a car. This makes women the most important demographic to go after for the car dealers. On average, women are seen to spend more time in the car than men. And guess what, women are also the highest portion of car consumers who report bad experiences when purchasing a car. So, it’s about time for the car dealers to focus them attention on women rather than their traditional men-led communication approaches. Women shop differently and have different and unique shopping needs. A new model of digital marketing is therefore needed that is catered dedicatedly to the women shoppers. They need to be delivered contextually-relevant content and online experiences.

The millennial power is also rising

Millennials are becoming an increasing consumer section to go after for the car dealers. The main reason is that they have grown up to be the digital natives they are. They know what to expect from the dealers and automotive brands when it comes to multiple engagement opportunities. They are not only big influencers in a family car purchasing scenario, they themselves are the future car buyers. A recent survey suggested that millennials account for over 15% of visits to auto dealers’ showrooms. It is therefore important to deploy dynamic online content strategies to target such specific interest groups and lead prospects to purchases.

The Internet is changing the ways people buy automobiles. There is a dire need to make their digital marketing an omnichannel strategy. Take a look at the below shown diagram:

Achieving this humongous transformation in their marketing efforts not only require the auto dealers to have concerted efforts, but they would need to establish unprecedented levels collaborations with other stakeholders in the digital marketing ecosystem, such as the financing and insurance companies as well as aftersales market participants.

Here are the significant changes in the prevailing marketing operating environment for the auto retailers that are forcing them to rethink their traditional strategies:

According to a recent Deloitte study, automobile purchases is the third most digitally influenced purchase, coming in only after electronics and home furnishing.

Therefore, the auto dealers need to move their marketing efforts omnichannel digital marketing campaigns, where they offer to their customers, seamless experiences in searching, discussing and shopping about cars. The OEM and the auto dealers need to align their efforts and brand approach more closely to enable this omnichannel customer experiences.

The auto dealers have to act very quickly to meet the constantly evolving needs of their customers in this digital marketing age. They need to:

  • 1. Establish a strong presence across key digital platforms, starting from their own websites, online videos, mobile sites, apps and social media pages.
  • 2. Create and publish targeted content specific to each online channel and customer segment, rather than posting the same content across all platforms.
  • 3. Optimize their online search presence, both organically and through paid advertising efforts.
  • 4. Maximize their digital sales through remarketing efforts enabled by strong call to action tactics
  • 5. Streamline their marketing and business model to link their customers’ experiences with their internal processes and operations to capture the full potential from every customer interaction.
Data at the centre of all automotive digital marketing campaigns:

The auto dealers need to take a data-led approach to building customer relationships. A well-planned customer journey is the foundation of the success of an automotive digital marketing campaign. It begins with thoroughly understanding their current state. They need to be understood and analyzed both at individual level and at the segment level. The auto dealers need to carefully review every communication, contact and interaction with the consumers over a period of time. And the overall digital marketing plan should be developed around centralized customer experience.

Before understanding the digital marketing plan for auto dealers, it is important to understand the typical auto buyer’s journey.

This is how the traditional auto purchase cycle looks like. And this overall buying process has been transformed thanks to the Internet. Let’s look at some recent stats:

75% of automobile customers believe that an improved buying experience will motivate them to visit the dealer’s showroom more frequently. On the other hand, over 70% of OEMs and car dealers feel that an increasing importance of customer experience on the web is the driving force for the business growth.

So, what should the car dealers do to prepare themselves for this changing ecosystem?

  • 1. They should work on creating and designing unique digital customer experience. They should aim at delivering customer experience, which is in line with their brand’s identity and helps in establishing trust at all digital interaction touch points.
  • 2. Considering the insights achieved from data on customer behavior and experiences, they should transform their digital marketing process to influence sales, service, branding and customer relationship management.
  • 3. They should adapt to the changing digital ecosystem to enable car dealership employees to deliver diversified customer experience.
  • 4. They should design and launch specific digital marketing programs to build trust among the key automotive industry influencers on the web.
  • 5. They should rethink and revise revenue streams to supplement high margin finance and insurance industry niche.
  • 6. They should define specific objectives for each auto dealer online marketing activity.
  • 7. They should establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the performance of their efforts across search, social and other content platforms on the Internet.
  • 8. They should provide well-balanced online and physical experiences to customers by developing specific interest-led marketing mixes as per the customers’ expectations.
  • 9. They should analyze the technology-readiness of the dealership by clearly defining the digital marketing roadmap.
  • 10. They should collaborate with other stakeholders such as financing partners and aftersales suppliers to offer a wholesome experience to the customers online.
  • 11. They should design and deliver highly personalized content to the customers across different platforms that triggers interactions.

Why are the above mentioned approaches useful? Let’s look at some statistics again:

Close to 48% auto shoppers are willing to finance a car online.

Over 82% of consumers use multiple devices when searching for vehicle related purchases.

Roughly 55% of new or old car shoppers visit the dealer’s website at least once during their purchase process.

Digital marketing strategies for car dealers

If the car dealership is not able to find more number of new or repeated customers, the solution is not always about pouring in more advertising money. More importantly, it’s about the smart allocation of the marketing budget as well as efforts. Proper attribution would help the auto retailers in identifying where they should spend the most in order to achieve the highest ROI. In the modern digital marketing age, these are some of the useful strategies for the car dealers to be successful on the web and survive the dense competition:

Automotive SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

For many auto dealers, SEO has proved to be the top revenue driver. Volkswagen Kennesaw in Atlanta, GA gets an average of 12,000 website visitors every month and 9,000 of these are unique visitors. The numbers are taken from their official annual report. Wayne Ussery, Digital Marketing Director for the company says, “Our primary online marketing strategy is using search engines, specifically Google, to drive the most traffic to our website.”

SEO, is easier said than done. It requires extensive knowledge of different intricate activities involved in the campaign. Collaborating with expert SEO agency like e-Intelligence is key to getting such higher number of website visits every month. Another important thing to understand is that there are so many pieces to the auto retail business. And therefore, the idea should be to have specific websites or sub-sites for each service, but still offering a streamlined experience to the customers.

Car dealer SEO, is therefore, a critical part of an auto dealer’s online marketing strategy.

Automotive PPC (Pay Per Click)

Many auto dealers use PPC as a primary strategy to drive more customers online. Digital advertising helps not only with boosting the brand awareness on the web, they also help in targeting and attracting the in-market auto consumers.

Advertising investment in the vehicle dealership industry has increased 22% in 2018.

To run a successful car dealer PPC campaign, it is important to link the advertising campaign to the overall business goals. The investment into PPC should be closely connected to the overall sales targets. It should be established as to what kind of behavior is likely to result in a shopper coming in for a test drive and ultimately buying a vehicle. For that it is important to identify the key success indicators, such as: website visits, ad impression, lead from submission, SRP views, VDP views, local listing views, etc. Finding the right PPC partner agency like e-Intelligence is critical to the success of your campaign. Ads must be optimized for mobile because Google has found that over 80% of car dealership searches originate from mobile devices. The ads should be visually appealing. Use of photos and other multimedia is highly recommended. The stronger call to actions in the PPC ads drive higher engagement and hence higher inquiries and showroom footfalls. But, the biggest secret to a successful automotive PPC campaign is to keep the ad copies simple and easy to understand.

Automotive remarketing campaigns

Retargeting campaigns help in reaching back to the customers who had visited the dealer’s website in the past. When a customer visits the dealer’s landing page and leaves without submission of personal information or inquiry, Google will later display the personalized ad messages to him or her as he or she browses other websites on the web. Retargeting helps in converting the ‘be-back’ random visitors into interested customers.

On an average, auto customers visit about 6 different sites before making a purchase.

Retargeting helps in retaining their interest and driving them back to the website or the showroom. The retargeting efforts need to be well-aligned, consistent and curated. They should include personalized preference-base content such as pricing, deals and specials, photos, etc. Retargeting can be in terms of search retargeting, website retargeting or ad retargeting.

Geo-targeting campaigns

Many automotive dealers use geo-targeting campaigns to reach customers in specific locations and based on specific buying behaviors. Thus, it can be a very powerful digital marketing strategy. For running such campaigns, it is important to know where most of your sales come from or have come from in the past. You can then cater to people in those locations with highly personalized content along with specific deals that interest them the most. Volkswagen uses geo-targeting ads to target visitors within five miles from their stores. They do so by offering them a $50 gift card to drive down to the showroom for a test drive. A $50 incentive to every visiting customer may sound like a lot, but in the long run such cost is nothing, especially when the customers comes to the store with an 85% likelihood of buying the vehicle. Close to 70% of such leads easily get closed.

Automotive web design

For automotive dealers, it is imperative to build a complete virtual showroom. They need to have a seamless website that offers integrated experience to the customers and other stakeholders across devices as well as browsers. The website should offer critical information to customers, such as, comprehensive inventory merchandising, personalized shopper experience, etc. With less than 6 seconds to convince potential customers to buy the car from the dealership, the website for car dealers must be fast, professional and extremely user-friendly. It should be mobile-responsive so that no matter what device the user accesses it on, it offers a seamless experience. The automotive dealer’s website works as hard as their salesmen in finding new customers.

Automotive dealer mobile app

Buying a vehicle is a high risk involvement situation. The increased penetration of smartphones in consumers’ lives has disrupted how consumers access brand related information and also how they interact with auto dealers. According to a recent study, the auto shoppers who access the dealer’s information via mobile devices are 75% more likely to make a purchase decision. They are also seen to spend higher amount of money in buying the vehicle than the non-app automotive customers. Here are the activities that mobile app users engage the most with when considering buying a vehicle:

Partnering with specialist auto dealer mobile app development agency like e-Intelligence can help the dealers in revolutionizing their online marketing space. It helps in adding value to the brand and at the same time offers convenience for the consumers. It is important to offer the right balance of brand continuity and simplified interface for minimal distraction and optimal engagement through automotive mobile applications.

Automotive social media marketing

Over 70% of consumers would purchase from an auto dealer if they found positive reviews about them on social media sites.

As social media continues to evolve, so does its importance to consumers when considering to purchase an automobile. Social media helps auto dealers in creating meaningful connections with consumers by sharing thoughtful and highly personalized content. This, in turn, leads to higher customer engagement which is the foundation for lasting customer relationships for auto retailers. Therefore, the auto dealers need to embrace the power offered by social media platforms in order to generate meaningful relationships with their customers and also increase sales. They can share high quality product related videos as well as event related videos on websites such as YouTube or Vimeo. At the same time, they can share brand related images on websites such as Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Using Facebook, they can offer constant updates about showrooms, their special deals, etc. through their brand pages. Other than that, auto dealers can utilize Facebook’s highly advanced advertising platform for running brand awareness, lead generation as well as remarketing campaigns. Similarly, on Twitter they can keep their customers posted with the latest deals and product related information and also run sponsored campaigns.

Automotive email marketing

For many auto retailers, email marketing proves to be one of the highest performing online marketing channels. Highly optimized and well targeted email campaigns can enjoy the open rate as high as thirty percent and click through rate of over twelve percent. When designing email marketing campaigns, it is important that the emails are designed for all types of viewing experiences, especially on mobile.

Over 50% of automotive related promotion emails are access on mobile.

It is also important to segment the email lists according to specific consumer behaviors and attributes as well as their demographics. This can be combined with geo-targeted digital marketing campaigns. It is important to send only those messages that are extremely relevant to the consumers. A/B split testing helps in attaining the most preferred email templates and thus achieving higher open rates. The auto dealers should use triggered emails as such emails enjoy the open rates as high as 74%. Triggered emails are sent automatically based on the specific behavioral traits of the automotive consumers.

Key principles of successful automotive digital marketing campaigns

1. Understand the intent of your customers

It is important to pair up your online marketing efforts with your customers’ reasons to buy the vehicle from you. It means understanding their basic needs, motivations and context in real time. It is done by their journey through to your website and understanding their interaction patterns across multiple brand touchpoints on the web. Once you have the knowledge of their intent as well as interest, you should align your content with their needs.

2. Customize their digital experiences

On the web, each visitor is seen as a unique dataset. And therefore it is important that you do not provide a static experience to your automotive buyers on the web. Keep your content dynamic across different platforms. Let’s say there are two different visitors coming to your auto dealer website. One is a fresh visitor and the other is a repeat visitor. Then your website should dynamically change the content to match their specific needs and expectations. Dynamic websites are updated continually and in real time.

3. Get socially smart

The more engaged your customers are with your dealership on the social media platforms, the more effective will be your targeted messaging. Let’s look at the example of Honda. Almost all of Honda’s re-tweets are auto-related. Whereas other auto dealers re-tweet on subjects from sports to entertainment to technology. Social media helps you strengthen the rapport with your customers. For example, Fiat invited its social media followers to submit design ideas for its new model 500. Renault allows its Formula 1 drivers to conduct a live chat with their fans on the social media platform. On social media, the more dynamic your content is, the higher are the chances of you attaining greater engagement for your auto dealership brand.

CASE STUDY: SEO helps a premium Mercedes car dealership in Western India see holistic business impact

Dealership’s lead volume explodes and conversions up by 20%

The client is one of the largest Mercedes-Benz passenger car dealerships in Western India. In 2010, the company received the Best Dealership, Best Sales & After Sales awards. The group is also involved in the insurance business. Today, it is one of India’s largest insurance broking houses, with a network spread across India.

Goals:

  • Grow faster sales by tying SEO initiatives to key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Collect useful analytics data needed to understand customers and reach business goals
  • Gain a holistic view of the dealership’s customer experience across digital channels

Challenges:

  • Non-SEO-friendly site architecture
  • Lack of content authority
  • Lower website bounce rate

Approach:

  • Website restructuring to make is SEO-friendly
  • Insights-enabled content pieces
  • Social media integration
  • Blog to publish and promote fresh content
  • Influencer networking for outreach

SEO Campaign Results:

  • Higher vehicle sales from outside of the local area including surrounding the key dealership cities.
  • Web traffic increased 125 percent with 10,892 visits per month in just five months.
  • More than 250 phone call leads per month from the web
  • 44% increase in conversion quarter over quarter
Auto dealer’s “Digital Marketing Getting Started” checklist:

Here are some key questions that you need to ask before starting your digital marketing campaign…

1. What will be the size and scope of the digital marketing campaign?

  • a. Number of locations/showrooms: ____________________
  • b. Number of channels: ______________________________
  • c. Other factors that will decide the size & scope: __________

2. Timeline for launching your digital marketing campaign

  • a. 1 month
  • b. 3 months
  • c. 6 months
  • d. Activities your plan is contingent upon: __________________

3. Who are the major decision makers who will impact your digital marketing campaign?

  • a. CEO
  • b. CFO
  • c. CIO
  • d. CMO
  • e. Others: ___________________________________________

4. Who is your intended audience?

  • a. Males
  • b. Females
  • c. Millennials
  • d. Retired professionals
  • e. Others: ____________________________________________

5. What are your objectives?

  • a. Drive more sales
  • b. Enhance brand awareness
  • c. Educate and inform
  • d. Deliver customer service
  • e. Others: ____________________________________________

6. What type of content you intend to promote?

  • a. Text only
  • b. Images
  • c. Videos
  • d. Ads
  • e. Live feeds
  • f. News
  • g. Others: _____________________________________________

7. How will you manage content?

  • a. Locally
  • b. Centrally
  • c. Centrally with limited localization

8. Where do you intend to reach your customers?

  • a. Search engines like Google
  • b. On your business website only
  • c. Social media websites like Facebook
  • d. News websites
  • e. Others: ______________________________________________

9. How do you plan to measure the ROI of your digital marketing campaign?

  • a. Awareness and recall
  • b. Sales performance
  • c. Social media analytics
  • d. Others: _________________________________________________

10. How do you plan to manage your digital marketing campaign?

  • a. In-house
  • b. With an agency

11. What is your estimated budget for digital marketing campaign?

  • a. < $1000
  • b. < $2000
  • c. < $5000
  • d. Other: _________________________________________________

To conclude…

It is clear that the digital marketing ecosystem is changing for today’s auto dealers. However, by integrating the digital marketing efforts with traditional initiatives, the automotive dealers and OEMs will be able to better reach and interact with consumers, enhance brand awareness, develop strong customer relations and above all, improve profitability of the business. To be successful at automotive digital marketing campaigns, you need:

1. Smart data and analytics

The big data also applies to the automotive industry like all other markets. But, what’s more important than big data is smart data. Such data helps auto dealers in coming up with a crystal clear vision of how people prefer to search for, engage with and interact around automotive brands and their products. It also helps elevate the sophistication level other than just capturing sales insights. More importantly, it helps drive behavior specific digital marketing campaigns for auto dealers.

2. Thinking outside-the-funnel

Running automotive digital marketing campaigns signifies to the auto dealers, one important thing: They need to step out of their comfort zone of only running traditional campaigns. Therefore, they should:

  • Look to reach and engage their customers outside the funnels to stay top-of-mind
  • Embrace tier-0 in their digital marketing campaign
  • Design and deliver segment and individual specific targeting
  • Focus on retention more than just acquisition – through meaningful collaborations
3. Join the digital automotive revolution

The automotive digital marketing has already entered a new phase, where dynamic sites deliver highly individualized messaging by integrating web analytics with context flexibility. However, the niche needs to gear up their efforts as it is still lagging behind other industries. The auto dealers should seek to integrate various digital marketing efforts under a unified business function. This way, they should bring together marketing, IT and other business operations.