In today’s car-buying cycle, automotive consumers are five times more likely to locate their car dealers through digital resources over more traditional sources. Additionally, the average amount of time the cycle lasts is 4.2 months—a record amount of time in the fast-paced, change-by-the-second online world.
For automotive entrepreneurs and car dealers, that means it’s more necessary than ever to take advantage of online marketing to reach consumers and remain in the forefront of their minds as they wind down the path toward making a purchase.
Shift into high gear with social media
There has been a huge push during the last year to respond to, and interact with, customers via social networks. From reputation management to starting conversations and tapping into needed services, make it known that you have an online and social media presence. Consumers will be especially pleased with a mobile-friendly website.
When a customer posts something about looking for a new car, perhaps a new Ford, for example, there’s no harm in a car dealer politely dropping into the conversation and letting the customer know what offers are currently available. Video marketing on YouTube is also a good technique to try. Consumers often use it for used car research, and manufacturers can play competitor review videos to engage and entice more customers.
Companies can also capitalize on Google and search engine marketing to drive consumers their way. Google’s local listings help smaller companies and service stations hold their ground against larger competitors. Search engine marketing has been used by such businesses as home tire fitters; search engines allow them to generate inquiries and bring a somewhat specialized, but much-needed, service to people’s homes at a fair price.
Keep your eyes on the road ahead
Be prepared for the coming seasons and buying trends. When it comes to automotive items customers will need soon, but not yet (items on the cusp market), it’s best to warm up your offline and online marketing activity ahead of time.
Winter, for example, is fast approaching; don’t wait for the first snow before you take action to market winter tires and car batteries, both huge searches in the winter months. Consumers may not need them yet, but when they do need these items in a month or two, they’ll already be aware that your company not only has them in stock, but perhaps is also offering a great deal.
Another good opportunity on which to capitalize on the cusp market is Boxing Day, celebrated in England, Canada, and other Commonwealth countries on December 26th. Google receives a massive number of searches on this day, and because the buying cycle for cars lasts several months, consumers may be starting to conduct research to prepare for new car launches in the spring. Use the low competition in December to your advantage to capture consumers at the beginning of their car searches.
Similarly, in the U.S., consumers may be looking to take advantage of big purchases just before the new year – a new year always signals new taxes. Don’t limit your thinking to only the most visible of the automobile industry’s sales: holidays.
Kick these habits to the curb
In order to garner more business, avoid the slow lane. The automotive industry is often slow to react to change in the marketing world, and car dealers, in general, are too slow to respond to online inquiries. This drives business away when the consumer base is made up of online-obsessed and social media-swayed people.
A percentage of car dealers suffer from a lack of creativity when it comes to marketing, and they still don’t engage in social media. Part of the beauty of social media and the Internet, though, is that they allow conversations to occur between consumers and the industry. Engage in conversations, and seek consumer input to determine what sort of creative online marketing may be appealing. Traditional marketing no longer works as well in a nontraditional world; be prepared to make shifts.
Responding quickly to online interactions and finding alternatives in marketing that appeal to consumers will place you in the express lane to more success. While car-buying customers may take more than four months to make up their minds, smart marketers know those are four solid months in which they can sway the outcome. Approach your marketing the same way, and you’ll see a positive shift in your bottom line.