In recent months, automotive marketing professionals have shifted their planning efforts into overdrive to curb the impact of social distancing on sales and operations. With fewer consumers leaving their homes to explore showrooms, test drive vehicles, and visit service centers, many dealers are feeling pressure on their top line. Strategic minds quickly found a solution: instead of waiting for shoppers to return to the dealership, go to them online. With many retailers expanding their digital presence, how do you cut through the noise and reach your target audience? Ramp up digital marketing efforts with messages that resonate today.
Reassure Commitment to Safety
As state-led stay-at-home mandates are eased across the country and businesses reopen, concern for public health and safety will undoubtedly persist on some level. You’ve certainly heard the term “new normal” recently and, like many places, it has an application for dealerships. Consumers will feel and respond differently to a handshake or face-to-face conversation than they would have just months ago.
Fortunately, you can help shoppers understand you are providing a safe sales and service experience. Across your owned marketing channels, use the tools and resources at your disposable to make it clear a consumer can safely conduct business with you. Did you alter your sales process, add digital retailing capabilities, and add or expand dealer home services? Be sure to highlight these investments. The benefits of promoting these actions are multi-fold:
- Shoppers appreciate your effort, making them feel more confident about doing business with you.
- Shoppers are more likely to view other content on your site as trustworthy (halo effect), explore your inventory in detail, and convert to a lead.
- Dealers can showcase new services or processes built for customer convenience, increasing audience engagement and online search performance.
The same benefits generally apply for communicating fixed operations service enhancements, too. An example would be specifying drop-off and pick-up options, minimizing closer interaction with other people. Make it easy for customers to find the answers to common questions.
Remove Digital Barriers
For many shoppers, the expansion of digital retailing in the automotive industry has been a welcome step forward. In fact, the 2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study told us 83 percent of consumers want to do one or more steps of the purchase process online and 7 out of 10 are more likely to buy from a dealership if they could start the process online.
Fast-forward to Spring 2020, consumers who may have had some reservation about interacting with a business digitally are acclimating in response to social distancing mandates. Ensure your digital sales process is easily understood in a step-by-step fashion. Here are examples of applications for this customer service:
- Detail the digital retailing process so consumers understand what will happen at each step.
- Dedicate page space to explaining each step of the no-touch service process.
- Offer text or digital communication to your customer and have a plan in place to respond quickly.
- Send photos and video during the service visit to your customer.
This list offers a sampling of digital activities designed to better serve a remote shopper. Customize it to what your dealership will do or is already doing to support this effort, then break down each process so any digital retailing novice is comfortable navigating your digital storefront.
Alongside building awareness of the digital retailing tools and the latest conveniences provided by your dealership, there is any equally – if not more – important message segment to cover: promotions. While it may come as no surprise to experienced digital marketers, it is crucial to have OEM incentives front and center on your site, as well as in your SEM and social campaigns.
Our sources agree this is the right move; data from the 2020 Cox Automotive COVID-19 Consumer Impact Study shows that 69% of consumers would be likely to purchase a vehicle sooner than planned, for the right deal. Eliminate any remaining purchase hesitation by helping shoppers become aware of the deals available to them.
As suggested before, make sure your fixed operations offers are highly visible, too. While many consumers are currently traveling less, there is still a need for vehicle maintenance and repairs. Remind you customers to make appointments and redeem service offers, looping in dealer home services and other digital features as applicable. Whether on your homepage, service page, or both, give due attention and visibility to attractive offers.
Get Started Today
It’s time to reimagine your marketing efforts, spend and processes. Review current marketing activity and outline objectives for alignment to digital retailing and consumer preference. To increase consumer confidence, your digital communication needs to address shoppers’ concerns and highlight the convenience of your digital retailing experience. But you can’t forget impactful advertising that delivers the right incentives to the right shopper at the right time.
To learn more about marketing best practices for today and the future, download our eBook Marketing: A Playbook for Moving Your Dealership Forward. Explore how to re-engage your audience and employees from an informed viewpoint.
At Dealer.com we are committed to our dealers, our team members, and our community. Our A-team of industry experts are available to help you in any way we can. Wishing you all safety and health during this time.