The pandemic created a shift in the way that consumers purchase cars. Understanding the shift can help your dealership build a better marketing strategy that targets consumers where they are shopping.
For many consumers, the purchase journey during the pandemic shifted to digital with some people skipping the dealership showroom altogether. Understanding new consumer behaviors and preferences will help your dealership develop an effective digital marketing strategy for each stage of the customer buying journey.
The customer car-buying journey begins with research. As more information is put on the internet, more consumers are taking an active role in their purchase process. They are becoming more involved and conducting research before committing to a purchase. This starts with gathering information online. According to Google, 92% of vehicle buyers are using the internet as a source of information before they buy. Consumers are searching for cars for sale nearby, looking up local dealerships, and searching for various models to get a better sense of what they want. Knowing this, it will be important for dealerships to have an established digital presence.
At this stage, the consumer is looking for information. You’ll want to ensure that your website is up to date and that it provides useful information to consumers that are looking to educate themselves before making a purchase. In-market shoppers look for content to learn more about the dealership and compare vehicle models. Videos are a great way to get consumers behind the wheel without needing to step foot in a showroom. 64% of shoppers who watch videos to inform their purchase say that 360° videos would convince them to buy a car without having a test drive first.
Set up your website for success at the beginning of the research process. Provide information that is easy to access and consider adding video content that allows the consumer to explore the vehicle in the comfort of their home.
The next step in the buyer’s process is to research customer reviews. Customer reviews can be critical to the decision-making process. The car buyer will look for reviews from other customers to learn about the car and the experience provided by the dealership. It is critical to have positive reviews online as shoppers trust fellow shoppers.
To make sure your dealership is set for this stage, we recommend encouraging past and recent customers to leave reviews. Send follow-up email surveys after their car purchase or completed service to start collecting reviews. Once you have reviews, you can start leveraging them on your website and external communications. Reviews on your Google My Business listing will also be imperative as this is commonly the first-place consumers look.
To receive positive reviews, you will want to work on providing exceptional customer service. One way to do this is to provide customers with access to communicate across multiple channels. Shoppers today are expecting easy access to communication with businesses. Whether it be on social media, email, a chatbox, or a phone call, having staff available to answer questions across channels will create positive interactions with your dealership.
At this point, shoppers have done their research, watched car demo videos, and may even have reached out to your dealership with questions. The next step for your dealership is to retarget the in-market shopper with marketing related to the car they were looking at. This can be done with Ross’ Rapid Retargeting service.
Rapid Retargeting allows your dealership to target the anonymous website visitor through multichannel marketing to remind them of the car they were interested in with the goal of pushing a sale. We can retarget these active buyers through direct mail, email, social media ads, over-the-top (OTT) video ads, and more. It is crucial to add this step into your marketing plan to keep your business top of mind as the consumer is making their final purchase decisions.
Once you have successfully taken a consumer through the car buying journey with the final step of a completed sale, it’s time to follow up with them. Sending follow-ups will help to increase brand loyalty and get the buyer back for service, car upgrades, and future car sales when they are again in the market. Continue to provide excellent service, ask them to leave a review, and consider referral incentives, rewards, and loyalty programs.
Once you understand the customer car buying journey, it’s time to take action by implementing the right marketing strategies. Ross will help you create a customized marketing plan to drive sales and improve upon your return on investment. Get started with Ross today.
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