How Car Dealerships are Adopting Smart Digital Marketing Techniques

In these changing times, we asked our friends at Limelight Digital how car dealerships can, and often have, adapted to our new buying habits.

Gone are the days of people walking into the shiny showroom completely unaware of what is on offer, and at what price…….


The Automotive Industry

… is one of the largest sections of the current UK economy accounting for in excess of 823,000 jobs and contributing £18.6 billion.

Whilst its importance can’t be overestimated, recent reports have highlighted how the British car industry is facing its worst period of decline for many years as UK car production is lower than it was in 2008/9 at the height of the global financial crisis.

Naturally, this has led many UK car dealerships and finance companies to look to other ways of generating leads by embracing new, smarter, Digital Marketing Techniques.

This follows a general trend of businesses investing heavily in Digital Marketing and when you consider that 95% of car sales today are made at the dealership, but search is the first place people go to begin their buyer’s journey, is it any surprise that automotive companies are getting on the bandwagon?

As experts in Automotive SEO, we’ve selected a handful of our favourite digital strategies which Car Dealerships across the UK are implementing and reaping the benefits from:


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

In 2020, competition to be the first result on Google when someone searches ‘Car Dealerships near me’, or similar, is absolutely huge as the average monthly searches for this phrase is in excess of 60,500.

The dealerships which have invested wisely in a thorough SEO strategy will be reaping the benefits of having their website in front of 60k+ potential customers who are actively searching for businesses like themselves for no extra cost!

This is even more powerful when you consider that the ‘intent’ of someone searching on Google for a Car Dealership in their location is far more relevant than a TV advert going out to all different demographics, and at a much lower cost!


Pay-per-Click Advertising (Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc.)

You’ve all seen them. Google results or Facebook posts that blend in and look almost natural apart from a little ‘Ad’ or ‘Sponsored’ label next to them. These are what’s known as ‘Paid Ads’ and they are typically charged on a ‘Pay-per-Click’ (PPC) basis.

PPC Ads give Dealerships incredible levels of targeting options which traditional marketing such as print or even TV and radio can’t compete with. Whether you’re choosing what specific street to show your ads on, marital status, income level or interests, the detail into which you can dig is frightening!

Imagine two different Car Dealership marketing teams:

  • One has invested thousands of pounds into a huge billboard on a main road that gets viewed by all kinds of people, age groups, interests, intents and has no way of tracking impact
  • The other has invested significantly less into Google & Facebook Ads that only charge when they are clicked (meaning they’re getting much of the exposure for free), they have laser-targeted their audience and not only can they pause or upscale the budget at any time, but they have access to a dashboard that shows incredible level of detail of how users interacted with the ads

When ROI is more tight than ever, I think it’s clear which ones are making the most of their marketing budget.



Social Media

In testing times for the Automotive industry, it can be a hard justification to invest a lot of staff time and budget into the running of Social Media accounts as often the direct benefits are hard to gauge.

What can Car Dealerships do on Social, asides from tweeting about their latest offers and dealing with the odd complaint on Facebook, that will actually add value to the business? Well here’s an example of just a couple of our favourite Automotive Social Media Campaigns that cut through the noise and made a big impact:

  • Ford’s ‘Speed Dating in a Mustang’ Prank from Valentine’s Day 2015 challenged common misconceptions of driving ability amongst different genders and the original video was viewed over 12.8 million times after going viral on Facebook
  • Nissan’s #DoItForUs campaign blew up on Twitter when it asked unsuspecting British athletes to incorporate wild and outrageously bold fake marketing slogans into their Olympic performance. Nissan showed off their playful side with this campaign and according to the agency behind it, it resulted in a 5% increase in positive brand opinion, as well as a 10% increase in purchase consideration.


Considering Car Buying ‘Moments’

According to Google’s David Mogensen, head of YouTube ads and former automotive marketer:

“The average car shopper today makes just two dealership visits in the search for the perfect vehicle. That’s because today car shoppers turn to mobile to research models, find deals, and get real time advice.”

This isn’t just a switch in buying habits for the Car Industry but for higher price items ‘micro-moments’ are much more of a factor.

  • Which-car-is-best moments – When customers use sources such as blogs, forums or review sites to figure out which car is the best. Car Dealerships are writing informational articles to steal some of this search traffic.
  • Is-it-right-for-me moments – This is when car buyers are researching practical factors such as seats, boot size and fuel efficiency to figure out what car realistically suits their needs. Video reviews on YouTube get millions of views and is a great way to capture a receptive audience
  • Can-I-afford-it moments – This is when reality sets in! A buyer has found their perfect car but is it within their means? Searches for ‘Best Make Model Under £X’ are lucrative. Seasonal trends also play a big factor in these ‘moments’. For example, interest in shopping increases in the summer months so consider tailoring budgets to suit.
  • Where-should-I-buy-it moments – Whilst the majority of the Car Buying journey has moved online now, buyers still want to view or test drive their dream motor before purchasing. However, even these choices can be influenced by Digital Marketing. For example, search interest for “car dealerships near me” has doubled in the past year.
  • Am-I-getting-a-deal moments – Just before the deal is done, buyers will want to ensure they’re getting the best possible price at that moment in time. Searches for rival dealerships and deals rocket at this stage.

So there’s four techniques and strategies that Car Dealerships are using right now to get one over their competition when marketing budgets are tighter than ever and ROI must be displayed. With the buyer journey moving online this was inevitable but perhaps it might be better for everyone involved?

Image: DiggityMarketing
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