The automotive industry is probably one of the most challenging and competitive ones. There are thousands of car dealerships and car lots competing for the same customer's attention. To top it all off, the offer is extremely broad – from small two-seater sports cars to large SUVs and vans that can fit up to seven passengers. If you operate in this industry, you surely understand that the key to success lies in targeting the right group and encouraging it to buy with a well-thought-out offer. But let's be more specific. In this article, we listed five ways to drive online sales in the automotive industry. Let's get right to it!
Although the majority of tips and guidelines in this article are written with car dealers in mind, other companies operating in this sector can also benefit from them! So if you sell car parts, accessories, motorcycles, or even jet skis – don’t feel discouraged and read on! Soon enough, you will see that our guidelines are versatile and useful in many scenarios.
Special offers and services
One of the most straightforward ways to distinguish your offer is by offering some non-standard incentives and offers for your customers. They are frequently referred to as VAS – value-added services. You can think of offering:
- Paint protection
- Extended service packages
- Gift certificates or vouchers for accessories and parts
- Special offers for a specific target group (e.g., college grads, teachers, etc.)
If you have such a special offer, mention it on your website and social media profiles. You can use it to create an attractive Google/Facebook ad. And don’t forget to mention it every time someone walks into your store or dealership.
Take care of your online presence
It all starts with a solid online activity. You should take care of an attractive website and some local business profiles. Google My Business is always a good bet. Having an updated and organized profile in GMB enables you to increase visibility in Google, build trust (especially thanks to photos and positive customer reviews), and tell something more about your business. Here’s a good example of a neat GMB profile in this sector:
This dealership has taken care of several crucial elements. Notice that:
- All the contact and address information is filled
- They showcase the most popular products in their inventory
- They have a lot of customer reviews, and they are mostly positive (an average rate of 4.9 looks great in the automotive sector!)
- This dealership has a link to their Facebook page and a compelling business description
You should also be present on local car sales websites like AutoTrader.com and Auto1.com. Find out what websites are popular in your country/region, create a profile there, and promote your best deals.
Online presence is your starting point. A GMB profile opens you the way to other Google-related activities. Here, we talk especially about performance marketing.
Performance marketing: Google and Facebook Ads
Be in no doubt, every dealership or retailer needs advertising. In general, the quickest way to get more customers and traffic is through performance marketing. You should be particularly interested in two PM channels – Google Ads and Facebook Ads. Although they work a bit differently, the goal is the same – to get to potentially interested customers.
When you decide to opt for Google Ads, you can use short text ads that are displayed on the SERP page. They can promote your dealership or a specific offer. For instance, Toyota has a College Graduate Rebate Program. You can think of something similar and mention this special offer in your ads:
Additionally, many car dealers find it effective to concentrate on mobile traffic. Customers looking for a dealership or a retailer nearby frequently use their mobile devices. If you target this traffic, it is likely more customers will decide to drop by your store. You can also decide to opt for so-called call ads that encourage people to call your business. These ads appear only on devices that make phone calls. Such an ad could look like that:
70% of mobile searches result in a customer taking action within an hour [Digital Third Coast].
And what about Facebook Ads? Here, you display your ads to people with specific interests or characteristics. If you sell motorcycles, you can target your ads to people who own or want to own a motorcycle. Of course, these ads can also be targeted locally, so if you operate in Johannesburg, South Africa you can set a specific radius for your ads. This is extremely effective because you don’t waste money promoting your business in another country, and potential customers will be more eager to visit your store/dealership because they live or work nearby.
Content marketing and social media
Today, every decent business should produce high-quality, unique content. This way, you can gain customer attention and good visibility in Google. You can think of a blog and at least one social media profile. With a blog, you can showcase your experience. For example, you can educate customers on what to consider when buying a used car or how to pick the best vehicle for a student/a family/a woman... There are lots of possibilities! Take a look at this blog:
Yes, they could publish posts more frequently, but in general, the topics they choose are quite interesting. It’s a good way to show that you are not all about making money. You are about helping customers make good and well-informed decisions. Your customers will value you for it!
And social media profiles help you stay in touch with your customers. Publish new arrivals and hot deals. Inform about special offers and services. Publish high-quality photos (e.g., you can ask anyone who buys a car to take a picture and tag them on your Facebook profile).
Retargeting and web push
Lastly, you cannot forget about customers that already know your business. Perhaps they were interested in a specific car or started the process of ordering a test drive, but didn't finalize their order. Reminding them about something they were already interested in can be extremely effective. According to InvestpCRO, ads are 3X more likely to be clicked by retargeted customers than new ones. There are many retargeting tools and platforms out there.
Today, though, we want to turn your attention to one specific type of retargeting – web push. It’s a strategy that’s based on small notifications that are displayed in the Internet browser. Such a notification in the automotive industry could look like that:
What’s especially important in 2022, push notifications are not based on third-party cookies and are 100% resilient to ad blockers. How can you use push notifications to drive more traffic and sales? Here are a few ideas:
- Encourage customers to book more test drives: Here’s a hypothetical scenario – the user visited the "test drive" subpage but did not book one. After 15 minutes, one day, and three days, they receive a notification encouraging them to book a test drive.
- Get more inquiries: When users visit the "contact us" subpage but do not send an e-mail or a message, they get a web push encouraging them to contact your company.
- Educate customers: Suppose your customer was browsing a very specific type of vehicle, maybe a sports car. You could send them a notification encouraging them to read your new blog post about that particular type of car, listed with all the pros and cons.
- Remind them about their visit: If someone visited your website and was interested in your offer but didn’t reach out within two weeks, you can send them a quick reminder with a link to new arrivals or driving directions.
You can also send web push mass campaigns (but not too often!) encouraging them to see your new arrivals, read new blog posts, or visit your social media profile. Push notifications are actually very versatile and effective, too! Depending on the industry and campaign purpose, you can expect up to 20% CTR.
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