Automotive Marketing is Quickly Transforming
Automotive marketing is rapidly transforming – as consumers spend more and more time in the digital world, dealerships must embrace modern marketing techniques or be left behind. They have no choice: every dealership exists only by convincing individuals in a mass audience that its cars and prices are superior to those of the next dealership, and with the rapid growth of technology, there are more ways than ever of engaging potential consumers and then drawing them into the showroom. Whether the dealership itself handles its own marketing or trusts it to the expertise and manpower of an automotive marketing agency, the goals are still the same: bring in sales and build revenue, whether through new car sales, used car sales, or automotive services. But the means of attracting these sales are undergoing a major shift. Dealers must integrate yesterday’s most effective and measurable techniques with the more advanced digital strategies of today.
Keep Customers from Getting Lost in Search Engine Results
In the age of the Internet, very few customers will even consider buying a car without first doing their own research. Most often, this research takes the form of a Google search, which brings the consumer a bombardment of competitive ads alongside millions of results among which he or she has no guidance. For automotive dealerships, the consumer distractions caused by search engine marketing can be very costly. Often a dealership will spend money on a direct mail or email campaign that convinces consumers to search for new cars, only to result in a consumer’s Google search that is almost definitely not optimized for the dealership. Thus, with every search result clicked, it becomes less and less likely that the dealership will be the one eventually closing the sale. But this scenario begs a question: is it possible to control a customer’s search experience? And if it is possible, what is the most effective automotive marketing method for doing so? The answer, in short, is to keep the consumer from ever leaving the safety of a dealership’s website. It may seem daunting, but with the proper marketing techniques, this automotive dealership marketing dream can become a reality.
Automotive Content Marketing – Do the Research for Consumers
The logical first step in protecting consumers from search engine distractions is content marketing – doing the research for the consumers. Automotive content marketing is a dealership’s distribution of informative and helpful material that a given automotive consumer will find interesting. Instead of a dealership sending potential customers off to search the web and hoping that they land on the dealership’s web page, content marketing allows a dealer to effectively do the research for the consumers and then present it in an attractive and engaging way. The use of content marketing as a means of customer search control is even more effective with the addition of personalization. For example, a personalized content marketing campaign could be the distribution of fuel economy statistics to consumers who have already purchased a car from the dealership. Based on the car that the customer purchased, he or she will receive a direct mail piece listing the newest model of his or her car as compared to competing cars from other brands. By personalizing a consumer’s content by his car model, a pickup truck owner will not see a content piece comparing luxury sedan fuel efficiencies; instead he will see a chart suggesting that the newest model of his truck is more fuel-efficient than its competitors. However, a merely useful and informative direct mail piece does not guarantee that the consumer will stay away from Google. Further direction is needed, as the dealership must operate under the assumption that consumers are not satisfied without further research. The inclusion of a personalized URL (pURL) link along with the promise of more information online grants consumers a sense of control over their own research, while at the same time holds them within the boundaries of the dealership’s controlled information zone. With this personalized network of information, the dealership has provided consumers with the information they would have otherwise searched for on Google, thus protecting their dealership loyalty and vastly increasing the likelihood that their next purchase will come from the dealership that distributed the useful information.
Multichannel Automotive Marketing and Message Match
Yet before even considering Google, a dealership needs to reach a broad audience in the most effective way possible. Many already use a multichannel approach, marketing through a combination of social media, email marketing, web advertisements, and direct mail pieces. Multichannel or cross-channel marketing is a proven strategy: 73% of companies using multichannel campaigns have seen increased customer engagement, according to eMarketer. Yet many of these campaigns are not consistent across media, often with different offers appearing on different channels at the same time. This confusion drastically decreases a given campaign’s effectiveness in engaging the consumer, as he or she is not given enough direction to choose one deal over another. Instead, the campaign should carry a single message across all channels, for example promoting a brand’s fuel efficiency or showcasing a particular vehicle’s family friendliness. This concept, known as message match, allows a dealer to touch consumers on all channels with a consistent message while driving them all to the same place for the same reason – usually a landing page or microsite offering more details about the information that originally caught the consumer’s eye. While this approach gives consumers more direction, it also channels them directly to a dealership’s website, seamlessly circumventing the Google searches that can prove to be so dangerous to business.
Personalized Multi-channel Automotive Marketing
The next step to improve a multi-channel campaign is to personalize it. Personalization is the best and most cost effective way for a dealership to make its own marketing campaigns stand out from those of its competitors. Using list data captured from CRM systems, list building campaigns, and purchased consumer data, car marketers are able to tailor messages and offers to multiple list segments. Because of the way the car business has evolved, it is very important to market the right car to the right demographic. Steve Sturm, the category development officer for the automotive industry at AOL, stated, “Many vehicles these days are aimed at a fairly small segment of the population, which digital marketing tactics can easily locate and target. There aren’t many vehicles left that are so mainstream that you could efficiently market to them with massive national campaigns.” Automotive marketers use new, intuitive personalization techniques to display specialized offers to consumers based on age, income, current car model, etc. to ensure that the offer received is relevant (see an automotive case study with personalized landing pages here). These offers direct consumers to personalized landing pages or microsites providing more information about the offer, the vehicle, or the dealership in general. Under this strategy, customers don’t need search engines, and dealerships keep them within their “safe spaces” throughout the length of the sales process. Thus, landing pages and microsites are the ultimate solution to protecting campaigns from Google. For more information, click here to view a free webinar on how to protect campaigns from Google.
List Segmentation and Drip Campaigns
Personalized multi channel campaigns are great for automotive marketing, but what if a dealership wants to follow up with only one segment of the initial campaign blast? That’s where drip marketing comes in. Drip marketing allows a marketer to send out secondary rounds of campaigns to specific segments of the targeted audience via email, direct mail, or SMS/text message. For example, an auto marketer, after sending out a direct advertisement with a pURL to a broad list of prospective consumers, may choose to continue the conversation with only those consumers who opened their pURLs. The marketer will then use a marketing automation system to send out a “drip” email to the addresses of all the designated consumers. Using this technique, a dealership is able to quickly identify and nurture the best leads from its campaign and thus more efficiently convert those leads into sales.
Service Department Marketing
While many dealerships focus marketing efforts on customer acquisition, more and more are beginning to look towards the service department as a major opportunity to expand customer relationships. Gaining new customers is often a very costly and time intensive process, and as profit margins on new car sales grow slimmer and slimmer, dealerships are turning to their service departments to generate more revenue. That is good news for marketers, as service department marketing usually requires far less time and money. This is because a dealership already has all the data it needs as well as a proven relationship with the customers it is trying to reengage. Using information from its database, a dealership may create personalized campaigns and drips specific to a past customer’s model, last service date, number of miles driven, or more. By reminding the customer of the dealership’s services section, highlighting excellent staff, value, or convenience with testimonials of others with the same car, all in a format personalized to the individual’s automotive needs, the dealer drastically improves the department’s exposure and revenue. Service department marketing is and will continue to be a rapidly growing sector of automotive marketing, and it represents an exceptional opportunity to boost the entire dealership’s revenue.
Automotive Marketing Agencies
Agencies have the expertise, manpower, and experience to handle all manner of campaigns for the dealer. In any automotive campaign, an agency can accomplish all of the behind-the-scenes distribution work and at the same time provide professional creative content. Automotive marketing agencies have the experience to put campaigns like this into practice quickly and affordably, provided they have proper marketing automation software.
How Boingnet Can Help
And that’s where Boingnet can help. Our platform is perfectly suited to personalized cross channel automotive marketing and content marketing distribution and automation. We can coordinate dealership marketing campaigns across landing pages, direct mail, email, social media, and mobile, and then give them an extra personal touch with pURLs, personalized landing pages and microsites, and easy-to-use variable logic. With the data we collect from responses, opens, click-throughs, and landing page forms, we lay the foundations of drip campaigns to continue the conversation with the desired segments of the initial campaign. We also carry a white label version of the product that is optimized for automotive agencies. This product allows agencies to handle all of the behind-the-scenes campaign work and then present it with detailed analytics to clients through a specialized client portal. Whether the dealership is reaching out to past customers to encourage them to try the automotive services department or searching for new customers to buy vehicles, Boingnet’s software has it covered with our easy to use, straightforward user interface and surprisingly low prices. We are here to help set a dealership apart from its competitors with our lightweight marketing automation platform, and we are confident that we provide the ultimate tool for both personalized multichannel and content marketing success.