Attracting the Best In-Market Shoppers in the COVID Era

Some vital functions and practices should not be forgotten despite changes from COVID - what they are so your market does not pass you by.

As COVID-19 cycles through its peaks, troughs, spikes and everything in between, one thing has become abundantly clear for the auto retail industry: The digital storefront is the only storefront we can count on through thick and thin.

Those who have doubled down on their digital strategy have reaped the rewards, but even the most impressive transformations aren’t without their growing pains.

It’s critical to find a partner, such as a performance manager, who understands your goals and shows you all the software and tools that will help you get there.

When dealerships experience a cross-coordinated digital marketing effort across multiple specialized teams, quarterbacked by their Performance Manager, they benefit from agency-quality results and a custom digital marketing strategy that drives sales and service opportunities.

Luckily, common mistakes that impede dealerships from maximizing the value of their solutions are easy to avoid. In fact, we’ve diagnosed them for you:

1. Forgetting to Focus on Data & SEO Strategy

In today’s Google- and search engine-driven world, improving your SEO ranking could mean the difference between quality and quantity site traffic or being forgotten on the fourth page.

The key to securing a coveted top spot or what is technically referred to as a highly competitive organic search engine results is thoughtful keyword optimization, and ethical, market-leading best practices.

Driving SEO results is critical, and it’s important to work with experts to solve common dealership challenges with SEO. Choose a knowledgeable partner dedicated to your dealership goals and SEO optimization.

If you’re not an SEO expert, don’t worry – your performance manager has a team of professional search engine optimizers on call. Greater organic search visibility is one of the often-overlooked secrets to generating more high-quality traffic and leads, so remember to check this box.

2. Pausing Digital Marketing

Though it may sound tempting to cut digital marketing costs and efforts as things begin to feel normal again, the truth is that there is no normal to go back to. Customers have acclimated to the convenience of retailing from everywhere – 70% of shoppers want to do more of the purchase steps online. Once you pause, customers aren’t going to show up at your doorstep; they may miss your website altogether.

3. Neglecting the Impact of Social & Reputation Management

Having social media channels dedicated to your dealership and monitoring them is a must in today’s digital environment. That means not only responding to positive reviews, but also (and especially) negative ones.

See it as an opportunity to showcase your customer service and free advertising for positive reviews. Don’t be afraid to use these channels to share company updates like sales, incentives or even just changes to your hours of operation.  Fostering a great reputation also helps drive your SEO ranking, so focusing on it is a win-win!

4. Focusing on Content Quantity Instead of Quality

Integrated content and video can lead to significant improvements in close rates and revenue. Assist shoppers in their path to purchase with professional campaign coordinators and graphic designers who are experts at delivering compelling, strategic campaign creative. Don’t forget that you can dedicate campaign elements to your service department, too, and to utilize a variety of elements like landing pages, ad creative, homepage slides, banners and specials.

5. Underselling Home Service Offerings

At-home services such as vehicle delivery and pickup and at-home test drives have become a staple of COVID-era car shopping. Almost all dealers offer these services but not all of them advertise them, creating a communication gap. If you offer home services, be sure to promote them as it could make or break a sale for the approximately 50% of shoppers who are still reluctant to visit a dealership in-person.

6. Forgetting About Video Advertising

It is crucial that dealers deliver their marketing message regardless of how shoppers are consuming media. It’s not about just being on a single platform or device. We have seen dealers expand their video advertising capabilities to support web-based video and connected TV.  An audience-first approach targets the shopper, not the device, which increases exposure and reach while remaining hyper-targeted.

7. Underestimating the Importance of Personalization

A certain level of personalization is an expectation these days. It doesn’t have to mean greeting a customer by name, but it should mean tailoring vehicle recommendations and sharing incentives that are relevant based on a customer profile or search history.

Data-driven personalization across your website gets shoppers in front of the vehicles and specials that matter most to them.  You can turn a shopper’s journey into tangible results by personalizing their experience. Dealerships using personalized vehicle recommendations have a 2.5x high click-through rate and show a 12% spike in lead-conversion rates compared to those who show dealer-featured vehicles.

8. Not asking for help when you need it

You probably got into the auto retail business because you love cars, not because you’re a digital marketing aficionado. Luckily, that’s what partners are for, and don’t be afraid to call on yours when you need advice or a helping hand. Good partners have extensive online resource libraries, and some might even have a team of people dedicated to ensuring client success. It’s an unprecedented time, and a second opinion could surprise you and boost business in ways you hadn’t considered.

By being aware of these common mistakes, you will be even better prepared to future-proof your business.

A dedicated performance manager can help build the foundation to create better processes, improve customer experience, add and retain customers, and ultimately make you more profitable.

The collaboration and expertise build lasting trust and maximize the value of each digital marketing function, in both qualitative and quantitative ways.


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