With a whopping 78% of car shoppers turning to third-party online websites to begin their vehicle purchasing journey, dealerships need to try and combat this by attracting those buyers into their showrooms.
In the modern age, most customers start the search for a new vehicle online, rather than walking onto the lot to see what’s available. It’s important for dealerships and their sales staff to embrace a marketing plan that will catch the attention of online shoppers and sway them to complete their journey through a local dealer.
Why Marketing Should Matter to Dealers
The statistics prove that marketing is an effective and important method to attract new and used car buyers. 59% of car buyers want to complete their research online before purchasing, and 38% of shoppers expect to complete the entire buying process online. The online car buying market reached $294.2 billion in the United States in 2022.
Dealers who are unwilling to embrace their potential customers’ changing shopping habits will find themselves limited to assisting a smaller segment of customers who follow the traditional shopping experience.
Selling New and Used Vehicles Using Marketing
Dealers can embrace a few marketing options to reach potential customers, and both can be effective tools for catching the attention of online shoppers:
- Outbound marketing: Traditional forms of marketing such as radio, print, and television advertising, plus email, constitute outbound marketing. Outbound is classified as a method of reaching outside your dealership to attract customers. Unlike in the old days, these methods also should steer customers toward your online presence as well as a physical location, so they can pursue their journey from home or their mobile device.
- Inbound marketing: Attracting customers from their online journey into your dealership’s presence is defined as inbound marketing. This involves using search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and other forms of digital marketing to attract customers to your website. Including tools that online shoppers crave such as price comparisons and 360-video experiences for your vehicles improves attraction and customer satisfaction.
Marketing Your Service Drive to Customers
Dealerships hold a strong advantage over online sellers through a key part of the building – the service drive. Sales and service should not be seen as opposite sides of a coin but rather as a two-part solution that can meet all of a customer’s needs.
Service drives are important for both regular vehicle maintenance and for mechanical repairs should they be needed. A dealership with a service drive that is timely, effective, and customer-centric is a huge asset. The ability to market friendly and efficient service in addition to sales can attract customers who might be hesitant about a third-party online seller.
Building up customer reviews and testimonials about the sales process and follow-up service improves your dealership’s ranking when customers are ready to find for a local dealer.
Growing Customer Retention with Post-Sale Marketing
Online sellers also have disrupted the franchise model of selling and narrowed the profit margin for dealers. Post-sale marketing is a crucial piece of retaining customers who have bought a vehicle from your dealership or had a vehicle serviced there.
Marketing vehicle service contracts after a sale claims an important role in retaining customers when they purchase from your dealership. You’ve already captured the target audience, so giving them the option to purchase extra vehicle protection through marketing is a no-brainer. The first time a customer has a mechanical issue with their vehicle and they get it covered in your service drive by their contract, they will be thankful.
Dealerships also will be competing with third-party marketing companies online that offer inferior products with little to no protection. These companies spend a fortune marketing VSC’s to your customers that might not cover needed repairs. Your dealership can beat these plans with comprehensive plans that enhance customer satisfaction and lead to return buyers when they are ready for their next purchase.
Dealerships have the opportunity to stay relevant with local vehicle buyers by embracing marketing efforts that will keep their brand top of mind in an evolving purchasing journey.
At Automotive Product Consultants, we offer post-sale vehicle service contract marketing programs at no cost to dealerships. These programs market to dealership customers and educate them about the benefits of buying additional coverage from the dealership.
We encourage dealers and agents to contact us to learn how Automotive Product Consultants can power a post-sale vehicle service contract marketing program that will drive sales and revenue for your dealership. Reach out to us today for a free program demo.