It is no surprise to anyone that consumer trends have been changing ever since the internet became a common household name. Consumers are researching the products they are interested in months in advance before visiting a store. In fact, they're not just reading up on it from the company website: they're visiting review sites, checking social media, even comparing prices on a variety of stores. So what does all of that mean for the automotive industry? Well, for one, the standard advertising techniques aren't enough.
Think of all of your vendors and the digital marketing outlets they provide your dealership. Classified sites that syndicate your inventory, cost-per-click (CPC) campaigns that show up on search engine results pages (SERPs), a website provider that uses search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure your site is available for researchers to browse though, and more. What do all of these parts of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy have in common?
They all come together under the category of outbound marketing, which seeks to advertise the product. For dealers, these advertising techniques all seek to promote inventory. Unfortunately, that is not enough.
With the popularity of social media and the informed, research-savvy consumer, there has been a shift in the type of advertising people are responsive to. Instead of outbound marketing techniques that focus on inventory, more consumers are looking for ways to engage with the product they are researching.
While there is a desire to have an online community that offers support for problems and answers to questions, consumers are also looking for websites that provide them with the information they are seeking. Manufacturer websites, regardless of the make they are representing, have all of the specs about their cars, trucks, and SUVs. But dealership websites, on the other hand, usually only provide basic mechanical information about their inventory, along with (hopefully) quality photographs, and promises of affordable leasing and financing options.
For a dealership to not have the details about their inventory and rely on interested consumers to visit their car lot, creates a gap in their ability to generate traffic and leads that convert into real sales. A marketing study from January 2016 found that the average buyer only visits 1.2 dealerships. Another marketing study found that the average auto buyer spends anywhere from six months to a year researching makes and models. In order to get a car buyer onto the lot is no longer dependent on what is being sold, but how. Engaging users by being informative creates transparency and a sense of trustworthiness that dealers nationwide can utilize in upping their conversion rates.