Competition is fierce in the automotive world, and that means getting (and keeping) the upper hand is all-important. Sometimes this means branching out and being bold. Sometimes it’s a matter of just being the dealer who does it best. Neither is particularly easy. In this post, we’ve tried to offer you truly helpful tips and tactics (along with some examples) of red-hot automotive internet marketing.
1. Align Yourself With Video-Watching Goals
Video marketing is a very important aspect of automotive internet marketing, and has the potential to be exceptionally effective — but only when it doesn’t miss the mark. A video that someone isn’t interested in watching will end up as a serious waste of money. Avoid this common mistake by carefully aligning your content creation with the goals of video-watchers.
One way to do this is providing instructional or informational videos.
Instructive and Informational Videos
It may seem simple, but helpful gestures like adding these instructional service videos to your site demonstrates a care and attention to the desires of sh
Don’t be afraid to branch out with your instructional videos as well. Create a page on your site to house your video content, or build your YouTube channel into a reliable and useful source of information.
When it comes to less-obvious instructional video topics, you have a wealth of information and insights to help you out. First, delve into your own experience. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do customers always have questions about?
- What confuses them the most about the car-buying process?
- What are the myths and misconceptions that you are constantly busting?
Enlist others in your video brainstorming efforts. Bring in the Finance department, Parts and Service, Customer Support, and naturally, your sales staff. Chances are everyone has at least one good idea for a video that would be helpful to the customers they interact with on a daily basis.
Informative videos are particularly helpful for smartphone users. Reading lots of small text on a mobile device can be difficult and time-consuming — video makes it much easier to quickly absorb the useful information and answers that your users are seeking. No wonder Google recently found that 48% of smartphone users are more likely to buy from companies whose mobile sites or apps provide instructional video content.
Testimonials and Test Drives
Instructive videos are incredibly useful automotive internet marketing, but they aren’t very exciting or entertaining. Testimonial and test drive videos have the advantage of being both incredibly useful and pretty entertaining. These types of videos are extra effective because they feature actual customers — a much more unbiased source of information than the dealership itself.
Testimonial videos aren’t as easy to generate as a testimonial snapshot, but they’re incredibly effective. The easiest way to do this is to offer an incentive. Ask your happiest and most enthusiastic buyers for a very quick video of their testimonial, and offer them with a prize, discount, or voucher in return for their time and energy.
Test drive videos can also be highly effective — particularly for campaigns that involve popular vehicle models and interesting features. Solicit these the same way you would a testimonial video — and don’t be afraid to splice together multiple test drives. You can do almost Buzzfeed-style video like “6 People Test-Drive The 2018 Honda CR-V.”
Don’t be afraid to get a little creative or adventurous. It all depends on your dealership’s personality. For example, you could run a promotion offering people a chance to test “ride” in one of your most powerful cars and film their reactions in a “10 Reactions to the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s Acceleration” video. Now, you probably don’t have a Demon (if you do, please tweet us a picture — @JazelAuto) on the lot, but you can take “reaction videos” in many directions.
By no means are these the only video-watching goals of your audience- simply a couple of the most important. The majority of dealership online traffic comes from mobile devices, and even more impressively, video content is projected to make up 79% of all internet traffic in 2018. The importance of video in your automotive internet marketing can be overstated, but only with some shamefully excessive hyperbole.
2.Reboot, Reuse, and Recycle Your Videos
Even if you’ve got your video production totally streamlined, the time and money invested in your production is significantly larger than just taking a picture. Maximize your automotive internet marketing ROI by rebooting, reusing, or recycling your videos.
One exceptional way to do this is to modify single-channel content for distribution elsewhere. For example, if you’ve recently had a television ad produced, change the messaging and calls to action (if applicable) and share your content on social media, YouTube, and your website. Taking short online or television advertisements or marketing videos and adding in more relevant and informative content can give you an almost brand-new asset without the trouble of creating a whole new video.
You can also re-use helpful or well-performing content. Did you post a series about winter-weather driving and maintenance tips? Refresh the content with any updates, changes, or new tips (likely very few), and share your videos again next winter.
3. Maximize Post-Sale Promotions and Connections
Capitalize on your happy customers by sending out post-sale emails to build connections, drive reviews, and gather referrals.
First, You can send emails soliciting reviews (if you didn’t already do so while they were on the lot) by directing your shopper to the review section of your website. The review section of your site should be set up to encourage promoters and intercept unhappy customers before they become detractors.
On one page, you should shepherd unhappy customers away from public review sites and encourage them to submit their complaint, while at the same time making it as easy as possible for new fans to rave about you.
When the review is excellent:
When the review is less-than-awesome:
Don’t neglect to promote your referral program. Reach out to happy customers after a sale and inform your customers about the rewards for referrals — both on their part, and for their lucky car-shopping friend or colleague.
You can also send emails for car-buying anniversaries, major service milestones, dealership events, and seasonal maintenance tips or tricks. There’s major potential for using your recycled video content in these emails. For example, you could take your winter-weather driving videos and add them to a “Winter Preparedness” email — complete with projections for the winter and a special customer-only coupon for a discount on snow tires or a winter-weather tune-up.
If you like, you can send these emails from the salesperson your customer was helped by. Not only does this maintain a sense of consistency, it helps continue the shopper-dealership relationship beyond the lot.
The old adage “you reap what you sow,” could well be applied to the post-sale promotion. In order for this type of program to work well, you have to deliver an exceptional customer experience. If shoppers aren’t entirely happy with their sales experience, they likely won’t even bother opening your emails.
4. Showcase Featured Vehicles With Staff
While customer reviews and testimonials might be the go-to, there is something to be said for “insider opinion.” Offer this type of information by involving your staff in marketing specific vehicles.
Showcase your “Staff Selections” — vehicles from around the lot that your employees personally endorse with a small blurb (or video, if you want to go all-in) about what is great about the car and why it is one of their favorites. This should be personal — humanizing your dealership is an added benefit and one that should be encouraged. This can be anything from “I have three young boys — so third-row seats are a lifesaver when car trips are longer than about five minutes,” to “I’m always parallel parking in my neighborhood. This car’s awesome parking assist and backup camera are hands-down the best I’ve experienced.”
Adding in specific insights that only experience at a dealership would give is particularly useful. For example, mentioning something like easy maintenance or vehicle longevity is a good way to highlight the longer-term ownership details that shoppers won’t necessarily see in the vehicle descriptions.
5. Utilize User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content is amazing automotive internet marketing material. The major advantage of UGC is immediately apparent — just by nature of the words “user-generated”. Sure, that means it is free, and while it’s delightful to not have to pay for marketing, the real power comes from the user.
That power comes from the transparency and authenticity of a person with little to no stake in the outcome giving their honest opinion. User-generated content, even when solicited, has a level of authenticity that dealership marketing just can’t match.
Let’s look at a contrasting automotive internet marketing example:
We’re sure you’re familiar with the “real people, not actors” Chevy commercials. There’s something that just doesn’t ring true about those commercials — and it’s down to the fact that the “real people” don’t feel like they are giving their honest, unfiltered opinions. It doesn’t matter that they aren’t actors (although some of them apparently were — since these commercials were cast on-the-street in Los Angeles), it doesn’t feel authentic. The reactions are almost scripted and “buzzwordy”, too eager-to-please, and it is immediately obvious to the audience that if the “real people” had said anything negative, or even neutral, about the car — they’d have cut it from the commercial.
What Chevy intended to be an authentic display of “real people’s” reactions to their vehicles ended up feeling rather phony. The wildly-popular parodies of the commercial, however, are quite frankly hilarious and have millions of views. User-generated content at it’s most viral.
User-generated content isn’t particularly easy to come by, but there are a variety of things you can do to encourage people to create their own content featuring your vehicles or dealership.
- Contests — Contests feed off natural competition, and can drive the creation of extremely high-quality UGC.
- Quizzes — Ask questions, gather responses, and consider incentivizing people to respond with a raffle.
- Hashtags — A classic way to start a user-generated campaign.
- Influencers — This is a bit more tough for dealerships, but if you can form a solid relationship with a local social media influencer — particularly someone with an automotive focus or who is hugely popular among your ideal audience — you can drive amazing engagement and interest.
6. Open Up to Omnichannel
Many of the above marketing tips are very helpful, but their success can all be undermined without a strong, omnichannel marketing strategy in place.
With omnichannel automotive internet marketing, your dealership offers shoppers consistency. Consistency in itself is nice, but what it communicates, on some level, is trustworthiness, commitment, and professionalism — something shoppers want from the companies they do business with, particularly dealerships.
In fact, 75% of customers expect consistent experiences across all channels, and a startling 73% of consumers are likely to switch brands (or dealerships) if their expectations of consistent experiences aren’t met.
Thankfully, many of the tips we’ve gone over lend themselves very well to an overall omnichannel strategy. Pick your strongest marketing channels, dominate them, and use them in coordination to support (or better yet, exceed) your dealership’s goals.