Marketing | 10 min Read

Dealership Online Advertising Strategies Amid A Pandemic

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 We can all agree that we’re in a complex and ever-changing situation. Because as the economy begins to ramp up towards reopening, dealerships are faced with a series of challenges. 

Among these is what to do about your online advertising – Pull back? Double-down? Change the message? 

We’re here to detail some of the best practices for effective advertising during this transitional period.

Keep Your Customers In The Loop 

The first step, before the actual advertising itself, is updating and aligning your message across your dealership’s online territory. As online interaction becomes the default mode of customer contact, these points of information exchange will be even more essential. 

Here’s what to update: 

Your Dealership Site

Lean on your site. As your communication hub, your site should be the first thing to list changes and speak with your local audience. Some of the most important points to include are: 

  • Measures being taken to keep your shoppers and employees safe. 
  • Expanded online or call-in services.
  • New shopping, service, and delivery methods that involve less contact. 

Whether you choose homepage banner images, pop-ups, or a dedicated page about the ongoing situation, you need to make sure your customers know about what you can do for them. 

Shop From Home

Google My Business 

Make sure that every place in which your dealership hours are posted is updated – and, if possible, has the most recent information about how customers can reach you and view your inventory. 

Google My Business allows the “Posts” feature – with a specific new option for COVID-19 related information. If you haven’t already published some kind of update here – you owe it to yourself. 

On the GMB homepage: 

Google Posts

On the GMB Posts page: 

Screen Shot 2020 05 01 At 12.37.50 Pm

Keep customers informed, and you’ll be less likely to be forgotten. Harsh but true.

Update Social Media

Any information you put in your GMB COVID-19 update should be on every social media platform you have. If you have a dedicated page for this expanded information on your site, include those links. 

Make sure to do the same process for each update as your business operations change – always keeping in mind that providing customer updates allow customers to plan with you in mind. 

Keep it Frequent 

Sharing frequent updates is a great way to show customers your awareness of the situation and dedication to their safety. 

Ensuring your customers see how your dealership is planning to tackle these challenges means they can fit you into their plans – i.e no wondering “Well, are they even going to be opening up? Do we bother looking for a car right now?”

Online Advertising Opportunities For Dealerships

It seems a little strange to say that now is an excellent opportunity for online advertising – but it’s kinda true. If you can advertise at this time, we highly recommend using this opportunity to cement, or finally take, your place in the local automotive market. 

Here’s what to focus on: 

PPC 

Primary PPC efforts should go to updating copy and extensions, including sitelink, callout, and promotion extensions.

Consider COVID-19 related copy and ads that inform potential buyers of the safe shopping practices that they can expect – or simply frame your messaging to highlight the convenience of online vehicle ordering, communication, and delivery.  

Video 

Online video streaming is at record highs, meaning YouTube ads have never been more relevant or effective. Almost every audience is now slightly captive to their mobile devices, and your ads can take advantage of this. 

However, this also means making certain that your mobile experience is optimized for these new shoppers and their goals – as you’ll likely see an influx of traffic from mobile devices. 

Additionally, Connected TV, or CTV, is absolutely booming as people binge one series after another. The ads that briefly intersperse this tsunami of content are a perfect way to touch your audience with dealership messaging while they are engaged. 

Display

Display ads that incorporate both COVID messaging and dealership offers can be a smart move. 

People affected by the shutdown (who still need to buy a car – or want to when things ease up), will be spending a lot more time online, attentive to offers that are specifically tailored to this time. 

Now is also the time for a more thoughtful and deliberate tone. 

“Buy now buy now buy now!” has its place, but it is not when record numbers of people are filing for unemployment. Instead, taking a more community-centric “in-it-together” approach can be profoundly more effective. After all, it’s the truth. 

Gaplin Covid

Example: Ford’s relief offer gives customers some financial breathing room. Here’s how Galpin Ford is promoting this on their homepage.  

Screen Shot 2020 04 14 At 6.04.02 Pm Screen Shot 2020 04 14 At 6.05.11 Pm

Examples of the banners that advertise compassionately. 

Social 

With increased social media presence across the board from bored and stuck-at-home shoppers, this is a great time to increase your dealership’s Facebook and Instagram advertising presence.

For example, Ford’s ventilator production ads are an exceptional piece of PR, and while dealerships might not be able to manufacture essential medical equipment, that doesn’t prevent you from highlighting your own community involvement and outreach. 

Conclusion

If everything feels new (and slightly wrong), you’re probably on the right track, actually. After all, this is a situation we haven’t been in since automobiles began to be a central pillar of American life. 

Whether you can advertise your dealership on every platform and utterly drown out any competition you might have once had, or just put up a couple Instagram ads, you are charting new territory for your dealership. Make your messaging and actions line up, and you’ll see results.

This post was brought to you by the folks at 10TH DEGREE Automotive. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how your dealership can take control of your online presence during this time, they’d love to chat. Contact them at (866) 529-3555 or https://www.10thauto.com/.