What’s the best automotive marketing strategy?
That’s a question with a thousand answers. As much as we all want one clear champion strategy that wins above all others, that’s unlikely to reveal itself. Rather, the strategies you’ll get depend on who you ask.
Thankfully, there’s a place to start. Research shows that marketers agree on some general marketing ROI powerhouses:
- Organic Search
- Paid Search
- Social Media
We also have our own expertise to inform this analysis – what we’ve seen over all our years of helping dealers achieve and exceed their goals.
Before we get started, however, there’s an incredibly important element we have to bring up when talking about ROI.
Return on investment (ROI) is only a useful piece of information if you are actually able to measure it – and measure it correctly. What metrics you track, and how you track them can make a tremendous impact on how effective that channel appears to be. Your success measurement needs to be accurate in order for your decisions to be solid. Not sure about the KPIs and methods for measurement that you should be using? Check out our blog posts all about this: Are You Measuring Your Dealership’s Success With the Right KPIs? and Attribution is Changing: Google, The Death of Last-Click, and Car Dealership Marketing.
So without further ado, let’s go explore the best automotive marketing strategies for high ROI.
Automotive Marketing Strategy #1: PPC
PPC is crucial to dealership marketing success. If someone is telling you otherwise, honestly, they probably don’t know how to correctly manage PPC.
Your PPC strategy should prioritize what is most effective, but there’s no arguing that in general, paid search is dang effective. Paid search refers to full-copy ads that are given prime spots on the main search result page. These are ideal for general advertising to sustain your brand awareness, but also in strategic places where you wouldn’t normally rank – like keywords and searches where you can attract shoppers away from your competition.
Why this delivers awesome ROI:
Really well optimized PPC can be explosive. In fact, focusing in on your paid search has never been more important. New advertising tools from Google use machine learning to offer more relevant PPC ads.
Also to remember: the “bias against search ads”… isn’t a thing. Research shows that this “Search ad bias” just doesn’t exist – shoppers click what is relevant. They don’t care if that means you have to pay a few cents.
Quick Tips to Boost Your Automotive PPC ROI:
- Engage in remarketing.
- PPC is ideal for keeping your dealership top-of-mind while your buyer considers their purchase and informs their decision.
- Fine tune your ad copy.
- Optimize or nix your under-performing paid search ads.
- Make use of machine learning.
- Explore Google’s new tools that combine copy to deliver the best possible ad for your audience.
Automotive Marketing Strategy #2: Optimized Dealership Website
This is our home turf. Dealers struggling with low-performing sites frequently come to us for help – because we’re the customer experience experts..
And online is so important because a website with poor customer experience is going to undermine all your dealership’s other online marketing efforts. How so? Well, someone might be browsing online, see one of your ads for “Hassle-Free Buying” and clicks said ad, only be taken to a website that doesn’t meet his or her expectations for “hassle free”. Clunky UI, slow load times, poor design – whatever the case may be, it isn’t without hassle.
In this example, your ad did its job, getting the interested shopper to click, but your website couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain. That’s a dealership marketing nightmare scenario. Wasted money and a bad first impression.
Why this delivers awesome ROI?
An fully optimized dealership website is like replacing a rotting foundation – suddenly, everything your online advertising relies upon is rock solid. That makes a huge difference. Your dealership website is the most important aspect of your online marketing. We’re not exaggerating. Everything else you do online comes back to your site. All your search results, all your ads, all your emails.
Quick Tips to Boost Your Dealership Website ROI:
- Implement Artificial Intelligence.
- Tools like Behavior-Based-Targeting can create custom website experiences without being creepy.
- Match User Expectations for Search
- Engage free text search on your site to allow shoppers to find what they want more easily. Check out RealSearch.
- Speed = Success
- These days, speed is central to your dealership’s online success. Expectations are only getting higher, and you can’t afford to fall behind.
Automotive Marketing Strategy #3: Social Media Marketing
This all depends on what you do. Social media marketing can be what makes you (look at Dollar Shave Club), and though it’s unlikely to break you, it can just fail to take off – taking potential customers and awesome social engagement with it. Even if you think there’s no appetite for engagement among your audience, you might just need to think about engaging in new ways.
The important thing is to streamline the processes of social content creation – whether that is vehicle highlights, dealership shoutouts, user reviews, or even UGC (see the tips below). Get your content RELEVANT to your audience, and you’re set for success.
Why this delivers awesome ROI:
Social media delivers a unique level of public exposure and relevant opportunities.
Remember how your dealership needs to be marketing where the shopper is (and when they are thinking about their new vehicle). On social media, you have the chance to do just that. The mixture of advertising, marketing, and user-generated content is a great place to forge connections and build a presence.
Quick Tips to Boost Your Social Media ROI:
- Think More About Social Video.
- This is highly-watchable, highly-sharable content that can be easily recycled, and it is dominating What platforms could you enhance your video marketing on?
- Invest in User Generated Content.
- This is some of the most compelling marketing that you can provide. Incorporate UGC into your dealership sales or service process any way you can.
- Pick Your Channels
- We don’t want to say don’t believe the hype – but just keep your social media sticking the platforms that are a serious part of the car shopping process – in other words, what works. There’s no need to spread yourself too thin if your budget (or time) is strained.
Automotive Marketing Strategy #4: SEO
SEO is a staple. Everyone knows that. These days, you’ve got to rank for your shopper’s search queries or you’ll be stalling out shortly. As shoppers move their car shopping online, this is one of the most important (and open for improvement) of your automotive marketing strategies.
It does require some investment, however. Carefully managing your search experience takes time, expertise, tools, and an up-to-date understanding of the ever-changing automotive path to purchase.
Why this delivers awesome ROI:
To think of SEO in terms of ROI can be a little tough – mostly because SEO is an investment. Like many investments, it takes time to mature in value and be worth the initial cost. Depending on the type of content your SEO efforts appear as, that investment could take quite a while to make itself felt.
Still, it’s worth it. When you rank above your competitors, you’ll be really glad you took the time on search engine optimization.
Quick Tips to Boost Your SEO ROI:
- Look Into AMP
- Get boosted straight to the top of the SRP with near-instantly loading AMP pages. Incidentally, check out Rocket Pages – our tool for doing this automatically.
- Look at Page Speed
- Speaking of speed… page load speed is officially a ranking factor. If you’ve been putting off getting your site a speed boost – now is most certainly the time.
- Consider Video SEO
- Youtube has its own search, and often those results will rank with the Google SRP (both on the main page and in the videos tab). Keep this in mind when you create your own marketing videos!
Automotive Marketing Strategy #5: Relationship Management via Email
There are hundreds of tactics for relationship management. Some, naturally, are better than others. One of the central pillars of relationship management today (that can almost always have an improved ROI) is your email marketing.
Email marketing is one of the best ways to maintain customer relationships over a long time period – almost always the case in the automotive industry. But
Why this delivers awesome ROI:
When done right, email marketing boosts your Customer Lifetime Value – one of the most-important, least-tracked metrics out there. Dealers know the literal dollar value of their customer’s loyalty, and email marketing can pay for itself time and time again by helping you keep those customers happy and relationships lucrative.
Quick Tips to Boost Your Email Marketing ROI:
- Personal Touches
- If people are reaching out via email, it’s because they have a question or concern that requires a human connection. Provide that. Be a person in writing your emails, and use email signatures with profile pictures.
- Timely Response
- Email response times are often dire. If you are looking for a good way to potentially seriously boost your ROI, tackle the task of getting your response times down to an hour.
- Improved Copy
- Sometimes it comes down to how you say it. Check out these helpful templates to boost your appointment rates and improve your relationships:
Important Strategy Considerations:
There’s something else to keep in mind when evaluating any strategy for its potential for an excellent return on your investment. That’s the lasting power and growth potential of the investment.
You want each of your marketing cents to build the equity of your dealership’s marketing. Efforts like SEO and optimizing your dealership website are ideal for this – whereas paid search, as helpful as it can be, is more like paying rent than investing.
Though we’ve laid out the top ROI marketing strategies, peppered with awesome advice from our experience, it doesn’t do to forget that every business (even every dealership) is different.
But regardless of the gameplan, we can all agree that mastering your automotive marketing isn’t easy. However, focusing on what is helpful to your dealership and to the customer will bring in sales. Get your measurements right, understand your shopper’s needs, and focus your marketing on helping fulfill them. That’s a dealership marketing strategy for success.