Digital Marketing is multifaceted and contains many moving parts. Because of this, automotive dealers often struggle with figuring out where exactly to focus their digital marketing efforts and how to leverage their digital marketing tools strategically.
John Houmis, Senior Vice President of Client Engagement and Experience, recently sat down for a Roundtable Q&A to address some of the most pressing digital marketing challenges that automotive dealers face today.
Q: With so many digital marketing services available, what should dealers keep in-house and what should they outsource?
Houmis: There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach for dealers’ digital marketing strategies. Depending on their investment in resources (talent, partners, and tech) and their commitment to the success of their plan, dealers can tackle their digital marketing efforts with varying approaches.
Use Your Social Plan to Connect With the Local Community
Houmis: Social Media is often taken in-house but can become dormant if there aren’t dedicated resources and established processes in place. Dealers who have successfully tackled social media internally stick to a content calendar, vary the creative images and format, and commit to continuous testing.
Social Media experts on Ansira’s team recommend that dealers understand their goals when promoting their brand, while better connecting their team to the local community with their social plan.
Using SEO Strategically Increases Leads and Engagement
Houmis: When it comes to digital advertising and SEO, support from an expert team like Ansira’s digital program strategists is worth the investment.
Placing ads sounds simple but bidding for space at the optimal time via the right channel, all at the right price, is incredibly complicated. SEO led by talented professionals should be ongoing and ever evolving. Our teams have found that dealers who work with Ansira for PowerSEO, digital advertising, and website performance management see a 135% increase in engagement and a 130% increase in leads.
So, while marketing budgets aren’t limitless, the most successful dealers have a long term strategy comprised of a mix of paid and organic efforts. Should you opt to work with a provider for any of these efforts, look for a partner who wants to discuss your goals and strategy.
Q: New Cars, Used Cars, and Service – How are the smartest dealers prioritizing these components on their websites today?
Houmis: Striking a balance among new cars, used cars, and service is quite elusive. While we see that some of the large auto groups and many dealers have this dialed in, it’s not the case across the auto industry.
Consumers want an easy, transparent experience on a dealer website, and they need to find the information they want quickly and easily. Dealers must ask themselves if their websites are enabling the customer journey, or if they are getting roadblocked by “purple gorillas” and pop-up “Whack-A-Moles” with with every page they view.
VSR and VDP Pages
Houmis: Many dealers do a great job of prioritizing the pillars of new cars, used cars, and service. Some of the best sites are simple and clean without a single gorilla. For example, on the home page, there might just be a search bar above the fold with three buttons for components directly under it. While you can consider your site’s home page as the front door, customers may enter through various pages, such as a vehicle search results (VSR) page or a vehicle display page (VDP).
A dealership’s website requires just as much investment as their physical dealership. Critique your website regularly just as you would periodically check the cleanliness of your restrooms. Your team should constantly assess, refine, and test your website to ensure your consumer has a seamless experience. Ansira’s team of experts provide best practices, innovations, strategy, and advanced analytics to help you execute the best digital experience for your consumers.
We just went through this process of self evaluation and improvement when dissecting the VSR page feature on our website platform. After the home page, the VSR page is the most highly visited on a dealer’s website.
The Success of a Search Results Page Depends on Your Inline Ad Strategy
Houmis: It makes sense that if you want a particular message to reach your shoppers, the search-results page is an ideal place to put that Ad message. Ansira now empowers dealers to embed promotional messages inline on the search-results page.
It can be used to highlight vehicles that qualify for a particular offer, drive traffic to trade-in and finance prequalification forms, highlight benefits from third party partnerships, and more. Because of continued iterations, we’ve seen that through the use of inline ads, dealers can now drive leads, promote offers, and build their brands right from the search results page.
Keep in mind that success with these pillars and the traffic through the various site pages requires a commitment to SEO, which highlights how the many facets of your digital marketing work together to set you apart.
Q: With new car inventory levels still below the norm, should dealers adjust their marketing investments? If so, how?
Houmis: While inventories may still be below the norms of pre-pandemic levels, they are rising rapidly across the country. Dealerships that found themselves with single-digit inventory counts now have hundreds of vehicles to work through.
Also, in many instances, the OEMs are sending what they can ship, but are not always shipping what the dealers want in stock, which adds to the challenge. It’s important to remember that when inventories rise in days of supply, the carrying costs associated with them also rise.
Reassessing Your Spending and Messaging
Houmis: Because of these realities, dealers need to reassess their marketing budgets and overall spending. Over the last few years, dealers have had the luxury of pulling back on their marketing spends because demand resulted in sales as soon as inventory was grounded. Now that inventory is more prevalent, the competition for consumers is heating up rapidly.
The messaging you wish to convey to consumers matters most. For example, if you find that you need to move volume or some less-than-ideal inventory, focus your digital marketing and advertising efforts there.
Ansira understands the importance of sharing the correct message with the correct audience at the correct time and has mastered the practice of pivoting customer messaging to ensure personalization makes them feel understood.
The automotive industry faces numerous digital marketing challenges, but there are effective strategies and solutions available to overcome them. Dealers must carefully consider which aspects of their digital marketing efforts to keep in-house and which to outsource, based on their resources and commitment to success.
Considering these insights, if you are an automotive dealer looking to enhance your digital marketing efforts and overcome the challenges in the industry, it is crucial to take action. Evaluate your current strategies, identify your goals, and consider partnering with a trusted expert like Ansira who can guide you through the multifaceted landscape of automotive marketing. By leveraging our expertise and focusing on a comprehensive digital marketing approach that encompasses both owned and paid tactics, you can effectively differentiate your dealership, connect with customers, and drive success in the digital realm.
Be sure to stay tuned to Ansira.com for Part 2 of this Digital Marketing Series coming soon, where we’ll highlight more tips and tricks for automotive dealers. If you’d like to learn more about Ansira’s services and solutions for automotive marketing, contact us today.