Much like dating, the car buying process has almost moved online.
Consumers know everything about you before they even walk through the door. It’s only a matter of time when buying a car is as easy as ordering take out. Whether you’re an OEM executive, participating dealer, marketing manager, automotive advertising agency, or digital gun-for-hire, understanding the automotive digital marketing landscape will work in your favor.
She likes tulips. Stop buying her roses.
Traditional TV and newspapers continue to grab the lion’s share of attention even though digital-first advertising strategies have proven successful – see Volvo’s The Greatest Interception. If you’re not thinking and buying digital-first, you’ll remain stuck in the slow lane with the horse-and-buggy.
- Digital advertising spend has surpassed TV.
- Digital is the top channel for automotive influence and information to guide car purchases.
- Online video influences car purchases more so than TV, newspapers, or magazines.
- Six of 10 car buyers research online while on the lot to help them make a decision
- Car buyers visit showrooms only one time before purchasing; formerly more than four times.
*2017 AdAge; 2016 PriceWaterhouseCoopers; The Digital Auto Shopper 2016; 2016 TNS Media Consumption Report; Study Methodology: McKinsey 2016
Flip your channel buying model on its head if you haven’t already. Develop channel-specific creative instead of rolling out one size fits all TV ads. Keep in mind, most of your viewers are watching content on their phones.
Shift budget to online channels, where people are and where you can measure. Think mobile when users are on the lot – they’ll be comparing other models and brands when there.
We’re not the hottest car in the bar
Consumers are happy to pick something else – 80 percent of consumers bought a different car than the brand they originally searched for (Google Case Study, 2013). People not only buy a brand, they buy a dealer. One of four buyers who don’t have a good dealer experience switched brands just to have a better experience (Road to Winning Drivers – Aftermarket Service, July 2013).
Improve the customer experience by providing information early on in the process (e.g., include the price in ads) and guide them with immediate solutions as chat functions (e.g., message extension in search, automated website/Facebook messenger bots).
What we want is not what we have
The future of car buying is going to look a lot like Amazon, but it’s not there yet — and we’re our own bottleneck. The technology exists, but protectionist regulations are stifling full adoption. Multiple surveys concluded more than half of those surveyed would place the entire process online if available (51 percent Study Methodology: McKinsey; 75 percent Accenture). Some brands have attempted to do this already: Vroom, CarLister, CarsDirect.com, Roadster, Shift Technologies, Beepi, Carvana, Carlypso, etc. GM plans to enable online car buying capabilities soon.
Automation isn’t going to stop. Don’t believe this? Two things to consider:
1.) Amazon found a way to remove the middleman in retail and place the entire buying process online without consumers ever contacting a human; now their net worth is nearly twice that of Walmart.
2.) Nearly 50 percent (47 percent, to be exact) of today’s jobs could be automated in the next two decades (Economist “Coming to an office near you”, 2014; Oxford University, 2016).
Most online sites require you to submit your email before revealing the price you will pay. Often, you must wait for customer service to email you. People know what they want now more than ever. They don’t want to be sold. They just want a streamlined process. Don’t be shy on revealing prices right at the beginning or gathering emails later in the process.
When your date goes out with a “close” friend, don’t worry
Don’t be jealous when it comes to ridesharing. People who use car sharing services still buy – 80 percent bought or leased and 22 percent planned to (ThinkWithGoogle “What These 3 Auto Trends Mean for Brands” 2016).
Consider working with ridesharing partners – here’s one idea, Brand sponsored LYFT rides to pick you up when waiting for your car to be serviced.
About the Author
Shawn Walker is the Vice President of Strategy and Product Development at Symphonic Digital – an AdWords Premier Partner – where he applies data-led tactics to supercharge digital media investments. Outside of his VP remit, Shawn also provides additional services: consultation, market research, account setup and optimization, account audit and management, analytics, robust targeting development, landing page development, and custom Google Script creation. All methods empower clients with maximized ROI. When he’s not developing strategies to help clients, he enjoys writing, producing, and engineering music in San Diego. EMAIL: email@example.com
Author: Contributing Writer
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