As the tools needed to compete for Internet sales proliferate, it’s become more difficult for dealers to assess their digital marketing efforts, ensuring that they are best equipped to outsmart the competition. New tools and features are regularly rolled out, enticing dealers to upgrade their various services. Dealership personnel sometimes spend just as much time fine tuning hardware needs as they do working with customers to sell cars. While so much time and effort is spent assessing the marketing arsenal, it becomes apparent that, given time limitations, basic elements of maximizing online sales have taken a back seat. This could cost your dealership sales as the fundamentals are pushed aside and given less consideration. I think others have had the same thoughts and this was evident as I looked through the agenda of the recent Digital Dealer Conference in Orlando, Florida.
While the focus of past Digital Dealer Conferences has generally been on all aspects of online marketing, the latest schedule had a refreshing twist. It’s certainly important to continually learn how to refine marketing efforts to drive customers to the dealership and the conference thoroughly addressed this topic. However, what I arguably consider being the most important part of the sale, and was included in this conference, was more sessions on communicating with the customer.
While marketing is important and without it there would be no customer, I have to continue to stress the importance of communication because if there’s one sure way to improve sales, it’s by simply getting better at working the leads driven to the dealership. A few more sales per month, while working with the same investment, translate positively and directly to the bottom line.
Remembering that it’s important to make sure you have the basics covered, I wanted to provide a simple checklist to help shore up the foundation of your online efforts.
1. Understand the buying motivations of today’s online car shopper
The premise of all of your online efforts and communication is and should be knowing what influences customers to head in the direction of your dealership and not to a competitor.
2. Be where the customers are
Upwards of 80% of shoppers begin their vehicle search online. Make sure you are accessible on the most visited sites, your widely used local sites and niche sites.
3. Maximize inventory distribution and presentation, minimize time to market
Stretch a net and provide compelling vehicle content to set your inventory apart and drive more interest.
4. Feature top converting web site content
It’s not just about getting them to your web site, it’s about getting them to engage and move forward.
5. Be an effective communicator to drive more appointments, more dealership visits and sales
Have a follow-up process in place that customer’s are more likely to respond to, opens doors to customer interaction quicker and more often than ever before, and then helps manage the conversation by “speaking the customer’s language” and talks in terms of “benefit to the customer.”