Here I am: A potential customer stepping into a brand new vehicle on your lot.
As I open the door, a side step automatically folds down to help me step into the cab. The soft leather seat molds to my backside. The dash lights up with easy-to-use controls. There’s an auxiliary input so I can plug in my iPod. When I closed the door, the outside world became silent. It smells fresh in here. I’m falling in love.
What did it take to get here?
If you’re like most dealers around the U.S. right now, you’re being hounded by your vendors, your ad agencies, your regional associations and even your factories to tune things up online. The need for more digital marketing is constantly in your face.
Here are the things that have been put on your to-do list:
- Increase your website’s SEO
- Put more ads on Google
- Make more posts on Facebook
- Engage more people on Twitter
- Create more leads from vehicle detail pages (VDPs)
- Get more people to click on your emails
- More, more, more, more.
These things are what constitute your online sales funnel (and a good part of your monthly budget), and none of it takes place where the rubber meets the asphalt.
So it’s easy to see why your sales staff might not take much stock in digital marketing. That’s why it’s important to keep them involved.
People don’t just buy cars. They buy color and features.
Cobalt recently conducted an inventory shopping experience study that showed the science behind VDPs. They reviewed real-world car shoppers to see how they interacted with VDPs, and then compared the results to a survey of about 1,300 dealers.
In the survey, 63% of dealers said that the price was the primary thing that consumers looked for on a VDP. In fact, 100% of the surveyed customers sorted inventory by color before price and other features. Two thirds of these same customers didn’t even know specific model names. What they did know – and care about – was color.
But that’s not all. Cobalt also found that more than 50% of participants reacted negatively to general store information in the vehicle description on the VDP.
“Why buy” messages don’t resonate at this point. If the store info doesn’t work, trim-level features do. What makes that specific vehicle unique compared to the one next to it? Write that in your description. Then share it.
Less tell. More show.
Today, it takes 30 seconds to pull out a cell phone, shoot a video and post it simultaneously on Vine, Twitter and Facebook. It’s also possible to post a link to the VDP in the description of that video. Remember that side step that folded down on this car? Vine it. Go.
It takes even less time to post a photo of a car – or a cool feature in a car – on Instagram. Those backside-hugging leather seats? The easy-to-use control console? Go forth. Remember to put a link to the VDP in the description so people can see the vehicle detail page.
Every feature of every car on your lot can be an engaging Pin on Pinterest, and chances are that someone at your dealership knows very well how to Pin. No excuses.
Ask your sales staff to start doing these things, and measure the results on Google Analytics and in your CRM. I dare you.
What didn’t bring me into this car on your lot?
It’s easy for people like me to tell you what you should be doing. It’s hard to know what you shouldn’t do.
While a hybrid digital+traditional approach will always be the recommended method for your media, it’s important to measure ROI.
Television ads with big bold messages, full-page newspaper ads and loud radio spots may increase the awareness of your store’s brand and grab attention, but your competitors are likely also playing the same expensive game.
Those competitors are likely posting on Facebook and maybe Twitter, but I would be surprised if the dealer down the road has even set foot in places like Vine, Instagram and Pinterest.
“It’s too obscure and niche. Our demographic doesn’t care about these platforms. Plus, we don’t have time to create this stuff,” you say.
Did you know that Pinterest was the fastest-growing social network in 2012, and that it now has more than 12 million U.S. users? Furthermore, did you know that nearly a third of its users have a household income of more than $100,000?
Instagram is owned by Facebook, and they work together seamlessly. It has more than 150 million active monthly users. More than 25% of Fortune 500 companies are actively using it.
Vine videos are four times as likely to be viewed than your other branded videos. Before you write it off as obscure, know that brands such as Chevrolet (9,204 followers), Ford (18,100 followers) and Toyota (3,095 followers) already have plenty of highly creative and shareable videos on Vine. So, whether you’re a Ford dealer in Bismarck or a BMW dealer in Sioux Falls, Vine is a very useful way to get in front of your millennial audience and ahead of your fiercest competition.
Ford has worked especially hard in the past year to bridge the gap between customers and vehicles with “video snacks” that show how to use features in Ford vehicles. Their short video for MyKey™ already has 46,687 views. Not only are they highlighting features, they’re also showing how to use them.
Plan, create, and measure.
Ask your sales staff to help you create some social media content based around the color and features of your inventory. They all have smartphones and likely know how to use them. If you don’t trust your salespeople to create good social media content to post without review, ask them to send it to your marketing manager who can review and post it.
If you’re still not convinced that this is worth the time, take note of the cost of your next TV spot. Know that Vine videos, Instagram pics and Pinterest Pins are much more affordable and all have measurable statistics to help you optimize your content.
Social media videos and photos will help you achieve the things on that bulleted list above. They also have the potential to pull you that much further ahead of your competitors.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go for a test drive.
Learn about marketing with Pinterest in our free handbook: “Pinning and Winning”: