In 2014, Interactive media has made it easier than ever to obtain information and consumers are more in control than ever. A recent study on media spend in the automotive industry indicates two trends: Digital Media is continuing to rise and targeted marketing is the overarching common denominator for today’s marketer. So where does that leave traditional media in 2014?
Digital media, video and search advertising show up on tablets and other mobile devices, and traditional media, such as TV, print and radio, are now being used in combination with these more untraditional forms of media. One trend is as clear as crystal –Successful dealers are merging targeted traditional and digital mediums that are less expensive, more measurable and give a better return on investment than traditional mass marketing.
A recent study on a large dealer group indicates that 90% of phone calls come from web platforms. This dealer group primarily uses traditional media to drive traffic to their website instead of encouraging consumers to pick up the phone.
Forward-thinking dealers are communicating with customers based on where they live, what their individual status is with their dealership and where they are in the buying cycle. Targeting customers based on this criteria is the smarter and more measured way to spend.
“These consumers have the greatest probability of buying or servicing with your dealership,” said Budd Blackburn, owner of TeamVelocityMarketing.com. “Dealers should segment their audience into their purchasing patterns and market to them accordingly,” he added.
In 2014 dealers should start drilling into their DMS to determine their audience. Consumers are looking for a personalized experience and this is provided by the data at dealers fingertips. If two competing dealerships are put side by side, the one with the most actionable data is going to win more sales.
As the old saying goes – it’s better to have a bird in hand then two in the bush. This phrase ties into customer retention as it is an important part of all marketing strategies. A recent study indicates that having a good retention strategy leads to longer relationships and therefore extended revenue and more customer referrals.
Brandon Honda in Tampa, Florida increased consistency and performance of their sales team by implementing a loyalty marketing system that automatically delivers personalized upgrade quotes via direct mail and email on behalf of each individual sales person and automatically reassigns “orphan owners” if a sales person is no longer with the dealership. “Customers aren’t afraid of buying a car. They are just afraid of making a mistake. To overcome this fear, we built our processes around making it easy for our customers to buy a car,” said John Marazzi, Owner of Brandon Honda. “We’ve seen a 31% increase in sales volume with this strategy,” he added.
“When a dealer replaces their equity mining tool with a holistic loyalty marketing strategy great things happen, it’s not surprising they’ve seen such dramatic results such as this,” said Scott Davis, founder of DrivingLoyalty.com, who works with Brandon Honda.
A popular setback for dealers that remains is the inconsistency in messaging that results from using multiple different vendors for different marketing services. For example, one company manages email marketing, and another manages their point of sale efforts in the service department. Sound familiar?
The average shopper turns to 24 research points before they purchase a car. These points vary from television, to mobile, to word of mouth, and many more. If messaging is inconsistent, consumers will be unable to connect and refer to ad campaigns across these mediums. The cost of disconnected marketing campaigns is not one that dealers should be paying.
This is why leading dealers like Wesley Gregg at Gaudin Ford now use a single company to manage the marketing of all profit centers.
“We’ve woven our messaging together in all of our pieces,” Gregg said, “from video to search engine marketing to direct mail and more.” From an ROI standpoint, this approach to marketing is particularly effective because it comes from one vendor, is measurable and consistent. “This allows us to get more from every area of our marketing,” says Gregg.
“With the right tools, you can capture consumers with consistent messaging wherever they are – on a morning run or walking into your store.” said Justin Byrd, President of Tier10marketing.com.
VIDEO SEARCH ADVERTISING
When in-market consumers aren’t in you store visiting, they are online making decisions about the car they will buy. A recent google study says that 61% of auto purchasers visited a dealership after viewing an auto video. In search engine marketing, a video has a 55x greater chance of getting clicked on than any static text listing. Because video is rich in content and it’s still not widely used by marketers, it’s more likely to rank higher in search results. Relevance in search engine optimization and online display ads will win customers.
Many successful dealers are using technology to increase page one visibility on search engines, increase website traffic and capture conquest customers from their competition. “Video SEO helps to deliver a value message that resonates with the consumer in a way that is in line with our branding image, as opposed to just selling price.” Said Robert Carmendy, GM and partner of RSM Honda. “We have been using Video SEO for about a year and a half, and most notably our store has become the highest performing in the region as far as conquesting Toyota, with year-to-date market share increase of more than 225 percent over in-market Toyota sales,” he added.
“Video SEO, helps dealers dominate the search results with positive videos while also removing third-party lead providers and competing dealers from the most important page one rankings,” said AJ LeBlanc, co-founder of Car-Mercial. com, the first automotive technology company to ever be featured in a case study by Google.
IPAD SELLING SYSTEM
Mobile and tablet usage has increased by 35% year over year. It’s no surprise that the majority of automotive inquiries are coming from connected devices. In coordination, a recent study by J.D. Power indicates that sales satisfaction among new-vehicle buyers is 5% higher when their salesperson uses a tablet device during the sales process than when the salesperson does not. Almost 70% of customers with smart phones use downtime in sales process to cross shop other dealerships. “The modern consumer doesn’t like to wait for information; they don’t see the need for it, and they will often seek to get it from another dealership if they can’t get it from yours,” said Jim Hughes, co-owner of IntellaCar.com. The point is, marketing does not stop when a dealership gets a lead, it must be continued through the sales process. To combat this, many dealers are now using technology-assisted selling as a competitive advantage.
“We have strong competition in our market. They have bigger facilities and larger inventories so we incorporated iPads into our sales process to make superior customer service our competitive advantage,” said Criss Castle, director of sales operations for Leader Automotive Group in Long Island, New York. “We get more productive hours out of every work day, generate more sales from the same number of salespeople and get quality information into our CRM.” Castle’s staff never has to leave their customers side because all the information that the sales team needs is literally in their hand.
This shift in consumer buying begs a shift in automotive advertising spend. It’s important for dealerships and OEM’s to understand that the more consumers research, the more prevalent and necessary it is for consumers to be armed with useful information from advertising. The common denominator of targeted marketing allows dealers to depend less on outside data and sell more cars to the customers they already have.