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Digital Marketing & Customer Experience for Automotive Dealerships: A 2024 Guide

November 28, 2023
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In today's digital age, dealerships must evolve and adapt to the ever-changing landscape of consumer behavior. Our dependence on the internet has significantly altered the car-buying journey, making digital marketing and customer experience pivotal for success. In this guide, we will delve deep into the realm of digital marketing for automotive dealerships, emphasizing the importance of quick customer response.

1. The Digital Revolution in Car Buying

Recent research indicates that over 95% of consumers use the internet to research before making a car purchase, and most initial research for anyone is conducted online. As this trend continues to grow, dealerships can't afford to overlook their digital presence.

Tip: Keep your website updated with the latest inventory, promotions, and virtual tours. Tools like chatbots and virtual assistants can further enhance user experience. The key is to make sure when you have SMS/Chat capability, you have that communication tool manned with agents who are knowledgeable and quick to respond.

2. Customer Experience - Why It's Paramount

In a PwC study, it was revealed that 73% of all people point to customer experience as an essential factor in their purchasing decisions, even above product and price. For car buyers, the experience starts online.

Tip: Invest in a user-friendly website interface. Ensure that navigation is smooth, load times are minimal, and the site is mobile responsive. If you have an online buying process, have a landing page that highlights the process and steps, and includes a way to contact the dealership which includes email, SMS, and calls.

3. The Importance of Quick Responses

Speed is of the essence in today's fast-paced world. A Lead Connect study found that potential car buyers expect a response within 15 minutes of making an online inquiry. A delayed response could result in losing a potential sale.

Tip: Turn off CRM tools and automated response systems.  Create unique responses for each customer that addresses their questions, their vehicle of interest, and their trade in (if there is one).  Training your sales team to prioritize online queries is equally crucial.

4. Personalized Marketing – The Future is Now

Modern-day consumers expect personalization. Tailoring your marketing efforts based on user behavior, preferences, and previous interactions can drastically improve conversion rates.

Research Insight: A study by Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.

Tip: Utilize data analytics tools to gather insights on your audience. Segment your email lists and provide customized offers. Retargeting ads based on users' browsing behavior can also significantly increase the chances of a sale.

5. Leverage Social Media and Reviews

Social media platforms have become influential touchpoints in the car-buying process. Potential buyers often turn to these platforms to see reviews, testimonials, and to engage with brands directly.

Research Insight: According to a BrightLocal study, 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Tip: Engage actively on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. Address negative feedback promptly and professionally.

6. Virtual and Augmented Reality Experiences

The automotive industry is witnessing a rise in virtual showrooms and augmented reality (AR) experiences, allowing users to 'experience' vehicles from the comfort of their homes.

Research Insight: According to Grand View Research, the AR and VR in the automotive market are expected to reach a valuation of $674.7 million by 2025.

Tip: Invest in creating virtual showrooms or AR apps where users can virtually 'sit' in a car, check out its interiors, or even take a virtual test drive.

7. Continuous Learning and Adapting

The digital marketing landscape is always evolving. Staying updated with the latest trends, tools, and technologies is not just an option but a necessity.

Tip: Dedicate resources for continuous learning. Attend webinars, workshops, and conferences focused on automotive digital marketing. Have dedicated personnel who are tasked with staying current in this vertical. Do not solely rely on your partners to guide you through reporting and KPIs.

The future of automotive sales is heavily intertwined with digital marketing and customer experience. In the hyper-competitive market of 2024, dealerships that invest wisely in these areas and prioritize quick, meaningful customer interactions will thrive. Those that lag will find themselves struggling to catch up in an increasingly digital-first world.

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