To remain competitive, dealers need to align their marketing with the way buyers think, research, and purchase. You attract people to your dealership by being helpful, relevant, and personal(ized). These are the cornerstones to relationship marketing and to providing consumer value.Your consumers’ value comes in all shapes and forms – cost savings, in-car technology, peace of mind, convenience, F&I information, safety, etc. – and it is the key to winning over consumers wherever they are in the automotive lifecycle.
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How can you provide value every step of the way? How can you make it easy for someone to navigate the buyers’ journey? Consider the process your consumer goes through and what helpful information you can provide to move them closer to purchase. A strategy that incorporates lifecycle marketing with an omnichannel approach ensures your message is accessible, available, and relevant to consumers throughout their entire buying cycle.
Adjusting your Marketing strategy to Consumer Buying Behavior
The consumer has a problem and your dealership has the solution. How can you help the consumer find your dealership?
Consumer: I am a buyer that is aware that I have a problem, I need to: repair my vehicle, service my vehicle, or purchase/trade-in/lease a vehicle.
Dealer: Your dealership website should be: up-to-date (inventory, parts, service specials, hours of operation) optimized for mobile viewing, and utilizing Paid Search so customers can quickly find your website when they need something.
* Note, this is from the perspective of targeting one prospect throughout the entire automotive journey. GSM recommends consistently using multiple channels in order to: maximize reach, engagement, and conversions with prospects or customers -wherever they are in the automotive life cycle.
How will your dealership get discovered – consider channel and first point-of-contact. Nowadays, most consumers start research online via search or third-party sites. This stage of the journey should focus on attracting potential consumers to your website using online advertising tactics.
Consumer: I am a buyer considering how to solve my problem. What solutions, options, tools, or information do I need?
Dealer: This is arguably the most important part of the buyer’s process where you need to help consumers find your dealership’s website.
- Is your website optimized for device-switching?
- Is your website up to date? (service specials, inventory, parts)
Evaluation of alternatives
How can you compete and what makes your dealership different from the local competition?
Consumer: Who has the best price, who has the vehicle I want, who has the best service specials I can use?Dealer: Make sure your website is always up-to-date (service specials, service hours, inventory), and flaunt what makes your dealership unique.
- What are your amenities?
- Is your dealership open late or on weekends?
- Do you have relevant service coupons or specials?
Final purchase decision
Consumer: I am a buyer deciding on a specific vehicle, service, or repair at your dealership. I need pricing, vehicle specifics, and assurance that this is the right decision.
Dealer: This is the time when you need provide specific information for the consumer. Valuable information puts power in your hands because it’s what ultimately drives consumers to make a decision.
- Add a sense of urgency if a consumer is close to a decision: time-sensitive offers (coupons, service specials)
- Do you have F&I information readily available on your website?
- Do you have an online tool to help customers assess the value of their vehicle?
Consumer: I am satisfied (or dissatisfied) with my purchase decision. Do I want to share this experience with others?
Dealer: Consumer satisfaction is the health of your business. It’s why consumers return to your dealership and why they tell others to go too. Making a sale is just the beginning of a relationship, not the end of a sales cycle.
- You must follow up with clients after purchase or service. This lets consumers know you value their opinion, and that you are listening to their needs or concerns. If they are unsatisfied with your dealership and you reach out to them, they are likely to tell you. The satisfaction of directly telling your dealership about an unpleasant experience can help decrease the chance of someone bashing your dealership on external sites like Google reviews, Yahoo, or on social media.
- Provide a controlled outlet for consumers to vent, share their concerns, or to ask questions. Consider using a follow up phone call, email, or a survey. We live in a digital world – follow up must be done immediately. Better yet, require your staff to have an in-person conversation with every customer after service or purchase. This shows your dealership cares, wants to improve, and helps develop a more trusting relationship with all of your customers.
- Encourage consumers to leave reviews. Positive reviews on your website, social media, or other sites like Google can easily sway someone’s decision. Although you have little control over good reviews, you can encourage loyal or happy consumers to leave one via a follow up email for a recent purchase or service.
No matter where a customer is in the automotive customer journey, GSM recommends pairing Lifecycle Marketing with an omnichannel approach. Lifecycle Marketing is effective because it uses behavior-based targeting to reach consumers throughout the entire purchase journey. Layering in sophisticated digital channels, like retargeting, and traditional media helps reinforce messaging, ensures relevancy, and keeps your dealership present no matter how or when prospects consume content.