Like every other business, auto dealerships have added the Internet to their marketing mix. After years of employing the same tactics—TV commercials, flyers in the paper, and signs in the store window—they’re trying to implement online marketing tactics that save time and money.
However, it’s not always an easy transition to make. There are so many ways to market your business online that it can be tough to juggle them all. It’s even harder to stand out among your competitors, who are using the same tactics, and could possibly take attention away from your business.
Internet marketing for car dealerships requires more than just being known—it requires keeping people loyal and engaged. By reading this article, you’ll learn why Internet marketing is so important for car dealers. You’ll also learn what your dealership can do to launch a successful Internet marketing strategy. If you'd like to speak with one of our Internet marketing experts, you can reach us at 855-601-5359.
The main difference between traditional marketing and Internet marketing for car dealers can be summed up in one word: interaction.
In a traditional marketing campaign, you might place ads on TV and radio and in the papers and then bring car buyers in for a one-on-one conversation. Now, that conversation has to happen before people even walk in the door.
Internet marketing makes this possible through a wide range of channels, including email, blogs, interactive forums, social media, and more. You used to be able to bring buyers to your dealership with one-way messages. Now, if you’re not actively engaging with them before their visit, they’ll pass on your dealership for another one.
Since consumers have started driving the marketing process, it’s up to businesses—including yours—to react appropriately.
Consumers no longer respond to ads that may or may not be relevant to them, or are delivered in an interruptive manner. They actively look for what they want, when they want it, by going online and doing a search.
That, of course, is the main reason for marketing online. However, Internet marketing for car dealerships isn’t just about selling more cars (although that’s a major incentive). It’s about giving people reasons to buy from you, or recommend your dealership to their friends and associates.
Internet marketing gives customers reasons to buy from your dealership by building the following:
Your dealership is not the only one in town. Depending where you live, there could be dozens of others, some of them selling the same makes and models.
People are too busy to spend hours searching for the right option with offline advertising or printed materials. With Internet marketing, your dealership gets in front of them at just the right time with the right message. If they like what they see, they won’t bother looking any further.
Additionally, ongoing online marketing can lead to increased awareness of your brand and dealership. So when someone asks themselves “who should I visit now that I need a car?” your name will come to mind first, thanks to the awareness-building campaigns you have invested in.
When people are looking for a new car, they want to buy from someone who knows a thing or two about vehicles. An Internet marketing strategy that positions your dealership as a source of expertise is the first step to building the kind of trust that motivates people to reach out when they’re ready for a new car.
In order to increase your dealership's authority, you should strive to provide informational content that is interesting and beneficial to your target audience.
Part of Google's ranking algorithm has to do with the way users interact with your content. If a lot of users benefit from your content, you'll rank higher in search engine results pages - which goes hand-in-hand with increased authority.
Yes, a car sale is a transaction, but it’s a big one. Buyers have a lot of questions about the models you sell, and they’re more likely to buy from you if they know you’re going to listen to their concerns and take the time to address them.
Online marketing can play a big role in beginning this dialogue. It can also build engagement prior to the sale, and enable conversations, through the use of things like social media and blogs.
One of the biggest advantages of online channels is the ability to share content quickly and easily. People can forward emails and share links, which makes it easier to tell other potential car buyers about your dealership. This turns web users into potential customers, as well as potential referral sources.
And if you're questioning the power of referrals, just remember that people are 4 times more likely to buy something when they're referred by a friend.
Internet marketing for car dealers has a lot of benefits. The next step is figuring out how to achieve them. What’s the best way to reach potential car buyers and bring more of them into your dealership?
In traditional marketing, you had a lot of channels, including print, TV and the radio. Online marketing has even more options, and some are more effective than others, when it comes to dealerships like yours.
Let’s look at a few of the best ways you can use online marketing as an auto dealer.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a way for website users to improve their website in a way that allows them to rank highly in search engine results pages.
These improvements include things like cleaning up the HTML code of the website, correcting spelling and grammar issues, creating beneficial content, and creating a diverse backlink profile in order to increase authority.
Though the results of SEO aren't always immediate, SEO has the biggest impact on your car dealership in comparison to any other Internet marketing strategy - so whether you choose to take on SEO in-house, or hire an agency, it's definitely a great decision.
A website serves many functions, from introducing your business to generating new leads. It provides an overview of your dealership to as many as thousands of potential buyers at a time. It’s also an efficient way to showcase the cars in the lot and highlight the models you want to move today.
Additionally, with a well-designed and engaging website, plus some careful search engine optimization, you can make your brand the one that ranks #1 when someone searches for “car dealer” online in their area. Take a look at this five minute introduction to SEO that will help you understand how this tactic can help you attract more buyers.
Not all prospects are going to go to your website, but an occasional email with a compelling incentive can point them in that direction. A weekly email showcasing the latest models and special deals allows you to stay in touch with people, whether they’ve bought from you or not.
Your subscribers may not be in the market for a new car now, but when they are, they’ll keep you in mind. Just remember that you should only send emails to people who have opted-in to your list, or given you express written or verbal permission to be added to your mailing list.
Car buyers have a lot of questions about cars. They want to know how to choose one, how to take care of one, and even how to sell one when it’s time to upgrade.
A blog with these tips and more, plus fun facts about cars, goes a long way to transforming your dealership into a trusted source of advice, which makes you look more trustworthy as a seller. Blog posts can also give your website a great advantage in search engine rankings, since they naturally contain keywords, questions, and information that online shoppers are looking for.
Some traditional marketing methods have transitioned into online tactics, including local listings. YP.com, Yelp, and other listing sites allow people to find businesses right in their towns or neighborhoods.
Take advantage of these online listings by ensuring you have a complete profile on sites like this. Make sure to link to your website and provide contact information right on each page to generate more leads. If you have social media pages on Facebook or Twitter, make sure you link those, too!
Internet marketing for auto dealers is quickly becoming a necessity. To stay competitive and attract new customers, you need to be where people are looking for businesses—and in this day and age, that’s online.
If you’re not taking advantage of all the marketing opportunities available online, get started now by following some of the tips outlined above. Not sure you can handle it on your own? There are plenty of Internet marketing companies ready and willing to lend a hand so you can further grow your business online.
WebFX is a leading Internet marketing firm that has the skill, knowledge, and team you need to build your brand online. We’ve helped more than 500 customers grow their businesses with marketing, search engine optimization, and web design—and we’d love to find out how we can help you, too!
Give us a call or contact us online today to find out how our team can make your online marketing more effective. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Find out how WebFX can create an effective Internet marketing strategy for your website. Call 888.449.3239 or contact us online today for a free evaluation.