5 Auto Marketing Tips to Survive a Shrinking Industry

By: Felicia Savage

It’s bound to happen. What goes up eventually must come down. That’s the case with car sales. In the wake of tremendous automobile sales in 2015 and 2016, with between 17.5 million and 17.6 million vehicles being sold in the United States those years, industry insiders are projecting that those numbers could be going south. Those trends may signal the need for more strategic auto marketing and sales practices among dealerships.


According to a recent report in Automotive News, Deutsche Bank projected that the auto industry could be facing financial uncertainty. Some analysts even went as far to say that things could get pretty bad — down to levels that followed the wake of the economic downturn.


Automotive News said vehicles sales could be slowing down for numerous reasons. For one, cars are built to run longer, with about 2 million fewer vehicles headed to the scrap heap than was the case years ago.


Also, the auto loan industry has been plagued with delinquencies, resulting in not so great lending conditions. And, in a blow to new car sales, more potential buyers may be in the market for used cars — mainly because the prices of used cars have been falling since February of 2017.


As in previous years, these types of selling conditions could mean one of two things for your auto dealership — you could eventually shut your doors or you could be among those who thrive as the pool of competitors shrinks.


To be among the dealerships that are able to not only survive those conditions, you need solid auto marketing tactics, tools and strategies to grab your share of sales.


Here are 5 solid auto tips we gathered to set you apart from your competitors. If you’ve already implemented some of them, check to see how effective they are. It could be that you need to reset your strategy, upgrade your tools or expand your efforts to make sure you’re getting better results.


1. Assess your Lead Generation Solutions

If you’re not happy with the number of quality leads you’re generating from your website, it’s time for a reset. That’s was the case for Krieger Ford, a family-owned dealership in Ohio that has been in the industry for more than 50 years.


While most of their clients were repeat customers and referrals, they knew they could be getting more traffic from online efforts. They tried classified sites like Autotrader and Cars.com, but soon realized those efforts weren’t translating into buyers.


After learning about PERQ web engagement, the team used it to start driving more traffic to its website. The result? Krieger Ford reported a 92% form completion rate, gained 110 unique leads, had a 23% lead to showroom rate and closed 9 car sales from the campaign — all within one month.


Krieger Ford reported a 92% form completion rate, gained 110 unique leads, had a 23% lead to showroom rate and closed 9 car sales from the campaign — all within one month.


So, what does this have to do with auto marketing? Plenty. Stick with us.


With a lead generation tool that’s interactive, gathering useful information about when consumers want to buy, what they want to buy, how much they want to spend, and what type of car they want to trade in, you have the tools to follow up with communications that are ideally tailored for each person.


And, with that type of personalized messaging, you let them know you’re paying attention. You get them. And that goes a long way in getting potential consumers to think favorably of your auto dealership.


The lesson here is that you shouldn’t settle for poor lead generation solutions that aren’t performing.


Interactive forms, which help you engage with website visitors by providing them with invaluable information or an entertaining experience, could be key to boosting your form completion rate. Also, depending upon the type of information you gather from those forms, you can personalize the conversations that follow.


2. Be Ready to Customize Messaging

]More than likely, you’ve already graduated to a customer relationship management platform. The question is how well are you customizing messages?


A strong CRM/digital engagement solution needs to be coupled with strategic messaging that is personalized for various segments. It should never be a one-size-fits all experience.


For example, a person who indicated she is in the market for a late model SUV sometime in the next four to five months should receive an entirely different engagement campaign than a person who wants to purchase a 2014 two-door hybrid sedan within a week’s time.


These types of campaigns should be strategic and engaging. And, if you haven’t done so already, dedicate a person with experience in this area to lead your digital marketing efforts.


3. Include Effective Calls to Action (CTAs) on your Website

Your website could offer current and potential customers their first impression of your auto dealership. But you already know this. Here’s something else to consider. How effective are you getting them to engage with your website?


We often underestimate the difference effective CTAs can make. By placing them more strategically in the right sections of your website — with the right message — you can see a significant difference in engagement rates.


But don’t take our word for it. Test out different CTAs with clear guidance on next steps you want visitors to take in the process. See which CTAs perform better and go with those.


Test out different CTAs with clear guidance on next steps you want visitors to take in the process.


If a person is on the financing page, encourage them to get an estimate of monthly costs based on their credit rating. And, by all means, encourage them to connect. Financing inquiries could mean they’re ready to buy.


To sum it up, the goal of a CTA is to compel readers to take action. A CTA could include encouragement to contact the dealership, schedule an appointment or take a test drive. Make it warm, friendly and, of course, inviting.


4. Engage Right Away

Provide your website visitors with a variety of options to engage in live conversations. If someone reaches out via a form for more information, make sure your system is set up to respond right away with an automated (but not dull) response and a promise that you will get to them right away.


Live chat tools also are an excellent way to engage with your customers. By using a live chat platform, you’re giving visitors more options to connect. Use live chat to answer questions about the car-buying process, financing options, and available inventory.


By using a live chat platform, you’re giving visitors more options to connect.


While not all car shoppers will be ready to talk, chances are more urgent buyers will want answers immediately. Give them what they want. The key is being available for a conversation as soon as possible. Studies show that it matters. Ideally, consumers should get a response within minutes.

5. Social Media is Sales

If you do nothing else to improve your auto marketing, you must remember that social media is a sales platform. You are constantly selling your brand, your dealership, and your stock when you post on social media. Stagnant social media tells potential customers that your dealership is apathetic and uninterested in connecting with them.


Use social media to promote sales, for sure, but also to form a relationship with your customers. Facebook Live videos and polls are a simple way for users to engage with your dealership brand and increase visibility.


These tips are a good start to optimize your auto marketing. They are also an affordable and effective way to ensure that your brand immediately comes to mind when potential clients are considering buying a car. Be consistent and get on target with the right tools to increase your share of the automotive sales industry.