As the digital market continues to change, so do consumers shopping habits. Automotive digital marketing agencies are helping dealerships face these common industry challenges from analyzing regional data to finding the best online solutions to capture more leads.
Along with the day-to-day challenges of minimizing sales team turnover and handling customer service issues, dealerships are faced with the challenging task of getting consumers through the doors.
Many dealerships hire automotive digital marketing agencies to come along for the ride — helping to identify the key components of a strategy to land a steady stream of business.
We identified the three major challenges dealerships and automotive digital marketing agencies are up against.
Challenge 1: Consumer car buying priorities have changed
With high inventory and slowing sales, manufacturers like General Motors and Ford recently cut back on production. Numerous reasons are behind the overall decline in vehicle purchases, but the vast majority are simply related to changes in consumer buying. New priorities have emerged.
Most automotive digital marketing agencies are analyzing consumer data nationally and regionally on behalf of their clients to assess how those priorities are shifting. Consumers’ car buying behaviors may vary greatly, based on their geographical location, income, age and other factors.
Your used car inventory also could be moving slow because teenagers are slow about getting their driver’s licenses. According to University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, 71.5 percent in 2015 of high school seniors had a driver’s license. That’s a record low and down from 85.3 percent in 1996.
But there are other gaps that you could be missing out on. Electric cars, for example, have been accelerating in sales. How many have you moved off your lot? Are you even offering them?
According to the International Energy Agency, the market grew 60 percent in 2016, with consumers putting 2 million of them on the road.
Electric cars could be a significant factor if you live in a region that places a high priority on minimizing the area’s digital footprint. Again, data analysis for your selling region will provide the clues your digital marketing agency needs to guide you toward the best marketing strategy.
By gaining customer insights through search behavior, an automotive digital marketing agency can help you capture sales based on the top consumer interests.
Challenge 2: Car buyers have changed the way they shop for vehicles
Many of the challenges that automobile digital marketing agencies are stepping in to solve can be traced directly to the Internet, says Melissa McCown of Brainstorms, a marketing firm based in Texas. Unlike previous years, in which marketing in print or broadcast was fairly straightforward, dealerships must consider a more comprehensive digital strategy to generate qualified leads.
“Changing technology has led to changes in how people are buying cars,” says McCown, a marketing consultant. “The Internet is always evolving. Our job is to come up with the latest solutions and most effective strategies for connecting with consumers.”
“Changing technology has led to changes in how people are buying cars.”
— Melissa McCown, Brainstorms
With guidance from the right agency, McCown says, an auto dealership should be able to develop a customized marketing solution that takes into account how potential consumers search the Internet for a new vehicle. That solution should feature numerous pieces that work cohesively together and personalize the online experience for shoppers.
Not only that, dealerships should be able to get evidence of an ROI based on their marketing investment. “A dealership should be able to determine if they are closing the business that’s coming from leads generated from the Internet,” McCown says. “That’s how you can tell if the marketing is effective.”
Working with an agency also can give the dealership the leverage it needs to reach consumers effectively. “Dealerships often are too busy on a day-to-day basis to try to keep up with all the moving parts of a marketing strategy,” McCown says. “An agency can provide the extra eyes and ears to make sure things aren’t falling through the cracks.”
Challenge 3: Automotive digital marketing agencies see high dealer turnover
Experienced sales staff is critical in an industry that still relies heavily on making a face-to-face connection to close the sale. Unfortunately, the auto industry has one of the worse turnover rates in the workforce.
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the retention rate for dealerships fell to 45 percent — down from 47 percent in 2014.
You may not have considered it, but once again, this is an area that a strong automotive digital marketing agency can help. When your sales reps and marketing team are equipped with the right tools to succeed – engaging in more relevant conversations with prospective clients that lead to sales — you should be able to boost employee retention. With increased sales, you also should be in a position to offer more incentives.
Some dealerships are seeing success by giving more generous bonuses as a way to boost employee retention.
That’s how a Volkswagen dealership was able to retain employees — even in the wake of negative news about the Volkswagen manufacturer.
The Volkswagen team was strategic with employee retention strategies — fully expecting that it could face a high turnover rate.
The strategy included regular communications about the Volkswagen emissions controversy, trained them on how to answer consumer questions, and boosted incentives and bonuses. As a result, the dealership was able to keep turnover low.
With the right focus and a little help from automotive marketing digital agencies, dealerships can overcome the major challenges as the industry shifts with changing consumer patterns.