At last count, about 60 percent of the car-buying process is online, with prospective shoppers reporting that they’re spending an average of 5 hours and 12 minutes visiting third-party sites or apps while researching. And, according to a survey by Cox Automotive, those shoppers do their research on the Autotrader or Kelley Blue Book websites 73 percent of the time.
STRATEGIC CONTENT MARKETING COULD BE KEY TO BOOSTING WEB AUTO SALES
These numbers are unlikely surprising. You already know that savvy car shoppers do most of their research online before visiting an auto dealership. And you’ve probably invested in a website, inventory software, photography, social media and other web auto sales tactics to get your share of the market.
It makes sense. With the right content, including videos, photos, and, of course, the written word, you can increase your chances of capturing some of that web traffic — and taking the steps to nurture them to a sales conversion.
However, if you’re not strategically targeting your customers — honing in on different interests and behavior — you could be losing the opportunity to be hyper-relevant to prospective buyers. By providing them with the right information at the right time to answer their questions and concerns at every step of the buyer’s journey, you gain a competitive advantage.
Don’t just think of your dealership website as the ultimate go-to source for information, consider it as the platform that allows you to be more relevant for car shoppers than anything they would find on Autotrader or KBB.com. “Today, car shopping is all about matchmaking — uniting sellers and buyers online,” said Jared Rowe, president of Cox Automotive Media. “To create a perfect match, dealers should communicate a differentiator that represents their unique value so that consumers can easily identify dealers that offer the specific car shopping experience they desire.” Findings of those studies underscore why it’s important for dealers to create a web experience that goes beyond just information about product and price, Rowe said.
Developing A Solid Content Marketing Strategy
One of the first — and perhaps most challenging — steps in developing a strategic content marketing plan is understanding your buyers. Yes, it’s tough. Your potential buyers could be anyone between the ages of 16 to over 80.
They may represent a wide range of socioeconomic demographics, from those who can only afford a car that costs a few thousand dollars to those who are in the market for a vehicle that rivals the cost of the average house.
To make matters more complicated, you’re trying to appeal to buyers who may be at the stage in their lives where it makes sense to limit their search to SUVs and mini-vans. Or those who are in the market for sporty vehicles — or electric vehicles.
All that represents significant differences in how you would craft an experience tailored to each buyer. Developing those types of experiences could take much more time than you’re able to invest — or you can achieve it through technology and a strategic content plan to guide it.
Capturing The Right Data
To make a connection with each prospect, you need to truly understand what they’re looking for — from vehicle brands, makes and models to vehicle features.
However, getting that type of information doesn’t always come easy. It’s essential to build a two-prong approach. It’s important to draw the user in with invaluable information and experiences to gain her or his trust.
In other words, you’re delivering value and authority from the moment they land on your site. The second component is focused enough personal data to deliver a personalized experience through a nurturing campaign.
With interactive forms and data management software, you can accomplish both. By using interactive forms that engage or provide relevant information, you’re more likely to come away with more details than name, email, and other generic information.
Auto dealerships who have used PERQ’s technology have found that extra details have allowed sales teams to deliver a more relevant experience.
Also, data management software that responds to consumer behavior and interests can be intuitive in understanding next steps and meeting the buyer with relevant answers and experiences before they move to the next step.
Generating Creative Ideas
When developing content throughout the site for that initial experience, it’s important to listen to your customers.
Just ask your sales team what questions they hear most often from shoppers. Then write blogs posts that answer all of those questions. But don’t stop there. Think about what questions people are asking before they visit your dealership.
To find out what people are searching for online, take a look at Google Trends. You can enter a search term to see its popularity over time and related search topics, as well as where the searches are coming from. So, using the term “used car” as an example, Google Trends shows that people in Atlanta Google that term the most.
The related query, “car dealerships near me,” reached peak popularity at the end of 2016, with Detroit having the most search traffic for that term.
You can also use insights from your own website traffic to generate blog post ideas. For example, if you find the majority of website visitors are looking at cars that cost $13,000, write a blog post about “The best used cars under $14,000.”
Most importantly, don’t forget to write about topics specific to your region. Shoppers who live in Vermont may want to know which vehicles offer the best performance on snowy roads.
In Houston, which has one of the highest birth rates in the country, car buyers may be most interested in vehicle safety ratings for sedans and minivans.
To get a clearer picture of how to craft hyper-local content, you can enter your dealership ZIP code on the United States Postal Service’s ZIP Codes.org website to see demographic information in your area, including median household income, the percentage of households with and without children and means of transportation to work.
What Your Content Can Do For You
In addition to producing relevant content to different segments, provide updated content on automotive industry trends and detailed content on credit scores and financing.
Once you start producing content regularly, you begin establishing online credibility with search engines. Google prefers websites with fresh, relevant content to websites that have stale, redundant or very little content.
So your blog can help you rank higher in search results — and it can help you establish credibility with local car shoppers. Someone who reads your content and finds it helpful may recommend your website to a friend.