Those days of going from one dealership to the next and exclusively making decisions face-to-face are getting rare. Auto shoppers nowadays conduct their own research and spend a lot of time online before visiting a showroom. It’s estimated that 92% of car buyers do their research online before purchasing a vehicle.
Additionally, it’s common for most shoppers to start their shopping journey at third-party websites, so companies should invest more in their digital marketing strategies. About 94% of potential car buyers now communicate with dealers through dealer websites, mainly on their mobile devices. Currently, dealership marketing departments should aim to generate traffic to their dealership website using internet-based channels.
With that said, here’s a list of online car dealership ideas to get vehicles off your inventory and in the hands of customers:
1. Make A Concrete Business Plan
With the technology upgrades emerging in the automotive industry, it’s just right to adapt to concepts such as an online dealership. Even if you’ve been operating your dealership for a while now, joining the industry online is a different matter altogether. You must create a business plan for your online dealership while incorporating conventional strategies and modern digital tactics. Try these tips during the planning stage:
Check Your Competition And The Online Market
Are you aware of what the dealer next door is doing? Do you think they have a strong hold on their position in the online market? Before you build your own, take the time to check out their site. This will give you valuable information on how to structure your website. Visit their reviews page to see what others think about them as well.
How would you describe their website? Is there anything you would change? Take note of the essential details and follow suitable strategies while eliminating the poor ones.
Prepare Your Budget
Set the budget for your site, and include all costs involved such as:
- SSL certificate
- Themes and plugins
- Payment gateways
- Credit card processing fees
- Online platform and hosting
Initially, you can start with a small budget, and as your site gains more traffic, you can increase your sales as well as your investment for other online strategies.
Ensure Privacy And Security
Implement policies that detail how you intend to use and protect customer information in order to build trust. Also, utilize the most secure software to prevent any data breaches and hacks. Cybercrimes are rampant these days, so it’s a must to protect your business and customer information at all costs.
Describe Your Cars
You can’t just put a bunch of photos on your website with their prices displayed, and you can’t simply describe each car with a single sentence, either. See to it that you present all the necessary information about the vehicle such as its model, color, and special features. In the case of a used car, be transparent about its condition. Customers need to be able to understand exactly what you’re selling based on your description.
2. Have An SEO-Friendly Website
Any business, no matter how big or small, needs search engine optimization (SEO). SEO helps you rank higher on Google and other search engines by making your site more visible online. Website designs don’t have to be flashy; you just need to incorporate the right strategies to encourage more people to visit your pages. Your website should be easy to navigate, load quickly, and provide your contact information. It’s also a plus to have car chat assistance, through which clients can contact your customer service staff live.
Regularly publish blog posts containing keywords related to your business and the search terms potential customers are looking for. For example, write about how to prolong the life of a vehicle, the differences and similarities between SUVs and CUVs, how to change oil, and so on. To avoid creating content that doesn’t get results, you may want to work with a content marketing agency.
3. Take Advantage Of Social Media Platforms
There’s no time like the present to get started on social media. Statista shows that 79% of Americans have a social media profile, so your business can’t afford to get left behind.
Engaging content will keep your target audience interested in what you have to offer. The content you use on social media should be tailored based on the platform you’re using. You can have longer textual content on Facebook than on Twitter, where the character limit is only 280. For compelling photos and video clips, Instagram is the perfect social media tool. Storytelling is crucial for capturing the attention of your target audience.
Include behind-the-scenes footage, Q&As, and other informative content when promoting your car dealership on social media. See what other auto dealerships are doing, and explore relevant hashtags to discover fresh ideas. Build your company’s reputation in the automotive sector with YouTube videos that effectively establish your company as a reliable authority. YouTube influences nearly 70% of car buyers when building a decision to buy a new vehicle.
It might also be beneficial to partner with local brands or influencers whose lifestyles complement the vehicles you sell, whether they are middle-range or luxurious car brands. You can then determine which social media campaigns and channels generate the greatest return for your business.
4. Upload High-Quality Images
A good image is always an attention grabber, especially for people who are seriously looking to buy a car. Specs and pricing are next on the agenda. Provide clear and concise information, and emphasize each car’s key advantages. Be sure to show the vehicle from multiple angles, too.
Here are some tips on how to take good photos of your vehicles:
- In general, you should get shots of the frontal area, the front 3/4 (which is an oblique angle), the driver’s side, the front or passenger’s side, and the back of the vehicle.
- Show the front and back seats, dashboard, trunk, engine compartment, and undercarriage.
- You should place the car against a plain background. This will allow customers to focus on the vehicle.
- Make sure you can show all the details mentioned on your ads If people don’t have access to an online catalog of pictures of your cars, some will not even consider checking them in person.
- Key selling points include the sunroof, enhancements, and modifications, so include these features in your online photo gallery. There are buyers who may be interested in them.
5. Consider Paid Online Advertising
Using social media, you may create a paid ad targeting a specific demographic or location. Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns are also an option. Search engines such as Google charge a fee when someone clicks on an online ad you’ve created. Although PPC can be costly, it could be worth investing some money into.
6. Build Your Noncompeting Network
Partnering with local businesses does the same thing as working with brands and influencers on social media. This is a marketing strategy that builds community both online and offline. Have a two-way deal with a local repair shop that provides service and maintenance if your dealership doesn’t offer such options. Build your network by connecting with local car washes, auto parts stores, and insurance companies.
You can hold on-site training sessions with business partners like those mentioned above. If you broadcast the training live for customers to watch, it’s possible to advise them on proper vehicle maintenance and provide other helpful to-dos that many of your prospects need and can relate to.
The customer is still a potential customer even if they aren’t shopping for a new car just yet. If they eventually decide to buy, they’ll remember your dealership and are more likely to purchase from you than your competitors. The benefits of helping other small business owners are improving your brand’s reputation, establishing trust, and encouraging word-of-mouth marketing.
7. Start An Email Campaign
The most common reason to contact customers is to inform them of upcoming promotions and discounts. However, you should avoid overloading people’s inboxes with too many sales announcements, mainly since the average office worker receives more than 100 emails per day. It’s better to implement an effective email marketing strategy rather than send random emails that’ll most likely be ignored.
A great way to achieve this is to send emails tied to specific blog posts found on your site. An incentive program is another option. If they need an oil change, you might be able to give them a 30% discount or offer them a free car wash the next time they visit your shop.
Another great way to use email marketing is to ask customers for feedback. An online survey can provide more detail and identify potential areas for improvement. Incentives such as discounts or free services can be used to give customers a reason to complete the survey.
Your email marketing strategy should be carefully crafted to foster a positive brand image, cultivate a personal relationship with customers, and increase retention rates.
8. Manage Online Customer Reviews
Any business owner will tell you that happy customers and a good reputation are essential to the success of a company. In line with that, in the digital world, managing your company’s online reviews is of great importance. While you can ask your customers to provide testimonials for your website, most people would do so on third-party review sites, so you need to communicate and keep in touch with them on those platforms.
This strategy isn’t just about gaining invaluable insights but also about connecting with customers, keeping your reputation intact, and growing your business.
It’s not easy to sell cars in a physical showroom, so if you’ve been doing that for years, that’s something you can and should always be proud of. Fortunately, now there’s a way for you to put your inventory online so more buyers can see it. The suggestions above will help your digital showroom run smoothly. You can work toward a bright business outlook by creating an SEO-friendly website, using your email database wisely, and keeping an eye on your reviews online.