Warning: In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a woman and I’ve worked with automotive marketing firms for years, writing strategic campaigns for dealerships, dealer groups and manufacturers. And I’ve bought my share of cars off local lots and showroom floors. So, I’m coming at this subject based on personal and professional experiences – backed by industry data and statistics.  

Women are a driving force in the car buying process – they influence 80% of all purchase decisions, according to Digital Dealer. Not only that, Max Digital reported women made up an estimated $445 billion of new car sales in 2017 alone. But Driving Sales thinks dealership marketing could do better when it comes to targeting this growing market. “It makes sense that dealers would try to better understand women and adjust their approaches to selling to them, right? But the truth is that most dealerships are afraid to acknowledge gender.” 

From how they pick a dealership to how they make buying decisions, women do not “shop like a man.” They respond differently to dealership marketing campaigns. So, it’s time for strategic dealerships to man up and start marketing to women accordingly.   

Five tips for automotive marketing to women: 

  • Be the first – and last – dealership women visit 
  • Highlight your reviews – good and bad  
  • Build trust and relationships with social media  
  • Create a website that speaks to women 
  • Know what matters to women – think outside the price 

Be the First – and Last – Dealership Women Visit 

Women are taught to be cautious of car dealerships. Google “woman buying a car alone” and you get 53.5 million results, with articles such as:  

  • 14 Ways to Survive the Car Dealership 
  • 11 Expert Tips for Going to the Dealership Alone 
  • Buy a Car Like a Boss Lady 

How can you put women at ease when they’re researching and shopping for vehicles? Listen to what they say, don’t interrupt, ask and answer questions, and respect their time – they could be on their lunch hour or picking up kids in 45 minutes.    

You’ve got one chance to make an impression, and it needs to be a good one. According to Women-Drivers.com 2019 report, six in ten women who visit a dealer and don’t buy, don’t return. Their top reason? “They didn’t like the way they were approached or treated, and their expectations weren’t met.”  

Half of women shoppers report visiting only one dealership when purchasing a car. But if they’re not satisfied with the experience on your lot, they’ll travel quite a distance to buy from a competitor. In fact, 60% report buying from dealers outside their area – an average of up to 24 miles. And when you lose that sale, you lose more than just that purchase. You lose all the service work that goes along with it – women represent 65% of service work done at dealerships. (Digital Dealer)     

Highlight Your Reviews – Good and Bad   

Women use dealer reviews 50% more than men – and women are influenced three times more by reviews than they are by price. What other people think matters to women:  

  • 49.2% visited and bought from a dealership because of its reputation  
  • 26.5% were referred to a dealership by a friend or family member 

Women like to share their car-shopping experiences with friends, family and co-workers, so don’t miss opportunities to ask for reviews. Once you have these reviews:  

  • Highlight reviews on your website, social media, email marketing, newsletters and more 
  • Include even “bad” comments, so your reviews don’t seem prescreened or fake 
  • Address problems and show how you handle – and resolve – issues 
  • Ask customers to write reviews – stress that their comments help improve service 
  •  Women-Drivers.com 2017 

We can help with review management

Build Trust and Relationships with Social Media  

Use social media and digital advertising to develop relationships with women during the early stages of their car buying journey. Build trust with women shoppers through familiarity and carefully crafted messages directed to each segment of this target audience. We can help you.  

Connect with women via social media to talk about the services they care about, things that help distinguish your dealership from your competition (email marketing is also a smart way to go). Use social ads to deliver relevant messages to a targeted audience.  

Tell them about:  

  • Loaner cars (top concierge item requested by women)  
  • Wi-Fi waiting lounge, refreshments and stations for computers 
  • Educational seminars 
  • Long-term service and maintenance care 
  • Free car washes 
  • Free oil changes 
  • Free state inspections 
  • No-hassle return policy 
  • Non-commissioned sales advisors 
  • (Max Digital) 

Create a Website that Speaks to Women  

A dealer’s website is the number one site women use when buying a car. Yet only 76% of women find these sites informative or helpful. (Women.Drivers.com 2017) 

Want to increase that number? Make sure your website inspires trust and welcomes women shoppers with images and information that reflect their lives and interests. Include women of diverse demographics in your automotive marketing to encourage engagement and interaction with your dealership and its website.  

Think about what matters to women buyers – reviews and dealership reputation. Have you won any Dealer of the Year awards? Make sure they know it. Consider adding a section where women can read other women’s reviews for service and sales; “how-to” videos for women across the entire ownership experience; and other “sticky” content to share across social media and digital marketing. Branded content can help amplify your reach. 

Know What Matters to Women – Think Outside the Price 

An automotive marketing firm asked me to write a new campaign because the ones they’d been using for years weren’t working anymore. I suggested a new strategy that included targeting women and focusing on what motivates them to buy. The company wasn’t comfortable with that approach and, in the end, stuck with the same old messaging. New incentives, top dollar trade-ins and low APR. You can image, they ended up with the same lackluster results. 

Automotive marketing that’s exclusively price-driven ignores what women shoppers are looking for on their car buying journey and in their new vehicles. Women’s families – and the safety and reliability of their automobiles – are paramount. When asked to rank the importance of car features, women responded: 

  • 84% reliability  
  • 80% safety in an accident 
  • 74% fuel economy/good mileage 

With safety coming in second on a list of 17 features, you may want to consider highlighting vehicles that earn Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Picks. Check 2019’s list here. Do you carry cars that received a Women’s Choice Award for best automobile? Let women shoppers know. See 2019’s winners here

Five Tips for Automotive Marketing to Women 

All car buyers aren’t created equal. Women shoppers are different than men, and it pays to pay attention to the differences. Women want to:   

  • Be seen and heard in their car buying journey 
  • Read what others have to say about your dealership 
  • Feel comfortable working with your dealership 
  • Interact with marketing and information that represents them  
  • Learn about what they care about 

Women bought 7.74 million new cars last year; they buy 65% of new cars; and 38% out-earn their husbands. The point is, women are a car-buying force. And we’re here to help you create automotive marketing for women that targets each and every segment of this powerful and profitable market. (Women.Drivers.com, Digital Dealer)   

Contact us to learn more about automotive marketing to women: digital marketing, branded content, review management, SEO and more. 

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