Car dealers have historically been reliant on more traditional advertising channels – print, television, and radio ads – to get their messaging out to customers. But, as the car buying journey has evolved, so has automotive marketing. While traditional advertising channels are still effective, what’s even more effective for car dealers is investing in a multichannel marketing strategy that includes digital marketing tactics. 

When done correctly, a multichannel marketing strategy for car dealers can supercharge your existing efforts and grow your dealership in ways you didn’t expect. Here’s a closer look at why multichannel marketing matters for car dealers. 

Most People are Starting Research Online 

Traditionally, if someone wanted to buy a car, one of the first stops in their journey to educate themselves was the actual dealership. They’d go from dealer to dealer, speaking with salespeople and getting a better handle on their options. 

Today, that early-stage research is conducted online. Between 85 and 90% of auto shoppers now start their research on search engines or review sites. Most people begin by researching car brands, then hone in on local dealerships for their brand of choice. In fact, a recent case study from Google showed that there can be over 900 digital touch points as part of the car buying journey.

This means that if your dealership doesn’t have an online presence, you’re missing out on your chance to participate in a huge chunk of the car buying process. Everything starts with a mobile-friendly, content-focused website

For local dealerships, it’s important to have a strong presence on local listings sites, with lots of great reviews to build trust. In fact, Google reports that searches for “car dealerships near me” have been on the rise, and one in three consumers who found a dealership on their mobile device then called them directly following the search. 

By having a website and presence on Google Maps and other local listings sites, you can increase the chances that your dealership appears at this critical step in the research process. These elements lay the groundwork for establishing your dealership as the place of choice for consumers who are looking to purchase your brand of car. 

A Mix of Approaches Holds Attention 

Cars are a big investment, so most people take their time before making a purchase. That’s why it’s important that you remain ever-present throughout the car buying journey. 

After you’ve captured consumers’ attention initially with a strong website and local listings presence, other tactics both on- and offline allow you to remain in consumers’ fields of vision as they weigh their options. The marketing rule of seven states that a prospect needs to see or hear your messaging seven times before they take action with your product, so it pays to be everywhere. 

The automotive industry as a whole is spending more each year on digital advertising, and that’s in part because there are so many great digital channels. Display ads allow you to appear across various websites. Video ads have proven to be highly effective, with 69% of car buyers saying they were influenced by YouTube advertising

PPC campaigns allow you to capture that real estate at the top of search engine result pages. And paid social media is an opportunity to maintain a consistent presence in your prospects’ feeds. 

And then there’s traditional advertising. Television ads give you the power to reach people at home. Print ads grab attention in a way that few other advertising channels can; seventy-seven percent of Millennials report that they pay attention to direct mail.  

Cast a Wide Net, Reel in Specific Fish 

The major benefit of digital advertising is that you can target that messaging at specific audiences, thus boosting your ROI. But offline channels remain effective, allowing you to stay top-of-mind with those who already know you and to reach new consumers at the same time. 

Traditional advertising allows you to get in touch with people across their customer journey. All types of consumers may see the same ad. 

Some will have just started thinking about purchasing a car but haven’t yet begun their research. Others may have honed in on their favorite car brand but haven’t yet settled on a dealership. Others still may have already come in for a test drive and might just need a final nudge towards returning to the dealership to make their final purchase. 

These tried-and-true channels remain a great place for positive messaging about your dealership and the cars you sell – the kind of information and ideas that can be appreciated by any consumer. 

Digital marketing, on the other hand, allows you to reel in specific consumers based on their individual traits and behaviors. Google, Facebook, and the other major digital marketing channels give you the power to create specific audiences for your advertising

It makes sense to create different campaigns for different types of people. Then, you can speak to their individual needs and wants at the right moment, which gives your advertising the greatest chance at success. 

For example, Facebook allows you to target advertising at people based on life events. It might make sense for you to direct advertising for your minivans and family cars at those who were recently married or are expecting their first child. Emphasizing the safety record of these cars is a great way to capture these consumers’ attention. 

On Google, you may choose to show paid search ads to people based on their geographic location. Perhaps you create a campaign that shows ads for your high-end cars to people in neighboring towns with the highest median incomes. 

At the same time, you can target your display advertising to run to those who have visited your dealership’s website. You know that these people are interested in your business, so splashing banner ads with your business’s name across the sites they visit boosts the likelihood that they’ll return to your site when their thoughts return to the car buying process. 

More traditional advertising channels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they remain very effective. So while there’s no need to doubt your print ads, there is real value in expanding your advertising horizons to undertake a more holistic approach. Multichannel marketing helps car dealers to reach all sorts of consumers – from those who are just starting to consider a new car to those who are just about ready to sign on the dotted line. 

For help reaching consumers across all of the channels at your disposal, contact one of our automotive marketing experts today

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