According to the findings of a recent Google study, more than 80% of car buyers now go online first when beginning the hunt for a new vehicle. Not surprisingly, car shoppers now view the Internet as an indispensable resource when comparing cars and prices. In most cases, consumers know exactly what they want and what they should have to pay long before they ever set foot onto the showroom floor.
“As a result, showroom visits are decreasing, with more consumers comparison-shopping inventory online and only swooping in to buy after their minds are made up,” explains Kamal Tahir, vice president-Client Strategy at Datamyx, in a guest editorial for WardsAuto. “Dealerships no longer can rely on in-store visits to drive sales. They need to have the most powerful online presence wherever dealer or vehicle selection is happening and work far harder to keep customers close throughout the ownership cycle by using every retention-marketing tool possible.”
Remember that marketing is like coffee – your consumers will have a variety of tastes and preferences, and you can’t just brew a single pot of Breakfast Blend and let it sit.
When it comes to advertising and marketing tactics that work best among prospective car buyers, the data shows that a well-designed, responsive website that’s interactive and loaded with information can do more than anything else to engage customers.
One of the biggest misconceptions about automotive marketing, however, is that it’s done most effectively in the digital age by young dealerships. In reality, veteran marketers contend, well-established dealerships tend to have better websites because they know their customers so well and can inform their digital marketing teams of exactly what needs their web presence must address.
An excellent example of a terrific website comes from an equally terrific and well-respected Ford dealer that has been family owned and operated since 1934. West Valley City’s Henry Day Ford is not only one of Utah’s top Ford dealerships, it’s also behind one of the most efficient and attractive dealership websites in the U.S. right now.
Today, car shoppers in Utah say Henry Day Ford’s website is every bit as comfortable and accommodating as the dealership itself has been for the last eighty years.
If you’re website can achieve the same, experts say, you’ll have no worries.
“This avoidance of physical dealerships is in stark contrast with how much online vehicle research is happening: 4 in 5 people now use the Internet for car buying, visiting 10 auto websites in the process,” explains Dr. Mary Sheridan, Manager of Research and Analytics at DMEa. “More people are stealthily comparison-shopping dealerships and inventory online, and then swooping in to buy when their minds are already made up. Dealerships can no longer rely on in-store visits and the old ‘be-backs’ to drive sales: they need to have the most powerful online presence wherever dealer/vehicle selection is happening, and work far harder to keep customers close throughout the ownership cycle, using every retention marketing tool possible, like a constant-connection mobile app.”