Why car dealerships need to make use of digital marketing

25 Apr 2020 | Digital Marketing

Transportation was never the same after the first engine was invented. Slowly but surely, people are seeing motorised vehicles on the road and less horses. The automotive industry is now in the midst of yet another transformation as everything goes digital. Cars are having artificial intelligence built-in, they are connected to a network, and more importantly, if you are in the automotive business: the way cars being marketed are changing.

Car dealerships are generally still considered as brick-and-mortar businesses, it has picked up Digital Marketing in one way or another, even though they may be executed below optimal level. A survey in the UK found that over a third (36%) of marketers have been actively trying to integrate Digital and traditional marketing in their work; a quarter (25%) stating that they have limited integration; while 13% is saying that their approach is ad hoc and not integrated.

What Digital Marketing is and its relevance in Automotive Industry

Digital Marketing is a wide subject, but we can put it simply as ‘marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet’ as defined by HubSpot. So if you have sent an email to your contacts about a new car model that you are selling, you can say that you have dabbled on Digital Marketing. The next question is of course how effective you are in doing it and if it you are doing anything else.

A more comprehensive discussion on the topic of Digital Marketing will usually cover a few: 

  • Website (an online presence is always helpful for a serious sizable business)
  • Social media (imagine if your business is a person and having its own cool social media page that people want to be “friends” with and visit to)
  • Email Marketing (imagine sending direct mailer to your prospects, but without having to lick all those stamps)
  • Affiliates Marketing (imagine getting your friend to promote your car on the internet and you give them a little rewards for a successful sale as an appreciation) 
  • Digital advertising (imagine advertising your car with a news company, for your ads to be published on their website instead of their newspaper)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) (in short, making sure people find your business when they are searching for a car online) 
  • eCommerce (just like selling a car in Carzone.ie)
  • eAuction (imagine selling your car in eBay) 
  • Mobile Marketing (in short, promoting your car to people who are using mobile devices)
  • Content Marketing (in short, using good content to get people to find you, instead of you hunting for them and begging them to buy)

Each of them is an exciting topic by itself, but at least now you have a glance of different types of Digital Marketing and what it does. Do not get discouraged if some of them are unfamiliar to you. Remember that cars were first sold as a ‘horseless cart’. 

The impact of Digital on the Automotive industry

While people may not be swiping their credit card to buy a big-ticket item like a car without test driving it first, the internet has a huge influence on how your customers are searching and buying their next car. Being a big-ticket item means that your customer will spend a lot of time researching for their possible purchase before they make the purchase. 

Carzone reported that 50% of Irish car buyers spend up to a month researching their car purchase. In the past, a typical car buyer may be asking older family members who have owned a couple of cars, or perhaps some of gearheads friends (if they know any). These days, they can ask Google on their mobile phone, which gives them faster, more convenient, and waaaaay more information than all their extended family and friends could. As of 2019, half of Irish people admitted that they were getting recommendations online for their car purchase. 

How Digital Marketing brings in more business for Car Dealership

As consumers are getting more digital savvy and spending more time on the internet, on top of the existing above the line (ATL) TV ads, you could consider running ads in Social Media or YouTube, where people put their eyes on. You cannot do Marketing if you do not follow where the market is and how they are spending their time in making purchase decisions.

Now, if a potential buyer is searching for a particular car brand or model, and they find out that your car dealership is carrying that model, they may come down to your showroom to see and touch the car and do the test drive, and hopefully, you can seal the deal when they are there. 

So even though people made their car purchase in a physical car dealership, Digital Marketing can help you to bring in more people to your showroom, which otherwise they may go to your competitors, if they can be found online when they are searching for a car dealer and you are not there.

By the way, in case you miss it, Amazon is now trying to sell cars online.

Does Digital Marketing replace traditional marketing? 

You can spot a typical conservative person when they say, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” they may even point out that “even the police still have mounted units on horseback.” It is true that Digital Marketing does not replace traditional marketing, but it does not mean that you should miss the chance to use it to improve your business. It is a different way to capture a new market in addition to your conventional marketing. 

Imagine you are a mounted police unit and you are supposed to catch a suspect in a car while another police officer (your competitor) is equipped with a 120 horsepower car called ‘Digital Marketing’. Your chance to match and catch the suspect is drastically low compared to that competitor, not even with 120 horses. Also, how many mounted police units do we have today?

Doing (more) Digital Marketing for your business

If you are still on the bandwagon of traditional marketing, it is time to quit horsing around and drive Digital Marketing in your workplace. If you are ready to step up your Digital Marketing effort, talk to us. Our team in Flashlight would be able to look at your current practice and identify possible ways to improve it further.