Multi-Channel Marketing for Dealerships

In August 29, 2013

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Today’s buyer journey is more complex than ever before. What used to be a fairly linear consumer purchase path is now a world full of multiple touch points. Think of today’s consumer journey as taking a trip from Maine to California—there’s a million different routes you can take.

A Study from Forester research detailed that 33% of transactions made by new customers are influenced by more than one touch point, and multiple touch points influence 48% of repeat customers. This data reinforces that in order to encourage today’s consumers to purchase, your dealership needs to be “always on.” It means your dealership needs to be present, so whenever, however, and wherever your consumers research, you’ll be front and center.

Now the question is, how can your dealership stay in front of these customers during every point of their journey? The answer is in having an effective multi-channel marketing strategy.

Keeping All Services Under One Roof

The growth of emerging channels such as social, mobile, and email has made it difficult for brands to deliver a consistent experience. An effective multi-channel strategy complements, not competes. In order to maximize your return on investment each channel needs to reinforce the other. For this reason, it’s extremely advantageous for dealerships to have all of their marketing initiatives being managed under one roof. Having services such as traditional advertising, website maintenance, search engine optimization and social media marketing under one roof insures that your offline and online marketing programs are being distilled on one cohesive message. Having a seamless brand experience will encourage car-shoppers to choose your dealership over the competition—it eliminates confusion and supports a solid piece of mind.

When car shoppers start their journey, 60% have a brand in mind, but only 20% go on to buy that brand. (Google Think Insight, January 2013). Therefore, it’s not just about investing in multiple touch points to get an edge, it’s about finding the right marketing mix to help maximize buyer conversions. Keeping all of these services under one roof allows your agency to make educated data driven recommendations for marketing mix allocation.

Unfortunately, many brands still measure their marketing success with whatever the last-touch point before a purchase was. The view is short-sighted as the customer journey is more complex than that. Each marketing channel influences and assists the customer in his or her journey. Just because a customer called your dealership after clicking on a paid search ad, it doesn’t mean he/she didn’t imitate Facebook posts or signed-up to your newsletter months prior.

Have A Consistent Message

Once you’ve determined your target audience, brand voice and strategic goals, you need to make sure that all of your marketing channels support this strategy. This is where a lot of dealerships miss the boat because they have disparate messaging. If a car-shopper visits your website, your marketing on social media should reinforce the experience they had on your site. Just like the different car models support different lifestyles, different mediums resonate with different consumers.

It’s important to note that you can maintain the same brand message while tailoring it specifically for the medium it’s on. For instance, if your message is that you genuinely care about your customers, you can portray it in a video format for YouTube yet post it as an image for Pinterest. Each medium has its own unique strategy. This means, in order to offer consistent messaging across multiple marketing platforms effectively, you need to tailor your messaging based on the medium. Your agency experts will advise you on the types of content you should be posting to each channel and when you should be posting it.

OEM/Brand Alignment

I’m assuming your manufacturer spends millions of dollars every year in advertising. They’re working hard to drive more consumers to your dealership by building brand awareness and promoting new vehicles. Wouldn’t you want to leverage that spend from all the hard work they’re already doing? It makes sense both from a financial standpoint and a branding standpoint to align your marketing initiatives. Smart Dealerships figure out ways to leverage the brand equity their manufacturer have invested millions in growing. It’s not just about selling cars. Instead, it’s about fostering a culture and an aligned effort that reflects both master brand and dealership brand.

A great example of a manufacturer investing advertising dollars to build their brand equity is Volkswagen and their “Sign Then Drive” campaign. Once a brand advocate goes to Volkswagen’s brand website, they should experience the same message on a Volkswagen dealer’s site. Leveraging the “Sign Then Drive” campaign in your paid search, social media and content marketing programs would be a great way to ride off the momentum the brand already invested in. An example could be to create a dealership-branded commercial that features the promotion. This way, you’re still able to come across as authentic and can differentiate your dealership with your own brand voice.

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