The New Normal: Digital Marketing
Finding a way forward in the “new normal” has been a challenge for businesses across the U.S., and car dealers are not immune from the necessity of adapting their operations to a post-COVID landscape. For many stores, this means doing more with less, getting creative, and maximizing the return on time and money spent.
According to a recent survey, dealers’ marketing budgets have been one casualty of the pandemic; this is especially true of money allocated to traditional advertising channels such as radio, TV, and print. That’s not to say that dealerships are giving up on advertising during these challenging times: they’re just finding more cost-effective ways of doing it. Digital channels, such as social media, have gained traction as low-cost ways to effectively reach consumers.
The Digitization of Dealer Marketing
For instance, dealer spending on Facebook advertising has risen dramatically since April. Whether they’re using social media via posts and videos advertising incentives or enhanced cleaning protocols, or via paid targeted posts, dealers can see what level of engagement they are getting for their time and money with social media in a way that isn’t possible with TV and print advertising.
Social media isn’t the only digital path to effective marketing for a dealership. Optimizing their existing website to host online chat, informational videos, appointment requests, and other direct ways of interacting with customers can publicize their brand while using an existing resource.
Efficiency is key, both from a financial standpoint as well as staffing: dealers across the country were forced to reduce their headcounts during the shutdown and economic fallout. Many have not returned to their full rosters, either out of financial necessity or an abundance of caution amid ongoing uncertainty.
Making daily operations more efficient and cost-effective can apply to F&I products as well. Studies show that introducing F&I products online increases consumer engagement and uptake rates. Furthermore, it is what many consumers say they want! Adding F&I product information to a store’s social media page(s) or website can lead to more revenue on each sale, and for hardly any effort or expense.
Some products are better suited to a feature than others, and with the economic effects of the pandemic affecting customers as well as dealers, selecting products that offer a good return for both parties is crucial. One excellent example of this is a loyalty program. These often include a limited warranty on major vehicle systems (e.g., the powertrain) but may include other benefits like maintenance services as well.
For the customer, loyalty programs offer protection against major mechanical repairs or expenses as well as the dealer’s commitment to them and the quality of their vehicle; for the dealer, they bring customers back to the store for maintenance and repairs and build long-term relationships between the consumer and the dealership, driving repeat business in sales and service.
They are also infinitely customizable, offering an opportunity to build a store’s brand and incorporate rewards or benefits to better serve their customers—both existing and potential. In this difficult and surreal time in the auto industry, that is not something to take for granted.
Are You Looking to Adapt Your Dealership's Marketing Strategy?
National Auto Care offers a robust suite of loyalty-building products, as well as a variety of digital tools to help you offer your customers the F&I protection they need. Contact us to learn more!