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7 Tips to Improve Auto Dealer Marketing with a Customer Engagement Strategy

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Pam Georgiana

Recently, CarEdge reported a mind-blowing fact about the automobile industry that has big implications for auto dealer marketing. For complete clarity, I'll quote the entire statement here:

“In 2023, the new car market is doing something it rarely does: holding steady. Although prices are stable, they remain close to record highs. This stability comes after several years of tumultuous changes in the automotive industry, from the pandemic-driven recession to the supply chain shortages that followed. As new car price trends prove tough to forecast, keeping an eye on the market’s subtle movements becomes crucial for potential buyers and sellers alike.”

This is big news for those in the industry. Market volatility has provided many challenges for car dealerships over the last few years. Stable prices will bring more buyers to the market. This is good news, but it also increases competition for sales. Auto dealers can beat the competition and build loyalty by using engagement strategies. These strategies help create a positive brand image and strong relationships. 

That's where partners like Calldrip can be a game-changer. Calldrip is a leader in auto dealer marketing with decades of experience. We know how to help dealers leverage innovative AI-driven software to meet customers where they are both in person and online and make those critical sales. 

This blog will share our expertise by offering 7 tips for auto dealer marketers and sales professionals to level up their customer engagement strategies. 

But first, let's uncover the unique details behind marketing for car dealers. 

What is Auto Dealer Marketing?

Auto dealer marketing refers to strategies to promote automotive products and services, increase brand awareness, attract potential customers, and drive car sales. Today's auto dealers leverage a range of online and offline tactics to reach their target audience and showcase their inventory. 

Auto dealers must have a strong online presence through websites, social media, and review sites like Autotrader and Yelp. Each channel must showcase inventory, share promotions, offer interactive buying tools like calculators and video how-tos, and provide easy-to-use methods for customers to talk to a salesperson or customer service professional.

Auto dealers rely on online ads through platforms like Google Ads, social media, and display ads to attract car buyers to their websites. They may also use email and content marketing to promote special offers, new arrivals, and maintenance services.

Most auto dealers maintain brick-and-mortar locations for customers to shop for cars. Traditional marketing campaigns such as events, test drive opportunities, or promotions at the dealership can attract local customers and create a positive in-person experience.

Car dealerships also have sales teams that handle customer questions, make follow-up calls, and manage sales over the phone or online.

With increased competition and customer shopping options, it's critical for auto dealer marketing and sales teams to build strategies that drive long-term customer engagement and loyalty. Successful marketing strategies are effective when they meet customers where they are. They provide valuable information and excellent customer service. Here are 7 tips that can help your team do just that. 

7 Tips for Improving Auto Dealer Customer Engagement and Conversion

Tip 1: Understand Your Buyer’s Preferences

To create effective marketing strategies, auto dealers must understand how today's car buyers shop. These strategies should provide buyers with the information they want through their preferred channels at the right time. That means having an online presence. 

About 50% of car buyers begin their shopping journey online. Today's car buyers are well-informed, tech-savvy, and shop via mobile devices. In general, they spend more than 14 hours researching their options before purchasing. 

The top five activities done by online car shoppers include researching car prices (71%), finding cars listed for sale (68%), comparing different models (64%), finding out what their current car is worth (63%), and locating a dealer or finding a dealer’s contact information (46%). 

Interestingly, nearly 1 in 5 new vehicle sales in 2022 was a pre-ordered vehicle, an 89% increase year over year. 74% of pre-order buyers said they chose to pre-order to purchase certain vital features they wanted and exclude the ones they didn't want. They also reported they would likely pre-order again the next time they buy a car.

Online buyers are the most satisfied among all car buyers. 81% of shoppers in 2022 said that online activities improved their overall buying experience. They said it saved them time and provided greater transparency around pricing. 86% said digital shopping allowed them to interact with fewer sales personnel.

Tip 2: Focus on Delivering Convenience and Value

Customers want a dealer to respond to their inquiry within five minutes. If you make them wait, they will move on to your competitor. They also want you to respond to them through their preferred communication channel. If they contact you via text, they would prefer an answer via text. The same is valid for web chat, email, or phone. These simple details show customers you value their needs and strive to deliver the things that are important to them. 

To ensure that every single inquiry receives a response no matter how busy the dealership is, automotive sales teams often use AI-driven speed-to-lead automation tools like Calldrip to ensure that inquiries are addressed instantly. 

Tip 3: Leverage Digital Marketing Efforts

Because most car buyers shop online, every car dealer needs an engaging, informative, and mobile-optimized website. Cox Automotive recently reported that car shoppers visit an average of 4.9 websites. 79% of buyers visit third-party sites like Kelley Blue Book or Autotrader, followed by dealership sites (59%), used vehicle online retailers such as Carvana and Vroom (34%), and automaker websites (33%).

Digital marketing and advertising campaigns that drive customers to your website are essential pieces of the digital engagement puzzle. Because customers typically shift between online and offline channels at least four times, create integrated, consistent, and memorable marketing campaigns. Videos are becoming a significant part of the research phase. 80% of buyers watch online videos of test drives, walkarounds, demos, opinion vlogs, and more. 

For a deeper dive into building the best digital campaigns for your marketing efforts, check out this blog

Tip 4: Implement Text Message Marketing and Lead Nurturing

Texting has become the communication channel of choice for many consumers. In fact, 90% of customers prefer text messages over direct phone calls when interacting with a brand. Also, 95% of text messages are read and responded to within 3 minutes of being received. 

Texting is fast and easy for customers. It also helps your sales team be more efficient and accessible. AI-driven software solutions create engaging and nurturing leads through automated text messaging. 

Calldrip's Business Text Messaging sales assistant is one such solution. The Engage feature is a web chat widget that converts web chats to instant text and phone conversations. One dealership using Calldrip attributed almost 20% of their new car sales to the AI assistant in the first month! 

Read more about Calldrip’s Business Text Messaging here

Tip 5: Personalize Your Marketing

Data shows that personalization in marketing has real advantages. It can reduce customer acquisition costs by 50%, increase revenues by 5 to 15%, and enhance marketing ROI by 10 to 30%, according to McKinsey

Customers are used to personalized marketing messages in their mail, email, and texts from brands they know and love. 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and 76% get frustrated when they don't. 

Personalized marketing involves more than using the customer's first name in a message. Smart car sellers analyze customer behavior to connect with leads and stand out from rivals. 

You can use AI-powered marketing and sales software like Calldrip to make your customer experience more personal. For example, AI can help your team identify and reconnect with customers who have become unresponsive with messages that reference past conversations and offer more personalized product information and offers. 

With strong customer data and marketing tools like Calldrip, tailor each marketing message to the customer based not only on their name but also on their interests, needs, and goals. 

Tip 6: Showcase Customer Reviews

Car buyers often start their online buying journey by reading customer reviews on sites like Google My Business, Facebook, and Yelp. This is especially true when the purchase is a significant investment, like a car. About 93% of car buyers have bought their cars based on online reviews.

Reviews are a powerful form of word-of-mouth marketing that can't be copied by any paid advertising or marketing campaign. It's the best way to build trust and credibility in a crowded marketplace.

As a sales or marketing leader, managing your online reputation on review platforms is crucial. This includes collecting and showcasing positive testimonials and responding to negative reviews. 

Calldrip's Review tool helps auto dealer marketing leaders gather, follow up, and share reviews. Read more about the importance of online reviews here.

Tip 7: Implement Conversational Sales for Better Connections

Every car dealer needs a data-driven and customer-focused sales team. At the end of the day, customers still want to engage with a human when making one of the most important buying decisions of their lives. If you're investing in generating leads, you should invest in closing them, too.

Conversational sales software like Calldrip enables your sales team to be wonderfully human at scale. The software creates instant lead responses, personalized nurturing, real-time engagement opportunities, and data-driven insights. 

Calldrip's software leverages various channels, including phone, web chat, email, text, and web forms. Your sales team can use these tools to build strong customer relationships, increase closing rates, and work more efficiently. Calldrip also provides integrated sales coaching software. This helps each salesperson have better sales conversations and improve their close rate over time. 

Read more about conversational sales software here

Calldrip is a leader in providing software solutions for high-performing automotive sales teams. 

We help clients all over the globe level up their marketing and sales strategies through innovative AI technology built expressly for their needs. 

To learn more about how Calldrip can boost customer engagement and sales, schedule a demo now!

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