In times of low inventory, marketing dollars are the first thing dealerships feel the need to cut. Since 2020, this has been the discussion throughout automotive, but the reasoning has changed dramatically over the past year and a half.
Initially, some cut dollars as a necessity to keep staff, stay solvent, and to keep the lights on. But now, as profitability hits an all time high, it is more about lack of inventory. While consumer desire is there and the need to race to the bottom with prices has all but vanished, chip shortages and bare lots are driving this stall in spending. Whether you are pulling back on spend for these reasons or doubling down on marketing efforts to maintain/gain market share, leads and traffic still need to maintain current levels and grow.
You can grow your leads and organic website traffic without high spend, many times doing so with only the cost of manpower. Growing your organic presence is definitely a marathon and not the sprint of paid search and paid social, but it will gain returns that will last and will continue to gain relevance for your website. Ensuring that you are focusing on all elements of marketing, from awareness and consideration to the purchase will keep you top of mind for potential customers and loyal ones alike.
Here are a few ways to get started.
Create a Blog
Writing and maintaining a blog is a great way to reach the right audience and the right time with the right message. If done correctly, a good and consistent blog presence will generate organic traffic to your website, viewers will consume more content and stay longer on your site, and your dealership will be seen as a trusted expert as well as a great place for a person to purchase their next vehicle.
There are multiple ways to start, and the best way is to brainstorm topics that are relevant to your customers. Talk with your Service Manager or Advisors and find out what the most common questions are that consumers are asking. Look at your vehicles and blog about the most wanted or least utilized features on your vehicles and explain them.
With gas prices rising, a blog on the best ways to maximize gas mileage, why tire rotations and alignments are important, or the benefits of changing out filters would be a great short article to publish. Prices are higher on new and used vehicles, and an article highlighting the great values people are getting on their trade-ins would resonate with consumers and let them know this may be the best time to bring their vehicle in for an appraisal.
There are also non-buying blogs that will bring value to your dealership. These blogs highlight your community, your culture, and the organizations that you partner with. The following are some areas of focus:
- Highlight community collaborations
- Local Events
- Dealership Events
- Restaurants, coffee shops, and local shops (park a car in front, take a picture, and highlight the business)
- Local High School sports, students, teachers, and awards
Diverting from only talking about cars and automotive will showcase a well-rounded business that cares about its community, and will also bring well deserved organic traffic to your site. The key to making this work is creating a publishing schedule and writing consistently. That could be weekly or every two weeks, but the consistent publishing of a blog will generate more views, more subscribers, and ultimately more traffic to your site.
Focus on Social Media
Social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok increase your exposure to potential customers, and keep a relationship going with loyal ones. And with
87% of people stating they used social media to research a vehicle before purchase, this is a place you need to be.
Your dealership’s social media activity can attract customers to your store, help with overall reputation, and drive organic digital marketing success. According to AdPearance, social media could influence up to 40% of all auto sales.
Paid social ads are very effective and targeted, your organic presence is what defines your culture to the outside world and can drive traffic and leads.
Create a posting schedule that will remain consistent. The more consistent the posts, the higher the likelihood the platform’s algorithms will pick up your content. This may be the hardest part because the dealership is anything but predictable and days can get chaotic. Find a champion at your center who already loves to post and create and work social into his/her payplan.
Like blogs, content is everywhere at your store. Viewers love behind the scenes posts, posts about service, highlights of your community involvement, and staff posts. Also highlight great reviews as a post--what better way to attract customers than showcasing how great others think you are!
Facebook is still the largest reach, with over 500 million viewers watching over 100 million hours of Facebook videos daily, but Instagram (especially Reels), TikTok, and Twitter are also platforms on which you want to publish content to get in front of potential and current customers.
One of the best formats on social media is video, which BCP has talked about previously, and will highlight in our next article.
Organic traffic takes work and planning, but does not need to be overwhelming. Start small and consistently, focusing on one element until you have perfected it, and then add a new focus. Once you start to see the benefits, you will know it is well worth your while.