Whether you employ the assistance of a full-blown automotive advertising agency or prefer to handle your marketing initiatives in-house (perhaps with the guiding hand of a third-party advisor) it’s imperative to understand where your strategy stands in relation to contemporary trends. And never has this been more important than now, as we tread purposefully towards 2019.
Because now, more than ever, trends represent more than just a helpful signpost leading you down the road. As we move into the third decade of the millennium, trends have evolved to become the roads themselves. And you can either follow those roads or be content to lose yourself along some unbeaten path. Our job is to make sure that you stay on the right road, always moving forward. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll want to keep in mind when assessing where your focus needs to be in the year to come.
Word-of-Mouth Marketing (WOMM)
While conversational referrals from friends, family and loved ones are still a very real part of our consumer existence, we have been moving away from traditional WOMM for quite some time. This, of course, is inevitable considering that texting and messaging apps are becoming a secondary home for even the most intimate of conversations.
That said, it’s important to understand that a customer’s satisfaction (or lack thereof) with their car-buying experience has never had a greater reach than it does right now. The option to take one’s experience and share it online is empowering and can either have a positive or negative effect on your dealership based on the level of engagement that a post receives. A positive post from a satisfied customer will appeal to anyone in search of a reliable and trustworthy dealership, but a negative post will inevitably gain steam among commiserators and may even be more impactful.
Still unsure about the power of WOMM, consider these statistics:
- 74% of consumers consider WOMM as the key influencer in their buying decisions.
- According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust suggestions made by friends and family more than those made in an advertising campaign.
- 88% of online consumers trust recommendations and criticisms found in online reviews as much as they trust insights from friends and family.
- And yet, only 33% of businesses are actively working to grow/encourage online reviews.
- Researchers have equated a 10% increase in word-of-mouth endorsements to as much as a 1.5% increase in sales.
The last two years have placed a greater emphasis than ever on the importance of video marketing. The modern evolution of traditional television marketing, suitable video content can come in any number of effective forms on any number of suitable platforms. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Here are some statistics worth considering…
- 70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video.
- 72% of businesses say that video has improved their conversion rate.
- 52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions.
- 65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video.
Taking each of those statistics into mind, and acknowledging the ever-decreasing cost of video production (paired with the ever-increasing production quality offered by even the most traditional of smartphones) and it becomes easy to see why video content offers such a strong ROI.
Video content can provide product demonstrations such as test drives, “behind the scenes” glimpses that help to humanize your dealership, or real-time visibility of events that existing and prospective customers might find interesting. Remember, not everything needs to be thoroughly scripted with impeccable production values. In fact, organic interaction with homespun content is an incredibly powerful tool for any industry that carries an image of inaccessibility. One might argue that some car dealerships could be described as exactly that. And with video content now appearing in all search engine results pages, it only serves to improve your search result standings and (inevitably) conversion rates.
Embracing the Influential
Influencer Marketing represents a partnership between your dealership and a spokesperson whose presence on social media platforms, such as Instagram, comes with a dedicated and engaged following. Think of it as the social media equivalent of a television commercial featuring a famous actor, athlete or musician. It’s a celebrity endorsement, intended to increase the level of excitement that the social media audience feels for your dealership.
Any search for an influential collaborator should come with a rigorous process to rule out anyone that doesn’t align with you in terms of ‘The Three R’s’.
First, ‘Relevance’. Partnering with an individual whose personal brand, or style of content, doesn’t align with the image or intent of your dealership is a wasted endeavor. For example, do they like cars? Do they post about them? Do they support your automotive brand? If so, you might have found the perfect online partner.
Next, ‘Reach’. To be certified by Instagram as an Influencer, the user must have accrued a significantly well-sized audience while maintaining a certain level of engagement with them. Finding a worthwhile influencer comes with the fact that their follower base should be substantial enough to increase the reach of your message exponentially. If they aren’t able to offer that kind of bolstering fanbase, they may not be the ideal fit for your efforts.
Finally, ‘Resonance’ addresses the applicability of your measure to an audience of the right size (or effectively you resonate with the audience). Many marketers believe in the strength of the “micro-influencer”, an engaged and attentive user with 5,000 to 25,000 followers. Partner with the right one, and you might just have the best cross-marketing partners imaginable.
If you’re able to find the ideal partner to further your brand with their influence, be sure to establish consistency in the posting style that conveys uniqueness while being respectful of both your branding and that of the influencer themselves. Through lighting and composition, you can ensure that your relationship with an Instagram Influencer offers the maximum payoff.
Are You Utilizing These Methods?
If you are already creating positive word-of-mouth-marketing, if you are employing all forms of visual marketing to engage with your customers, and are maximizing the reach of your message through influencer relationships, congratulations. You are in a strong position going into the new year, and we look forward to discussing evolving trends as they come in 2019. Stay tuned for more.