Going digital is no longer a thing of the present. At the risk of sounding elitist, or dismissive, if your automotive marketing hasn’t already gone digital (at least partially) you have placed your dealership at a significant disadvantage.
To be clear, we’re not simply referring to whether or not you have a responsive website, with inventory configured to create an immersive customer experience (that should have been on your action items years ago). We’re also not referring to your SEO initiatives, and whether or not you’re optimizing your dealership for success, or setting it up for failure. And let’s be honest, if you don’t have an active social media presence by now, driving engagement and incorporating dynamic ad placement, you need to have a long conversation with your marketing team. As we edge towards 2019 (how the hell did THAT happen so fast?) we can’t help but look around, surveying the vast digital landscape, and appreciating the manner in which it has evolved.
Each and every platform available to advertise products and services upon has grown to include distinctive features and functionalities that allow dealerships to present those products and services in new-and-exciting ways to new-and-equally-receptive audiences. That said, it’s time to plant yourselves in front of a full-size mirror and take a long hard look at yourself, and your digital marketing initiatives, to determine where you need to direct your energies as this decade begins to wind down.
LIVE Video Streaming
There will always be a time and a place for scripted and polished content. It speaks to professionalism and is a powerful way of subtly converting the kind of capital your dealership has to play with. That said, failure to pair such content with spontaneous LIVE video is like dropping a weight on one end of a see-saw and watching your child cry because “this playground is no fun”. No-one wins in that situation (trust me, my stepdad was a real bastard).
Not only is LIVE video FREE, but it’s an explosively impactful way to convey time-sensitive and informative content, allowing for real-time interaction with your audience. Think ‘reminders regarding advertised sales promotions’. Think ‘information about Presentation by a well-informed, responsive and client-friendly host is an incredibly effective way to humanize your message. And (once again) it’s FREE.
Stories & IGTV
Instagram’s opportunity of creating 15-second video posts, with timed visibility are a great way of generating fresh bursts of excitement. These stories (complete with the option of creating ‘polls’) can empower a dealership to test the proverbial waters, or to convey very specific messages designed to generate both excitement and engagement.
But Instagram recently took it a step further, allowing for the integration of long-form content on their Instagram TV (IGTV) feature. Ranging from 10-60 minutes in length (the latter, for verified accounts) it provides dealerships with a whole new avenue for cost-controlled visual marketing that employs all the same strengths as more established methods. While all 800 million Instagram users might not be counted as part of your audience, the chances are that most of your existing and prospective customers are active users.
Augmented & Virtual Reality
While your salespeople may be in no apparent rush to present themselves with dog or cat filters (no worries, we understand) let’s not marginalize the opportunities presented by the ‘wider’ array of augmented reality applications out there. The automotive industry, as a whole, is a perfect place to integrate such technology.
Do you have a comprehensive parts & accessories inventory, with the skilled technicians to support all levels of repair and modification? Imagine dedicating a page of your website to software which allows a customer to select their make, model, model year and trim level and customize that vehicle with a wealth of aftermarket accessories. Such capabilities would allow them to experiment with and visualize mods they could be considering before making a purchase. Considering the value-added nature of the U.S.’s $425 billion aftermarket industry, why wouldn’t you want to incorporate such tools into your strategy?
A lot of what we’ve talked about thus far favors content that’s based around timeliness. But the generation of organic traffic isn’t solely achieved by playing off hot keywords or trending search topics. Part of your SEO strategy should include the creation of evergreen content; content designed to retain its value over time, thus valuing your website higher in the all-seeing eyes of Google. For a dealership, such content could be informational in regards to the automaker brand(s), come in the form of model profiles and reviews or even tips regarding the proper care or maintenance of vehicles.
Such content establishes your site as a valued resource based on the likelihood of bookmarking, and/or return visits. Content can be revised, amended or added-on-to over time, as needed. Think of it as half of a two-sided strategy, employing both timely and timeless content in equal proportion. If used in terms of written, video (and even audio podcast) content, your strategy will employ every kind of content generation possible to create the best possible ROI. Unless, of course, you think that your responsibility begins and ends with the sale (insert winky-face here).
At the end of the day, this might not feel like a ‘new strategy’ but its recent return to the proverbial spotlight is certainly worth noting. Sure, a desire for immediacy in terms of content and engagement is important, but the readiness and accessibility of worthwhile existent content is equally as important. If you’ve faltered in the creation of such content, be sure that you’re taking steps to remedy this in 2019.
The words ‘marketing’ and ‘trend’ go hand-in-hand, but do so with good reason. There is an inherent challenge in staying current with the ever-changing means by which dealerships are finding success in their automotive marketing endeavors. But being proactive and staying ahead of such trends is crucial in terms of distinguishing yourselves from your competitors.