Whether facilitated in-house by your own marketing team, or through a third party vendor, automotive advertising is not for the weak of heart. We live in transitional times, shifting with both the frequency and inherent dangers of cartoon quicksand. No longer can a dealership thrive (let alone survive) solely on the reapings yielded by traditional marketing efforts. Truth be told, the dividends yielded by such efforts are lessened each and every day. Marketing has evolved to a point where many dealerships are faltering, due to their lack of ability or willingness to keep up. And while we normally applaud the prudence of small, measured steps, the rise of 2019 on the horizon reminds us all of the need to stop. The importance of taking inventory of the marketing strategies we’ve employed, and those that we’re actively eyeing or building towards. Doing so is the only means of gauging just how far off we are to the evolutionary curve of today’s marketing trends. And for those who find themselves lagging behind, this might be your last chance to ‘play catch up’, even if it means taking larger, riskier strides in order to do so. So, get ready…it’s time be fearless in terms of marketing your dealership.
If this is one of the areas that you find yourself lagging behind on, it might be rooted by a fear that “AI” is the enemy, silently plotting to usurp humanity. And while we certainly have similar taste in movies (want to hang out sometime?) the simple truth is that AI has taken control of so many simpler tasks, including those found in a successful marketing strategy. For example, messenger bots empower a dealership to engage prospective customers in 24/7 communication, furthering the ideal of a customer-centric sales model built around the unique demands of their lifestyle.
To put the prevalence of AI into perspective, 2017 saw approximately 2% of businesses employ AI as part of their active marketing. It is estimated that this number will jump to 25% in 2020. Needless to say, businesses that choose to adopt AI in 2019 can expect accelerated growth, competitive advantages, and savings as a result of their decision.
It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? On one hand, we’re certainly able to appreciate the appeal of intuitive software that makes it easy for us to follow through on our instincts to buy this, or watch that. On the other hand, we find ourselves looking at an ad on our social media and wondering, “Did I mention that out-loud? Or did I only think about it?”
General discomfort aside, this kind of personalization is indicative of the direction that marketing of all kinds will be moving in. Behavior-driven algorithms have already empowered such services as Amazon and Netflix to become irreplaceable technologies in our collective homes. Our social media newsfeed are littered with applicable banners and carousel ads, and even our search engine queries seem intelligently auto-completed to reflect our needs. So ask yourself, what steps are you taking to make your dealership’s online presence personalized, built around the individual needs of your individual customers?
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 what 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.
As discussed in all the points above, there’s little doubt that 2019 will reveal both marketing strategies and tools that are built around both personalization and automation. The burden is firmly placed at the feet of the tech giants to create and/or further evolve the framework upon which these two ideals will be merged, but dealerships (and all forms of retailers) will be instrumental in providing the insights needed for them to do so.
Therein lies your homework for the months to come. Familiarize yourself with the platforms and tools that are out there, begging to help you grow your business in new and exciting ways. Do the research. Test the waters. See what works, and what doesn’t. Trust in guidance from your marketing team or partner to ensure that you’re utilizing each opportunity in the best possible means. Remember, it’s time to be fearless.
And be especially fearless in offering yourself as an extension of your dealership’s brand. From YouTube to Facebook Live Streaming, you have a number of free venues upon which you can market your dealership, culture and special events in real time. The power is yours to make 2019 the most successful year you’ve enjoyed to date. That said, no-one is going to do that work for you. Do your homework, familiarize yourself with the options out there, get out there and grow your business!