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Larisa Bedgood

Larisa Bedgood Director of Marketing

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3 Ways to Acquire On-Line and In-Market Car Shoppers

car shopping


Car shopping 20 years or so ago involved checking out ads in the local newspaper, taking a day to drive from dealer to dealer, and learning about hot deals through television advertising.

Fast forward to today. Consumers shop on Amazon, read the news on-line, research and comparison shop for their favorite products across channels, use mobile banking, chat on social, and so on. And of course, shopping for cars has gone digital.

According to a Google auto shopper study, a whopping 95% of vehicle shoppers use digital channels to research. They’re also using 24 research touch points, and 35% use their mobile device to conduct online research.

So when a shopper comes into your dealership, you can almost be guaranteed that they have done their research and in fact, the majority of their purchase decision has already been made.

Here are 3 ways to be considered at the very beginning and throughout the car purchase journey.

1. Get Found On-Line

With consumers taking to the internet as the first step in their car research process, you need to be sure you can be found. Be sure you have a robust website, a good SEO strategy and consider using search advertising. In a recent survey by G/O Digital, 42% of respondents said that online ads will trigger a purchase.

search car

2. Stay Top of Mind

As consumers begin interacting with you through on-line sources, you must also implement strategies to continue to stay top of mind and engage them throughout the entire buying journey.

Email is a great way to engage your prospects. This involves much more than simply blasting your latest deal or financing offer to anyone for whom you have an email address. Consumers expect to be known based on their likes, dislikes, lifestyles and so now and personalized targeted messages based on this information will go a long way to convert prospects into customers.

Begin by collecting information about your on-line prospects – those that have already engaged you through your digital presence. Perhaps you have a name and address and a bit of information on the cars they were browsing. But you are missing the crucial point of contact – an email address. Consider utilizing an email append service. The investment will be well worth the effort, especially considering the ROI for email can be as high as $40 for every dollar spent.

email marketing roi

Likewise, you may ONLY have an email address. Reverse email append is a great way to append missing contact details to your records – anything from name and address to other rich demographic details like household income, occupation, presence of children and lifestyles.

By beginning with an email address, you can fine-tune your messaging to specific customer segments in any number of ways. For example, growing families with children are more likely to be interested in offers for mini-vans or SUVs. Or consider targeting higher income segments with luxury cars.And car-buyers respond to this personalization. According to the same report by G/O Digital, 35% report that they expect emails to be tailored to their interests. Additionally, 28% said they would click on an email from a dealer if it included information about style, color or model. On the other hand, if a consumer receives an email that is irrelevant to their preferences, 23% are less likely to visit that dealership and 32% feel irritated or resentful with the dealership.

3. Find New In-Market Prospects

So you have established a strong on-line presence, are utilizing targeted email campaigns to engage and nurture car shoppers to purchase, but what about all those consumers who are in market for cars that you don’t even know about?

Several vendors offer rich automotive intelligence solutions to boost your customer acquisition to entirely new strategies. Consider a range of strategies such as the following:

  • “Follow the Car”: Say you sold the car, performed regular service and now it has been sold to someone else and you want to bring it back in for service. A solution such as this can help you locate the new owners of these vehicles so you target them with repair services and establish new relationships which may eventually lead to a new car sale.
  • Other Vehicles in the Household: upsell your current customers by getting a list of other vehicles in the household to target additional drivers.
  • On-line Ad Targeting: Target additional on-line audiences with advertising to specific automobile audiences of your choice.
  • Social Auto Shoppers: Consumers are asking for car recommendations on social platforms, sending tweets such as “Looking for a new car”, or posting any number of comments that indicate they are in the market for a new vehicle. A Data-as-a-Service (Daas) solution provider can source these social consumers and send you daily feeds of in-market customers within a certain radius of your dealership.

While 20 years ago, newspaper and television ads were the only way to go, a variety of solutions now exist to target and acquire today’s more evolved car shopper. Car consumers are digitally connected – it’s time for dealers to also plug in and ultimately, move more cars off the lots.

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