Interactive content is quickly becoming a standard for marketers in every type of industry imaginable — and yes, this includes the automotive industry. One of the biggest reason for this is because interactive content allows your consumers to well…. interact! When consumers engage with a brand (or in your case, your dealership), they already have some familiarity of what the brand is about, what they sell and more importantly, how the dealership can help them.
Now, mind you, this is nothing new! Dealerships have actually been leveraging interactive content for years. Don’t believe me? Take a look at trade-in tools like Black Book, Auto Trader & Kelly Blue Book (KBB). Consumers input their vehicle information (into the tool) and they’re then provided with an estimated trade-in. Even though it’s basic, it’s still interactive content.
The only real downfall of these tools is that they provide the consumer's estimated trade-in value and nothing more. Additionally, those tools inquire solely about the vehicle, and don’t really delve deep into what the consumer might want or need. Given how much marketing technology have evolved over the last few years, it’d be foolish to think you couldn’t provide the consumer with a more sophisticated user experience with varying types of interactive content. In fact, with all the different resources and vendors out your disposal nowadays, why wouldn’t you come up with your own? Here are the benefits your dealership can reap from your own interactive content:
When your dealership uses a service like Black Book or KBB, they’re essentially the ones who are collecting consumer data on your behalf. Sure, you have access to that consumer data, and can reach out to those contacts yourself, but do you really possess full ownership of those contacts? If you decide to not leverage a third-party tool, but rather, create a tool of your very own, all of the leads captured through your system are yours. Period. There’s no risk of losing those leads when you stop using a service, and there’s certainly no expiration on those leads. Whether it’s one day, 6 months or 1 year from now, your guys can reach out with the full knowledge that, at one point, they engaged with your dealership — which brings me to my next point….
Third party tools are typically branded with their own company’s logos, color schemes and layouts. When you create your own interactive content, however, you have the opportunity to create a fully customized, fully branded experience that consumers can immediately acknowledge. Instead of associating their trade-appraisal or trade-in offer from Black Book, KBB or AutoTrader, they’re associating it directly from your dealership. Providing a fully branded experience adds a level of trust that consumers wouldn’t otherwise get by engaging with 3rd party tools from other dealerships. This trust stems from the fact that the information consumers provide seemingly doesn’t differentiate from the information dealerships receive, and consumers don’t have to leave the dealership’s website to even fill out their information.
I know this is against the grain in what dealers have been educated to do in the past and by no means am I saying dealers shouldn't do business with 3rd party brands. However, research shows consumers are most interested in YOUR brand on the dealership website. Further more, today's website visitor is far more educated than in the past. They've already visited 3rd party sites and no longer need to see a 3rd party logo on your dealerships site to know whether or not your trust worthy.
Of course, in addition to overall trust, what dealership wouldn’t want a branded experience? Not only do you want consumers to acknowledge that your brand exists when they’re using a resource your developed, but you want them to remember you down the line — when they’re shopping around for a vehicle, when they compare offers, and so on.
For most dealers, it’s safe to say that their primary goal is lead generation. And believe me, that’s A-OK in my book! However, when you create your own interactive content, lead generation doesn’t have to be your only initiative. Your dealership has full creative control over how they want their content to look and more importantly, to function. For example: You don’t have to simply inquire about a consumer’s current vehicle. You can ask for any information you feel would be most beneficial to your bottom line — purchase timeframe, desired vehicle type, etc. When creating interactive content for your dealership, you have the grand opportunity to learn more and more about the folks who are interacting with your brand. And in addition to asking custom questions, you might even consider incorporating a fun game or prize that would further incentivize your consumers to engage with your tool. It could be anything — a spin-to-win game, a matching game, or maybe an evaluator quiz that suggest the best vehicle for you. The options are limitless because you’re calling the shots… no one else!
How does your dealership currently engage with its consumers? Tell us in the comments!