An average of 160 new automotive dealerships open every year in the US. Competition in the automotive marketing space is revving up.
Despite the fact this growth rate has remained steady over the past few years, yearly new car sales have actually been decreasing significantly. New car sales have slowed from 2015 to 2016 by 308,000 units, and then even further by another 426,000 units from 2016 to 2017. With such high octane competition, the 17,000 current new car dealerships need to keep their automotive marketing in top gear to avoid being left in the dust.
The Automotive Marketing Landscape
While product innovation is left up to the slow-moving manufacturers, it’s up to the individual dealership to differentiate themselves to gain a competitive edge. And how do they do it in 2018? Digital marketing. The automotive industry remains the second largest spender in terms of digital marketing, and is expected to remain so until 2020.
And much like the growth rate of new dealerships, digital marketing spend growth is expected to remain positive and steady for years to come.
And while competition in the U.S hits the redline, the decision making process of the average vehicle shopper is now pretty quick too.
The Automotive Purchase Journey
Just a few years ago, the consumer purchase journey consisted of 5 stages, spanning 4.3 months:
And in 2017, the length of time between initial research and actually purchasing a vehicle halved to just 2.7 months.
This shorter purchase journey doesn’t mean that today’s consumers are less considerate in their decision. With over half of automotive internet shoppers using mobile devices to research, they’re able to research a lot more effectively, conveniently and frequently. And with the rise of aggregate sites like cars.com, review sites, and in-depth feature videos, the average consumer is more discerning and well-informed than ever. Consumers are so informed in fact, that they barely need to visit a dealership before finalizing their decision. The average number of times a consumer visits a dealership before making a purchase is only 2.
With so many consumers taking up digital in their research, it makes sense that automotive marketing dollars follow. Like many auto dealers, you might already be spending big on social media marketing. While this might help connect with potential consumers, it isn’t the most effective driver of conversions. Only 13% of automotive internet shoppers believe their purchase was influenced by information posted on social media. Email marketing however, has consistently earned the pole position in the ROI race, generating on average $38 for each $1 spent.
With results like that, email should come as standard with all your automotive marketing campaigns. But what can you do to make sure your next email marketing campaign is less lemon and more Lambo?
Use a Good Quality List
Your email list is the fuel that drives your email marketing campaign. Much like how contaminated fuel can wreak havoc on your engine, a contaminated list does the same to your campaign. The average dealership only has accurate email addresses for around 10% of their total customer base. To avoid contaminating your list with inaccurate and inactive email addresses, ensure the details in your CRM and email list are as accurate and up-to-date as possible. And above all else, make sure you’re spam compliant. With in-built spam compliance features, Vision6 makes this a smooth ride.
Segment Your List
In both email marketing and automotive marketing, relevance = revenue. A 2-door high performance coupé is a hard sell to a family with three children. Of course, your CRM and email list probably won’t have things like family composition. But if you have been diligent with your lists, things like the previous car they’ve purchased, purchase date, the spec-sheet they’ve downloaded, or the enquiry form they’ve submitted, can give you the cues you need to segment effectively. Grouping similar contacts together, then sending offers relevant to them greatly increases the chance your sales message will resonate. Segmentation also helps keep your list healthy, as irrelevant messages can lead to unsubscriptions.
Use an Autoresponder
Vehicle shoppers look for responsiveness in both their potential car, but also in their potential dealership. Unfortunately for them, dealerships don’t respond in any way to nearly 25% of email leads. And for those that do receive a response, only 70% receive a follow up. An autoresponder is the anti-lag for your email marketing campaign. It sends an email to your newly generated lead immediately after they submit their details, launching your email marketing campaign off the line as soon as that light turns green.
Automate Nurture Emails
Leads brought in through enquiry forms, spec-sheet downloads, or other gated-content, might not be ready for a hard sell. Responding too early with an aggressive offer risks freezing your lead. Nurture email campaigns are the perfect strategy for warming up new leads.
Setting up an automated email sequence lets you put your lead nurture strategy on cruise control. For example, if a user downloaded a spec-sheet for a particular model, the following warm up sequence could be triggered:
When consumers are shopping for their next vehicle purchase, they’re also shopping for their next dealership. And price doesn’t play as big of a part in that decision as you would think, with only 63% of shoppers saying they would drive further to get a lower price. Whereas 73% would travel further to find a great salesperson, and 54% would travel further to buy from a dealership that had their preferred experience. And remember, car shoppers barely visit dealerships in person anymore. So how best to demonstrate the quality of your salespeople and the experience of your dealership? Through professionally designed, relevant and timely emails.
Think your automotive marketing could use a performance upgrade?