The Digital Dealership: Are You Ready?

Traditional dealerships aren’t going away anytime soon, but 75% of drivers would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online

Thanks to Amazon, we’re getting closer and closer to the digital dealership.

In late August, the e-commerce giant launched Amazon Vehicles, a forum where car enthusiasts can chat about their favorite vehicles and even design their dream car. This offering is an extension of both Automotive, a marketplace for buying actual car parts like tires or air filters, and Garage, a platform for storing information about cars consumers already own.

Virtual showrooms like Amazon Vehicles are necessary for the modern car shopper, because 80% of drivers seeking to purchase a new vehicle use digital technology for research. In most cases, this happens long before these shoppers actually hit the lot.

With this in mind, old-school dealers can’t afford to ignore digital tactics any longer. This starts with clean and informative vehicle details pages, and ends with relevant and targeted remarketing efforts.

The traditional dealership isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it may be sooner than we think: 75% of drivers would consider conducting the entire car-buying process online.

In the meantime, dealers can ensure they’re covering their bases and reaching online-first car shoppers by investing in an all-encompassing digital marketing solution that leverages mobile, location, and social.

Why mobile matters

Mobile is changing the way consumers research any product, and vehicles are no exception. Currently, one in four car buyers use mobile every day to research vehicles. To make sure their websites aren’t overlooked in the process, dealers must ensure that they are mobile-friendly and easy to navigate.

Car shoppers aren’t turning to their mobile devices only to research, though—they’re also using them while on the lot. To avoid customer frustration, dealers must make sure that on-site teams are up-to-date on sales information and car features and details.

Shoppers can double-check any detail about a car at a moment’s notice while on the lot, and if there’s any disagreement between ad copy and on-lot sales information, customer loyalty could suffer as a result.

Leveraging location

Speaking of mobile, automotive marketers are wise to invest in geo-location advertising technologies. In doing so, dealers can leverage shoppers’ mobile behaviors even further by sending them alerts and updates when they pass by a dealership.

The same can be implemented for fixed ops. Dealers can send text alerts, for example, to customers in need of a tune-up or oil change as they pass by the service department.

The real-time nature of location-based engagement creates urgency, and can help dealers earn repeat business.

Don’t forget social

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter aren’t just for connecting with friends or following the news. They present a major (and often missed) opportunity for automotive marketers to engage in-market car buyers. In fact, nearly a fourth of prospective car buyers use Facebook to conduct research before making an auto purchase.

Fully capitalizing on social goes beyond creating a Facebook page. When done correctly, social advertising holds many benefits for dealers.

First, it gives dealers the power to deploy highly personalized advertisements that reflect a shopper’s previous search behavior. Second, social channels allow dealers to repeatedly engage shoppers over time without feeling obtrusive. Car buyers are not likely to make a lifetime purchase quickly, after all, and relevant social ads can serve as subtle, but persistent, reminders.

Although consumers aren’t able to receive two-day free shipping on automobiles just yet, Amazon’s automotive offerings prove that today’s dealership is digital-first. To ensure that they’re reaching and engaging with today’s car shopper, dealers must incorporate digital efforts with their existing traditional tactics.

Jeremy Anspach is the CEO of PureCars, a digital advertising platform designed exclusively for the automotive industry. Armed with the industry’s most extensive data library, Jeremy founded PureCars in 2007. A Detroit native and renowned industry speaker, his drive and passion has led PureCars to become one of only seven automotive Google Premier SMB Partners, powering digital for over 3,000 dealers across the country.

Jeremy Anspach


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