Traditional vs. Digital Marketing: Strike the Right Balance

Ten years ago, digital marketing was a foreign concept. Marketers relied on traditional tactics like TV, print, and radio campaigns to help their brands stand apart from the rest. Some dealerships still rely heavily (or even solely) on these methods because they build awareness, but they’re neglecting to look beyond these channels for new opportunities.

Although traditional media still has its time and place, it shouldn’t be the only way dealerships target consumers. By leaning too heavily on traditional, dealerships are essentially letting their digital-savvy competitors win the sale. When shoppers see commercials advertising your cars but your dealership doesn’t appear in a simple Google search, you’ve lost that business at a major cost.

According to a study by SiriusDecisions, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally. Thankfully, with a variety of tools and so much data available, developing a digital strategy has never been easier. Here’s how dealerships can balance their traditional and digital strategies through understanding the customer journey, focusing on the details and capitalizing on online video.

Know the customer journey

Finding the right marketing strategy for your dealership requires knowing your customer base and which channels it uses. If you’re trying to reach millennials, traditional methods like print and radio can still be utilized, but going digital should be the priority. Millennial car shoppers go online long before they head to the lot, and dealers can use this to their advantage. Mobile alone accounts for more than 50% of auto inquiries, on the lot and at home, and dealerships must incorporate this knowledge into their marketing strategies.

If your target audience is older, consider using traditional media bolstered by targeted digital advertising. Tech-savvy older folks also search for their next car online and require the same kind of personalization tactics. According to a Google study, display ads can influence customers of all ages in the middle of their purchase path 45% of the time. Overall, using a digital advertising solution that displays relevant and specific online ads is great way to drive traffic back to your dealership’s website and virtual showroom.

Focus on the details

Although traditional media still holds relevance, personalization options are limited. No matter the age group, personalization matters to car shoppers. For example, if a car shopper is on the hunt for a used red Ford Focus, dealerships can use a digital platform to serve them ads for a used red Focus. An ad for a red Corolla or an F-150 won’t cut it. Consumers don’t want to see ads for cars they don’t want, and with the right digital strategy, dealerships can guarantee they won’t.

By using a digital solution tailoring ads to a specific car model, color, and even trim, dealers can more easily drive high-probability buyers to their website, which is the first showroom for a shopper. When digital ads bring consumers to the vehicle display page (VDP), the page should provide all the details they need to know about a particular model. The more VDP views, the more cars bought—dealerships with visually compelling, well-merchandised VDPs turn over their inventory at a 65% faster rate than those that don’t.

With traditional outlets like direct mail and television and print ads, this kind of personalization is impossible. For most dealerships, advertising budgets are strict to begin with, and dealers want to get the most out of their ad spend. By serving customers personalized, relevant advertisements, dealers can guarantee measurable results.

Incorporate online video

In 2016, television advertising space will be expensive thanks to the upcoming election. To maximize the impact of their advertising dollars, many dealerships are capitalizing on online video rather than television advertisements. Currently, 43% of car shoppers learn more about vehicles they hadn’t considered through online video, and it’s time for dealerships to be their target audience’s first resource.

Dealerships can easily create videos to promote their businesses and share them via social media, but they can also take things one step further and serve advertisements before or during other online videos. Like other display ads, these video ads should also be personalized.

Although traditional TV commercials shouldn’t be thrown out completely, videos and video advertisements can boost even higher sales for a significantly cheaper price tag. For some YouTube ads, for example, brands pay only for the ad space when people watch the spot. TV ads are paid for no matter who watches, and chances are that many of these viewers won’t fall within your target audience.

All in all, the right marketing strategy varies from dealer to dealer, brand to brand, and market to market. Traditional and digital media shouldn’t compete with one another—instead, they should blend together to create a dynamic marketing strategy that boosts both dealership awareness and sales.

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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    Lauren Iverson February 15, 2016

    Great information. I was wondering where the statistic that states 43 percent of car shoppers learn more about vehicles they hadn’t considered through online video came from?


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