The last few years have put the dealership experience under a spotlight, as the pandemic and inventory shortage forced dealers to fundamentally adapt their approach to customer service. Meanwhile, online “disruptors” have flooded the airwaves offering alternatives to the dealership experience with a “new, better way” to buy and sell cars — but that’s just advertising.
As a local dealer, you still have the best experience. You have all the same convenient technologies but with superior, local customer service to back it up — you just need to change the conversation. By focusing a portion of your advertising mix on experience-based messaging (instead of all offer-based), you can set-up your brand to compete with all comers and drive conversions through your connected website and in-store experiences.
In this guide, we’ll show you just a few examples of how our team can not only enable your dealership with these instant, easy, and trusted experiences consumers are expecting — but also turn them into powerful Why Buy campaigns that seamlessly connect your marketing, website, and team for an end-to-end journey. We’ll even have our FUEL: In-Market Video Creative Producers chiming in with their expert takes and favorite video picks to showcase each Why Buy. Let’s do it.
Consumers are already inundated with online car buying ads — but that’s not a challenge, it’s actually an advantage. These national retailers have already spent millions (and millions) explaining and establishing that experience so you don’t have to. Instead, you can skip to why your online buying experience is better, with all the benefits of your local, trusted customer service.
Encourage consumers to support their community through local business, brag about test drives and same-day delivery, and remind them of the confidence they’ll have purchasing from a neighborhood brick and mortar store they can return to for questions and ongoing service. The realities of waiting for delivery trucks and relying on call center agents pale in comparison to having a go-to neighborhood dealership, so let consumers know your instant, easy, and transparent online buying experience is backed up by your local team.
Our end-to-end retailing solution enables you to bring this brand promise to life by seamlessly integrating online buying into your website, enabling real-time communication and deal collaboration with your team, and bridging the online to offline experience in your showroom. We can help you connect all the dots from the first ad impression to the moment they become a five-star review raving about your modern, local car buying experience.
KEY MARKETING MESSAGES:
“Take an earnest approach to your online car buying message. Consumers know there are apps and websites promising the same thing — so why should they choose to buy online with your business, in their community? Make a sincere, emotional appeal with small-town vibes to be the lovable alternative to Big Tech. Also, everyone loves dogs.”
Go to market with a holistic campaign and makeover your website based on those messages, and you’ll be sure to make an impact with local shoppers looking for a better way to buy a car.
The ongoing inventory shortage has changed the way people shop for a car. Not willing to settle for what’s available on the lot (or in-transit to the dealership) shoppers started expanding their search to competing dealerships 50, 100, or sometimes even 250 miles away in a quest to find a more varied selection of vehicles.
But a fast growing segment of shoppers are discovering that they don’t have to drive five hours out of their way to get a vehicle that’s just the right color or has a couple more of the features they wanted. They can just build exactly what they want on your website, and then order it from their friendly neighborhood car dealership.
Once you have a Vehicle Builder experience set-up on your website: optimize your homepage, navbar, and inventory pages with messaging to prevent bounces and convert shoppers who can’t find exactly what they’re looking for in stock. From there, you can turn the order experience into a compelling campaign to attract new visitors to your website. In the midst of a long researching and then searching journey, you’ll be offering the full control for shoppers to order what they want — not have to find what they want. That’s a powerful hook, and on the other end of it your team will be fielding super-leads from shoppers who already told you everything they’re looking for.
KEY MARKETING MESSAGES:
“With your website and supporting marketing channels promoting your custom pre-order experience, you can use video to drive action with a strong WHY NOW message. Hack the inventory shortage headlines to reinforce that this is the best time to sell your car, and explain how they can even keep driving it while they wait for their order to arrive.”
By embracing pre-orders as the new normal, and tailoring your website to drive engagement with your vehicle ordering experience, you can reduce inventory related bounces, and instead fill your sales pipeline every month with pre-sold units you know will go up on the board.
To combat the inventory shortage, you also need a strong Why Sell creative campaign. Just like online buying campaigns, national retailers have done the heavy lifting raising awareness of an experience that you can provide too, but better.
If you have the technology to enable instant offers, go to market with a clear, strong message that lets local consumers know that whether they’re looking to maximize the value of their trade-in, or want to sell their car outright for cash, your dealership will give them an exact cash offer from the comfort of their home — with the same-day local pick-up and payment national brands just can’t compete with.
Give your campaign a clear primary call-to-action of getting a guaranteed instant cash offer for their vehicle, right on your website. Let consumers know they can go beyond just getting an estimate of how much their vehicle might be “worth”, and instead show them how they can find out exactly how much money you’ll give them today.
By converting this campaign with our Accu-Trade vehicle acquisition and appraisal solution, you can also seamlessly connect the online appraisal with the in-person pick-up, confirming and updating the value with our physical OBD (on-board diagnostics) scanner and your own visual inspection. The continuity of the appraisal and highly detailed, transparent report builds trust to create repeat customers.
KEY MARKETING MESSAGES:
“If you already have plenty of website and marketing creative that showcases the actual offer experience, don’t be afraid to let your video ad show the emotion that results from it. We can be loud, wacky, and build excitement around the idea of getting a big stack of cash (or a freshly printed check) for so easily selling your car TODAY.”
In addition to driving all of your marketing traffic to that instant cash offer experience on your website, you’ll also want to make sure that you makeover key areas of your website to build upon that message.
You have all the tools in place on your website that’ll allow car shoppers to dial in their monthly payments on a new car, get a guaranteed cash offer on their trade-in, and get approved for financing — all the way down to scheduling an appointment for a test drive or delivery.
And that’s great, because you’re providing all the self-serve tech and transparency that a modern car shopper could hope for. But what happens when your online shopper has a question? Do you make it easy for them to directly connect with someone at your dealership to get instant answers to their questions, or do you funnel them into a submit-and-wait experience? Your in-the-moment online customer service, from your friendly local team, is what will ultimately set your experience apart from the competition.
The dealers who are leading the industry forward have embraced dealer-managed online messaging to be the key differentiator in providing a better car shopping experience. And once you’ve taken your chat back, you can go to market with that message to let shoppers know that you’re always online, waiting to lend a hand when needed.
And if you’re using our advanced messaging solution, you can really take your marketing campaigns to a new level by having your CTAs instantly start texts or chats with your team, whether shoppers are on Facebook, catching-up on email, or even scanning a QR code.
KEY MARKETING MESSAGES:
“Letting local car shoppers know that your team is online and ready to answer their questions combines the best of both worlds: easy technology and great, expert customer service. Imagine taking that powerful message we have in this spot, and replacing the stock actors with footage of your actual employees in the neighborhood. Show that you’re one-of-a-kind.”
Once your team is set up to answer all of your inbound chats during business hours, make sure that you’re optimizing your website UX to encourage visitors to start a conversation — especially on mobile. And ensure that SMS text is an available option in addition to chat, so shoppers can stay connected long after they leave your website.
Having a connected digital platform that allows shoppers to complete most of the car buying process right on your website is only half of what it takes to truly deliver on a brand promise. You also need your team bought in on the experience that you’re trying to provide, and trained on how every part of the online and in-store experience works together to deliver the 5-Star buying experience.
Once you have your team, tech, and process dialed in, then you can leverage that experience and build an entire marketing campaign around it. So the message isn’t just about your vehicles or deals, it’s about how your staff provides a personalized, helpful, and convenient experience that’s so great, there’s really no reason to shop anywhere else. That’s a message that works no matter how the market is behaving, because it’s built on relationships, trust, and the proof of happy customers.
To take it a big step further, show that your reputation is not just a star rating — it’s the amazing, friendly people who make up your team. Use Salesperson Connect™ from DealerRater® to integrate your top-rated employees on your VDPs, giving shoppers the ability to select the person they’d like to work with throughout the entire car buying process — and then highlight your top people in your marketing to connect your entire brand experience.
KEY MARKETING MESSAGES:
“When you talk about yourself, it’s bragging. But when someone else talks about you, it’s proof. So let your happy customers do the advertising for you. Reviews already go a very long way organically, but putting some fuel behind them will make your reputation and brand top of mind.”
If you choose this route to be your primary advertising campaign, then don’t forget to incorporate your review presence across your website. Everywhere your customers look, they should be seeing your dealership’s reviews and the people that back-up your brand.
With the vast majority of car shoppers financing or leasing their next vehicle, the credit approval process is a key and necessary step in the car buying journey. It also has a reputation for being the longest and most stressful part of the process, so let shoppers know upfront that you’ve changed the game. What once was accomplished with pen and paper now can take place online with our (no-cost) instant financing technology, powered by your preferred lenders.
Because 80.6% of new car buyers have a Prime credit score (Experian State of Auto Finance Q4 2021), it’s not a matter of if they’ll be approved for a loan, it’s a matter of when. This gives you the opportunity to go to market with a campaign built around the seamless and time saving experience of instant financing approvals on your website, your modern retailing solution, and even on your vehicle listings on Cars.com.
Providing affordability transparency with instant financing options is the missing piece to the online car buying puzzle. Let local in-market shoppers know that you have the technology available to accelerate every step of the car buying journey right on your website, and then reap the benefits of being able to provide a much faster and enjoyable customer experience in-store.
KEY MARKETING MESSAGES:
“When it comes to online instant financing, we really want our message to build confidence and peace of mind. Shoppers may not expect that you’re lightyears ahead of the traditional pen and paper experience, so use this opportunity to show them how much time your dealership can save them while also unlocking their purchase power upfront to create a seamless car buying experience.”
To maximize the effectiveness of this campaign, having supporting content, visuals, and ¬assets on your website are going to go a long way to ensure that all of your visitors are made aware of how your dealership provides easy and transparent financing right on your website.