Veterans at ceremony

Marketing Your New And Used Car Dealership To Military Veterans

In our article titled How To Market Your New or Used Car Dealership To Active Duty Military, we discussed how to market your dealership to active duty military personnel. But what about the twenty million non-retiree veterans? Eighty-five percent of non-retiree military veterans are in their prime car-buying years of 25-54. What can you do to reach out to this segment of the population? 

Why Market to Military Members

Over 250,000 military members transition back to civilian life each year. These veterans need everything from employment to housing to transportation.

Veterans Buying Statistics

  • 20M veterans (non-retiree)
  • 3.1M post 9/11 Veterans
  • 85% are ages 25-54
  • 2.2M retirees
  • Spending power = $939 billion

Younger vs. Older Veterans

Similar to the contrast in age groups among the civilian population, there is a difference between the younger, 18-34 millennial veterans and their 35+ veteran counterparts, especially with social media and web usage patterns.  

Millennial veterans continue to consume traditional media like radio and print but tend to favor digital, social, and streaming media channels. Millennial veterans continue to engage in military-specific content in a variety of ways, even after their service has completed.  

Almost half of the military veterans frequently visit military-specific websites, and they do so at a rate that is three times higher than veterans who are 35 years or older. With print marketing, half of younger veterans are heavy readers of military-related magazines, and they tend to be much more likely to read these publications than older veterans.

There are three Military-specific websites that do allow for digital ads placement.

Stay in Touch

The best way to encourage veterans to become customers could come through direct mail or in-store promotions, and the messages will resonate better if the messaging appeals to the service to their country. Keep in touch with your military veteran customers by collecting their email addresses and adding them to a veterans-only contact list. Remind them regularly that you offer a military discount even for veterans, and be sure to give them a heads up about any exclusive sales or promotions you’re running for holidays like Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

You can collect email addresses through any of your dealership online opt-in mechanisms, and consider adding a checkbox asking if they are active duty or a veteran, or spouses of active duty or veterans. With your proximity to the base, it won’t look out of place to a civilian on your opt-in form. You may even consider running a periodic special contest or sweepstakes just for service members and their families. Participants provide their email addresses to enter.

Educational resources for understanding the military audience

If you are looking to learn more about how to reach an audience of veterans, several websites cater to serving the needs of veterans after they have finished their service. Here is a partial list:

Consider Employing Veterans

Since your dealership is located near a military installation, consider hiring veterans, especially in your sales roles. This is especially true for “newly minted” veterans, as they will be more in touch with life as an active duty military than someone who has been out twenty years or more. Things change in the military, especially during times of conflict. Combat veterans will be better at relating to soldiers, and vice versa.

Veteran employees also know the Army terminology, ranks, and titles. A veteran sales manager is more likely to attend important deployment ceremonies.

Many of the big box stores like Home Depot offer a standing military discount as do the manufacturers. But aside from Veterans Day and Memorial Day, few businesses consider creating Active Duty or Veterans-only marketing campaigns. Work with your agency, or with your veteran employees to craft year-long marketing campaigns that are innovative, and speak to your veteran community.

Were Open Sign

How To Let Customers Know Your Dealership Is Open For Business During The Coronavirus

Even if your state has a shelter in place order, dealerships are allowed to and will continue to stay open as you are all deemed essential businesses.

However, your customers may not be so sure of your status. Sales will undoubtedly be down this month and perhaps for months to come. That is why it is essential to communicate today that despite the current situation; your dealership is still open for business. Continue to generate as many sales as possible to help operational continuance during and immediately after the pandemic has passed.

Your dealership has likely also experienced some altered protocols with how you deal with the public to maintain social distancing.  As this has likely altered your normal business procedures, and how customers are accustomed to working with a dealership. It is important to get the word out about any alterations to how the public is to conduct business with your dealership. This includes information such as “the doors are locked, but we are here to meet your needs” type of communication.

Here are four quick and easy ways to let your customers know that you are still open for business during the outbreak.

1. Google My Business

When people Google your business or when they Google the phrase “(Brand) dealership in (town name)” they are going to find the Google maps, also known as Google My Business, as the very first result, except any Google ads that might appear this may differ by specific keyword searches).

Not many people realize that you can post messages directly into Google My Business. This message can be a post, a blog, even a video. If you have claimed your Google My Business (GMB) page, you will have the ability to post messages on your GMB page.

It’s important to realize that the GMB page is different from your website. When a person clicks on your dealership name from the maps, the box that pops up to the right is the GMB page, and within that page, it can contain a link to your website, and it can contain content.

How to Access Google My Business

To get to this for your shop, you need to log into your Google my business account https://www.google.com/business/ and click sign in. If you have a google account, this will be the @gmail.com email that you used to claim the page. If you have not claimed your page, you will need to do that.

Once you are signed in you will see a side bar with options. Click on “posts”

From there you will see a box with some options such as “add Offer, Add Update, Add Event, and Add Product. Click on “Add Update”

From there you can insert a photo and add your text.

Once you are done, hit “publish” and this is what you will see:

Here is an example of a dealership that takes advantage of this Google My business posting option:

It is worth noting that of all the Ford dealerships we searched in this particular are, only one dealership was posting content to their GMB page. Unfortunately, they missed an opportunity to post a message directly to their customers here.

Clicking on “View all” shows a list of posts from this dealership:

2. Website Pop up

Posting a pop-up to your website is the fastest way to disseminate information to your customers. Your website is where people will go to confirm if you are open (if they haven’t looked on your GMB page). Most dealerships are using a platform from Dealeron, Dealer.com, or some other similar dealership platform. Each of these service providers should offer the ability to quickly add a pop-up. If you have a custom-coded website, you may want to contact your website development company to request that they add a pop-up.

3. Social media posts

The third place people will look to see if you are still open is your social media. I don’t need to walk you through how to make a social media post, but our suggestion is you just create a post and make it a sticky post or pin it so that it will always stay on top until you un-stick it.

4. Email blast

Now would be a good time to do an email blast to your whole database. You could either do this on a dealership level or have your sales staff reach out individually to their customer list. Let your prospects know how to reduce their interaction with outside people during this time of social distancing. You may also want to include any discounts or rebates that are happening now.

So there you go, four quick ways to let your customers know that you are open for business and taking every precaution with their vehicle. Stay healthy and stay safe.

Social media Facebook iphone

7 Tips For Taking Your Dealership’s Facebook Page To The Next Level

We live in a digital age where consumers decide who to give their business to long before they ever step inside. To ensure that their businesses remain competitive in this new age, more and more dealers are improving their online marketing techniques. Especially today, one of the most popular and crucial ways that dealerships are connecting with consumers is through social media.  The very nature of social media has made it imperative for any business that wishes to remain competitive today. 

Consider the example of Facebook; the nature of the platform allows businesses to interact with customers when needed with an ease and convenience that would have been inconceivable only 15 years ago. It allows them to build and connect with communities of consumers, colleagues, and even competitors that help to keep them in touch with their base and their industry. Businesses can now interact directly with their customers instantaneously, which means that they can now assist those in need. It also means that they can now market to them with ease, whether by buying ad space on the site itself or by creating communities and profiles to reach out to customers personally. Its wide scope of usable formats, including text, photo, video, and stories, gives businesses the freedom to choose how they wish to communicate on the platform. And it’s certainly an important platform to be communicating on,  with Facebook consistently reaching over 2 billion active users a month.

Even as far back as 2015, 75% of consumers in the car buying market found that social media was one of the most helpful resources when choosing a car dealership. (DigitalJournal). Consumer reliance on crowd-sourced information and social media channels has only expanded since.

The following are seven tips for bringing your dealership’s Facebook page to that next level: 


1) Only Use The Best Photos

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, which is why the photos you use should be as enticing to customers as possible. The photos you choose should both create interest in customers and communicate to them what your business is. Your Facebook profile picture and cover photo should be an accurate representation of what your dealership stands for. The pictures you post should show the range of cars you sell, and they should also show customers that those cars are quality vehicles. Facebook’s wide range of usable formats means that you can choose to use videos or even stories to appeal to customers, giving you the freedom you need to choose the right images for your page. Recently, Facebook also added the ability to use a video or slideshow as the cover photo for your page, which can add an immediately visible flair to your page, especially if you can’t choose just one image that really communicates who you are to the world. It’s important to be honest and proud of who you are as a business, and images allow you to communicate exactly that, but always keep in mind that you want someone to look at those photos and say, “This is the place I have to buy my next car.” 

2) Include Your Hours

People will often go to a business’s Facebook Page to find out all the information they need. Are your hours of operation listed on there? Are there any holidays coming up that might affect those hours? Make sure this, and any other important operating information you choose to include on your page, is up-to-date and accurate to keep customers aware and prevent upsets. 

3) About Us 

Dealership team

Your “About Us” section is the perfect opportunity to gain the trust of any potential customers. You have the absolute freedom to choose what information you feel might be relevant for any customers looking to purchase a new car. What are the important things you want a customer to know? Building trust and confidence with your customers is a crucial part of operating a business, especially in an industry as maligned and distrusted as car selling. This is the perfect opportunity to address any potential trust issues your customers might have before they actually become an issue. 

This section is about much more than just how long you’ve been operating or the brands you sell. What makes your dealership different? What is your mission statement? Why should customers choose you over your competition? Here’s a trick; try to fill out this section as if you’re asking a potential customer, “How can we help you?” 

4) Username and URL

Facebook provides an easy way to change to the URL attached to your Page; just change your username. In doing so, you can easily link your Page to your website, and anywhere else you have a web presence. Using a shorter URL rather than a long, numerical link also helps customers to easily find you on Facebook and anywhere else. 

5) Bring Attention To Your Facebook Page 

There are many different ways to increase traffic to your Facebook page. One method is using “Web Exclusive Offers,” which can be placed on your Facebook Page and are a great way to bring more attention to it. You can post weekly specials that only those who follow or like the page would be notified about. To create an initial following and continue to grow it, you could include a plug for customers to follow your Facebook page for exclusive offers, such as weekly specials, at the end of emails or on business cards. 

6) Include a “Call To Action” On Your Page 

Facebook has made it easier for businesses to connect with their consumers using their Pages by creating compelling CTAs. This can be done right underneath the cover photo, where you’ll find a variety of different CTAs to choose from. Find the one you feel would best entice potential customers to do business with your dealership. 

7) Pick the Right Admin

It’s vital that whoever you choose to be your Page’s administrator knows they need to be actively monitoring and adding to the Page. This means consistently updating it with creative content related to your dealership, responding to customers, listing important information, posting photos and videos of your inventory, and keeping customers up-to-date about any upcoming sales events and promotions.

These are just a few of the ways you can make your Facebook Page into a powerful business tool for your dealership. Consider taking yours to the next level by implementing some of these same tips. You’ll find that correctly interacting with customers online will keep your business competitive in an age where failing to do so would mean stagnation, and ultimately the end of your dealership. The key to success in the digital age is an active commitment to the online world. 

U.S. Service men and women hold U.S. flags

How To Market Your New or Used Car Dealership To Active Duty Military

Is your dealership located near a military base? With multiple bases and US military institutions in every single US state, the chances are, it is. And even though armed guards may staff those gates, you can still enter with your dealership marketing.

Why focus on the military?

The military community’s income is 35% higher than the national average, and their focus is on online spending, because of mobility and relocation. For many service members, this is their first job out of high school or college.

Let’s take a look at a few buying-power statistics:

Active Military

  • 1.3 million active duty
  • 46% Gen Z
  • Avg age = 28.2
  • Spending power = $53.8 Billion

Reserve/Guard

  • 1.1 million reserve/guard
  • 32% Gen Z
  • Avg age = 31.8
  • Spending power = $63.6 Billion

Active Military Families

  • 1.0 million military spouses
  • 48.7% of DoD is married
  • 78% are ages 18-34
  • Avg # of children = 2

Veterans

  • 20M veterans (non-retiree)
  • 3.1M post 9/11 Veterans
  • 85% are ages 25-54
  • 2.2M retirees
  • Spending power = $939 billion

Digitally connected and on the move.

The majority of military service members are younger, and nearly half are supporting a family of at least a spouse. Those with children have two kids on average. This younger generation are all digital natives, and they have lived their entire lives connected with people and brands through digital devices. In turn, they must be communicated through multiple media channels, both digital and traditional.

Military service members and their families are mostly transient, with a move coming every 17 months on average. Because of this, military service members must be adaptable and are their purchasing decisions are influenced by the temporary nature of their living situation.

On the flip side, this also means that newly transplanted service members and their families arrive every month and have no connection or family history to your dealership brand. Word of mouth, if any, comes through military peers and leadership who have a significant influence on purchasing decisions during their time on base, so marketing is vital to reach them.

Service members and their families

Even though their address changes frequently, military service members and their families are very brand loyal. Research indicates that military service members and their families said they have a strong brand affinity to brands they’ve seen on base by as much as 68%.

So what else appeals to the Military service member or their spouse?

  • 95% of active and retired military personnel are more likely to shop from a retailer who offers a military discount.
  • 94% say they notice when companies are “military-friendly” and that they have a positive impression of those companies.
  • 60% of spouses say that quality is essential.
  • 40% of active-duty members say special military offers to influence their buying decisions.
  • 41% of veterans say that a product made in America is preferred.

Marketing to Military Spouses (MilSpouses)

Ninety-three percent of the nation’s 1.1 million MilSpouses are women who, on average, are 35 years or younger and have two children under the age of five. Because they regularly move their homes, these spouses have an increasingly difficult time maintaining consistent employment.

Some statistics on female military spouses’ buying behavior:

  • 85% of the military family’s consumer purchases are determined by the female spouse.
  • 75% consider themselves the primary shoppers for their household.
  • 58% of all total military family spending that occurs online.
  • 22% shop online at least once a day.

On-Base Advertising

Military bases have their own newspapers, and surveys commissioned by the Air Force and Army indicate that active-duty personnel prefer reading military newspapers, making them valuable places to advertise.

One way to reach the active-duty military is with radio, TV, and digital ads. Few dealers consider dedicating entire ad campaigns to active duty beyond Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day sales, so there is a lot of opportunity there. You could also consider Geo-Fencing the military base and surrounding areas.

Become Part of the Military Community

Most military bases have programs and groups that help to connect the installation to the community. Consider volunteering with these organizations or even donating. This will cost you more time than money, but the payoff in connections made makes up for it.

One way to reach into the military community is to reach out to your local chapter of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). AUSA is a private non-profit organization that supports Army causes. Ask how your dealership could effectively get involved with the Military base community that your dealership serves. They can help you get the name out and let personnel know that you are there to serve.

“Credibility is everything,” noted Ron Taylor, president of the AUSA Fourth Region (Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana). “Once you’ve lost it, you won’t ever recover.”

Marketing Messages to Military Members

Because of the sizeable spending power of the active-duty military and their families, they are often the target of scammers that hound military veterans and retirees with franchise “opportunities” or real estate “deals,” causing many in the military community to view some special military promotions with suspicion.

The solution is to keep your promotion honest and straightforward by offering a discount and a sincere “Thank you for your service.”

The Power Of Word Of Mouth

According to surveys, 76% of the military community say they learn about military discounts and special offers from word-of-mouth. Print ads account for only 30% of awareness building. Military members have close-knit social connections, and you can leverage the power of word-of-mouth within this community. Members of the military community have strong bonds and trust each other’s opinions. This is why, when marketing to the military, your offers and promotions must be thoughtful and generous.

Connecting your dealership to a steady pool of newly-transplanted soldiers who are often making their first real steady paycheck could be a viable revenue source for any dealership willing to put in the work to make the right inroads. But once those connections are made and those pathways established, the investment will pay off.

Email in bottle

5 Email Tactics Other Dealerships Are Doing Better Than You In 2020 (and How To Fix It)

  • Interactive
  • User-generated
  • Entertaining
  • Self-learning AI
  • Subscriber control

What could possibly be new in the world of email marketing? You probably are already using email marketing for your dealership, and you might even be getting some results with it. But there are some innovative ways that high-volume dealership groups are using to win business from you, and if that concerns you, we have some solutions. The following list includes five email marketing tactics for 2020 that are paying off for dealerships.

1. Interactive Emails

An interactive email includes ways for a recipient to get involved beyond merely reading it and possibly clicking a link or a call to action. The point of a dealership email blast is to shake the trees of a customer list and see who may be in the market for a new or used car. To get opened and not hit the spam folder, you need to include some value to your emails. Interactive emails also encourage interactivity and open rate.

Here are a few ways to add interactivity to your dealership emails:

  • Surveys and polls
  • Menus and accordion features (will take some email programming).
  • Add-to-calendar options for special events and sales.
  • Animated calls-to-action and buttons.
  • Gamified features like scratch-off to reveal discounts.

Instead of just reading or scanning your emails, users will have things to click on, which will increase engagement. 

2. User-Generated Content

Getting a new set of wheels is pretty exciting for anybody. And usually, when a new car enters a person’s fleet, they share it on social. Ask new purchasers if they would be willing to “mention” or “tag” the dealership on their social feeds, and then once a month, gather a few stories and include them in your e-blast. User-generated content is one of the most potent forms of social proof. When users see content such as images, videos, and reviews created by real, happy customers of your business, it could be just the thing to influence a prospect to become customers themselves.

Worried about how to implement this? Ask the F&I managers to request customers to tag the dealership in social posts after they sign on the dotted line.

You could also use your email marketing to collect user-generated content from your recent sales for the week or the month. In your emails, you can leverage their new purchase excitement into some easy-to-share content.

3. Videos, Animations, and GIFs

Standing out in a crowded inbox is tough to do. Subject lines are critical for click rate, but what about getting the emails read and clicked through (which is the ultimate goal to trigger indication of interest)? More and more dealerships who are crushing email marketing are using videos, animations, and GIFs to stand out in crowded inboxes and grab the attention of their subscribers. Adding a little movement to your emails is sure to excite your audience.

Proceed with caution however, because email platforms like Gmail and Outlook don’t have the technical requirements needed to play videos right inside emails. So, the best way to use video in your emails is by adding a static image with a play button on top. Users can click on the image, and the link will send them to your video that’s hosted on a platform such as YouTube or Vimeo.

4. Artificial Intelligence

Yes, Artificial Intelligence is making its way to marketing agencies all over. Machine learning will help you deliver more personalized emails to your subscribers. This technology can choose the best copy and email subject lines, pick the best send times, and line up relevant content with each subscriber or email list segmentation based on demographics or previous activity.

You may want to consider looking for a marketing agency that has these capabilities to assist you with your email marketing.

5. Subscriber Control

In a November 2018 poll put out by Alliance Data found that 69 percent of U.S. internet users wanted to control the frequency with which they receive branded email. This is pretty common sense. But that same poll showed that only 10 percent of retail marketers said they met that expectation.

How do you let your email list recipients control the frequency of email communication? You start at the beginning and include user controls. For example, when a user subscribes to your email list, you can send them a welcome email that allows them to choose the types of emails they want to receive and the frequency of those emails. A subscriber who’s satisfied with the frequency of your emails and the content they’re receiving is one who will stick around for a long time.

There you have it, five ways to perk up your existing email marketing tactics and match or even beat the best dealerships in the country. Email marketing is an old marketing standard, but it doesn’t have to be old, stale, and spammy.

Photo by Gino Borio on Flickr

Photo by Yogas Design on Unsplash

Computer mouse keyboard

Is It Time To Kill The “Internet Special Price” From Your Dealership Website?

There is no denying the fact that the internet and internet marketing have changed the way people shop for and buy cars. The way we use the internet and what we need from it has continuously evolved, and companies like Google have continually updated their search results and algorithms to match better the way we search.

Starting about six or seven years ago, when Google began using machine learning and artificial intelligence to alter their search results, Google was able to quickly adapt to how we search for things and even how we set up our websites. The keywords and tricks you had to use to find what you needed in the past have been replaced as the internet has evolved. Just look at voice search. Google will display or even speak results back to you without even having to look at a website.

So how does this impact your dealership? Well, has your website evolved in a similar fashion? Have you adapted to modern search intent, or are you still relying on old gimmicks to get people to your lot? And are they backfiring for you in a new decade?

One tactic that could arguably be a remnant of a bygone internet era is the “internet special pricing.” It may be a simple phrase, but it implies that purchasing a vehicle through the internet affords the dealership enough leeway on the price that they can further reduce the price. But how many transactions are ever completed 100% on the web at your dealership? Probably very few, if any.

Does your web pricing match the pricing of the vehicles on the lot? If one were to visit your lot, would the price be higher on the vehicle than on the internet? Probably not.

When a person goes to buy a used car, they are entering the sales process as a skeptic with their guard up. They don’t want to buy a lemon, and they certainly don’t want to overpay for it. By having two prices for the same vehicle advertised already builds doubt about what the real price is.

This example is where Carmax was able to gain so much ground so quickly. Their sales process eliminated all the doubt, all the haggling, and to the best of their ability, all the fear of purchasing a used car. They even offer free returns. That’s why, on any given Saturday, there is a wait to talk to a salesperson at Carmax while the dealer down the street is just passing the time before the next prospect shows up.

“Special Internet pricing” or “Get your E Price” or “One shot Internet pricing” all served the same purpose in the past. It was first designed to draw people in, get their information, and build a database of possible clients. What are you trying to accomplish with Internet Special Pricing? Are you trying to generate more leads, or do you believe having “special internet pricing” will help close the sales leads you do have?

Even if you do have “special internet pricing,” your customers are still going to use that number as the starting point of negotiation. It doesn’t matter what brand you sell; people are going to want to negotiate unless your dealership’s policy is a “one price, no-hassle” operation.

So in 2020, is the “internet special price” doing anything for your business, or is it time to evolve? Where else can you make changes to be more open and transparent about the vehicles that you sell? Where will evolution take your dealership in 2020 and beyond?

How Now Neon

5 Key Tips For Conquering More Market Share At Your Dealership

Being a successful car dealership is much more than attracting customers, efficiency among your departments, and selling cars. Those are all the basics any dealer can tell you are necessary to run a dealership business. We’re talking about knowing your market, which means understanding who you are marketing to instead of assuming everyone is a customer. That won’t do you any good if you aren’t able to meet their wants and needs. 

Here are five tips on how any dealership can conquer their market: 

1. Leverage Your Geography: A car dealership based in southern California is going to have a different market than one in northern Vermont. That’s why you want to make sure your inventory accurately reflects the area you are located in. From there, you can create promotional events and sales specifically for that region. For example, a Winter Clearance event on all 4-wheel drive pickups and SUVs would do well in Vermont, but may not make sense in sunny California.

2. Make Sure Sales Knows Your Inventory Inside And Out: In the 1950s, car makers did a great job educating their salesmen on how to sell against the competition. They developed training materials, crib sheets, and other sales aids. This is a lost art these days and is nonexistent with used cars. If your sales team took the time to look up the models in your inventory and study the safety features, performance, and options, they will come across as experts in the models they are selling, build buyer confidence and close more deals. You’ll have a better idea of what your customers want, and as a result, it’ll affect what cars you choose to have on your lot.

3. Study Customer Demographics: By having a better understanding of who the majority of your customers are, you can also determine the right cars to sell. What is the average age of your customers? Are they single professionals or families? By knowing who your customer is, you’re able to make the car buying process less of a transaction and more of an enjoyable experience by perfectly matching a car to your customers based on who they are and what their wants and needs are.

4. Have the Right Cars Ready: Knowing what your customers want will help inform your acquisition decisions, but even acquiring the right vehicle won’t help if you don’t have ready and available when the customer arrives. Your make-ready process needs to be in sync with your sales operation, to ensure the cars you need are ready and available. Keep your reconditioning operation efficient to ensure your cars are frontline-ready when you need them. Management software from companies such as AutoMobile Technologies can help keep your recon employees and vendors focused and fast.

5. Create Customer Loyalty: Dealerships can create customer loyalty in several different ways. Where a lot of dealerships fail in this department is by letting customers go as soon as they drive away in their new car. As a result, there’s a negative stigma surrounding car dealerships assuming a dealer only cares about a customer to get the sale. If you want to conquer your market, show how much you appreciate your customers (including previous ones) by sending emails, service coupons, follow up calls, and more. If a dealership goes out of its way to make a former customer feel valued, they’ll remember and let people know. 

Conquering your market as a dealership is not as simple as target advertising and selling an SUV to a couple who are expanding their family. It’s about connecting with the area you serve and creating a relationship with your customers that is far more valuable than any sale. After all, customer loyalty is one of the most useful things any business can have. Although you can’t buy customer loyalty, you can conquer your market and establish a name for yourself in the area you serve. Follow the above tips and stay consistent, and you’ll become the dealership to beat.

Children viewing monitor

5 Ways To Give Your Dealership Website A Virtual Facelift

Your website is your first impression for folks looking at dealerships online. Not only is it a representation of your brand, but it’s also a way to attract new customers. In only a matter of moments, a visitor to your website can determine if they want to do business with you. They may not have driven by your dealership or seen your commercials. Therefore, your site is as much of a representation of your dealership as the location itself. 

Poor website design
Web button error

One of the most important attributes of a website is the ability to communicate what the business does and who it serves. Your website needs to be able to answer questions a customer might have and give an accurate representation of your brand. At the same time, you can’t fill your website with so much content that your message is lost. 

The following are 5 ways you can improve your dealership’s website:

White Space

Although you want your website to pop and grab people’s attention, it’s also important to have white space. This gives the impression of organization and cleanliness in a modern way, focusing the attention on essential aspects within that white space. It can be specific models, categories, new or pre-owned, etc. The possibilities are endless. A recent study by Crazy Egg found that user attention increased by 20% when using white space around images, titles, and text. 

Create Calls To Action 

People are going to venture onto your website at all times: early in the morning, during the business day, and even in the middle of the night. Calls To Actions (CTAs) are an excellent way for someone to begin communication with you based on what they want. Be careful not to bog down the page with too many CTAs. This can cause your message to be lost in the chaos. Less is more when using Call To Action buttons. Sometimes all you need are “View Details” and “Get ePrice” to adequately serve the needs of someone visiting your website. 

Mobile Formatted Website

Not everyone who comes to your website will be on their computer or laptop. This is why your website must also be mobile formatted. Keep it easy to navigate and identical to the desktop version of your website. Many website building software products have built-in responsive design tools that allow your pages to detect the size of the screen being used, and reformat the page for optimal display. Mobile-Friendly websites rank higher in search results done on the phone compared to non-mobile formatted sites. If you want to read more on the statistics of mobile-friendly websites, click here

Put A Face Behind The Business 

When all the focus is on how to drive traffic to your website and improve the overall appearance, many businesses focus on the products and services offered. This can cause them to neglect the actual person-to-person experience. When people go to the dealership, they’re working with a real person. Since a visitor on your website doesn’t have someone greeting them it’s critical to have a page showing pictures of your staff on your website to give the visitor a welcoming vibe. Don’t limit the collection to just the sales team and service advisors either. Include service and reconditioning staff, finance, back-office, and executives, too.

People want to feel like they’re working with someone who genuinely cares about their business and not just after their money. Having a page with staff profiles “humanizes” your website and allows your staff to introduce themselves before someone comes into the dealership. 

High-Quality Photos 

The photos you use online for the vehicles on sale at your dealership are essential to determine whether or not someone is interested. It’s the product’s first impression, so you want to make sure the cars look their best. Using high-quality images shows your dealership cares about the brand and giving the user the best possible experience online. A study by Cox Automotive found that 90% of customers find photos important when looking for new or used cars online. 

Children viewing monitor

There are plenty of other ways you can improve the online experience for your dealership’s website. These are 5 of the primary techniques that the most successful dealerships use for their sites. Give it a try with yours, and the results may surprise you.

Reputation Stars and Lightbulb

Positive Online Reviews – The Secret to Protecting Your Dealership’s Reputation

Customers already have a difficult time trusting car dealers, yet they need to feel trust in where they are making their next car purchase. One of the most effective ways a potential customer can gain trust with your dealership is to read reviews.

Automotive SM Landscape

5 Marketing Tips for Dealerships

  • Website Improvements
  • Online Chat
  • Video Content
  • Ratings and Reviews
  • Social Media Versatility

 

We live in a digital age where consumers are coming to their conclusion about a business before they even step inside the front doors, all because of how they present themselves online. According to a NADA DATA report, US dealerships spent just over $8 billion in advertising back in 2014. That figure rose to a peak of nearly $10B in 2016 and has had a slight decline each year since.  

We’re nearly halfway through 2019, and although a lot has changed, traditional advertising like commercials and radio spots are still valuable to dealerships. However, salespeople at dealerships notice that the majority of car shoppers are on their phones while they’re on the lot to compare with prices and other options. Overall, US dealerships allocated just over half their 2018 advertising spend on digital channels, which is a significant sum and reflects the trends in shopper behavior. How do we adapt to the changes and market ourselves to remain relevant?

Here are 5 marketing tips, just for dealerships:

  1. Give Your Website A Face Lift: When was the last time you updated your website? According to marketing expert Marcus Sheridan, 70% of business is conducted online with a decision already made by the consumer before they even make contact. Your website is the first impression, so is it good enough to have the consumers make the next move and contact you? Is it mobile friendly? Does it have a sleek and professional look to it that is easy to read on any device and is a good representation of your brand? These are all things to keep in mind when revamping the website for your dealership.
  2. Use Live Chat: When a potential customer is exploring your site, they are searching for answers to several different questions. Having someone to communicate with via live chat is similar to holding their hand through a complicated process. Live chat is there to answer any questions they may have about scheduling, inventory, location, and more, and your chance to capture their information and begin the sales cycle.
  3. Create Videos: Videos are a quick and immersive way for a customer to get an inside look at your dealership. Not to mention, they are a representation of your brand. Over 50% of marketing professionals say that video brings in the best ROI. Whether it’s a commercial, filming a test drive with a customer, or just talking about your summer clearance event, videos are a sure way to bring in new customers.
  4. Customer Reviews: Any potential customer is going to want to see what other people have said about your dealership, as they offer a personal experience. Look at social media and review sites to see what people are saying about your dealership and highlight some of these on your website. If you don’t have any reviews, reach out to past customers and ask them to give a testimonial of their experience at your dealership. You’ll also find this is a great way to see how you’re doing and where you can improve in areas that you may have neglected. After all, the customer is the most important aspect of the entire decision-making process, and their decisions will be influenced by independent endorsements.
  5. Social Media: Nowadays, with Facebook Pages and Instagram business tools, social media has become an increasingly popular way to engage with new, potential, and previous customers. People who engage on the social media pages for businesses have the same expectation for responsiveness as they would on a telephone call. They could inquire about any number of things, like asking about a service, inventory, or even sharing their personal experience at your dealership. Additionally, social media is a great platform to advertise promotions and events happening at the dealership. This is the best part of social media, as you’re able to connect with users who are looking for a variety of information. Your job as the dealership is to know your customers, what they are looking for, and provide the answers. The more of a reliable source you are, the more you’ll appear as a knowledgeable, trustworthy dealership and the place they’ll want to take their business.


Marketing is all about connecting with your audience in as many ways possible, in order to be there when they choose to engage. Luckily, there are so many resources available to you to make your content engaging and fun, while also being the best representation of your brand. Focus on who you’re targeting and what makes your dealership the best choice to serve their needs. When you do that, you succeed in marketing your dealership.

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