The automotive sector is undergoing a remarkable transformation that dealerships have to adapt to. The automotive industry lives in a world where changes happen at an unprecedented speed. Digital transformation has triggered acceleration that has impacted daily lives, production, social life, and financial systems. The continuous progress and focus on the future have had a massive impact on the automotive sector. The latest available data shows that the automotive industry manufactures over 78.6 million units yearly. The growth has been attributed to changes in technologies, business processes, and production systems. The focus on sustainability also continues to become central to the success of the automotive industry.
Recent studies indicate a significant increase in purchases of eco-friendly vehicles compared to gasoline-powered models. The demand for even more customizable and smarter vehicles is on the rise. The transition from a car being an asset to service is also increasingly shaping the automotive industry. Public expectations and opinions of car users continue to change with the transformation of the sector. Here are ten trends and statistics impacting digital marketing in the car manufacturing sector.
Mobile devices have changed the way car users search and shop. Recent studies show that 51% of car users search for their favorite models, locate dealers, compare prices, and read reviews via their mobile devices. The study has further found that customers will prefer using their smartphone to search for a vehicle even if they are located near a dealership. Another survey found that 72% of buyers using their smartphones are likely to visit more than one dealership. So, it is no surprise that the U.S. automotive sector has invested over $3.43 billion in mobile ads, which is about 47% of all investments in digital advertising. Google has launched a dedicated platform that provides automotive industry guests with an immersive mobile experience. Mobile ads can result in a 30% decrease in CPA and a 45% increase in conversions, which is higher than traditional marketing techniques.
B2B marketing can be applied in virtually all sectors, but it is a game-changer in the automotive industry. You can only understand this by reflecting on the dozens of components inside a vehicle. Most of these components are supplied to the automaker by other specialized companies that may be worlds apart. Then there are car dealerships that automakers must establish trustworthy and profitable relationships with. The same business process applies to specialized companies that dematerialize and digitalize the automotive sector. B2B marketing was regarded as a rigid and standardized marketing strategy until recently. However, that has been changed by the data-driven marketing dynamics and digital tools.
Mapping the Customer Experience
A recent study showed that the journey of purchasing a vehicle could last from 5 to 12 weeks. It starts by using online searches to find the brands or cars that interest a customer. The next step is narrowing down the selection based on reviews and opinions. Next, potential buyers walk to a dealership to conduct a test drive before making the purchase. After that, the customer arrives at his or her final choice. The customer journey is a long, complicated process that can involve several channels. However, a good marketing campaign can help keep a customer on the right channel and ready at the right time and in the right place. Mapping customer journey emphasizes the fundamental importance of collecting reviews and opinions.
Improve Customer Service
Automotive customer service and marketing strategies are interlinked. Companies no longer focus on price competition alone as it has become increasingly important to compete at the customer experience level as well. A recent survey claims that 54% of customers are ready to buy a vehicle from a dealership with the highest price as long as it offers the best customer experience. Simplified processes and improved experience are projected to increase car sales by a whopping 25%. Studies have also revealed that only 10% of dissatisfied customers are likely to return to the same dealership for more purchases. In contrast, 87% of satisfied customers are likely to buy a car from the same dealer.
Personalized videos are interactive and can adapt to the user. Also, these videos are designed according to the personality of the audience to whom they are targeted. The effectiveness of personalized videos is unrivalled. Research has shown that about 70% of car buyers watch YouTube videos before making their purchase decisions. As a result, the automotive industry is exploiting the medium of video by personalizing it. Forbes defines video marketing as the ultimate tool that brands need.
The process of buying a vehicle is diverse and complex. It brings about two opposite consequences that tend to complement each other. Tracing this path, which goes from inspiration search to purchase, isn’t an easy task. However, with the right analysis tools, automakers can gain vast knowledge about their target customers. All this can be made possible by big data collection tools. However, automakers need to know where to find their data and how to interpret it in practical and precise ways. Customization allows a car manufacturer to categorize its target audience into more specific segments by isolating individual characteristics. Customization is as old as commerce, but technology has made it possible in the auto industry. Automakers must strive to implement customer care and marketing operations in an effective and personalized manner.
Incorporation of Cutting Edge VR and AR Technologies
The global market for virtual reality and augmented reality technology is valued at 16.8 billion, and experts project it to jump to over 160 billion by 2023. So, dealerships should consider integrating this technology into their marketing strategies. Examples of how dealerships can incorporate VR and AR technologies into their marketing include the use of 3D models to enhance the customer experience. Augmented reality can help potential buyers visualize how the latest car model will look on the road. Dealerships can also use augmented reality to give customers who visit their showroom a virtual tour of the interior of their vehicles. Integrating AR to a dealership website, blog, social media platforms, and banner ads can also improve user experience by tapping a link.
Virtual technicians can also enhance the customer experience by providing customers with basic service to their vehicles. Augmented reality is also being used to augment vehicle colors and finishes to help car buyers visualize changes to the latest models. Dealerships can boost their sales and increase their conversion by incorporating AR and VR technologies into their marketing strategies.
Use of Messaging Apps
WhatsApp is the world’s leading messaging app, with over 1.6 billion users. Facebook Messenger ranks 2nd with over 1.3 billion users, while Snapchat 3rd with approximately 294 million users. As car dealerships continue to refine their 2021 marketing strategies, they should consider communicating with their target audience through messaging apps. Messaging apps are more effective than emails and can help a dealership stand out from the competition. However, communication with a customer through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Snapchat must meet GDPR compliance.
Messaging apps result in a better user experience. For example, over 20 million global companies, including Apple and Wells Fargo, communicate with their customers through Facebook Messenger because their target audience prefers social media communication over traditional emails. Also, the use of chatbots can make a dealership more flexible and improve its relationship with customers. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger enable service and sales teams to cultivate improved relationships with their customers. Chatbots and messaging apps have also enhanced the way service departments engage with clients.
Voice Search Optimization
There are over 100 million users of voice search, and the number is expected to increase by 2021. Dealerships that are yet to strategize how to optimize their online content for voice search might be missing out on increased traffic toward their showroom and website. Dealerships can enhance the customer experience by integrating their paid search, blogs, and website for voice search. Online content that hasn’t been optimized for voice search will likely receive a low rating from the Google algorithms. A low rating can impact your search result ranking, so consider optimizing all your online content for voice search. Internet users would, in the past, use a lot of words to complete a typed query online. However, voice search has simplified online search by allowing users to search using a conversational tone.
A few aspects that dealerships should implement to optimize their online content for voice search include using long-tail keywords and answer questions. Automakers and dealerships should ensure that their keywords and phrases match up to the informal speech. For instance, dealerships can use terms such as “the best Chevrolet dealerships near me” instead of “Chevrolet car dealership Los Angeles.” Dealerships can increase the chances of their websites ranking higher on search engines by optimizing their content to answer common questions regarding their vehicles and services. Answer the Public is a reliable online tool that automakers can use to identify common questions that car buyers search for online.
Artificial intelligence can help boost your dealership sales by enhancing customer personalization. Car buyers want a personalized experience throughout all their engagement with a dealership. A lifeline exists between making data amalgamation accurate and maintaining a good relationship with customers. However, automation, not crossing the line, and the first impression can help a dealership find a balance when using artificial intelligence for customization. AI can help car dealerships avoid sharing too much amount of personalization so that customers don’t feel overwhelmed. AI also helps balance lead insights through customized information such as prices, trim preferences, and vehicle colors.