Auto Shoppers Are In Market Longer Than Ever – 5 Ways to Target and Convert New Customers

Auto Shoppers Are In Market Longer Than Ever – 5 Ways to Target and Convert New Customers

Today’s auto consumers are in-market longer than ever, with the majority of shoppers in market for 2 months or longer. These longer purchase journeys translate into more opportunities for auto brands. 80% of consumers start their search with a different manufacturer in mind than the manufacturer brand they ultimately end up purchasing.  With so many car shoppers changing their mind, dealerships have a huge opportunity to target and convert today’s auto consumers.


Graphic Credit: PCG Digital Marketing

One: Invest in Digital Channels

When researching a new vehicle, 7 of the top 10 sources shoppers turn to are digital channels. These include:

  • 83% – Dealership Sites
  • 82% – OEM Sites
  • 76% – Search Engines
  • 70% – Vehicle Evaluation Sites
  • 64% – Blogs/Forums
  • 61% – Professional Review sites

Graphic Credit: PCG Digital Marketing


Offline channels such as visiting a dealership, getting referrals from family and friends, direct mail, and other forms of offline market certainly have their place in the purchase decision. However with digital channels dominating the scene, dealerships would do well to invest more heavily in online marketing strategies.

Two: Continually Optimize Your Dealership’s Website

Your dealership website is clearly one of the top go-to’s for consumers shopping for a vehicle. Consumers expect an interactive and user-friendly when they come to your website, so it’s critical that you are continually keeping up with best practices.

Is your website mobile-optimized? If not, according to Gartner, 43% of mobile customers are unlikely to return to a mobile site that loads slowly and 74% of mobile site visitors wait up to 5 seconds, but 60% wait less than 3 seconds and never return. Do you clearly showcase your inventory with easy-to-use search capabilities? Can visitors schedule appointments, save coupons to their digital wallets, or chat online with a customer service representative? Is your location, directions and contact information visible throughout the site?

New website features and technology are quickly evolving so what may have worked last year for your website will most likely need an update.   Pay attention to new tools and features that consumers are using to continually provide the best user experience possible.

Three: Auto Shoppers Love Video so Start Producing

This is the year of video – auto consumers love video and consider it one of the most engaging ad formats.

According to research by Google and Polk:

  • 52% of car shoppers find online video ads the most useful ads in their shopping process
  • 40% of car shoppers decided which company to purchase from based on an online video ad
  • 30% of car shoppers were prompted to start shopping by seeing an online ad

Posting videos can boost engagement and interest in dealerships by displaying inventory and information where most consumers research first, making your dealership the go-to place for interested car shoppers. And when using videos in social media advertisements you can use a data provider with digitally addressable data for highly targeted campaigns. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Film a weekly series showcasing the best new models on the lot
  • Post a walk through video of most popular models
  • Answer the most common questions your service center receives (ex. What’s the difference in tire rotation and balancing? What kind of oil change do I need?)
  • Showcase new features such as navigation, sound systems, sunroofs, etc.
  • Employee profiles “Get to know our team”


Four: Get Found through Search with SEO Best Practices

80% of new car shoppers start with a search engine. The single most important way for your car dealer website to increase traffic is to optimize it for search engines. The more effective a dealer’s SEO is, the better their online visibility and, ultimately, their sales. Proper car dealer SEO drives more qualified car buyers to your dealership’s website, resulting in higher conversion ratios and greater profits. Solid website design, quality content, keyword research, and a meaningful social media presence are all important factors in search engine optimization.

Check out these great statistics on how SEO strategies can lead to more vehicle sales:

  • 8% of consumers who search for a specific type of business via mobile call or visit within 24 hours (Google’s Mobile Movement Study)
  • 75% of users never go past the first page of search results (HubSpot)
  • 79% of search engine users say they always/frequently click on the natural search results over paid


Five: Append Your Data

As new prospects begin engaging with you through your website, calling your dealership, or scheduling appointments, you are hopefully collecting all this data so you can follow-up and encourage a sale. While your first party data is powerful, you can better understand these prospects with additional third-party data appends.

Perhaps you have collected information such as a name and phone number and possibly an email address. This is enough to at least reach out with campaigns to attempt to schedule an appointment but how will you know what type of messaging these valuable prospects will be most likely to respond to?

Every lead record should be appended with additional third-party data sources to maximize its conversion potential. Add a variety of data elements such as gender, occupation, estimated income, credit card, lifestyle and interests, and presence of children. A variety of auto & VIN marketing data can also be appended such as make, model, year, engine type, auto equity data, Kelley Blue Book and Black Book data, and other vehicles in the household. You worked hard to get these leads so be make sure you work just as diligently to convert them into the final sale.

Today’s auto shoppers are in-market longer, utilizing any number of channels to help them make decisions. They may begin with one manufacturer in mind, but the majority of them will end up changing their mind so there is plenty of opportunity to get your marketing strategies in order to target and convert these potentially lucrative consumers.

Download the Automotive Marketing Data Success Kit to learn more data-driven tips and strategies to target and win with today’s multi-channel automobile shopper.

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