As we all know, the advent of digital marketing and internet advertising has changed the game when it comes to lead generation. Today, car shoppers have a nearly infinite amount of information available at their fingertips, leading to a much savvier and more informed customer base. The best thing we can do, as dealers, is actively implement the idea of “Digital Trust” into our digital marketing strategies.
Digital Trust is a mantra that our company tries to adhere to every day. If you have met our CEO, Sean Stapleton, you have probably heard him talk at length about this idea. Digital Trust is, at its core, precisely what the name implies: present your digital marketing in an open, honest and direct manner and the shopper will respond favorably. For example, when a shopper searches for a RAM 1500 lease, they are probably searching for that specific lease amount for a RAM 1500. Tailor your digital marketing to include transactional data to give the shopper a clear idea of your inventory offers and match their search intent. This, in turn, will also benefit your organic results.
But what happens when they click that ad? If you’re sending your paid search traffic to a generic landing page with no mention of that lease price, you should have a long talk with your paid search provider. Today’s shoppers hold all of the power, they want accurate, upfront pricing every step of the way and if you aren’t providing that, they will happily visit your competitor down the street.
Another way to drive leads that we don’t often think about is to focus on the Tier III traffic over Tier I. Sure, the customer base for Tier I may be larger, but we have seen more value in targeting the ready-to-buy customers further down the funnel. This targeting can be used in tandem with the practice that we previously discussed of including transactional data.
Reaching a shopper who is ready to buy with the specific pricing that they’re seeking can often be enough for that shopper to submit a lead and visit your store. Not to mention, by targeting Tier III over Tier I, you won’t be competing with the large brands in your paid search targeting. Let Tier I be Tier I; let Tier III be Tier III.
Lead Generation and Prospecting
Lead generation and prospecting does not have to end there; there are a handful of strategies that dealers can implement at the store level to ensure an efficient and memorable car-buying experience. The first and most simple thing a dealer can do is to promote unity and coordination between departments. This means sending out regular updates to the entire staff on what special offers are currently being advertised on your website and paid search. Everyone — from your sales staff and internet team, all the way to your service writers and administrative professionals — should receive updates on your current offers. This way, everyone at your store is prepared and ready to handle any customer that walks through your doors.
When a customer does buy a car, it also doesn’t hurt to plant the seed to lead their next purchase — even it is years down the line. The simplest way to this that I have found is to have a set process to hand the customer off from sales to service.
Most of us have probably heard the phrase, “Sales will sell the first car, service will sell the second.” At my store, immediately after the paperwork is signed, I would advise my sales team to personally walk the customer to the service and introduce them to the service writer. Everyone on the service team should be prepared for this customer and begin advising them on what scheduled service they should be considering for their new car purchase. Clear time frames or mileage for scheduled maintenance will put a clear idea expectation in the customer’s head on what your service department can provide for them.
The last piece of advice I will give is never let the customer out of your lead pipeline, even when they’re already a satisfied buyer. What I used to do is put an iPad with our new offers page on our site open in the passenger seat of our shuttle van and service waiting areas. Not only does this give the customer something to look at while their vehicle is being serviced but also plants that seed for their next automotive purchase.
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