Automotive Digital Marketing

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Latest Google Car Shopper Research Impacts Dealer Marketing Strategies

Google's latest ThinkAuto research shared by Joanne Nichols, Automotive Head of Industry, shows just how nimble automotive digital marketing strategies must be to connect with today's auto shopper.  I will highlight four points from the latest Google research that I thought would interest car dealers.


The first point is how important dealership websites have become in the shopper's research.  Dealership websites have moved into the #1 position in importance for consumers doing research online.  The digital influences are in blue and the offline influences in gray.  You can see from the color density at the top of this chart why additional marketing dollars could be moving from traditional marketing to digital marketing strategies in 2013.

Car Dealership Websites Rank Top in Research Influence

The latest research highlights the importance of creating a dealership website experience that is relevant, accurate, and one that differentiates the dealership from local competitors.  As competition increases for online shoppers, dealers must innovate their websites an create a better educational an conversion experience.


That can start by capturing a full set of photos for new cars, like we do for used cars, and eliminate stock OEM photos.  Another consideration is to add walk-around videos to new car product pages.  Videos should also be placed on service, finance, and directions pages to explain how the dealership operates and what they can expect when they fill out a form or call the dealership.  Interactive incentives, chat, and better call to action messaging should all be tested to improve the customer experience.

Video Engagement in The Shopping Process

I have been a long time advocate for using customized video on dealership websites, paid search campaigns, and social media. Previous research from Google has stated that videos are the most effective online advertising unit.   The latest research confirms that video engages consumers and influences shoppers to take action.

The latest research should light a fire under dealers to create engaging comparision and conquest videos that can educate consumers who are not set on a particular brand. These videos can be used in a dealer's SEO strategy as well as on their YouTube marketing channel.  Dealers should also be testing video pre-roll on YouTube, the #2 search engine in the United States, as a low-cost way to engage and generate interest for their brands.

Consumers Are Open Minded When Shopping

One of the most startling surprises from this latest research is that only 20%of consumers who started searching for a specific brand, purchased the brand they started with.

This means that 80% of online shoppers are open to switch brands if dealers can make the clear case on why they should purchase their cars.  This is low hanging fruit for entrepreneurs who want to break away from vanilla marketing strategies and think out of the box.

Younger Consumers Are More Open Minded

The last piece of research that I wanted to share is that younger shoppers are more likely to consider multiple brands when shopping for a car.  Consumers 18-34 years old are very likely to consider four or more brands when they are shopping for a car.  As you might expect, consumers 55+ are more likely to consider one brand when they search online.

I want to thank the Google's ThinkAuto initiative and Joanne Nichols, Automotive Head of Industry, for sharing their latest research to help car dealers make more informed marketing decisions.  Especially when there are emerging digital marketing strategies that can be deployed with a compelling ROI.

One of the greatest opportunities I see in the marketplace for car dealers is mobile marketing investments.  As you can see from the chart below, consumers are using their mobile devices more  and more to research cars.

Don't Forget Mobile Strategies

With over 20% of searches coming from mobile devices today, Google anticipates that by 2013 over 40% of searches will be from a mobile device.  With that said, how strong is your mobile marketing strategy?  Do a few searches on your smartphone by your dealership and see if you are showing up in the top paid search ads with a click to call message.  If not, you are missing low funnel consumers looking to engage with your business.


2013 Digital Marketing Strategies


Don't forget to mark your calendar for February 5-7th for the 2013 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference, just prior to NADA in Orlando, so that you can get the latest Google research and strategies to guide your dealership in 2013. 


Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting

732.672.2356 (cell)


P.S. If you would like assistance with your dealership's digital marketing strategy or would like onsite training for your internal teams, give PCG Consulting a call to discuss how we can assist your dealership maximize all the opportunities to connect with today's online shopper. 


Order a copy of my latest book "Unfair Advantage" on today and get the wisdom and insights from top industry leaders to move your dealership to great profits.


Views: 1400

Tags: automotive, google, research, shopper, thinkauto


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Comment by Aaron Hassen on September 26, 2012 at 10:11am

Great piece...

"Interactive incentives, chat, and better call to action messaging should all be tested to improve the customer experience."

From our perspective, its no coincidence that as the world becomes more mobile, the preference toward live chat and texting increases. Consumer-to-dealer chats have more than tripled over the last 3 years (according to Contact At Once! data). Google recently tests live chat in ads and Apple continues to integrate chat and texting features across iOS6. Instant access is here and dealers are certainly wise to be easily accessible to online shoppers as a way to improve the consumer's online experience (and do themselves a favor by generating more business).

Thanks as always for leading the conversation, Brian.  Looking forward to the 2013 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference

Comment by Richard Valenta on September 19, 2012 at 6:27pm

Great info.  Nice to see dealer websites move to the top.  Agree with photos on new cars. 

Comment by James Easter on September 19, 2012 at 2:58pm
Good stuff, Brian...thanks for sharing.

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