Automotive Digital Marketing

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Why is your used car department selling timing belts?

It’s not uncommon for digital marketing at the dealership to give primary focus to vehicle sales processes and practices and for the most part ignore service and parts departments.  The reality is that more and more of your customers are online and touching all of the dealership’s departments.  The frequent strategy for addressing these divergent points of communication is like the story of the blind men and an elephant.  A group of blind men touch an elephant to learn what it is like.  The first blind man, who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch, the one who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar and the one who feels the tail says it’s like a rope.  As with the various departments in the dealership, all are correct and vital to the overall body.  But unless you consider all parts and pieces, you don’t get the entire picture.  In the same way, many times a dealer’s digital marketing strategy is developed only through the aspect of vehicle sales. 

It’s critical to understand that communication is a two way flow.  However, most inspection of this process only occurs from the dealer response end of this activity.  How can you determine the quality of the response if you don’t know the question?  Here is a scenario that is more common than you might believe.  A customer visits your website and submits a parts request.  The lead is sent to your CRM.  Because the vehicle is a late model vehicle the opportunity is routed to your used car internet manager.  The email and or phone response then goes back to the customer asking when they could come in and take a test drive.  This counterproductive communication has now quite possibly put a seed of doubt in the customer’s mind.  As a side not, many dealers record inbound and outbound phone calls for training purposes.  So, if a manager were to listen to this call without knowing the original request, the outbound phone response would seem appropriate.

It’s imperative to self-inspect all of your digital touch points to determine if your strategies target the needs of your customer.  Through the regular practice of mystery shopping all of your departments you will be able to identify the elements of your systems and processes that need improvement.  You can then modify and adapt these approaches to stream line your communications from all departments.  You can’t just assume that you have a customer-centric digital communications strategy in place. It has to be tested and retested regularly.  You don’t tell your customers to bring their vehicles back for service strictly because it’s a profit center for the dealership.  You recommend regular check-ups because it provides the best return on their significant investment.  For the long term health of your dealership, take your own advice and make a regular appointment for a digital checkup.

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