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How automotive marketing automation builds top-of-mind appreciation

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“Would you fight for my love?” – Jack White

Attention spans are shrinking. Especially for the Millennial generation, marketing needs to be timely. Your brand has to be quick. When your client knows and understands the uniqueness of your dealership’s brand, they’ll stick with you. For today’s car buyer, you need to be that car dealer so you can become their car dealer.

How many times will people have a chance to learn about your brand?

People have better things to do than to proactively research the values and mission statements of you and your competitors. Chances are that your dealership doesn’t change its mission or even its logo very often. That’s why marketing automation can provide delightfully scalable value.

What is marketing automation?

As we’ve discussed on this blog before, marketing automation is a system that automatically sends the most relevant content – whether its an email, tweet or ad – to your contacts on your behalf, wherever they might be in your sales cycle. The messaging can be sent to people based on several sets of criteria, including their position in the sales cycle, interested vehicle class and model, contract types (lease vs. finance), age, and geographic location.

Whether you’re hovering above the top of the sales funnel (think SEO or PPC) or sending a service reminder to a new customer with an email drip campaign, marketing automation provides value at every stage in your sales funnel.

Good marketing automation relies on three things:

  • A well-rounded understanding of your data, and how people flow through your business
  • Delightful content on multiple channels, including PPC ads, SEO, email, website content, social and texting
  • Insights and improvement to ramp up the ROI and play off of your store’s strengths

It’s all about top-of-mind appreciation.

Marketing automation exposes people to your store’s brand over time and builds appreciation for the unique way in which your store operates. For every stage in your funnel, there is a platform that will give you the most bang for your dealership’s buck.

Your campaigns will always need human intervention, and no marketing automation system is truly automatic. Human understanding and intuition will always be paramount to the success of a dealership, digitally speaking, but there are also several pieces that can be automatic and still provide value.

Additionally, humans (your marketing and sales teams) will sometimes err and miss opportunities to send the perfect email to the perfect lead, but a well-designed, well-integrated marketing automation system will always hit the mark.

Balance your channels.

Marketing automation isn’t just about sending automatic messages. It’s about creating opportunities for your staff and your customers. There are only so many things that can be said in an email, tweet, or ad. Your dealership can also use marketing automation to build awareness and to see trends.

For example, one of our clients keeps a list of customers who have purchased a vehicle in the last week and also have Twitter accounts, so that the marketing team can follow up with an organic tweet saying “thanks.” We don’t automate the “thank you” tweets because we don’t want the customers to feel like the tweets are just templated and non-human. We also don’t want to accidentally send a tweet out of context of the real world. For example, the tweets that we sent this week also included “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” for a real-time flavor.

But it’s not all about the twittersphere. Email messaging takes up the majority of our agency’s marketing automation time. For several of our dealerships, we set up drip campaigns that send service reminders and equity opportunities to people who meet certain criteria. These are not to be confused with direct lead follow-up emails from your CRM. This particular type of marketing automation has to do with longer-term relationships that are nurtured by the right content at the right time.

In addition to Twitter and email, you can also automate your dealership’s PPC ads. For example, several dealerships choose to run retargeting ads which link back to their websites to keep browsing cars. If someone comes and browses F-150s, for example, they’ll see an F-150 banner ad with the store’s logo which gets them back into the shopping groove.

Logo. Mission. Proposition.

Every piece of your dealership’s marketing automation system should put your store’s brand and product squarely on the table. The average prospect needs to see your brand seven times before they buy something. How will that happen, and how much time will it take to reach seven exposures for every prospect who visits your website?

It’s not only about the first conversion – marketing automation is about the whole cycle. It takes time, it takes optimization, and it takes knowledge. When a person Googles for car dealers in your town, or when your customer starts thinking about their next vehicle, where will you be? How will you stay in touch?


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Image credit: John Lloyd on Flickr

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