Two New Year’s Resolutions for Dealerships in 2021
Now that you have (hopefully) survived a year of selling cars during a global pandemic, it’s time to set your sights on the year ahead.
We have a few helpful suggestions for your marketing team to start 2021 with renewed energy online.
2021 Is the Year of Focus
Painful puns aside, our crew at 9 Clouds is always looking to clarify our marketing strategies. All of our team’s suggestions for the upcoming year revolve around one core theme: focus.
As any seasoned marketer knows, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. Facebook’s data drama, the shape of your CTA buttons, and the deluge of statistics in Google Analytics can all distract you from what really matters.
What Do You Want to Accomplish in 365 Days?
In addition to knowing your key performance indicators (KPIs), it’s important to take time and focus on your tactics. This focus will help you set some great resolutions and supporting goals in 2021.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What do I need to do to help my dealership reach its goals?
- How can I influence my marketing department’s KPIs?
- Which tactics have proven to be the most effective in the last year?
- When am I doing the most effective work at my dealership?
- How can my dealership gain an edge online?
Answer the above questions to get your wheels turning, and then write down whatever comes to mind. (By the way, if you’re looking for a great digital way to record and visualize these important thoughts, I highly recommend the Mind Node app.)
Simply documenting these thoughts will put you ahead of most of your competing marketers. In 2019, 97% of surveyed marketers said they’re involved in strategically managing content, but only 59% actually write their strategies down. C’mon, people!
I can’t stress enough how important it is to document your resolutions and goals in 2021.
This forward-thinking brainstorming activity will likely result in a plethora of thoughts related to performance at a personal, team, or even dealership scale. No two dealership marketing teams are alike, so when you’re perusing our suggestions, make sure to adapt them for the unique strengths and challenges of your dealership.
Suggestion 1: Simplify the Digital Experience in 2021
This one hurts me the most, so let’s just “rip off the Band-Aid™” right away.
As marketers, we’re often so immersed in our own monthly ads, emails, campaigns, and branding that we begin to lose empathy for the outsider. We forget what it’s like to shop at our dealerships for the first time.
This is a common problem for automotive marketers, but luckily — for the well-organized ones — it’s easy to solve.
Aside from “the best selection” and “the best service,” every dealership also has a plethora of add-on programs, subscriptions, or memberships aimed at retaining relationships with their clientele.
Here’s the catch: No one cares. Your special programs and roundup of email subscriptions make no effect on leads or customers until they fail.
Furthermore, add-on programs are rarely perceived to be as special as the dealership wants them to appear. People really don’t care for the “extras” for their car, so why complicate the marketing that leads them to your dealership’s F&I office?
Sometimes, we’ve also seen hyped-up messaging get in the way of what actually matters to the client: their car.
For example, one dealership’s tagline became so prominent in its marketing that it actually began getting online reviews from customers who mistook the tagline for the actual name of the dealership.
If you want to make an impact in 2021, strive for simplicity.
One easy place to start is your website. How many subscription types do you have? Furthermore, what do people see in their inbox when they give their email address to a salesperson in real life?
We suggest running one “sign up for specials” or “newsletter” page. Period. This allows you to manage expectations for subscribers and to make your email targeting more efficient. (Here’s our subscription page for inspiration.)
In 2021, make a resolution to consolidate and simplify the email experience you provide contacts at your dealership.
You might be asking yourself: “Why limit our email channels when we can personalize and qualify virtually anything in the email message?”
In my experience with every area of automotive digital marketing, there is a big difference between “can” and “should.”
Just because you can make the most sophisticated, personalized, automated workflows doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be effective (or maintained).
With every trigger, filter, and list you create, you’re also creating the need for another Google Doc explaining why and how you built it this way for future team members to interpret. Automotive dealerships have record-high turnover rates, so simplifying processes — including those for email marketing — is just as important for efficiency as well as efficacy.
Simplifying processes can help you reach performance benchmarks and provide a consistent, well-branded experience for your contacts.
When you clean up your email list, you can also rely on it to hone the audience for your ads on Facebook and Google.
Thinking about your marketing in 2021? Think simple!
Suggestion 2: Use Cleaner Data in 2021
Europe’s GDPR, California’s CCPA, and Canada’s CASL might all seem like scary alphabet soup. In reality, these laws encourage smart practices that will improve your dealership’s digital relationships with leads — even if you’re not in Europe, California, or Canada.
If your dealership truly values its digital relationships, it should also value accurate data.
In addition to more relevant ads and emails, your audience expects and deserves privacy. For that reason alone, it’s a good idea to resolve for cleaner data that is also sourced directly from your contacts — never purchased from third parties.
But there are more reasons to use good data.
In addition to directly sourced contact information, your digital marketing in 2021 will also benefit from other data points. Think lead vehicles, past purchases, and service history. All of these data points are in your dealership’s CRM, and all can help you market better.
This supplementary data helps. As we’ve found in years prior, Facebook’s Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, and retargeting functionality are all strong options for reaching the right leads online. They’re even stronger when layered with more data.
The hidden benefit of knowing and using sound data is that you can also use it for Offline Events on Facebook. You can use it to target and measure the impact of your campaigns. How cool is that!
Good inbound marketing requires creative solutions. For auto marketers, 2021 will be another crazy year — but this is your year.
To take ownership of your year ahead, expect challenges in simplifying your messaging and cleaning your data. In 2021, you’re going to need creative solutions and creative time management. If you resolve to do just one thing this year: always say yes to creativity.
Ask the Right Questions in 2021
Questions are important — that’s why we ask a lot of them. We choose to work with clients who share our values.
One of our most helpful resources for automotive marketers is our eBook titled Questions to Ask Your Agency. As the name implies, this free resource will shed some light on your agency relationship so you can achieve more in the year ahead.