Okay, well maybe not just like that. It took the combination of a global pandemic and a government-mandated lockdown for our industry to get here. But as we get more comfortable with this “new normal,” and continue to build digital strength and momentum, here are some best practices that will keep your dealership resilient in the coming months.
With additional eyes on screen and digital sales in full motion, your dealership’s website has undoubtedly become the most competitive space to win market share and shows that the battle for the sale, which used to take place in the showroom, is now taking place online. Get ready to identify and target all buyers in this space and engage them with just the right message at the right time (hint: it’s more than just using a digital retail solution on your site).
First, take a look at the data.
- Shopping engagement has remained robust during the 2020 pandemic. Specifically, new buying behaviors from markets that wouldn’t be looking for a car pre-COVID-19, are now interested. Shoppers at large are opting for more isolated modes of transportation.
- Visits to metro stations are down 68% since mid February, while train stations are down 60%. Millennials (representing 25% of the total US population) that hadn’t prioritized buying a car with the convenience of Uber or Lyft, are now looking into purchasing or leasing a car in the next five years.
- Top public transit schedule apps have seen their demand halved from one year ago. All demographics have a declined interest in subways, trains and buses amongst U.S. commuters.
- Suburban families that only owned one car will now be in the market for a second car. In a response to the psychological effects of COVID, families may be more inclined to avoid public transportation and take comfort in either taking a second car or using a larger vehicle – prompting them to update their current vehicle.
- Business commuters may return to driving for short-haul work trips. With surveys showing that the majority of vehicle owners will rely first on their private vehicles for transportation, we can speculate that short distance business trips that used to be by plane will now be replaced with private vehicles.
What can you do?
With showrooms closed or operating under strict limitations, dealers will become highly motivated to adopt new technologies that enable digital transformation, hyper-targeted digital marketing and remote selling. Check out these best practices below that will transform the way you engage and market to customers, and in turn, keep your dealership resilient.
Show up first in searches
With customers engrossed in an exclusively online research process — even more than before–, your dealership needs to dominate the digital space. Make sure your paid ad strategy is optimized 24/7, reflecting your current specials, inventory, and trade-in/test drive options. If this has changed because of COVID-19, make sure your ad channels know about it so your messaging is consistent and strong across all of your platforms.
Make data-driven decisions…in real-time
Making smart, strategic marketing decisions is about trusting automation and machine learning to bring your dealership to life in ways that a human simply will not have the bandwidth to maintain. Consider switching to a platform that won’t have any lag time in making these marketing decisions to optimize your campaigns.
Begin to utilize more with less
While your advertising budgets may be limited, using AI-driven technology will do the dirty work of targeting your new shoppers effectively and efficiently – saving you time and money.
Don’t let social distancing stop you.
Use the shift in consumer behavior to your advantage. Start investing in technology that facilitates a complete, seamless digital experience that your shoppers will already be expecting.
This is not just hoping for a speedy recovery for the automotive industry, but it suggests that dealers need to prepare to engage these emerging markets. With consumers becoming increasingly cautious and discriminating in how they choose to spend their time, make sure you act fast to engage these emerging markets in a digital-first world. To access the full report on this, please visit https://www.autoleadstar.com/industry-report-may2020/.