I am going to explain some of the common problems I have seen this past month while trying to find the right new car. Also, my family is in the auto industry so even before I started searching for a new car I was aware of the common areas of online advertising car dealerships miss.
I can tell you right now that many car dealership websites and car manufacturers are doing a horrible job at usability and content marketing! Horrible! FYI auto industry, people use the Internet to research nowadays. They also shop and buy online, and more importantly, they use the information they find online to help them make decisions about buying. The auto industry HAS to be focused on those that use the Internet to make buying decisions because they are by far the majority today.
If you are not providing enough information to your targeted audiences you are failing. So auto industry, listen up. Here are some tips most pay me a pretty penny to get.
Your Car Inventory Feed Tells Me Nothing!
Car dealerships have a feed that is populated on their websites that lets the user see which vehicles are in the inventory and what their features are. Some of these “feeds” have gotten more advanced over the years and many include manufacturer videos about the vehicle. The information and videos are decent, but they don’t tell me enough. They don’t “educate” me , “convince me” and they certainly do not “sell.”
People need more than the data/features. They need dealerships to answer common questions!
I chose for my new car the 2013 Toyota Sequoia Platinum, but before I did it was nearly impossible to find answers to any of my questions online. Example – the Platinum addition has a middle console in the 2nd row seating area. How do people get to the third row? Does the seat fold down and people climb over? If so I would prefer to go with a model that doesn’t have the console, but I would lose features I wanted.
(I know many people will say, “Just go to the dealership,” but most people prefer to rule out vehicles before they have to go in to a dealership because the sales people want your email and every phone number they can find you at so they can then hound you to death about buying a car! It is irritating!)
I did, in fact, find the answer to my question about the seats at the car dealership (they slide forward), but I would have preferred to find them online. I had to go see four cars to get the answers that helped me make my final decision. I wasted a lot of time for sales people that could have been selling a car to someone else. If dealers answer questions online they save a lot of time and money for both the customer and the sales person.
Guides and Videos
Some of the best information out there on specific vehicles is not provided by car manufacturers or dealerships; they are provided by individuals and magazines that make great guides and videos. I am thankful they are there, but why are individual dealerships not jumping on the chance to do the same?
Here are some examples of guides that could be made for vehicles:
- 10 Reasons Why the Toyota Sequoia is the Perfect Vehicle for Working Moms
- 5 Family Friendly Aspects of the Chevy Tahoe
- Men, an SUV with a V-8 and 25,000 Miles Free Maintenance: A Win-Win
- Toyota Sequoia Limited vs. Platinum: A Break Down of the Differences (this is nearly impossible to find on Toyota.com without entering your zip and contact info, which I WILL NOT do)
Guides can and should be made for every brand and model, yearly!
It isn’t like the info isn’t going to come in handy because you sell used cars for years to come; people will need this info for 5-10 years. More importantly they can be indexed in search engines and bring consistent traffic.
Now smart dealers could take the info they used in their guides and create videos that clearly show the same thing! Show me the features a working mom can use. Show me the family friendly features and let the men hear the roar of the V-8! Show me the things most people don’t know about!
Videos can really inform the buyer and show every possible feature a targeted audience could need! Videos (and guides) should be aimed at your targeted audience(s) – men, women, seniors, teenagers, single dads, working moms, etc.
How to Use Your Guides and Videos
If you have a good developer or CMS there should be a way to work some space into the template of feed pages. So if someone is looking at a “2013 Honda Accord” the developer could add links to your related guides and videos for this vehicle.
The goal is to SELL the vehicle before they walk in the dealership. By offering great info you are also creating trust. Trust is a part of sales.
Your guides and videos can also be used in social media, your YouTube Channel, your on-site blog, your brochures and your email newsletters. There is an investment in the beginning, but the info can be used over and over again while also bringing in traffic for the long-term. You just need a video camera and someone affordable that can edit and add the proper branding.
The auto industry could really benefit from some great infographic design and marketing. You can use infographics to offer comparisons and display features, or even just give tips. They could be quick and simple.
- The Ford Explorer vs. the Expedition: Which SUV is Best for You?
- Honda Hybrids: A Comparison of Options
- 10 Features You Didn’t Know Your BMW X6 Had
- 7 Things That Will Improve the Life of Your Tires
- Washing Your New Car: Which Products to Use & Which to Avoid
- 10 Common Maintenance Mistakes We See Customers Make
As with guides and videos this information can be used in multiple ways. They should be on your blog with supporting paragraphs and contact information.
Infographics offer a Bonus!
You can allow other people to share your Infographic on their website and blog if they link back to your site. When this happens you get free advertising, from the branding on your Infographic, and also a link back to your site. If you provide great information others will share it.
Dealerships are Busy: Some Ideas on Getting These Things Created
Guides – Dealers, you can bribe and/or reward salespeople on making guides. They are the ones that know what people want to hear, so the information they provide is what you need. You cannot expect them to be “perfect” writers. You will need an editor and some clarification at times, but that is alright. The basic ideas are what you need put together for you.
Reward with a bonus, a free meal or something else because you will have to pay one way or another, but offering employees a perk is probably cheaper!
Videos – Get a video camera and encourage the salespeople to start making videos and let them know that their name will be on the end of the video. Leads are good. As I said above, with video you will need someone that can edit and brand videos for you.
Infographics – Your salespeople, service managers and management teams can come up with their own ideas or work together. What you need are the facts and concepts provided to you. Perhaps throw a brainstorming lunch and let them come up with ideas. Once you have the data in hand such, as “10 Common Maintenance Mistakes We See Customers Make” you get this information to your Infographic designer. You will have to hire someone that can design these for you.
Inform Your Visitors
The main goal to focus on is informing the different audiences that come to your site and providing information the other dealers don’t. Answer the common questions the sales people hear and start creating trust with potential customers.
The most important recommendation I have is to not sit around and hope that sales will occur. Start reaching everyone you can online now. Put some time and money into content marketing and make sure that what is produced is valuable, quality information for the consumer. Lastly, if it was my dealership I would be producing a minimum of one quality piece of content marketing a week.