“Dealers, Stop Trying To Bring Customers To Your Dealerships.” Love, Digital Dealer 22

Apr 19, 2017 | Digital Marketing

With today’s average car shopper visiting less than 2 dealerships before making a purchase decision, Digital Dealer 22’s Keynote speakers challenged why your digital marketing is so focused on bringing customers to your dealership…when you really should be focused on bringing your dealership TO YOUR CUSTOMERS, instead.

When our team attended the 22nd Digital Dealer Conference & Expo last week, we noticed a couple of trending topics: video content, Facebook strategy, and digital-digital-digital.

So what? Those topics have dominated the last 30+ tradeshows.

Yes, but…

An idea was presented at DD22 that breathed new life into those 3 digital trends. During Wednesday’s Keynote, Facebook, Google and Twitter’s automotive heads got together and said something along the lines of:

“The First Conversation You Have With A Customer Does Not Happen On Your Showroom Floor…”

It happens online.”

Consumers lead busy lives. They turn to their devices and the internet to find out if a vehicle will suit their lifestyle and needs without ever visiting the lot.

As you already know, the new digital landscape has been transforming how dealerships advertise for the better half of the last decade.

But if you think your store is on the up-and-up of digital, tell me the truth:

Is the aim of your store’s current marketing to bring your customers to your dealership to buy…

…or is it to give them all the information they need to make an informed decision before they even get to your store?

Today, your dealership needs to do both.

Is your dealership’s marketing trying to bring customers to your dealership, or bringing your dealership TO THE CUSTOMER? #automarketing
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How To Bring Your Dealership To Your Customer:

In a case study led by Think With Google, one consumer, Stacy, had 900+ digital touch points before even stepping foot into a dealership.

While she had 69 dealer interactions online, how many dealerships do you think she visited?

Google estimates less than 2.

This is why it’s important to bring your dealership to your customer and create the best dealership experience online as early in the buyer journey as possible.

To get started, first consider what stories you want to tell your customers face-to-face.

If a customer were in your store, what would the ideal conversation your team would have with a customer to get them to engage…

  1. With your vehicles?
  2. With your value-adds like ToyotaCare and Certified Pre-Owned program?
  3. With any incentives and additional offers?
  4. If they become “Be-Backs” and leave your store?

Once you have a good idea of how your ideal conversations would take place in the showroom, think about how you can replicate them in the online dealership experience.

3 Ways To Deliver A Kick-Ass Dealership Experience To Your Customers Online

1. Vehicle walkarounds, video test drives, and video feature highlights

Step 1: Get dealer-branded video footage of every make and model you carry.

Step 2: Get it out there.


If you are simply hoarding 360 degree walkarounds and video test drives on your website, you’re not engaging the 92% of vehicle shoppers who visit YouTube each month.

According to Think With Google, time spent watching these kinds of auto videos is up nearly 2x in the past year alone, and 69% of people who use YouTube while buying a car are influenced by it—more than TV, newspapers, or magazines.

Make sure you build a video advertising strategy that pushes your content across the web to the right In-Market audiences. Which leads me to…

2. Condense your “Why Buys” into bite-sized pieces, and deliver to In-Market Shoppers daily

What makes your dealership stand out in your community? Or what OEM-incentives are layered into your deals that customers may not yet know about, but will love?

Write these value-adds and why-buys down, and then create a video and content strategy around them for you to share across the web.

PRO TIP: Make sure your strategy is robust and extends long enough so it mimics a series. Remember, digital consumers are used to digesting many quick, short, “bite-sized” pieces of info at a time. The greater number of shorter messages you have, the better!

Next, consider where most of your local customers are spending their time online, and what mediums you can use to reach them with video and image content.

For example, through Facebook Advertising, you can run continuous campaigns to only In-Market Auto Shoppers within miles of your dealership.

Every time an In-Market shopper opens Facebook, you’ll be there waiting with an ad that mirrors your face-to-face sales tracks and introduces a new piece of your dealership.

Read More: Here’s How To Build Your Dealership’s Facebook Video Advertising Strategy (+ 6 Ideas That Move Metal)

3. Focus on 1:1 human interactions and mimic how natural conversations take place

Think about how conversations with your customers realistically take place in the showroom.

The goal of your digital marketing should be to mirror that experience online. Does it?

For example, if you see a customer browsing a red Toyota Camry on your lot, you likely wouldn’t offer them a VIP test drive in a black Toyota Tundra.

The goal of your digital marketing should be to mirror that experience online. Does it?”

Similarly, you wouldn’t want to offer a $100 VISA incentive to a customer who is already walking through the door. (Larger incentives should be reserved for people who need an extra push, like someone who has to make a further drive to your store.)

Read More: How To Draw Vehicle Shoppers Across State Lines: Tips From Dealer Magazine’s Interview With BMW of Spokane

These seemingly obvious “if-this-then-that” conversational patterns are often overlooked in digital.

Just like real-world conversations, you can easily scare away your customers if you start talking to them about the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Like this guy…

Luckily, this can be avoided if we simply remember that we are trying to mimic HUMAN interactions in our marketing efforts.

Use Facebook and Google retargeting to continue conversations around what shoppers are already interested in, like VDP retargeting based on the vehicle they’ve viewed, or an incentive to help them take an action that they failed to take you up on before.

PRO TIP: Ask your Facebook vendor or agency to help you create Custom Exclusion Audiences based on page visits so that you don’t waste your ad budget.

Additionally, ensure your website as a whole facilitates an effortless, immersive, and customer-focused experience.

If you know your customer wants to grab the handle and peek inside your car on the lot, let them do the same online. Or, if you notice a lot of live chat questions being asked on your Trade Appraisal and Service Specials pages, offer live chat pop-ups only on those pages.

Lastly, remember that in today’s fast paced world, time is a new currency – what can your dealership do online to save your customers more time?

If you master doing that before your competition does, your customers will thank you for it.

Wrap Up: Creating The Best Dealership Experience Starts Online

Creating an online experience for your customers isn’t a new concept: but using it as the first conversation your dealership will have with a prospect is.

Since car shoppers are visiting less than 2 dealerships before buying, you may be missing out on huge opportunities if you’re only providing messaging to urge customers to come to your dealership to finish the buyer journey and buy a car.

In reality, shoppers are doing the majority of their initial vehicle research online.

Bring your dealership to the customer in the early stages of their research, helping them understand your dealership, vehicles, and value as early as possible online so they have everything they need to make a buying decision before actually visiting your store.

Did you attend #DD22 and have a takeaway you’re excited about? What are you working on right now to implement what you learned and launch your dealership ahead of the competition?

Blog Author - Brooke Jensen

Written By Brooke Jensen
Brooke handles all of Dealers United’s digital marketing. In addition to her love for design and copy, Brooke also adores her two dog-like kittens, playing the electric violin, and walking barefoot around the office.

Who is Dealers United?

Dealers United is a game-changing automotive company dedicated to helping auto dealers improve their dealerships. We have helped over 6,500 dealers nationwide cut costs, save time, and sell more cars.

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