By Valerie Vallancourt, Vice President of Marketing, Outsell
It’s far too easy in a crowded marketplace to get lost in the noise of dealerships vying for the attention of their customers and prospects. Changes in consumer behavior and the advent of new marketing tools, however, give dealers who truly want to make — and keep — customers happy the opportunity to win like never before.
Here are four things to keep in mind to win the hearts of your customer base.
Communicate Effectively with Today’s Consumer
The modern consumer — across all demographic groups — is different from the “classic” consumer that yesterday’s marketing strategies were built around. Because of the strides cutting-edge companies like Netflix, Amazon and others have made, shoppers demand to be treated as individuals. They want companies to recognize their current situation, remember their past interactions and anticipate their future needs.
To meet this goal and the expectations of modern consumers, dealerships need to use modern tools, such as marketing automation platforms powered by artificial intelligence. With these tools in place, your dealership can send relevant information based on the consumer’s online and offline shopping and purchasing habits – just like Netflix and Amazon. Instead of simply tolerating your marketing communications (or worse), they’ll welcome them and see value in your messages.
Go Multi-Channel (and Stay Consistent)
Successful dealerships communicate with current and potential customers by utilizing several channels to send a consistent message. Traditional advertising, digital advertising and social media all have their place in your dealership’s marketing mix.
The trick is to make sure that all of your marketing is consistent. Each campaign should speak in your dealership’s “voice” and convey the same message. The more often your dealership can make relevant, consistent contact with the consumer, the more likely you’ll be to have your message land and make that consumer your customer.
With marketing automation tools, you can design a campaign and a style that sets your dealership apart from the competition.
Be with Consumers for the Sales Journey and Beyond
Part of standing out from the crowd is recognizing where the consumer is in their buyer journey and communicating with them appropriately. Connecting with them as individuals and not “leads” builds both loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Where are they in the sales funnel? Are they just coming into market or have they narrowed their selection? The communication you provide should answer the questions they currently have, not ones already answered or push them to the close before they’re ready.
- Are they a new or a returning customer? “Introducing” yourself to a customer who’s already made a sizable purchase from you is insulting, as is expecting a new customer to already know what your dealership has to offer.
- Where are they in the lifecycle of their vehicle? Is it time for an oil change, or are they due for a more intensive service appointment? Offer information and promotions that reflect their current needs.
- Are there life changes in their family that require different vehicles? If they’ve added to their family, have new drivers in the house, changed jobs, retired or otherwise had their everyday lives altered, they might need a new vehicle. Be the first to offer solutions to reflect their situation.
Again, AI-powered marketing platforms allow you to answer these questions and communicate to consumers seamlessly to build value in the relationship they have with your dealership and continue to do business there. A recent Accenture study, in fact, found that 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with a company that recognizes them, remembers their interactions and sends relevant offers and recommendations.
Follow Up in a Timely Manner
Sometimes, for a variety of reasons, a shopper who was in-market at one point will drop out. Many dealerships let these leads fall away after 30, 60 or 90 days. Dealerships with effective marketing automation tools and strategies, however, can keep the lines of communication open. When that shopper comes back into market, they’ll remember the dealership that cared enough to remember them.
The customer is paying attention; make sure you pay attention to them, no matter where they are on the path to the sale.
 Yu, Allen. “How Netflix Uses AI, Data Science, and Machine Learning — From A Product Perspective.” Becoming Human, Feb. 27, 2019.
 Levy, Steven. “Inside Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence Flywheel.” Wired. Feb. 1, 2018.
 “Personalization Pulse Check 2018.” Accenture.
Latest posts by Valerie Vallancourt (see all)
- 4 Steps for Increasing Customer Satisfaction – and Loyalty – at Your Dealership - August 7, 2019
- Seeing the Customer’s Past, Present, and Future - May 16, 2019
- Using AI to Keep Customers For Life - October 11, 2018