The automotive industry has faced challenging times over the past few years. We had the diesel scandal and recent uncertainty around Brexit has undoubtedly had a negative effect.
This isn’t unique to automotive though, at ClickBoost, we are lucky enough to work across multiple industries, and have seen that it’s a challenging time for many.
However, we believe, have proven, that a business can still succeed during these uncertain times, you just have to quickly adapt to the changing landscaping; something that can be notoriously difficult for automotive retailers to do. The fact of the matter is, people are still looking to buy cars, even new cars but if your business isn’t properly set up to take advantage of this demand, then you will lose out to your competitors – it’s as simple as that.
The below graph looks at the volume of searches for the keyword ‘new cars for sale’ in the UK over the last 5 years.
The massive spike in the graph represents the time period around the middle of October. We also recorded a similar, but less extreme pattern when it came to several used car searches.
I wonder why searches increased? Perhaps it was due to the Brexit delay? Who knows, but what really matters is whether or not you were in a position to take advantage of the increase in searches?
A business that has the most real estate on the search engine result pages (mainly Google) for keywords that people are searching for when looking for a new car will likely take advantage of any spike in demand.
Before launching my own business, I headed up the digital marketing team for a large automotive retailer in the UK and during that time we cut back on traditional marketing spend and redirected it to areas that were more likely to generate leads.
Not only that but we measured everything. So, for example, if someone visited the website using the search term ‘Audi A4 Avant’ – we knew whether or not that search term resulted in a lead.
We even got to a point where we could quite accurately estimate how much any particular search term contributed in terms of revenue.
This type of data proved extremely useful and during my time there we were able to generate record volumes of leads.
Here’s what you need to do..
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that my proposed solution sounds overly simple so therefore it can’t be true.
90% of what I’m suggesting is really as simple as it sounds if you work with a skilled digital marketer engine marketer, the other 10% (the hard bit) is sometimes more of a personnel issue.
If you want to generate more leads from people that are likely in the market to buy a new car, here’s what you need to do in 3 easy steps…
Find out how people are searching online when they’re in the market for a new car. This is actually a lot easier than it sounds.
If you have staff internally that have skills in data analysis and/or PPC (Google Ads) then they should be able to provide you with this data. Just ask them for a search query report and it will tell you exactly which keywords people are typing into Google to generate leads.
Once you figure out how people are searching online when they’re in the market for a new car, you just need to set up Google Ads campaigns that target the search terms they are searching for.
Your digital agency may already offer this is a service and it’s something that ClickBoost specialise in.
Here’s the key part. If you are targeting specific keywords that would imply someone is in the market for a new car, all you need to do is capture their details and get that customer on the phone to one of your salespeople.
For example, if you are a Ford dealer and you are targeting the people searching online using the keyword Ford Focus finance deals within a 10-mile radius of your dealership, your primary goal should be to obtain the visitor’s contact details or get them to call your dealership.
Once you have created laser targeted PPC campaigns that target customers who are ready to buy, the next thing you need to do is make sure you capture their details.
Outwith the ‘traditional’ calls to action such as ‘enquire now’ or ‘book a test drive’ there are some other (sometimes better) ways to capture the visitor’s data.
If you create a form that allows visitors to request a car valuation and place it in a prominent position across your website, it is likely that you will get a huge volume of leads that will convert into a sale around 5% – 8% of the time.
This may be a challenge if you don’t have the staff members to pre-qualify car valuation leads.
However, if you are able to surface the car valuation form when a user has entered the website via a search term that implies high commercial intent, the conversion rate to sale will be much higher.
Every car salesperson knows that if you can get a customer behind the wheel and take a test drive, they are far more likely to become a customer.
Arnold Clark, for example, offers free gift vouchers in return for people arranging test drives.
This may be an effective strategy for them but if you wish to cut down on the number of people doing this who have no intention of buying a car, you can simply offer it to people that have shown clear intention that they are in-market.
As mentioned previously, this can be done by only showing the offer to potential customers that demonstrate clear commercial intent.
One thing that traditional retailers often execute poorly compared to e-commerce businesses is demonstrating scarcity of a specific product and/or offer but it can be an extremely effective way to increase lead volumes.
If, for example, you have some really good deals on a specific model of pre-reg car, make it clear that the visitor has to enquire in x amount of time to take advantage of the offer.
The use of a countdown timer is a very effective way to communicate this type of offer and normally you see an increase in leads/sales as the countdown timer approaches 0.
Imagine someone visits your website using the keyword best Vauxhall Corsa deals and they are presented a banner on your site that communicates ‘Book a test drive within 3hrs 39m to secure this offer and lock in the price’.
If it is a genuinely good offer, and they really want that car, the likelihood that they will convert will be much higher than normal.
You may worry that your website isn’t flexible enough, or that it will be too expensive to add new features, but the technology has moved on massively over the past few years meaning that there are very inexpensive ways to build custom landing pages that sit alongside your current website – we do it all the time for clients.
The slightly difficult part…
There are so many car retailers that are still spending money trying to generate interest through radio, newspaper and TV ads and sometimes trying to convince people within an organisation that are set-in-their-ways to properly embrace digital can still be a challenge.
Although these forms of media still have their place, if people are searching online for a new car and they find one of your competitors first, there’s a good chance you will lose that business.
A car is a considered purchase, so it is more likely than not that someone will search the web to weigh up their options after viewing a TV ad or listening to a radio ad before committing to contacting a dealership. If you ran an advert promoting a good finance deal on an Audi A4, it will likely result in people researching that model online.
If, for example, a car directory/comparison website (such as AutoTrader, Hey Car, Motor Point or Carwow) is dominating the top results on Google and you’re not, there is a good chance they will steal your business.
The bottom line is, TV and radio do generate interest, but if you’re not prominent online when people take to the web to research and compare prices, you could be indirectly benefiting your competitors by creating demand that they capture.
In fact, this is an intentional tactic often used by savvy digital marketers to piggyback off other people’s TV ads. If your competitor has a good digital team, there is a good chance they’re doing it to you.
There’s a massive opportunity to drive leads using the aforementioned tactics outlined in this article, but even if you chose not to do that, make sure you have a good online presence when using more traditional forms of advertising to prevent competitor’s hijacking your ads and stealing your customers.
This post was written by ClickBoost Co-Founder Gordon Campbell in improving sales & lead volume through digital marketing He has worked with retailers across the UK and has developed and implemented strategies for both volume & luxury car brands.