Posts by Ashley Karr
Inventory acquisition has long been a pain point for dealers. It requires a combination of data, precedent, and dealer’s intuition to keep a lot stocked with in-demand vehicles that will move. And that’s before you consider other factors that fluctuate like changing consumer behavior, economic trends, and unanticipated events that affect supply and demand.
Dealers have been weathering changes and adapting their strategies for decades. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the industry—particularly, on supply. It’s led to auctions moving online, manufacturing plants being shut down by OEMs, lease extensions, and an overall shift in consumers’ preferences. Together, these variables have added up to a shortage of quality new and used vehicles unlike ever before.
Every year, Canadian consumers change their shopping behaviour with the speed of a finely-tuned CASCAR champion. How do dealers reach and capture this constantly evolving market?
Like their counterparts in other parts of the world, Canadian consumers are time-starved and impatient. Whether their day includes a commute on the 401 or Granville Street, their time is short and their attention span is shrinking. According to the National Post, the average Canadian consumer has an attention span of just eight seconds, even less than a goldfish. The culprit? Portable devices.
The proof is evident in Canadian consumer visits to dealerships, which are now at 1.9, according to Google Think Auto. They’re spending even more time online, checking dealer websites, third-party reviews, OEM websites, and social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Google also notes that 84 per cent intend to do more online research to further reduce their dealer visits next time they’re purchasing.
Putting Canadian Millennials behind the wheel: think outside the showroom to reach this growing generation
Meet the Canadian Millennial – probably older than you think, quite possibly a hard-working parent, and with enough obligations to need a vehicle.
According to a survey by Canada Post, a good 33 per cent of Millennials have young families. They’re raising kids, with careers in full swing, and buying homes. That means they’re ripe prospects for car-buying.
Canadian car industry guru Dennis DesRosiers proposes, if you crunch the numbers, it would be impossible for Millennials not to buy cars. DesRosiers finds that car ownership in Canada has “exploded” over the last 17 years, currently standing at 87 per cent. He also notes that the number of the youngest cohort of drivers (under 16) has grown from 48.1 per cent to 54.6 per cent during that same timeframe. And the next two youngest cohorts (16 to 19, 20 to 24) have not declined. “Get them while they’re young and you might have a customer for life,” advises DesRosiers.
So how do dealers capture this growing market segment?
As Canadian car consumers continue their infatuation with the internet, dealers are sharpening their digital marketing tools to meet the expectations of these demanding consumers.
Leading the charge are the millennials, and with good reason. By 2020, it’s estimated that 40% of new car buyers will be millennials. And 88% of current millennials already use the internet to research a new car purchase.
Automakers have already felt the impact of this cohort. Millennials are less interested in test drives, preferring to do their research on social media and dedicated websites before they even step into a dealership. At that point, they’ve pretty much made up their mind.
But it’s not just millennials. An Ipsos survey for Canadian Black Book found that car buyers make only an average of two dealership visits. That’s a steep decline when compared with the half a dozen visits buyers made barely a decade ago.
Carefully measuring the performance of your email newsletter leads to better content and more engaged customers
As a car dealer who wants to engage customers and nurture loyalty, you probably send a regular e-newsletter (and if you don’t, you really should). But too many customer newsletters are bland, self-serving, and easily ignored. Great dealers set their newsletters apart by using key metrics to continually fine tune everything from core content to the time of day they send them. Customers value their newsletters, which makes them a potent weapon in your marketing mix.
Refining your own newsletter isn’t complicated, and it will never be wasted effort. Email marketing—of which an e-newsletter is an important component—remains an extremely effective marketing channel. According to Campaign Monitor, every $1 spent on email marketing earns $44 in return.
In other words, an effective e-newsletter is a key part of your marketing strategy. But measuring that effectiveness and tweaking it accordingly is vital. Newsletters that offer no value annoy consumers, who are increasingly prepared to report irrelevant emails as spam and unsubscribe from contact lists.
A website is an essential tool for generating leads, building your subscriber list, and raising brand awareness. But are you sure you’re looking at the right metrics to determine how well you’re doing?
Google Analytics can provide loads of data on all kinds of metrics, but some provide more value than others. Of all the dozens of different KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you can look at, it’s best to narrow it down to at least five metrics which give you the most insight into how effective your dealership’s website is at converting visitors into paying customers.
While things like social media Likes and total page views are nice to know, seeing high numbers there might not do much more than stroke your ego a little bit. Here are the five most important website performance metrics for car dealerships that will actually help you grow your audience.
Great dealerships market to someone, not about something
Dealers who speak directly to their audience’s challenges and concerns drive more sales. But to do so effectively, you need to know—in detail—who your buyers are. If you do, you can create organic content and advertising that better answers real questions and meets real concerns. You market to someone, not about something. That’s where persona marketing comes in.
Persona marketing might sound like a buzz phrase, but it’s really just another way of segmenting your customer base, so your content is targeted more effectively.
Email marketing offers dealers the opportunity to engage with more potential customers
With 225 billion emails being sent every day, it’s safe to say that email is a powerful form of communication with massive marketing potential. Email marketing also boasts an exceptionally high ROI, with 83% growth from 2015–2017 according to the Salesforce State of Marketing report.
The numbers send a clear message: you should be using email marketing as a way to boost sales and draw more customers to your dealership, both online and on foot. In this article, we’ll discover five actionable items to make your email marketing campaigns more impactful.
Putting the consumer first is a win-win for customers and dealers
Purchasing a used car can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you’re unsure of the car’s exact value. Still, used car sales are growing at a faster pace than new car sales in Canada. Experts say affordability, as compared to new cars, as well as the higher quality and increased reliability of used cars in today’s market are driving this trend.
New technology, including what’s offered through third-party marketplaces, is also playing a big role by helping to make the used car buying experience easier and more transparent. A recent study showed 90% of Canadians go online to research their next car purchase, and 87% say that a positive experience on a website influences their purchase decision—highlighting the need for car dealers to focus more on engaging consumers through online channels.
Third-party marketplaces in particular work well because they put the customer’s needs first by providing detailed vehicle information and comparison tools. The best sites provide price comparisons, allow shoppers to sort cars by value, and make it easy for users to see unbiased dealer reviews after they’ve drilled down to the cars that match their budget and taste. A recent survey conducted by CarGurus shows 85% of participants wouldn’t buy a car without independent information about its market value.*
The numbers don’t lie — mobile is increasing conversions earlier in the car buyer journey
With statistics showing that 39% of auto-related mobile searches in Canada convert to positive actions like store visits, downloads, and other types of connections, and an even more impressive 80% of those conversions happening within an hour of the original search, it’s clear that mobile is shaping how successful dealerships are.