According to a study, by 2020, you’re more likely to converse with a bot than your spouse.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, and it tells how fast the digital transformation is capturing the entire world, including the long-resisting – automobile sector. Today, due to numerous reasons including the COVID – 19 pandemic, the choosing and buying pattern of a customer has seen a paradigm shift resulting in a reshuffled deck of cards. The shift is primarily being driven by a consumer base increasingly immersed in the digital environment.
With a different landscape and changing equation between the customer and dealers, consumers prefer social distancing and purchasing online cars rather than visiting dealers. Digitization has simplified the buying process of cars allowing customers to search online for car models, read reviews on social media, compare prices, and avoid the hassle of dealing with pushy sales associates.
The game here is simple; car dealers like you who remain technologically enabled and adopt new digital trends by putting the customers first are more likely to reap the rewards. Others are at risk of losing their business to competitors.
With digital being the new normal, here are six key strategies to increase your car sales and increase customer engagement.
Invest in Digital showrooms
Imagine buying a car without physically visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
Is it possible?
With the concept of digital showroom, buying cars online is now a reality. When you talk about digital showrooms, it’s not the carbon copy of your physical store; it’s a technological interface necessary to enhance the sales.
The digital showrooms help bring the product portfolio of all the inventory into a single environment and display endless variants. Providing this level of accessibility and maintaining such a large stock of inventory is physically impossible for a brick-and-mortar car dealership store.
Like an eCommerce website, these digital showrooms display all the inventory of cars or vehicles intuitively and uniformly. Using these showrooms, your customers can navigate between different cars and select different combinations of cars. Such a showroom will provide an immersive customer experience without having the customer visit the physical store.
Furthermore, there is something unique and interactive about these digital showrooms. A standard showroom can be an intimidating place where a pushy salesman is after you purchase a car. But, here, your customers are in control, which enhances their buying experience. Though relatively new, the digital showroom concept is slowly gaining traction, and customers love the interaction with the virtual technologies.
Focus on automation
Can sales or marketing automation help your car dealership?
In auto sales, automation is often touted as the solution to stay ahead in the race. Digital automation is the heart for boosting online sales, and its imperative to leverage its advantage to turn a prospect into a customer. Incorporating functionalities like chatbots, live chats, and live video broadcasts to your dealer’s website will help serve customers and answer their queries. Apart from saving time, these functionalities improve every customer’s touchpoint and help provide a better sales experience. For example, using automation, you can follow up with every prospect visiting your website by sending personalized emails within the 24-hour time frame.
Intelligent automation using artificial intelligence can create rippling effects in the car industry and quickly become the next big thing. For example, a potential customer asks an online bot on the website specifications of a car’s model. The bot transfers the information to the dealer, who can send personalized content and arrange a test drive for the customer in a VR environment. The immersive
By embracing automation, dealers are striking the right chord as it helps to create an enriching experience for a customer.
Is your customer data in safe hands?
If not, it’s time to pull up your socks!
Data is the core of the automotive industry because car dealers like you collect a plethora of customer’s personal information at different stages of their buying journey, from insurance to financing. You deal with critical information such as customer’s social security number, credit card details, bank statements, income, religious and political affiliation, and much more.
All of the information is sensitive, and it shouldn’t be done without the customers’ consent.
What happens if you share the information with a loan or an insurance company? You might be helping the customer, but in doing so, you’re leaking confidential information without even asking them. This is where the California Consumer Protection Acts come into the picture.
The CCPA law addresses the fundamental issue of sharing customer’s information without taking their permission. You need to ensure compliance with the law, and it starts by improving and managing the data collection practices. Furthermore, examine the third-party and vendor management policies to avoid hefty penalties. Another essential component of CCPA is ensuring the opt-out button and data collection policies are present on your website. All these steps will ensure you’re proactive about compliance. Once the customers know their data is in safe hands, they are more likely to buy a car from your dealership.
Embrace digital advertising
Are you using digital in your marketing plan?
If not, you’re losing out because traditional advertising like TV, print media, radio is no longer as impactful as they were a few years ago. With customers spending 61% of their time doing online research for cars, integrating digital advertising in the marketing plan is imperative. Today, your consumers read reviews, look for suggestions on social media, search third-party websites, thereby giving you plenty of reasons to shift to digital advertising. From paid social media campaigns to video advertising and from YouTube advertising to email marketing, car dealers like you can attract more customers and boost sales. Targeting a single marketing channel alone will not suffice. The most intuitive and successful automotive marketing campaign integrates social media campaigns with other channels like email or YouTube.
Integrated marketing is not about adding your website address to your emails or running a Facebook marketing campaign (though these are useful tactics, it just shows the tip of the iceberg). To truly master digital advertising, you need to tie all the marketing channels to create a foolproof knot of organized and effective marketing campaigns.
In short, every campaign should look consistent across all marketing channels, and every digital advertisement should speak volumes and complement the brand.
Create a mobile responsive website
Do you use a Smartphone?
So are your customers!
Today, mobile is the vein that your dealership website requires to thrive in the technologically advanced world. Though customers don’t buy cars on their phones, they use mobile devices to search for prices, compare models, read reviews, or search for promotional offers. In the future, 58% of car buying customers are likely to use only their smartphones for vehicle research. Creating a mobile-responsive website will become necessary as you can hit the goldmine with it.
Today, customers are becoming less tolerant of dealers who ignore the importance of mobile and fail to integrate it in their digital journeys.
Leverage the power of Augment reality
Are you keeping pace with the changing needs and desires of the customers?
If not, it’s time to get started.
Using an immersive technology like AR, you can give a unique experience to the car buyers with the convenience of tapping into their Smartphones. Augmented reality is the future of the automotive industry because it lets a prospective customer take automobile test drive virtually without visiting the physical showroom. It negates the need for a large physical inventory, and customers can test drive or look at different vehicles before making a purchase decision. Furthermore, using AR your customers can experience a 360 degrees view of the car’s interior, which gives the feeling of actually being physically present in the car. These AR systems include certain hotspots, which the consumers can tap to see detailed information about the car feature.
Another way, digital technology is creating ripples in the automobile sector is by empowering your customers to build customized cars on their mobile devices. From changing the car’s color to choosing different finishes – AR is making everything possible.
Forward-thinking dealers like you are embracing digital because it’s no longer a choice, it has become a necessary disruption. The critical takeaway of going digital for car dealers and automotive brands is that if you’re not online, you don’t exist. Embracing digital provides the foundation to establish a competitive advantage and gives you an edge over other dealers.
From the innovative digital showrooms to augmented reality, the increasing inclination of the customers towards digital channels makes dealers embrace digital technologies. These technologies are likely to bring a paradigm shift and dramatically reshape how customers interact with dealers in the coming years.
The digital shift is no longer a small dot on the horizon. The pressing need for car dealers to go digital in the coming years cannot be ignored – certainly not when they’re eyeing profit. Though this digital age is not something new, it’s relatively different. Today, the car dealers are in digital Darwinism, and those who invest in digital transformation will thrive.