Your customers are online. They can bank online, shop online, and connect with friends online. They expect to be able to find automotive parts and cars online, too.
The online buyer journey for the automotive industry isn’t so different than the offline one. Customers still do a lot of research before purchasing or leasing a car, shopping for auto repairs, and buying parts. They’ll read up on specs and suss out the pricing benchmarks. Finally, they’ll try to figure out the best place to buy what they need.
But things start to look a whole lot different when you consider how they’re finding automotive brands. It’s not as simple as asking around, visiting their nearest auto parts store, or looking up a Blue Book value.
Today’s automotive shoppers do even more research, and they do it all online. If your website doesn’t show up, they won’t even factor you in as a possibility. It’s as simple as that.
How is the automotive industry responding to these trends? By investing in effective digital marketing. Digital advertising spend alone is increasing at a rate of 13% year/year.
Digital marketing is no longer optional for automotive brands. If you want to reach shoppers, you have to be online—and you have to be marketing to them in all the right places.
The good news is digital marketing is extremely effective for automotive brands. Automotive shoppers are 9% more likely to be swayed by digital marketing than the average consumer.
Our Best Automotive Digital Marketing Tips
Ready to kick digital marketing into high gear for your automotive brand? Here are our 5 best tips to get you started.
Watch your ROI like a hawk
Take into account seasonality.
Some automotive parts sell better during winter months versus summer ones. Floor mats and hitches come to mind. Plan your marketing campaigns ahead of schedule and make sure you’re pushing the right products at the right time to maximize sales. Then, spin up the email campaigns and paid search ads to support those promotions.
Understand your customer
The automotive industry is niche and speaks to a very specific type of audience. Make sure your content strategy, messaging, and ad copy reflect the customer and what they are trying to achieve by purchasing your product. If you serve multiple types of customers, that’s great. Create targeted email campaigns to serve individual segments, and target all of them by bidding for more keywords in paid search.
Use email marketing to get more sales out of your current customers
It’s more cost-effective to keep returning customers than to acquire new ones. That’s where email marketing comes in. Develop a rock-solid email drip campaign that welcomes new customers and them targeted promotions. If you sell online, don’t forget an abandoned cart series, too. Insert items from their cart with a promo code they can’t refuse.
Optimize your website for conversions and user experience
One of the easiest ways to boost your conversion rate is to make your checkout experience as user-friendly as possible. Find ways to make it easier for customers to buy more, too. Offer them an additional discount for subscribing to your newsletter—and then target them with one of your email drip campaigns. Add an exit popup when people try to leave, and upsell related items on your product pages.
Top Digital Marketing Channels for Automotive Brands
Digital marketing is a vast and varied landscape, but we’ve found the following three channels to be the most effective for automotive brands.
Paid search is a form of online advertising, where you pay for your ad to be placed at the top of search engines like Google. Paid search is also known as PPC, as you’ll bid for Google to display your ad for relevant search terms and keywords for your business, but you’ll only pay when someone clicks through to your website.
Paid search is one of the most disruptive forms of online marketing. That’s what makes it so essential for automotive brands.
78% of local searches on mobile devices result in an offline purchase within hours. Investing in paid search is smart for automotive brick-and-mortars and e-retailers alike.
Instead of waiting for your SEO efforts to pay off, or relying on positive word-of-mouth to build up, you can skyrocket your business to the top of the Google search results—for precisely the terms auto shoppers use when they’re ready to convert.
You also don’t have to invest as much time differentiating yourself among all the other automotive brands out there. Bid on your top-selling manufacturer brands and you can narrow in on what your customers want—and earn their business. Better yet, outbid your competition for those terms and you can take over their market share in Google.
If you’re like most automotive brands, you have a massive inventory of parts and products from different manufacturers. To make the most of your paid search campaigns, you need to shift budget from your underperforming manufacturer ads to your top-performers. All the while, you need to be testing ad copy, too. Our overhaul of one client’s paid search strategy led to a 39% revenue increase. Read more.
Email marketing delivers one of the best ROIs of all digital marketing channels. Some experts put it as high as $32 for every $1 spent. That’s because with email marketing, you develop a relationship with your customers.
Email marketing is more than sending out order confirmations and pushing out your latest blog post. It’s about strategically utilizing your entire database of customers to send them targeted campaigns. For instance, you can send emails to customers who are due for a tune-up, or email your entire database about your New Year’s sale on tires.
Millennials represent the fastest growing segment of auto shoppers. They expect personalization in all digital marketing, but above all in email marketing. They’re more likely to open an email from your brand if it’s tailored to their interests or past purchases.
Give the people what they want. Personalize your email campaigns to suggest repairs and repeat purchases, at just about the right time your customer needs it, based on their previous order history.
Once you set up email marketing automation, you’ll be amazed at how it runs like a well-oiled machine. And you’ll be thrilled to see how each email drives sales, increasing your customers’ lifetime value and boosting your bottom line.
Google Shopping is one particularly lucrative paid search avenue for automotive brands. With Google Shopping campaigns, you get much more than the traditional paid search ad at the top of Google.
Your brand—and your entire product catalog—can earn another spot in the Shopping tab of Google, as well as in the right-hand side of Google. Google Shopping campaigns instantly display your manufacturer parts in all their specs and sizes, allowing you to capture the attention of customers at the top of the funnel. You’ll get to show a product photo, the name, the price, and a link to buy on your site.
Early on in their shopping journey, people may have never heard of your brand, and they might not know the exact part they need. Even so, you can show up in Google Shopping and help them figure out the part they need, and convince them that you’re the best business to buy it from.
63% of automotive shoppers continue researching brands online, even once they’re in the store or on the auto lot. At this point, they know what they want to buy. They’re looking to find deals and confirm they’re choosing the right brand. Stop them from leaving with a compelling ad in Google Shopping.
With Google Shopping, you essentially bring your products to the customer—instead of forcing them to come to you.
The Automotive Industry’s Top Digital Marketing Challenge
Every industry has its own unique challenges. For automotive brands, it’s the high ticket price on most of your items, and the long journey customers take to get comfortable letting that money go from their wallets.
According to Google, the average auto consumer’s buying journey includes 900+ digital touchpoints over a 3-month period, from YouTube videos and Google reviews, to dealer and manufacturer websites. 71% of those interactions occur on mobile devices.
The customer journey for an automotive purchase is longer, both because of the high cost of the item, as well as the customer’s need to research the right part for the make and model of their vehicle.
In order for your brand to stay top of mind with these customers—throughout the entire course of that journey—you need a multichannel approach, starting with Google. You need to invest in both paid search and Google Shopping to ensure you capture audiences at both the top and bottom of the funnel.
This isn’t conjecture. We’ve actually seen that when companies don’t make this multichannel investment, their business suffers.
For instance, if you choose to decrease your Shopping spend and spend more on Paid Search, it can negatively affect your Branded campaigns. That’s because you haven’t built up the consumer awareness from back when they were at the top of the funnel. They’ve never seen your company’s name before, so why should they choose you now—when they can go with a brand they recognize from Google Shopping when they first started searching?
Best Automotive Digital Marketing Tips: A Recap
- Watch Your ROI Like A Hawk
- Take Into Account Seasonality
- Understand Your Customer
- Use Email Marketing To Get More Sales Out Of Your Current Customers
- Optimize Your Website For Conversions And User Experience
About Your Marketing People
Consider what we did for TDot Performance, the largest seller of automotive parts in Canada. Through an omnichannel approach that took into account all of their digital marketing channels, GPM, and revenue goals, we delivered:
To discover how we can do the same for your business, contact us.
We’ll create a custom digital marketing strategy that performs like a Formula One car.