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4 automotive digital marketing trends to watch for in 2023

The automotive industry is beginning to recognize the importance of personalization in car-buying decisions.

As we move deeper into 2023, you should keep an eye on a few digital marketing trends in the automotive industry. From new platforms to new strategies, here are four automotive digital marketing you need to know for the year ahead.

1. Increasing focus on customer experience

The focus on customer experience has been increasingly in the spotlight recently. And as inflation drives prices higher, there’s an increased demand for flawless and superior customer service from contact through the after-sales.

Dealerships need to go all out to deliver the best possible experiences for their customers. Why? As V12Data and Cars.com point out, “When a consumer is happy with their experience, the results pay off in new customer acquisition, retention of existing customers, enhanced brand loyalty, and positive reviews and feedback.”

From customer experience surveys to carefully crafted emails and messages, dealerships should take every step to ensure that customers know they are valued. Never have people felt so empowered or, in some cases, obligated to ensure their customer experience is positive.

For dealerships who hope to stay ahead of the competition, investing quality time into ensuring a great customer experience should be at the top of their to-do list.

dealerMore: Marketing in uncertainty: Best practices for car dealerships

2. More use of data and AI

Automotive manufacturers have been reaching for the stars in recent years, never more so than when it comes to data and artificial intelligence (AI). While some experts think AI can increase efficiency and reduce costs, others believe cars are the perfect conduit for extensive data analysis, connecting millions of individual vehicles worldwide to get patterns and trends.

But AI is also for dealers and marketing. With AI, IBM says that online behaviors can identify your customers early in the sales process and target them with segment-specific messaging. And dealerships can do it at scale.

Furthermore, IBM states, “AI technologies can allow businesses to excel in this space by facilitating 1:1 “live chat” conversations designed to understand the consumer’s intent and provide unique answers, recommendations or next steps.” That’s better than a general email with “Dear [customer name here]” as a lead-in.

3. Greater emphasis on personalization

The automotive industry is beginning to recognize the importance of personalization in car-buying decisions. With more and more cars being customized to cater to the preferences of drivers, luxury brands are now focusing on making high-end vehicles even more unique.

Everything from interior design elements to exterior modifications and software enhancements can be tailored to fit the customer’s vision. Just as manufacturers are finding new ways to increase their visibility and build relationships with buyers, it’s essential for dealerships to use best practices in creating a personalized digital presence for those who seek something beyond standard offerings.

4. The continued rise of D2C EV sales

The online car-buying elephant in the room is a contentious subject these days. However, with the massive growth of e-commerce over the last decade, it’s becoming increasingly clear that online car purchase and delivery isn’t going away. And OEMs like Ford want to change things.

Polestar is closing in on Tesla’s lead as EV consumers embrace the process change. After all, with such a simple process, what buyer wants to spend four hours in a dealership as if it’s 1960?

Buying an EV online without ever going into a dealership is excellent news for consumers but not so much for dealers who would live under a possible cloud of competing with near-infinite choices online. And what if Amazon got involved?

Put simply – automotive dealerships and lobby groups who can embrace the obvious and step ahead of state franchise laws will make a successful and seamless transition from online marketing to online buying.

In the interim, dealerships can band-aid the situation as much as possible, making a purchase less time-consuming, but the digital train has left the EV station. And, as if dealerships need any more pressure, Invoca’s 2022 Buyer Experience Report says 76% of consumers will stop doing business with you after just one bad experience, so there is little room for error. As a result, this may be one of the most important automotive digital marketing trends to get ahead of in the short term.


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Steve Mitchell
Steve Mitchell
Steve Mitchell is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News. He earned bachelor's degrees in Marketing and Television from the University of Texas in Austin and a Masters of Theology study from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas. His passion for automobiles lead him to become a creative director for automotive marketing ad agency. Most recently, he was the manager of interactive marketing for Mitsubishi Motors, NA.

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