Customers prefer to begin their car shopping experience online in the digital realm. That’s been proven by Cox Automotive in their 2017 Car Buyer Journey Study, showing that the average length of time a customer spends online shopping for a car is 8 hours and 54 minutes. Yet, the deciding factor on where to complete their purchase is face to face in the dealership. That can leave a marketing director and other management perplexed about where to invest: modern marketing and tech or traditional boots-to-ground customer service.
Importance of Modern Techniques in Marketing
The quandary is predicated on how customers are attracted to your dealership in the first place. Yet, if the average car shopper is spending nearly nine hours online before completing their purchase, it’s clearly a critical point of contact. Ensuring that shoppers find their way specifically to your store is one that requires modern marketing techniques. These are things like keyword-rich online content, an actively updated website, attractive marketing designs, and search engine optimization.
Above and beyond your website and content, marketing in today’s auto world requires precise placement. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media avenues should be tapped into, and paid search results are a critical component for success.
Weighing Against Traditional Customer Service
Yet, the balance must be struck with the in-store customer experience or your marketing is all for naught. Lackluster customer service turns your marketing investment into a burning stack of money.
When a car shopper responds to an online ad, personal contact must be virtually immediate. There should be a response in less than ten minutes or you risk the shopper continuing to click and inquire on other sites. That contact must be made by a senior salesperson or dedicated internet sales agent for a trained response that can draw the customer into an in-person visit.
Also, the in-store customer experience must be flawless. It’s about creating a relationship, and that requires a friendly, transparent and open dialog with the customer. Whether it’s the salesperson or sales manager, the service department team, or the lot attendants and valets, each aspect must go off without a hitch.
Where is the Balance?
Each component – traditional service and modern marketing – play equally weighted roles. One is not successful without the other. When marketing is more central than customer service, the leads will arrive to personnel who can’t properly convert on them. When traditional customer service, relying on walk-in traffic, is the focus, you’re missing out on massive opportunities for leads plus killing the tech-based future of your store.
Find balance based on the idea of an always-moving pendulum. The center is the ideal balance, but you’ll never stay there. When the pendulum swings, it passes perfect center for just a split second until it reaches the top of its swing. Then it swings back, again passing center for a brief second. Your goal is to keep the pendulum always moving while staying as close to center as possible.
What that means, practically speaking, is that your modern marketing will constantly need adjustment. Your customer service will be a continuous project, changing as the sales environment does. And when you find your store slightly imbalanced one way or the other, make an adjustment. Strive to constantly find that balance.
How to Achieve Balance
There’s no right answer for every store due to the individual nature of your sales climate. One major help you can pursue takes much of the marketing work off your plate. Choose a trusted, proven automotive-based digital marketing firm to handle your modern marketing. The specialized nature of digital marketing makes it well worth the investment to seek someone more knowledgeable than your team to achieve the desired results.
And constantly keep the pendulum moving.