Last week was International Small Business Week. Many dealerships would be considered small businesses under the Small Business Association’s definition in retail trade – up to 100 employees and $7.5 million in average annual receipts. Whether an auto dealership or any other retail bricks-and-mortar location, physical sales have been more difficult since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.
A dealership’s digital presence is more important for that reason. Google for Small Business provided best practices in a Digital Toolkit to help navigate the online world efficiently. Let’s look at the principles Google provides and how they apply to automotive retail.
Google’s Digital Toolkit
The tools Google provides for small businesses fall into four broad categories. Some are rather basic tools to employ while others are more in-depth and advanced. All are sure to help dealerships grow their presence where customers are most active: online.
Knowing where you stand with your customers is the starting point for any digital strategy. Like your phone’s GPS needs to know where you are in order to help you get where you want to go, discovery tools do the same for your dealership.
- Google Alerts are a tool that can provide insight into search habits in your customer base. You can get email alerts when your business is searched and when certain keywords relevantly online.
- Consumer Surveys are another discovery tool Google offers at an affordable rate that can ask your customers and prospects what they need and want directly.
For dealers, this can be scouting for search volumes on popular models or competitive keywords for service business. It never hurts to ask customers in a brief survey what you can provide for them.
Like step-by-step navigation directions, movement only happens when you take intelligent steps. Google offers two more tools to help improve your dealership’s business.
- Grow My Store is a free tool Google offers that can provide detailed insights into ecommerce websites as well as storefronts.
- Test My Site analyzes your dealership’s website to determine how you can optimize for speed and mobile compatibility.
More shoppers are using a combination of desktop and mobile devices to shop for cars. It’s critical that your website is not only mobile friendly but that you’re showing them relevant information on your pages.
Competition is high for car sales. In urban areas, it’s easy to find more than a dozen franchised dealerships in a five-mile radius. Letting prospects and shoppers know why to choose your dealership is crucial.
- Local Opportunity Finder lets you see how your customers see your business. It then shows you ways to actively boost your visibility and engage with your customers.
- Google also offers their Marketing Kit, promotional materials that include downloadable posters and social media posts built from your Google Business Profile.
Print ads used to be the way to connect best with potential dealership customers before Google and the social media entered the equation. Learn how best to engage with your clients with these useful tools.
The next step is to pursue new avenues for sales and servicing. Google’s Market Finder tool helps you discover potential markets you might not have thought of yet. Although it’s focused on global sales in retail industries, it identifies analytics that can help you accurately target customers with the highest conversion rates in your industry.
Large or small, dealerships can find value in walking through these steps from the Google for Small Business Digital Toolkit. You’re sure to find opportunities to expand or areas to hone your marketing prowess.
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Car Biz Today, the official resource of the retail automotive industry.