How dealers can drive leads when inventory slows down


Dealerships across the nation have run low on cars to sell amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Motor vehicle and parts dealers’ sales dropped to a year-over-year low of 52.5% in April 2020. While these numbers are bouncing up again and are on track with 2019 as of August 2020, dealers should expect the unexpected to happen again — eventually.

But, the savviest business owners have a plan for when the unexpected happens.

That’s why auto dealers must figure out how to continue bringing in leads when everything else has slowed down. Instead of holding their breath and waiting this out, smart dealers will search for innovative ways to keep metal moving and keep their sales team busy.

These dealers will use the extra downtime to fine-tune their marketing strategy and test out new lead-generating tools. They’ll make it through 2020 without any major losses. Most importantly, they’ll be ready the next time the unexpected happens.

How’s your dealership doing?

If you think your business needs to be more proactive during this automotive drought, there are several action items you can try right now to bring in more leads and be ready to hit the road again once that inventory starts rolling onto your lot.

Automotive News Facebook AdsUse Your Marketing Strategy to Find More Inventory

Opportunity is out there.

In fact, more than 75% of consumers have experimented with different shopping behaviors during the COVID-19 crisis, including trying new brands and places to shop.

Dealerships can get in front of new leads with strategic “We’ll Buy Your Vehicle” messaging.

Has your store ever tried a Facebook Lead Ad? By running a Lead Ad to a wider, top-of-funnel audience, dealerships can encourage people to trade in their current vehicle for something better.

Not only will this tactic keep the used inventory moving, but it can also bring in a handful of new leads now that may be inclined to buy from you again in the future

Tune Up Your Digital Presence

Sixty-seven percent of companies use lead generation as their sole metric to determine content success.

While lead generation shouldn’t be your only indicator of content success, it certainly is important. That’s why your dealership should use this downtime to fine-tune your marketing strategy, which can improve your lead generation for the future.

Online Advertising

Businesses like auto dealers are investing more in digital advertising every year — as much as $15.91 billion in 2019.4 Your dealership is likely represented in that number.

Take this time to meet with your marketing manager to analyze what has worked well and what hasn’t. Do you know which digital ad sources are providing the most return on ad spend (ROAS)? Have you dug into your Google Analytics account to determine how paid traffic is spending time on your site? Do you know which paid source is bringing in the most quality traffic?

Now is also a great time to A/B test your targeting or creative or to draft campaigns that you don’t need now but could use in the future.

Email Marketing

For every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average ROI of $38.5

So, don’t scoff at email marketing. If you don’t already have a slick email marketing strategy, now is the time to create one for your dealership.

Use this time to improve your email opt-in strategy. While you already have a CRM full of contacts — many of whom have opted in to receiving your emails — you can also promote your email subscription on the dealership’s website through forms, your website footer, and even in person.

Be sure to create an automated “welcome” email to thank people for signing up and to let them know what to expect.

How about your current database? When did you last clean it up?

With any extra time you have, clean out your dealership’s email database to remove dead email addresses. Identify which contacts haven’t engaged in the past year, and send them a reengagement email. Delete the contacts who don’t bite.

Bonus — doing this can also improve your dealership’s sender reputation status!

Finally, take the time to audit and update any automated emails that are currently running. Don’t have any? Consider creating some, such as:

  • One-year vehicle anniversary email
  • Oil change coupon six months after purchase
  • “Schedule a test drive” message to contacts actively browsing the website 

Website Content

As in-person dealership visits have decreased in recent months, website visits have increased.

Your website is your digital storefront. Now more than ever, dealers need to provide an optimized and positive website experience.

Auto marketers can create lead magnets on their site by offering value content like discounts, a resource download, or a trade-in evaluation.

Additionally, audit your site and improve existing forms on landing pages, asking:

  • Does the form work?
  • Are you asking for too much information?
  • Is the form visible?
  • Do you have a process to follow up when a lead fills out a form?

Finally, how’s your search engine optimization (SEO)? Use this time to do keyword research and implement your findings on the dealership’s website. 

Try New Tools and Tech

Perhaps there has been a marketing tool on your radar that you just haven’t had time to try. How about now?

When your dealership needs a boost, consider implementing and measuring a tactic you haven’t used before.

Whether that’s a geofencing campaign, over-the-top (OTT) advertising, a third-party lead attribution tool, or something else, there’s no shortage of tools for automotive marketers.

After all, when dealerships and businesses do what they’ve always done, they’ll always get the same results. Now is certainly the time to rethink your strategy and find creative ways to bring in new leads.

Did you enjoy this article from Jaden Miller Chambers? Read other articles from her here.

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