How can marketing automation help navigate the retail revolution?

As disruptive new entrants seek to push car sales online and OEMs focus on user experience, retailers must find new ways to attract customers, writes David Greenberg

Car buyers today expect more from their vehicle buying experience than ever before. With the pandemic normalizing online shopping, consumers expect the same digital experience when it comes to buying a new car. As a result, car dealerships are facing increasing pressure to provide a seamless, digital experience throughout the car buying journey.

Needless to say, over the past 18 months the automotive industry has faced many challenges, from the pandemic to the latest chip shortage issue, which is set to wipe out 100,000 of total car production in the UK. United for 2021. As a result, car sales in the UK have seen steep declines – 35% in September – leading to intense pressure and competition for the automotive industry. To meet changing consumer expectations for car buying, industry disruptors are looking to move the industry online. This means businesses, especially more traditional car dealerships, need to become more digitally innovative if they want to attract and retain customers.

According to a recent AutoTrader report, three quarters (76%) of car buyers use the internet to research their purchase and 67% visit showrooms in person at some point in the car buying process. These results underscore that customers now expect to progress through the car buying journey both online and offline, underscoring the need for car dealerships to have a multi-channel marketing strategy.

Marketing-driven customer experience

A marketing-driven customer experience is key to standing out from the competition and fighting the tough times facing car dealerships. To attract potential buyers, learn more about them, and nurture their interest to a point where they’re ready to buy before they walk into the showroom, marketing automation can have a game-changing impact. There are several distinct ways in which marketing automation can support automotive. companies in these difficult times.

Daimler aims to make 25% of its sales online by 2025. Volvo aims for 50% over the same period

Use marketing automation to fend off competition and attract customers

While research from car comparison site Moneyshake found that 82% of consumers are delighted that their car buying journey is entirely online, one of the challenges car dealerships face is the sheer number of choices they have to choose from. consumers have one-click access. . It is therefore crucial that any business goes above and beyond to capture the attention of potential customers and maintain a relationship with them until the point of sale, as well as after the purchase.

A marketing automation platform enables automotive companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows. By using a marketing automation platform, car dealerships can effectively grab the attention of potential customers, and once that’s done, hold their attention and generate more interest through nurturing campaigns.

Marketing automation can digitally monitor all engagements within a business to fully tap into the interest of people who have recently filled out a form on the website, by providing insights into their digital behaviors. Marketers have access to who opens emails, who engages in digital advertising, who visits the website, and what pages they go to and spend the most time on. By having access to this data intelligence, marketers can become smart by understanding the digital behaviors of their potential customers and reacting accordingly.

Auto dealerships are facing increasing pressure to provide a seamless, digital experience throughout the car-buying journey

For example, knowing where certain people are in the buying cycle and then automatically triggering communications with that person based on that known interest through nurturing campaigns. Marketing automation allows relevant information to be sent as specified (by SMS or email for example), such as updates on new model launches, new or used stock available and invitations to events in a showroom.

Redefining the showroom experience

The rise of consumers looking for a digital experience when buying a car is an opportunity for dealers to rethink the way their buying journey is perceived by their customers. A McKinsey survey found that potential buyers are less likely to want to interact with salespeople at car dealerships, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for dealerships to thrive online. Interestingly, this drops even for people aged 55-70, who would consider buying cars online “as a relevant alternative to visiting dealerships”.

A website is essential in this regard and should provide key information that customers need to know before choosing services. This includes the volume of cars currently in stock, specific product information and even the ability to book a test drive. This means customers can walk into the dealership already equipped with a useful knowledge of website products, ensuring a journey for the shopper where they are in control.

Generate Lifetime Value with Marketing Automation

Managing the customer’s after-sales experience is important to providing lifetime value and therefore increasing long-term loyalty. Text and email communication to customers, providing them with notifications about their impending lease expiration or the arrival of their MOT is a great way to keep the dealership at the forefront of customers’ minds.

Marketing automation is a way for companies to maintain a close connection with customers, as it is an advanced communication tool that helps customers get the most out of a company’s product. It also allows the company to be proactive with customers after the sale of the car is complete, such as encouraging them to provide feedback on their experience or whether they would recommend your services. Targeted messages like this are a helpful way for a brand to stay present to customers even after the car’s sale is over.

Renault dealer
Traditional car dealerships must become more digitally innovative if they want to attract and retain customers

Effective use of all available data also presents an opportunity if a customer is not fully committed to the brand and keeps their options open to other brands. If identified, it is important to have access to data regarding an individual’s interests and past engagement behaviors to re-engage directly with those customers, although tailored to their preferences to try to ensure retention customers and customer loyalty.

How to Advance the Next Sale

Staying ahead of the competition is crucial for any business looking to encourage customers to repurchase their vehicles and services. The question is: how do you know when an existing customer is likely to buy their next car? Marketing automation offers opportunities to capitalize on initial customer interest even before your competitors have been considered.

Ultimately, how each customer interacts with a brand and its online presence offers important behavioral insights that are gold dust for car dealerships. By leveraging available data, dealers can automate trigger programs – proactive communication that aims to generate interest, such as providing information on new models, a lease upgrade offer, or an invitation suitable for a test drive.

Marketing automation can also detect increased customer interest, for example, if they recently visited your website or when they last interacted with the latest communication sent to them. By automatically monitoring their activity, it is possible to track and score their engagement and therefore respond to any sign of intent.

Marketing automation is a crucial tool that businesses in the automotive industry need to consider if they want to stay ahead of the game and successfully emerge from the tough times ahead. With an increasing number of people moving online to purchase vehicles, or at the very least beginning their buying journey online, there are exciting new opportunities to engage with customers. If industry players continue to adapt to use these modern marketing methods to attract and hold the attention of their customers and prospects by providing an engaging and personalized experience, then the automotive sector will see the light at the end of the tunnel. .


About the Author: David Greenberg is Marketing Director at Act-On