The spring buying season is fast-approaching, and with it comes one particular question our clients tend to ask me: “How do advertising strategies need to be adjusted in order to adapt to the evolving behaviours of the new digital customers and ever-changing technology?”
Car buyers, it seems, are demanding the same type of ‘concierge’ sales and service experience that they might enjoy at a luxury hotel, and their time is more precious than ever. The constant advent of new technologies, media, and demographics has seen car dealers experiencing a period of disruption like no other time in history – all of which only emphasizes why employing an effective dealer advertising strategy is more critical than ever before when it comes to connecting dealers with your customers.
Amid the industry’s paradigm shift, Canadians purchased more than two million new cars, trucks, and SUVs last year, which was a record. Despite this promising growth, however, the pressure on automakers and dealers to “hit the numbers” is not going to go away anytime soon.
While we are experiencing a surge in new vehicle sales, OEMs and dealers must invest in the future now to have the best chance of benefiting from the technical, business, and cultural trends that are happening today. And one of the most critical investments that will have the most immediate result is a dealer advertising strategy that targets buyers, utilizes intelligent data, and offers convenience to the customer.
How Canadian dealerships can use Canadian data to drive sales
I recently sat down with our Dealer.com team to talk about the Canadian market, to dig into consumer trends, and examine how dealers are best able to change their advertising to adapt to said trends. One of the first actions in creating a successful dealer advertising strategy is discovering where your buyers are.
You’ve probably heard for years that they’re online, and you know that you need to enhance your digital strategy, but just how do you do that? One way is to employ information and analysis that is up-to-date and specific to the Canadian market. As an example, our Dealer.com analysts have found significant behavioural differences between Canadian and U.S. car buyers.
Based on the latest data, Canadians appear to be using their mobile devices to research cars at a faster rate. Canadian dealers saw mobile traffic increase by 8% last year, while U.S. dealers saw an increase of 3%. In fact, in January 2018, Canadian dealers had a slightly higher mobile traffic share at 58%, compared to U.S. dealers at 57%. Our data also found that Vehicle Detail Pages on Canadian dealership websites are becoming increasingly important with an annual increase of more than 21%, while U.S. dealers saw only a 6% growth in traffic. Similar to Vehicle Detail Pages, Canadian dealers saw a 14% year-over-year increase in visits during the month of January, while U.S. dealers saw only a 5% gain.
When developing your dealer advertising strategy, it’s not only important to know what your market is looking for, but also when they are looking. Accurate data will enable you to target your dealer advertising media spend in a timely manner.
Did you know that the most popular holiday for vehicle shopping in Canada in 2017 was Easter Monday? On April 17th, there was 133% more traffic than the least popular holiday, which was Christmas Day. And did you know that the busiest month of the year for dealers was July, followed closely by March? Or that the most popular car-buying day of the week last year was Tuesday, with 33% more traffic than the least popular day of the week, which was Sunday?
Today’s buyers are looking for convenience
Now that you know where your potential customers are – and when they are most likely to buy – the next piece is how to reach consumers without advertising costing you a fortune.
A great place to start is by understanding that whether consumers are looking for their next house or booking their next vacation, they’re demanding a comfortable and convenient online experience. Car buyers are no different. Our Dealer.com brand has been tracking and analyzing the trends and changes of the Canadian automotive consumer and, fortunately, has developed algorithms based on these trends.
To allow for a comfortable and easy-to-use experience, consider the following when developing your dealer advertising strategy:
- Showcase your inventory with equally unique messages that are delivered based on each shopper’s online profile
- Match the advertising message from traditional and digital advertising to the message that greets shoppers who visit your digital showroom
- Check to make sure your price and vehicle images are sharp, accurate, and clear, then dedicate a realistic budget to advertising that vehicle so you can boost sales
Your buyers are online, and you should be there with them
Although our industry is in a time of flux, being smart about your advertising strategy is a definite “must” for today’s dealers. To better understand how robust today’s relationship is between car buyers and the Internet, a recent Google dealer survey on vehicle buyer trends reported that 95% of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information, with twice as many starting their research online versus at a dealer, and 60% of all automotive searches come from a mobile device, and some of the top mobile searches are related to dealerships.
In the end, implementing an effective dealer advertising strategy – one that targets buyers, utilizes intelligent data, and makes it comfortable and convenient for the customer – is one of the most effective ways to futureproof your sales. Dealers that employ such a strategy are, according to our Cox Automotive vAuto brand, rewarded with as much as four times more traffic to their online listings, an increase that drives a 15% improvement to their new car turn.
Maria Soklis was named President of Cox Automotive Canada on June 8, 2015. Maria, who leads the development and execution of Cox Automotive’s Canadian business strategy and operations, is also responsible for the Manheim, NextGear Capital, Dealertrack Canada and Ready Logistics businesses, in addition to integrating other Cox Automotive businesses and brands into Canada.