The automobile industry has seen some major changes over the past decade, thanks in large part to the rise of social media and the internet. If you aren’t already leveraging everything e-commerce can offer the automotive industry in the Amazon Prime era, it’s vital that you understand how it’s changing traditional marketing. Integrating physical and online shopping experiences is critical, especially now that consumers are making more purchasing decisions online.
Millennials are taking over as consumers.
By 2020, 40% of the automotive market will be made up of millennials. Their buying power will gain even more influence as that of other generations wanes. In short, millennials aren’t just buying cars. They’ll soon make up the majority of car buyers.
Facebook has become an essential tool to connect with the market.
When a friend contemplated her next minivan, she asked her Facebook network for suggestions: “Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna?”
Given their familiarity and comfort with technology, it should come as no surprise that millennials are making the most of what the internet has to offer – especially Facebook – before deciding what to buy. Of course, this isn’t unique to millennials. More and more people are using Facebook. News broke last summer that the social media platform was seeing two billion users every single month.
Despite its privacy woes, Facebook now accounts for 14% of the total time people spend online, which helps explain why it is the most popular social media platform by far. And, although millennials clearly love Facebook, it also serves the most representative cross-section of the population, something that can’t be said for other platforms like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Having a website is no longer enough.
Even though it’s necessary to have a presence on Facebook, it’s no longer sufficient to create a page for your auto company or dealership and leave it at that. The rise of new personalization tools means companies must customize their messaging to different audience segments. “Buy online, pick up in store” also continues to be a cornerstone of online automotive strategy as mobile publishers find more sophisticated and accurate ways to target potential customers and drive online traffic toward traditional brick and mortars.
When it comes to purchasing cars online, L2, a business research firm that benchmarks brands’ digital IQs, notes that automotive brands are still struggling to catch up to consumer expectations. Apart from Tesla, which is leading in direct-to-consumer digital selling, only three other brands, Ford, GM and Hyundai, have started providing online shopping tools to streamline the car buying experience.
Google defines the five moments when you can engage a potential car buyer. Here are all five:
1. Which car is best?
Sixty percent of car buyers have no idea which one they want to purchase when they first enter the market. While they may turn to any number of different resources to pick one, we know that videos are remarkably influential. Facebook posts are great, but those that feature video will produce better results. Word of mouth is particularly powerful during this stage (hint: brand advocacy).
2. Is it right for me?
At some point, a car shopper has some idea of what they want to purchase but stops to ask themselves, “Is this really the right vehicle for me?” This is when they start looking into practical considerations about their potential vehicle, like how many seats and airbags it has.
3. Can I afford it?
Obviously, no buyer journey is complete without considering the price tag involved.
4. Where should I buy it?
Millennials may do a lot of their shopping online, but they still want to visit a dealership. This is partly why searches for “car dealerships near me” have doubled since 2016. A buyer may go all over the internet to research vehicles, but most still step on the lot to make a purchase. Don’t underestimate the importance of staying top of mind.
5. Am I getting a deal?
Once they’re actually on your lot and have found the car of their dreams, they just need to be sure they’re getting a deal before they say yes.
Dynamic remarketing is now a requirement.
Remarketing (also known as retargeting) is the practice of advertising to shoppers who have shown interest in your page but haven’t committed to making a purchase. Instead of simply hoping they eventually return, you continuously put ads in front of them to stay top of mind.
Due to the five moments covered above, dynamic remarketing has become popular among auto dealers that have realized that appearing only once in front of a would-be customer is no longer enough. It allows dealers to create marketing campaigns that drill down into queries based on specific automobile traits like condition, year, make and model. This capability leads to more successful campaigns but also makes it much easier for dealers to improve them, as well. These types of data-driven campaigns constantly produce insights because they both track leads and continuously engage with them.
Furthermore, dealerships can easily produce new ads based on their current inventories.
What does the future of e-commerce look like for the auto industry?
Going forward, it will be harder and harder for the auto industry to succeed without focusing on the growing buying power of millennials. This includes how they want to shop. For the most part, millennials spend a large percentage of their internet time on social channels and need to be engaged more than once as they go through their buyer’s journey. Therefore, auto companies that understand how to use available platforms, like Google Shopping, Facebook and dynamic remarketing, will thrive in the years ahead. Those that don’t may not survive to see them.
Author – Lin Grosman
Director of Communications & PR at GoDataFeed, a multichannel platform that helps thousands of retailers sell on 200+ ecommerce channels
Courtesy of Forbes