car-in-cart-776x415Online retail has replaced a good deal of the business from brick-and-mortar stores. Dealer Marketing Magazine reports that one-third of buyers now prefer to buy online. With a bit of creativity and some effort, your car dealership can bring in more online buyers to the lot and keep your sales up. People still want to deal with people, they may just have different ways of going about it. You can use the online channel to save prospects valuable time. Offer them a time to visit and learn more about the car. Consider introducing a rep who can assist them onsite. Most importantly, get them on the lot to meet your team and test drive some vehicles!

1. Target Specific Segments

The online browsing experience can be fairly impersonal. Your dealership can capitalize on that. Online buyers direct their own searches and are not guided forward in the buying journey. In contrast, your dealership can pull the buyers through their journey from early stages of browsing through the final purchase decision with targeted outreach. Try these proven tactics for reaching different sectors of online shoppers.

  • Near Market buyers are just looking. Your emails can help build brand recognition and show them why your car dealership is better than online and nearby competitors. Coordinated direct mailings can help with these goals. Coordinate your market presence so your dealership stands out.
  • In-Market buyers are ready to buy. Steer them toward your dealership with social media, direct mail. Consider offering discounts for liking you on Facebook or visiting your site, or landing page before coming into the dealership. Rewarding this online behavior proves you understand their preferences.

2. Provide More Services

Online is valuable, but impersonal. Use this to your advantage. Remember, you can offer services that online dealers can’t. Advertise these heavily to attract showroom visitors.

  • Financing is a major hurdle for many car buyers. Your car dealership can organize loan services to make the process easier for buyers. Your guidance compared to struggling through the process online may make the difference.
  • Education and comparisons – think like Flo from Progressive. Keep things simple and clear. Add a dash of humor along the way. New car buying is exciting and fun.
  • Highlight families and buyers that are in your target. People automatically feel more comfortable when they see like-minded people “going first”. It makes it easier for them to feel comfortable visiting your dealership and recommending it to others

3. Take Your Business Online

This approach isn’t a way to get online viewers to your dealership. It’s the opposite. Meet online car buyers on their territory. You probably already have a website, some social media accounts, and some online and email marketing strategies. But taking your business online goes beyond those elements. If some car buyers are dead set on buying online instead of visiting a dealership, you can’t change their minds, but you can at least make sure that you get their business.

  • Offer online-only discounts for your cars.
  • Train sales staff specifically for online sales. They should know enough so that customers can get the answers they want more easily than if they did their own online searches.
  • Offer a wider variety of cars than the selection on your lot. If you can obtain a specific vehicle for a customer, play up that service to make it feel customized and special.

The growth in online research and buying doesn’t have to take a toll on your dealership. These tips can help you keep your team going strong. Use these tips to drive more people to your lot and pick up your share of the online market sector.