The advent of the Internet has totally changed the way we communicate and how we research & buy products; it’s made shopping easy. Instead of going to different brick & mortar stores to purchase (often from the limited choices), one can browse through many websites quickly, right on their computer or cell phone. When it comes to shopping for automobiles, the first place potential buyers go is the Internet and then visit their local dealership.
To better understand the latest trends in online car shopper behavior, consider the following statistics:
• According to PEW Research, almost three out of four U.S. adults use the Internet. It is an amazing resource for many people to do product research and purchase as it is a hassle-free approach to shopping.
• More and more individuals are using the Internet to research vehicles. Almost 90 percent of consumers use the Internet to research vehicles – Capgemini Cars Online Study 2009/2010.
• According to the J.D. Power and Associates, 68 percent of used-vehicle buyers and 77 percent of new-vehicle buyers use the Internet in their shopping process.
• According to National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), nearly 90 percent of car buyers today are using the Internet to help make their purchasing decisions.
• Investments have been steadily increasing over the past few years in Internet marketing. According to a survey from Autobytel, 93% of dealers have increased their online marketing budgets in the last five years – more than half (56%) have increased their online marketing budgets by 50% or more.
These numbers clearly show that it’s more important than ever for auto dealers to have an online presence. Despite this, some auto dealers still dedicate only a fraction of their advertising budgets to online marketing.
Advantages of Internet marketing over traditional marketing
A dealership that does not use Internet marketing is more likely to lose all these important prospective buyers. If you are one of them, consider the following reasons why you should choose web marketing over traditional marketing.
Using Internet marketing, a dealer can send marketing messages personally to the targeted user. When a prospective buyer browses through the Internet, he/she typically goes through the sites online and refers to the products and services offered. This enables him or her to communicate personally with the dealer. This way a dealer can maintain direct contact with prospective buyers.
Appeal to specific interests
Unlike traditional marketing, which reaches out to a broad demographic, web marketing appeals to specific target audience or interests of people. Dealers can post advertisements and boost their websites with full knowledge that the audience is interested in.
Improved Return on Investment (ROI)
Auto dealers spend hundreds (sometimes even thousands of dollars) on traditional advertising methods such as TV, radio, and print. They still do not have any precise way to measure whether their target audience is paying attention or not. When it comes to Internet marketing, a dealer can accurately target an audience and measure the visitors without spending much. This means, a dealer can get improved ROI using online marketing. A survey from Autobytel shows that Internet has provided highest return on investment (ROI) for auto dealers over the last 5 years. Almost 8 in 10 (79.5%) of the survey respondents reported that Internet has been their highest ROI. In contrast, only 7.5% (TV), 6.5% (newspapers), and 2.5% (radio) of respondents ranked traditional media as first.
One of the best things about Internet marketing is that you don’t need a large investment to get started. It is very economical and fast way to promote a dealership. This is not the case with traditional marketing, which is very expensive and takes more time to show results. When compared to the ratio of cost against the reach of the target audience, web marketing is many times inexpensive than the traditional marketing. With a small fraction of traditional marketing budget, a dealership can reach a wide audience.
A dealer can promote a vehicle or service 24 X 7 x 365 using Internet marketing, which is not possible in traditional marketing. The moment a dealer implements an online marketing campaign, the dealership’s products or services will be on the air 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This medium allows consumers to research and purchase products and services at their own convenience and comfort. This advantage of appealing to consumers can bring in quality results quickly.
Makes you go global
The main advantage of Internet marketing is its ability to make your dealership global. By advertising on the Internet, a dealership can capture the attention from people all over the world. Without any additional cost, a dealership can promote its products or services globally. Traditional marketing consumes a lot of time and is very expensive way to go global.
Auto dealers can effectively leverage Internet marketing medium as it allows ads to be targeted very precisely to the search location – helps to target a specific geographical location. A dealer can target a specific city, state or a country. Though it has no geographical limits, a dealer can restrict services to certain locations.
Given the latest trends in car shopper behavior and advantages over the traditional media, it is essential for car dealers to re-evaluate their advertising strategies and focus more on Internet marketing.