From Brick and Mortar to Digital: Tips for Car Dealerships to Make the Transition
April 5, 2022
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The whole world is going digital thanks to the pandemic, changing the eCommerce industry across all industries, including the automotive sector. In the new marketplace, it’s essential for car dealerships to offer a digital experience in addition to its traditional brick and mortar business model.

The good news is that dealerships who make the transition to digital quickly and successfully have the potential to outperform their competitors and attract substantially more online leads. Here are some ideas on how to carry out a digital transformation for your dealership.

Offer an Online Retail Experience

The first step of your digital transformation as a dealership should be adopting an end-to-end digital retail experience. Here are some features to look for as you shop around for a platform or enhance your existing one:

  • Inventory search feature
  • Accurate monthly payment calculator
  • Full credit application capabilities
  • Accurate trade-in valuation
  • Wishlist feature
  • Vehicle comparison functionality

Invest in SEO and Organic Content

SEO (search engine optimization) is the practice of making your website rank high on search engines such as Google. What’s great about SEO is that it’s not a paid service and once you invest in SEO-friendly content, it’s always there continuing to drive leads to your site. Of course, search engine algorithms are always evolving, necessitating constant research on best practices and regular updates to keep your website fresh, relevant, and optimized.

The key to effective SEO is creating high-quality, relevant content containing relevenat keywords. Aim to add to or enhance the following content on your website and digital platforms:

  • Product and service pages
  • Blog content
  • Organic social media content
  • Video content on your website and YouTube

Increase Paid Advertising

Of course, SEO should just be one part of your digital marketing strategy. Paid search is one of the easiest ways to catch the attention of your target audience. How it works: Search engines will put your dealership’s website at the top of relevant search results pages making it more likely for people to find your site and click. You’ve probably noticed these ads yourself at the top of search results. Just keep in mind that paid search spending has increased since the pandemic, making it more competitive than ever, so make sure this is one of many marketing tactics.

Thanks to COVID-19, social media use is also up, making social platforms a great place for dealerships to get in front of car buyers. Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular social media sites for paid social advertising.

Grow Your Email List

Email marketing continues to be a tried-and-true way to nurture your audience and drive conversion — a vital late-funnel tactic. The average open rate is about 20%, which means that your chances of getting in front of your audience via email are even better than with social media. Not only that, according to the email marketing experts at Mailjet, email yields a 4,400% ROI. So invest as much as you can in setting up segmented email campaigns with great, compelling content sent on a weekly basis to your audience. Just make sure to address car buyers’ most pressing pre- and post-sale questions to keep readers engaged and keep your dealership top of mind when they’re ready to make their purchase.

Get Started on Your Digital Transformation Now

While adapting to the new digital marketplace may involve time and effort, car dealerships that get started now will be rewarded with a healthy return on investment by beating their competitors to the punch. Follow the steps above to get ahead of the pack.