Why Content Is Still King In Automotive Marketing

April 11, 2018

by Sean Messier

Content is still king – even in the automotive world.

A recent survey from 9 Clouds discovered that inbound marketing is now the dominant automotive marketing strategy. This marks a jarring change from the dealership marketing tactics of old – print advertisements and radio spots simply don’t deliver the results they once did.

In today’s increasingly digital marketing landscape, consumers can exert more control over their purchase path than ever before, which can prove especially useful when it comes time to invest in purchases, like the vehicles sitting in your lot. For the automotive industry, this means that it’s high time to incorporate inbound marketing tactics, such as content marketing, into every stage of the buyer’s journey. Keep reading, and we’ll dig deeper into the changing world of automotive marketing.

Head-on view of the front-right side of a car, depicting the grille and a headlight

How the Automotive Marketing Landscape is Changing

We’ve mentioned that consumers now control their own purchase path, but how does this change manifest? Primarily, it’s through pre-purchase education.

When consumers plan to make a purchase, the Internet makes it simple to look for user reviews, product information and other educational resources that could illustrate whether or not a certain product will deliver. In fact, an Autrotrader study indicates that car buyers that involve the Internet in their purchase process spend 59% of their time performing research online.

That time spent online isn’t all in one place, either. According to the same study, car buyers use an array of websites to help supplement their search efforts, with 3rd party sites taking the first slot, dealerships coming in second and OEM sites finishing third. And although more than half of the study’s respondent’s visit dealership sites, the majority of time is spent on 3rd party alternatives.

This may sound like a daunting challenge, but the reality is that consumers have proven that they’re looking for in-depth information, and aside from actual inventory listings, many dealership websites are fairly sparse. That’s why building a credible, authoritative automotive blog presents the perfect opportunity for your dealership to stand out from the crowd.

The Primary Challenge of the Automotive Sales Industry

The automotive industry faces several challenges that make content marketing seem critical to success in the coming years. But one of the most significant of these challenges is the reputation that the industry has garnered for a pushy sales process, a stigma that’s grown to the point where it’s not uncommon to compare nearly any hard-selling business to a car salesman.

Does this reputation accurately portray the general dealership sales experience? Probably not, but the reputation remains a real obstacle for automotive marketing, and data suggests that it may reduce buyers’ likelihood of contacting the dealership before visiting. According to Harvard Business Review, 75% of car buyers don’t contact a dealership whatsoever before their visit, while another Autotrader study indicated that 75% of buyers who do visit a dealership purchase the vehicle they initially had in mind, indicating that dealership efforts to sway sales decisions aren’t particularly effective. That might seem like a sign to invest in your on-site sales process, but it points toward something else, too.

Developing helpful automotive blog content is a solid step toward combating this negative stereotype. Crafting blog posts that precisely address your customer’s pain points, rather than hawking the benefits of the latest model in the lot, can help highlight your dealership as a business that cares about consumers, and one that’s ready to tackle the customer’s unique needs instead of making an impersonal sale to meet quota.

Why Content Marketing Should Be Taken Seriously by Dealerships

It might seem easy to shrug off an automotive blog as a viable method for increasing sales, but with 53% of marketers setting content development as their #1 inbound priority in 2017, data proves that content marketing is still going strong. Why?

Like we said earlier, the success of content marketing is rooted in consumers’ need for education. Because the Internet exists, consulting a sales rep in-store (or at a dealership, in this case) is no longer the most convenient choice for gathering information on a given product. In fact, a 2017 survey by Retail Dive found that 67% of consumers performed online research before making their purchase, indicating a clear appreciation for the convenience offered by digital content.

Graphic displaying a globe and reading, did you know? Sixty-seven percent of consumers perform online research before making a purchasePlus, compelling content isn’t just going to help you attract those customers that are already looking for your specific product, because the key idea behind content marketing is that blog posts shouldn’t make a hard sell unless they directly cater to viewers ready to make a purchase. Well-crafted content instead seeks to address precise needs to help readers give shape to a problem they may be having, or to provide options for solving that problem.

Consider the issues a car dealership customer may struggle with – check engine lights, worn tires, bad brakes. Now, try to imagine how a customer would go about solving these issues. Based on the prevalence of the Internet in everyday life, odds are that the Web will come into play sometime during the process – and that’s where your content would first appear. Creating an article that tackles essential car maintenance tips, for example, could eventually create a customer for your dealership’s service department, whereas a post detailing signs of a truck that’s on its last legs could help guide a consumer toward your lot to buy a trusty new pickup.

The Verdict: You Need a Car Dealership Blog

Is content marketing a surefire opportunity to boost your dealership sales? Not necessarily. But developing a solid, fleshed-out blog strategy and producing consistent content that digs deeply into common customer issues has long since been proven to ramp up traffic and boost leads.

If you’re ready to create your own automotive blog, be sure to follow SEO best practices and create an editorial calendar to help keep the content flowing. If content marketing seems appealing, but overwhelming, consider a Virtucom Group blog package – we’ll provide the content you need, search-optimized and ready for action.

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