3 Key Takeaways for the Automotive Industry From Digital Dealer 2022

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The automotive industry is constantly under pressure. Whether it was the pandemic or the current economic upheaval, it had to adopt modern marketing and sales strategies. In the recent Digital Dealer Conference, one thing stood out — the industry is evolving. Jessica Stone, strategic account executive, CallRail, shares the biggest takeaways from the conference. 

The automotive industry has always been under pressure to efficiently field and convert sales and service leads while balancing profit margins and price negotiations with potential buyers. 

Particularly at the height of the pandemic, sales strategies were forced to utilize online research tools, digital retailing and inbound calls as cornerstones of the new customer journey. And as consumers did more of their car shopping from home, digital engagement channels, especially inbound and outbound phone calls, became the foundation of a successful auto sales strategy. Now that we are on the precipice of an economic roller coaster, many of the same challenges have reemerged.  

Last month, I attended the Digital Dealer Conference to gather with a host of other automotive dealers, OEMs, thought leaders, and auto retail solution providers for a 3-day event. As we gathered together to promote professional growth and foster connections, one overarching theme proved to be true: the automotive industry continues to evolve. 

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Here are my top three takeaways from Digital Dealer 2022:

In the face of an economic downturn, optimize your dealership’s marketing

Marketing is often one of the first line items to face cuts in economic downturns. For much of the past two years, it has suffered spending reductions and freezes during the lockdowns. Now faced with a looming recession, once again, it is on the chopping block.  

However, as prospective automotive shoppers are engaging more and more with digital properties and expect their experience (even down to the buying process) to be predominantly digital, it is mission-critical for the auto industry to prioritize marketing expertise to reach their target audiences effectively. The reality is consumers are highly conscious of how they are investing their money this year, especially for large-scale purchases like a car. If anything, today’s consumers are even more desperate for dealerships that can adjust to the current industry challenges and provide an excellent customer experience through digital channels.

Dealerships that can produce highly targeted, personalized messaging will cut through the noise and stand out amongst competitors. And, what’s more, marketing strategies that incorporate data-driven insight into customer interactions offer an edge, particularly during periods of economic downturn. 

When dealerships have access to data through call tracking solutions that tie the caller to their individual consumer journey, they have a pulse on what resonates with consumers in real-time. This data reveals what marketing efforts drove a lead to call, equipping automotive marketers with the data they need to optimize their campaigns and ad spend for the best return on investment. 

Why personalization in the consumer journey matters

Consumers want to feel like they matter, even when they are one of the hundreds you may have spoken with in the past week. In fact, McKinsey research shows that a whopping 71% of consumersOpens a new window expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and the automotive industry is no different. 

However, throughout the Digital Dealer conference, a recurring conversation was about how to engage better. Dealerships are increasingly engaging with their prospective buyers through video, whether it be through video chat or sending a video via email, to create that connection. Outlets like TikTok were regularly cited as a great way to interact with leads. This aligns with one of our recent researches that indicated 66% of marketersOpens a new window surveyed increased social media efforts in the last 12 months. 

Businesses can even take it a step further by adopting conversation intelligence tools with built-in AI capabilities to listen for relevant keywords — positive or negative — to help identify conversation trends and opportunities for keyword bidding optimization. With this tech, businesses can cut through the noise to find the words and phrases that best indicate how employees are communicating with consumers and where there is room for growth. 

Regardless of the method you choose, at the end of the day, you need to prioritize personalization when speaking with an inbound lead if you are looking to develop a lifelong, loyal customer.

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Next in Tech: Google Analytics 4

While overall inbound calls saw a surge in frequency at the onset of the pandemic, inbound call rates were even higher through Google My Business (GMB) listings. GMB has long been an important inbound referral tool for small and medium-sized businesses. But it was made apparent at Digital Dealer that the next wave of tech had arrived. George Nenni, author of ‘A Car Dealer’s Guide to Google Analytics 4,’ offered a two-part training on the titular tech. 

What is GA4? A new property designed for the future of measurement, GA4 collects both website and app data to better understand the customer journey by using event-based data instead of session-based. Essentially, session-based platforms offer data points surrounding how many sessions a certain page has, while event-based platforms provide insight into the users activating those sessions.  

Marketers can learn things like:

  • What pages they interact with
  • What tutorials they sign up for
  • What items they have purchased.

And once they understand how consumers interact with their product, they can create exceptional, one-of-a-kind experiences (which, as mentioned above, is critical for the modern consumer!). 

Long story short, GA4 offers marketers the flexibility and agility to gain more insights, better activate their data and make an even greater impact on their organizations’ business goals — all in a way that protects user privacy.

Conclusion

The automotive industry is ever-changing, and it is critical to stay up-to-date on the latest tech and trends to ensure you keep up with consumer expectations. Because, at the end of the day, your consumers are the top priority, and it is critical to evolve how you communicate with them as times change. 

How does your automotive business reach and attract consumers? Share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .

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