In marketing, the buyer’s journey encompasses the steps a consumer takes leading up to a purchase. Each stage of the buyer’s journey constitutes different concerns, behaviors, and information needs, and the modern journey is conducted primarily online. Nowhere is that more true than in the car-buying process.
Most consumers today don’t make a trip to the dealership until they’ve got all of their facts in hand. According to Google, twice as many consumers begin their buyer’s journey online than in the dealership, which makes it critical for car dealers to prioritize digital in their comprehensive marketing strategy.
Aligning your marketing strategy with this modern buyer’s journey provides you with unique opportunities to influence decision-making before you ever shake hands with your new customer. Below, we’ll look at the three big questions that define the stages of the car-buyer’s journey and how to take advantage of each stage.
Is it time to purchase a new car?
During the early phase of the buyer’s journey, the consumer is becoming aware that they have a need, desire, or problem to be solved. In terms of car-buying, they’re thinking about whether that old jalopy can make it another year. They’re wondering whether it would cost more to repair or replace their existing vehicle. They’re daydreaming about how sporty they’d look in that shiny new SUV they’ve been admiring.
At this phase, your prospective customer isn’t thinking about you yet. They’re making a broader decision about whether they even need or want a new vehicle. They’re weighing out the pros and cons of buying a new versus a used car. They’re prioritizing the most important features of their next vehicle and looking for information that will help them make the smartest decisions given their circumstances.
Online research makes up more than 60% of the exploration conducted by car buyers during this early phase of the buyer’s journey. Your future car buyer is probably spending most of their time on third-party websites at this point, but that doesn’t deal you out of this window of opportunity entirely. Make your presence felt on popular automotive research sites like TrueCar and Edmunds, and ensure that the information provided on those sites matches what consumers will find on your website and in your brick-and-mortar store.
Which car best meets my needs?
During the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey, consumers are beginning to think about which specific vehicles would best suit their needs. Your car buyer is making a list of features that are important to them as well as favorite makes and models. They’re still conducting most of their research online though they may be shifting their focus from third-party websites to the websites of dealerships they’re considering purchasing from.
During this phase, the car buyer will be looking for more details on the vehicles they’re most interested in. They’ll be comparing their features and benefits in addition to price points. One of the most successful marketing strategies to employ during the consideration phase is video. Virtual test drives and 360° vehicle walk-arounds allow car buyers to experience a car before they’ve ever set foot in a dealership. Another way to reach buyers at this stage of the journey is through comparative literature that helps differentiate among various options.
Where will I buy my new car?
On average, car buyers spend nearly 15 hours online conducting research, but at long last, they will decide on the right make and model for their lifestyle. This is the decision stage of the buyer’s journey. It’s the point at which the car buyer knows what they want but may not know where they will make their purchase.
During this phase, local search becomes much more important. Your prospective buyer has whittled down their list to a specific keyword phrase such as “2020 Ford Escape”, and will also be searching for “Ford dealerships near me” or “Ford Escape test drives in New Orleans.” This is the time when good old-fashioned SEO advertising is at its most effective. Take advantage of search advertising to showcase deals and promotions that will be most relevant to car buyers who know exactly what they want. Streamline your car sales process by allowing consumers to conduct some of the buying process online so that they’re time in your dealership is pleasant and expedient.
Walking consumers through the journey to your dealership
Morgan & Co. has been helping car dealerships capitalize on the buyer’s journey for two decades. We create comprehensive marketing strategies that meet prospective buyers where they are at every stage of decision-making, and we provide data to support marketing efforts and show ROI. Contact us today to learn how we can help your dealership stand out in today’s digital world.