There are four scenarios that can help your dealership determine which advertising channels to place advertising dollars into. These include complete shutdown, weak demand, stay-at-home, and capture market share. The recommended advertising channels are paid search, social, display or retargeting, email, and third-party leads. We will be recommending different advertising channels based on the status of your dealership. There is also a recommendation for the percentage of maximum ad spend for each scenario.
Recommended advertising channels
In this table, you can see that email marketing is the only method of advertising that should be used with each dealership status and scenario. Email marketing is generally free or low cost, and your dealership can make an impact on customers without having to spend additional advertising dollars.
If your dealership is currently in the complete shutdown scenario, you should not be spending money on advertising and instead, work towards letting your existing customers know that your dealership is there for them. If your dealership is in a complete shutdown status, the market demand is down and customers are required to stay at home. During this time, this means that your dealership should not be too focused on obtaining new customers. An inexpensive advertising solution is by emailing your current email list. Emails let your customers know that your dealership is still open and if your dealership is adding additional safety precautions for them and the employees.
Social media advertising is not recommended, but your dealership can create newsfeed posts and stories to keep your followers updated. Your dealership can also provide updates with any hours of operations updates via social media or through emails. If there is a complete shutdown, your dealership should be saving those advertising dollars for when there is more market demand.
With the weak demand scenario, your county or state may have some restrictions, but consumer demand is low. During this time, your dealership should be putting 25-75% of your max advertising spend into paid search, social, and email. Email marketing keeps your customers engaged and up-to-date with your dealership.
If your consumer demand is low, your dealership should focus on conquest advertising and bringing back those customers who were once interested in a vehicle at your dealership. These visitors were those that visited your website more than 90 days ago, and your dealership can work towards getting them interested in your store again. Paid search allows your dealership to be shown at the top of search results. This is also an opportunity to display a message to your shoppers with the offers and incentives your dealer can offer and the current status of your dealership on these paid search advertisements. This is also a good opportunity to get those vehicles that have been sitting on your lot and serve ads for them to show customers the vehicles you have in stock, provide them with great offers, and get them sold.
With the stay-at-home scenario, auto dealerships have the demand from consumers, but it does make it difficult to get to the dealership without there being restrictions. Under this circumstance, your dealership can place 50-100% of advertising spend into paid search, social media advertisements, and email marketing.
At this time, your dealership should focus on targeting both existing and conquest customers because the demand is up and you want your customers to be interested in what your dealership has to offer. The campaign strategy you should be focusing on is branding. This is the time to let your customers know your dealership is available to answer any questions and to let them know the status of the showroom.
Capture Market Share
Under the capture market share scenario, your dealership can use all the advertising channels because market demand is up. Once your dealership is at this stage, you can start placing 100-125% of your advertising spend into these categories. During this time it is important to discuss with your marketing and sales teams to see what the best method is in approaching digital marketing. You should also be taking a closer look at your inventory and seeing which vehicles need to be sold because of the length of time the vehicles have been on the lot. You also need to discuss the website traffic metrics from before the COVID-19 situation and now to see if engagement on your website has increased. Depending on the type of website visitors, it will determine where you should place your advertising dollars in regards to targeting and campaign strategies.
Doing what’s best for your dealership
The best strategy for your dealership is to have open communication with your teams and analyze the data from the start of the COVID-19 situation until recent times. If the traffic on your website is going up, and engagement is increasing, now may be a good time to start discussing whether placing your budget into certain advertising channels is a good idea. Depending on your dealership’s current status, inventory, and website traffic your auto dealership should be able to decide the next steps.