By Dan Dulik, Director, Product Marketing, CDK Global
As an industry, we’re famous for flooding the airwaves with ads. We also collectively spend millions every month on paid search. There will always be a role for these strategies, but it’s time to dust off that marketing playbook and leverage the rise of social media and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Demographics are changing. Millennials are now the fastest-growing segment of buyers, with Generation Z right behind them. Shifting some investment to digital platforms like Instagram and TikTok that are more popular with younger consumers makes a lot of sense.
Marketing software is also changing. Solutions powered by AI use data and customer profiles to enable personalized communications and vehicle recommendations. AI assistants can also be deployed to respond to leads when a dealership is closed or salespeople are busy with customers in front of them. These assistants can move the sales process along and even follow up to ensure a salesperson reached out to the customer.
Shifting gears to include digital platforms and AI technology in your marketing mix doesn’t have to break the bank. You can dip your toe in the water and try a few new strategies with minimal investment.
Let’s start with leveraging AI. Today’s AI applications can perform intelligent customer targeting to inform marketing campaigns and 1:1 personalized messaging. For example, the technology can identify the best-fit vehicle to recommend so there’s no frustrating back-and-forth that can lead to a customer abandoning the process. An AI assistant can also help in qualifying new shoppers to your store and nurturing leads until they are ready to hand off to a salesperson.
Every interaction is tracked in a customer’s record in the CRM so the AI assistant or your sales team can proactively provide information and send specials that perfectly fit where the customer is in the buying cycle. But how do you get more consumers to visit your website so you can start gathering valuable information?
That’s where shifting some of your marketing budget to digital platforms comes into play. Brands like Honda and Chevy are already doing this for new campaigns in the hopes of reaching a younger audience. And they’re seeing brand awareness grow.
For example, Chevy relied on TikTok to introduce its new Silverado full-size pickup truck. It uploaded a video featuring a remixed version of BRELAND’S popular song “My Truck,” and has nearly 700,000 likes.
If you’re older than 40 like me and have no idea who BRELAND is, that’s ok! If you’ve never been on TikTok or Instagram and have no idea how to make or post content, that’s ok! There are a lot of young people out there looking to build work portfolios.
Take a slice of your TV marketing budget and use it to hire a college student or recent grad. These “digital natives” have the knowledge you don’t to utilize these channels. They can help you target a local audience that is younger, generate some excitement for your store, and build a fan base.
Hire someone familiar with digital platforms who can guide you in creating content that is informational and entertaining. I’ve seen some great videos explaining how to sync an iPhone to a particular vehicle model. Or how to compare financing rates. Or the pros and cons of buying vs. leasing.
Intersperse informational content with entertaining videos of a member of your team test-driving the latest model at your store, or a young customer doing a victory dance after signing the deal docs. Work with your team to brainstorm ideas and make videos using a smartphone or a vlogging camera. The initial investment is minimal but the payoff of building relationships is sustainable and long-term.
TV ads and paid search aren’t going anywhere. But if you want to meet consumer demand for more personal communications and reach the fastest-growing segments of vehicle buyers, it’s time to dust off your marketing playbook and shift some of your investment to AI and digital platforms.
About the Author
Dan Dulik leads Product Marketing for the Variable Operations portfolio at CDK Global, which includes Elead CRM, F&I and Dealer to Dealer solutions.