How good are your chemistry skills? When it comes to your marketing, do you feel like a Mad Scientist or are you struggling to make the grade? Marketing is a form of science, not rocket science, but there are formulas that should be consulted when trying to design an effective program. Even in 2017, dealers I know still struggle to make a decision on how to best approach their consumers. They battle with the notions:

• Where should their target lists come from, DMS, CRM or another source?
• How long should the campaign last?
• Do you stay with the standards (digital, email, direct mail and some social) or do you expand and add Snapchat and Twitter into the mix?

These are relevant concerns. But the science behind a strong marketing initiative is identifying a targeted audience that is listening and staying in touch with them for the entire sales lifecycle (and beyond), which is typically 90 to 120 days.

eMarketer reports US digital media usage is still strong and remains consistent between 2016 and 2017¹.

• 273.3M Internet users
• 191.1M Social network users, up 2.9% from 2016
• 70.4M Snapchat users, up 14.2% from 2016
• 77.0M Instagram users, up 12.5% from 2016
• 78.5% of internet users are on dual devices

Two hundred twenty-three million Americans are using their mobile phones to access the internet. With more people using mobile devices to access the internet, your marketing formula should emphasize your desire to be present when they are shopping and offer specific messages during this engagement.
Have you heard of Google’s term Micro-Moments? It to refer to moments when people “reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something or buy something.” In these moments, consumer expectations are higher and they fuel their consumer buying desires.

As consumers are naturally reaching for multi-channels to receive messages, dealerships should be taking advantage of these micro-moments and using them as a means to encourage your in-market buyers to seek your dealership for their next purchase.

Create messages, for example, that are tailored to a shopper who is coming off a lease, new college graduate, or has expanded their family. You can leverage technology that will identify real-time, in market buyers that are within a specific radius of your dealership to hone your messages to the right buyers at the right time. Although it may be tempting to run a campaign and cut it loose within 30 days if it doesn’t “provide proven ROI”, I would suggest looking at your formula again, because it’s important to be engaged while there are in your sales funnel. Research shows that automotive customers spend on average 10 hours or more researching their next purchase; more than 50% want to only allocate 45 minutes or less for a dealership visit and test drive². This indicates the majority of their data collection is done outside the dealerships. So it does become more important to create repetitive influential touchpoints.

Consumers are more active with their car buying than we give them credit for. With this much time to research, explore, research some more, and look to social media for advice and references, you need to be present and stay engaged while they are comparing models, pricing and incentives.

Be a part of these moments. If you appear at each stage of the shopping process, then you are much more likely to be seen as the “go-to dealership” when they are ready to purchase.

¹eMarketer, US Digital Media Usage A Snapshot of 2017, March 2017
²Deloitte, Driving through the consumer’s mind: Steps in the buying process, December 2016