By Ezequiel Arredondo
It may seem practical and cost-effective to reduce your digital marketing spend during the slow months when you don’t have inventory on your lot. However, Dealer Spike has seen this practice weaken sales leads for dealerships in the long run. Digital marketing yields the best results for your business when efforts are constant, rather than stop-and-go. By advertising your inventory year-round, even when you are between inventory shipments, you can grow your sales and ROI over time.
Digital marketing requires consistent efforts to align your website with search engine algorithms, optimize your ads with relevant keywords and build brand prominence. If marketing efforts and ad spend start to drop off, the performance of your website and your online ads will slow down, which will cost more time and money to regain when you want to advertise your new inventory. Steady, ongoing marketing throughout the year will save you money and result in a higher ROI.
“I don’t want to mislead my customers by advertising a boat that isn’t on my lot. That seems like bad business.” We understand your concern about advertising units that aren’t currently available. Keep in mind, though, that consumers now spend considerable time researching units on the internet instead of visiting the dealership right away. Dealer Spike conducted a survey among dealership customers and found that 40% of participants remained in the research phase for four to eight weeks before making a purchase so they could compare brands, units and pricing across multiple dealerships. By the time customers visited the actual dealership, they were often ready to buy.
If you don’t advertise your inventory online, even during slow seasons, you could miss out on connecting with online leads who are currently researching units and will be ready to purchase in a month or two. Digital marketing tactics such as search engine optimization (or appearing organically in search results) take time to build traction and will not produce immediate results. The sooner you start, the better—so that by the time your new inventory arrives on the lot, your website is already ranking highly in local searches.
Even during the seasons when foot traffic at the dealership slows or your inventory is depleted, internet activity is ongoing. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and businesses briefly shut down, consumers continued to browse for units online, even if they didn’t intend to purchase for a few weeks or months. The dealerships that didn’t pull their ad spend and continued to invest in their websites’ performance saw higher-than-average online traffic during the shutdown and experienced a stronger return to sales over dealerships who withdrew their marketing during the shutdown.
Your digital marketing advertising efforts are not just a means to promote new inventory; your website, social media, videos and paid ads are all reflections of your dealership’s brand. By maintaining an active digital marketing strategy year-round, you can drive a positive impression of your brand among your online shoppers and increase your customer conversion rate, pulling in more sales opportunities in the long run.
Ezequiel Arredondo is the vice president of operations for Dealer Spike.