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Top Tips to improve car retail’s digital marketing in September, opinion

Dominic Corr, account director, Honchō

The September plate-change marks the second biggest month of the year for new car sales in the UK.

With dealerships now reopened across the UK, the launch of the new 70-plate will play a key role in driving online search activity as buyers consider their next car purchase.

September is also a strong month for used and nearly-new sales. After all not all new car searches end in new car purchases.

This year waiting times on some new models will be longer than normal as a result of car factories getting back up to speed.

Rather than wait, some buyers will look at alternative new models or consider nearly-new or used models.

With this plate-change shaping up to be like no other, dealers need to step up their digital game and make themselves even more search friendly.

With this in mind, here are some of our best practice tips to help improve your digital visibility by putting more car buying options in front of in-market buyers.

Maximising your website’s SEO

  1. Whether you are part of a franchised group, a standalone site, or an independent dealer, keep your online profile up to date. These are still fast changing times, so review and update your opening times on your website and your Google My Business profile.
  2. To improve your overall expertise, authority and trustworthiness, we suggest ensuring all COVID-19 and business service related pages are kept up to date. Also move quickly to update them if your situation changes, especially in light of localised lockdowns.
  3. COVID-19 has prompted the introduction of many new customer services on dealer websites, including virtual appointments, click and collect and remote test drives. To ensure their visibility dealerships need to double down on these elements by refocusing navigational elements and introducing new conversational features.
  4. September is not just about new car sales. Across July and August we have seen an average year-on-year increase of around 20% in Google searches for “Used”, “MOT”, “Service” as well as “New”. This means there are a lot more clicks up for grabs within search results. If your website is not seeing positive year-on-year growth for both visitors and conversions, we recommend you investigate visibility levels and pivot your SEO strategy to focus on quick wins that you can implement now. We have identified these common faults on dealer sites: thin content or pages with poor content quality; over indexation or crawling of the site; obscure or under optimised page targeting; vague user journeys without clear call to actions or conversion.
  5. September is always a popular month for new car debuts and facelifts, so make sure online searches for new models heading to your showroom land on your website. Developing a content strategy and site structure to capture the full breadth of keywords ahead of time will help boost your organic search results.

Pay per click recommendations

  1. In the build-up to any event, especially a plate-change, make sure you run prospecting activity. This will get messages out to a larger audience and improve awareness. Similarly, by running prospecting campaigns you can fill the remarketing pools with customers to retarget (see point 3 below).
  2. Use your data to target customers who are potentially in the market for an upgrade. This will help retain their custom when they are looking to purchase a new, used or nearly-new vehicle.
  3. Remarketing based on recent page views will allow you to target buyers who have interacted with certain pages ensuring their interactions with the brand remains personalised. Using remarketing lists you can also use sequential targeting so the messaging continues to lead them towards a purchase.
  4. Google creates audiences based on recent online behaviour and the approximate proximity to a purchase. Utilise these lists to increase bids based on this past behaviour as be comfortable paying a premium given they are close to deciding.

After the challenges faced by dealers during the lockdown, September will provide a welcome opportunity to engage with customers and generate some much needed profitability in Q4 across new, nearly new and used car sales.

Building and maintaining your digital visibility has never been so important.

Author: Dominic Corr is an account director at specialist digital marketing agency, Honchō.  

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