When high street giants are turning to the internet to take the majority of their revenue, the potential offered by the diverse online audience is something that can’t be ignored by Automotive dealers as GForces’ Tim Smith explains in this month’s Car Dealer magazine…
Internet usage is on the rise. It’s undeniable. No longer is it only beloved by “pesky youngsters.” The rise of the ‘silver surfers’ has meant that the internet population share of the over-55s has grown to 19%. Given that there are now 43.7m people online in the UK (source: Internet World Stats 2009) that means that some 8.98 million over-55s use the internet.
Littlewoods, once the bastion of high-street shopping for clothes and home accessories, everyone had a copy of their catalogue propping up a table leg at home. Now they are planning to take 70% of their total revenue online by 2010.
Only a few years ago common consensus was that, while it was great for selling items like books and cds, people wouldn’t use the internet for buying products like clothes. Now clothing companies are taking millions online each year. In order to do this they ensure that their websites offer as close a representation of their actual shops as possible.
The same applies to car dealers. Selling cars online goes far and beyond auction sites. Whilst cars are not being bought and delivered through the internet (yet?), automotive websites offer as close an inspection of cars as possible without actually handling the car. With plenty of opportunities to generate qualified enquiries online, a Digital Dealership offers more potential for getting a customer into a car than print ads alone. In fact, an effective automotive website is proven to increase footfall far and above the level of drop-in customers.
At GForces we have a customer in North Scotland selling cars to buyers in the South of England. With more people willing to travel increasing distances to get a bargain on a car, reaching this audience is crucial. Again, this is where online marketing is pivotal for auto dealers. Adverts in the paper will help you shift a couple of cars locally, but to reach a bigger audience, dealers need the internet. Distance evaporates online. It’s more cost effective too.
One of the UK’s leading and fastest-growing car supermarkets invests in both online and offline marketing and, through lead-tracking software LeadBeast, has seen the difference in performance. Not only does online advertising generate more qualified leads than its offline equivalent, but the cost of those leads is significantly lower (e.g. £13.40 online to £52.51 offline in May 2009 ).
Offline advertising such as a quick ad in the corner sweet shop window is fine – if you want to sell just one or two cars a week. However, if you want to sell a lot of cars – and I don’t know an automotive dealer that doesn’t – then you need presence and marketing where the customers are: online. To ignore that audience and still hope to thrive is akin to expecting a band to fill Wembley Stadium on the back of a flyer on a lamppost in Tintagel.