Despite the fact that many car shoppers are bunkered up at home during this quarantine, they are online more than ever, and data is showing that they are actively researching cars. The demand for cars that existed prior to the lockdown has not disappeared. Most potential customers are waiting for COVID-19 to die down before they go back to their usual lives. Others are still in the market to buy a car now due to urgent factors such as their current leases ending or their previous cars needing more repairs than their worth after an accident.
For now, automakers and dealers need to adapt to these uncertain times by delivering vehicles to the customers that need them today. Don’t sit around waiting for COVID-19 to pass before you start targeting potential car shoppers.
If you are offering delivery services and business is still down, don’t get discouraged. While we do not have any foresight on when life goes back to the old normal, data shows that as soon as lockdown ends, the automotive market will experience a surge of trade-ins and end-of-lease returns. Over 1.8 million leases will be ending between March and July, many of which will result in a need to purchase or lease a car. Additionally, COVID-19 has made many less reluctant to rely on public transportation to get them around which will likely increase the need for individuals to buy a car.
Take this downtime to refine your marketing approaches. Here are four strategies that you can put in place now to target in-need car shoppers during these uncertain times and after them.
1. Refine your target marketing
Effective marketing begins with targeting the right audience, especially in these uncertain times. The list of target customers below are still likely in the market to buy a car despite COVID-19.
• Lease-end customers will want to learn more about their vehicle options. Keeping track of lease terms and reaching out prior will increase the chances of retaining customers and closing another sale.
• Schools might be closed, but people are still graduating. Many college graduates will be seeking vehicles in the next couple of months. Make sure you are targeting nearby college students in your area.
• Buyers who like to change their car every couple of years are always easier to close. Target these buyers with targeted messaging and grab their attention. Even if they weren’t in the market to buy a car, your ads might just change their mind.
• As many pivot into new lines of work, some will need to buy a personal vehicle.
• This is a great time to connect with past customers and offer pre-sell or pre-buy opportunities.
2. Communicate your competitive advantage
Make sure you communicate any customer service adjustments or enhancements to potential buyers. Here are examples of what might attract their attention:
• Vehicle delivery service for buyers that want to test-drive their cars
• Sanitized vehicles for customer’s protection
• Free pick-up and delivery for service appointments
3. Connect with your customers
Yes, right now, the price is important. If you have any special offers or incentives that you can set for your customers, it’s the time to do so. That being said, price isn’t the only thing that matters. Customers now have high expectations regarding their health and safety, and they expect you to take it seriously. Make sure you reassure them within your messaging.
• Even if it sounds redundant, make sure you repeatedly communicate the different precautions you have put in place to clean and disinfect your vehicles and facility.
• If possible, set a touch-free process from the moment they schedule a test drive to the moment they purchase the car.
• If possible, provide and communicate a job loss protection program or vehicle return plan on your used cars.
4. Improve your online presence
We’re not just talking SEO. We’re talking about what customers see when they look you up? When was the last time you updated your website pictures? Your Google My Business pictures? Does your social media communicate the precautions you are taking because of COVID-19? Make sure you dedicate some time to ensure you have updated your online touchpoints.
If you don’t know where to start, here are a few updates you can make to your website in the next few days.