How to Leverage Journey Marketing in Your Dealership (and Why It Matters)

The customer journey is increasingly a zig-zag for businesses to manage. From the dealer’s perspective, more customers are entering the dealer sales funnel later in their journeys, preferring to take more of a self-guided approach to buying decisions. The reality is the vast majority of customers are either ignored or sent messaging that in no way aligns with their preferences or needs. To meet customers wherever they are and however they prefer to engage, dealers must adapt their marketing to a non-linear customer journey. To do so requires dealers to map; more journeys, more touchpoints, and more channels to emphasize intent at every stage.

Journey Marketing: Your Dealership’s Key to Sales and Loyalty

The customer journey is not linear, so why should marketing follow a straight and narrow path?

Journey marketing focuses on the nuances of each customer’s journey as they discover, explore, and engage with your dealership. It considers the customer experience at every touchpoint and aims to personalize those experiences in a seemingly one-to-one conversation to build relationships with customers

Data shows that 73% of customers expect personalized experiences. If the messaging is personalized and tailored to their needs, customers are up to 5x more likely to engage.

For dealers, your customers may have a range of intents and needs at any given time. From lease ends to service needs to new car purchases and trade-ins, your marketing needs to be able to speak to each of these customers in increasingly long sales and service cycles. What’s more, you need to be able to connect with them on the channels they prefer (read: the channels where they’re most likely to notice and engage with you). 

It sounds like a Herculean effort, but modern technology and marketing automation makes the journey to “journey marketing” relatively simple.

Marketing Automation’s Role in Journey Marketing

Marketing automation is not a new concept; however, it’s been highly misunderstood and underused in automotive. 

Traditionally, marketing automation tools provide dealers with buyer scores based on external data. A score of 90-100 might be considered a hot lead. However, these tools ignore engagement, such as opening and clicking a marketing email.

Where these vendors stop is where dealers should push them to start. These scores don’t take into account the buyer’s intent or where they are in the customer journey. What’s more, they don’t personalize the message and tailor the experience on a one-to-one basis.

Automated journey marketing tools like Activator take into account what the data is telling you as well as customer interactions to create personalized experiences at scale. When done correctly, journey marketing can:

  • Automate your outreach: Spend less time manually checking customer profiles, typing emails, creating lists, and personalizing each message. Automation identifies the customers you should be talking to each day and steers the conversation for you. 

  • Connect with customers across multiple channels: From email to SMS text to direct mail, customers have their own preferences on how to engage with companies. Journey marketing means using each customer’s preferred channel, increasing your chances of making a connection.

  • Personalize messaging based on interaction: Someone who just bought a vehicle isn’t ready for servicing. Neither is someone whose lease is about to expire. Tailor your messaging based on behaviors and stages of the customer journey to create more relevant interactions.

  • Identify customers that are most likely ready to purchase: Spend your time working with handraisers based on customer behavior, not hunches. 

  • Stay in touch even when there’s no reason for the customer to transact: Customers who don’t have an immediate need still need to keep you top of mind. Stay in touch even when there is no compelling event to make you stand out.

Know who to market to (and who not to market to) at the right time on the right channel, consistently, and at scale.

Automated Journey Marketing Use Case

Let’s put things into perspective in a simple dealership use case: pre-orders. 

Pre-orders require dealers to reach people sooner and more effectively than ever to get ahead of vehicle builds that take 6 months or more on average. 

Using automated journey marketing, you can reach more customers via more channels with a minimal time investment. In turn, more channels equals more chances to make connections. Journey marketing helps to create first-touch learnings that get more urgent over time. Keep track of all of your conversations in one place as customers move through your sales funnel and message flow. As they take actions on marketing, their paths dynamically change, allowing you to deliver relevant, timely content based on where they are in the decision-making process. 

Leveraging Automated Journey Marketing with Activator

Successful dealership sales no longer take the linear path they once did. Today, it’s all about personalized experiences and meeting your customers wherever they are. There are arguably as many individual journeys as there are customers, so finding ways to scale your personalization will soon be the hallmark of outperformers. 

At Activator, we’re helping dealers navigate increasingly complex customer journeys with automated solutions made by dealers for dealers.

Activator’s Marketing solutions include:

  • Sales pre-order campaigns
  • Lease-end campaigns
  • Buyback campaigns
  • Service and parts introductions
  • Service interval campaigns
  • Lost soul and defector campaigns
  • Conquest and Subsequent Owner Campaigns

To learn more, reach out to Activator today to schedule a test drive!

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