Summer and car shopping go together like the Fourth of July and fireworks. It’s practically tradition.
Our data shows that over the past three years, shopper visits to our network of dealer websites between May-August have increased on average 14 percent compared to the months between January-April. In 2014, there was a 36 percent shopper visit increase during those summer months alone.
In other words, people are shopping for cars more in the summer than they are during any other season of the year.
There are a variety of reasons for the bump in interest during the summer: attractive deals from summer holiday sales events that feature model-year crossovers or year-end clearances; and, great weather, which gets people taking time off from work for vacation and leads to more vehicle selling activity, particularly in the used market.
Typically, dealers inspect their advertising budgets and look to increase spend full scale to capitalize on this increased demand,.
But are blanket spend increases really the best summer ad strategy? Maybe not. It all depends on what makes the most sense for your particular dealership. If you’re looking to generate demand, then you might consider a targeted display advertising spend increase. If the demand is already there, it may make more sense to boost paid search budgets to capture in-market shoppers that are further along their path to vehicle purchase.
Let’s take a look at some of the top considerations every dealer should make before increasing advertising budgets this summer.
1. Align advertising strategy with your manufacturer’s vehicle marketing efforts.
Stay in close contact with your OEM business centers and representatives to understand what promotional efforts they’ll pursue. Ensure your digital advertising partner is strategically aligned with your OEM as well. A complete mix comprising Tier I messaging and local-level advertising ensures shoppers are receiving consistent information wherever they’re exposed to ads.
2. Evaluate your inventory mix and its demand in your local market.
Before increasing your budget or making changes to your advertising strategy, take a good look at your cars and trucks. By analyzing inventory count and average time on lot at the model and body style level as well as other key facets of your inventory mix you can identify focus models to incorporate into your advertising strategy.
This allows you to tailor your strategy to spend primarily on your focus models and provides the added boost needed to generate and capture more demand for models you may have a tougher time moving. Partner with an advertising provider who has the ability to assist with your inventory evaluation and can provide additional insight regarding the current demand for inventory in your market area.
3. Make data-driven decisions using past advertising performance, supplemented by other data.
Consider past campaign performance. What combination of channels has provided you with the most combined ROI? Are you allocating funds that allow you to reach shoppers at all of the key micro-moments during their automotive purchase journey? Examining what has worked in the past and what opportunities were left on the table can help you create a more informed strategy this summer.
Also, consider partnering with an advertising provider who has access to data beyond your own. Anonymize data and evaluate dealerships and dealer groups with similar characteristics to your own to determine strategies with proven performance.
As both temperatures and automotive search volume rise this summer, make the most of your invested digital advertising funds. While budget increases are typical for this period of the year – increases that are lockstep with greater shopper volume – your digital advertising performance largely depends on how informed your strategy is. Adhere to the three tips listed above, and get ready for a scorcher of a summer.
Jessica Lunau is the advertising & Managed Services product marketing manager at Dealer.com.