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Five Bold Predictions for Automotive Marketing in 2023

2023-push-to-start

With how much volatility our industry has seen the past few years, are all predictions “bold” as we kick off this new year? 

After all – the market has completely changed from this time last year, and looks to be significantly more competitive for dealerships in 2023. For those who don’t have a plan or who have been stuck in analysis paralysis due to the dynamic nature of the market this year,, this might be an especially challenging time. 

However, we do want to encourage you: The team at Reunion Marketing has never been more confident  about how to increase market share, support our partners, and follow the behavioral trends to create success these next twelve months. 

Here are five things to keep in mind as you plan your 2023 marketing strategy.

1. Consumer search demand will continue to fall for a large portion of 2023

In-market searches like the example shown below have been decreasing in search volume as the economy continues to sputter. Auto loan interest rates are high, which could pose a barrier to entry for consumers battling challenges with personal finances. While incentives are coming back, they may not be returning quickly enough to offset rising costs due to inflation.

Despite this, it can still be possible to profit this year. Understanding how consumers search, measuring where you stand and having concrete plans for growth in your online visibility can help you to increase your market share and may position you for strong long-term success. 

If you are a dealer or are a marketing pro helping a dealership partner better understand where they stand right now, the team members at Reunion Marketing are happy to help educate on tools like Search Console and Google Ads that can help highlight consumer behaviors to build your plans for sustainable growth.

2. Mid-year months will be dumpster fires for the companies ill-equipped for Google Analytics 4

There are still a very high percentage of companies who are not properly firing events to properly measure conversion in Google Analytics 4. On July 1st of this year, the universal Analytics platform that we have all grown accustomed to over the years will no longer be collecting data – and everyone will be looking to GA4 for the measurement of their website performance. 

Because we spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars driving traffic to our websites from the many areas we invest marketing dollars, accurate measurement in this area is the most important way to ensure that we are getting the best ROI. 

Digital retailing companies, chat companies, trade appraisal companies, and some website vendors themselves are not set up to provide this data – which could create a GIANT step backwards for those trying to  create the experiences their customers are looking for across industries.

If you have any questions about your current GA4 setup, what’s missing, or about the competitiveness of your analytics, we are always happy to share those insights! (NOTE)

3. Google Business Profile will add some exciting new inventory-based features in 2023

The number of changes the past several years for GBP makes this one not feel quite as bold a prediction – but I am guessing that we see something this year that’s as big or as exciting as adding new listings for Service or Parts departments. 

The Cars For Sale feature does not get a lot of tracking support at this point, but as Google continues to lean into the privacy-first environment, they may be able to create a greater return and better feed the algorithm to bolster utility and function of the tool. 

Optimizing the dealership website is as important as ever – and so is having a robust GBP profile that’s updated and current with the many features that have been added over the past few years. 

We still estimate that greater than half of the dealerships across the country are not properly utilizing some of the basic features provided on this platform. If you’re looking to uplevel your platform strategy, we encourage you to connect with our team. 

4. Hidden fees might cost dealers MUCH more in their marketing in 2023

The past few years saw a reduction in search and ad spend, as the inventory conditions allowed for lower marketing budgets to achieve sales goals. 

This year, we expect that we will see this normalize in a way that more closely matches pre-pandemic marketing competition levels. With that, we also expect to see increased ad spend rates in an attempt to maintain or grow market share. 

The advertising companies that do not charge commission and take a flat fee approach can enjoy significant savings in this environment. 

These fees may be hidden within an invoice, so if you don’t have ownership over your Google Ads account and transparency into how much is going to platforms (and going to your partner), it might be worth digging into your agreement to identify possible areas of savings.

5. Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS) will be rampant this year

Every time that market conditions tighten, the search for the magic bullet heats up. This makes me think about CarBizDoneBetter’s Sean Welsh’s infamous rant about “Shiny Object Syndrome,” and how that works against the best interest of the dealership. 

Going back to the basics, leveraging data and information to make decisions, measuring all of your investments to ensure that you have an ROI-focused plan for success and executing on these concepts is a sustainable way to grow and succeed. 

Buckle up for success in your 2023 marketing strategy

This will be a more difficult year for the dealerships who have been “asleep at the wheel” in 2022, as the times were easier and a lot less dynamic. Now, we live in a privacy first world where many of the strategies that worked just two or three years ago no longer apply. 

Google, Facebook, and other giants have released new services and features that are no-brainer foundations when used in conjunction with a marketing plan like Performance Max campaigns, On-Destination AIAs, and greater focus on fixed operations within GBP and other digital assets. 

If you aren’t aware of some of these changes, there’s no time like the present to reach out to friends and partners and get yourself back on track to scalable success. This year will be competitive, and for those of us like the team here at Reunion Marketing who love that kind of environment, it is going to be a fun year! 

Cheers to a successful 2023! If you want see how Reunion Marketing can help prepare you for the year ahead, reach out to us for a demo or audit.

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