Let’s face it, seasonality has a huge impact on the automotive industry. As dealers, it’s not your first rodeo, and we brace ourselves, when the degrees fall below 0 and we get that first dusting of snow. For most consumers, the fear is the cold, for dealerships, it’s the quiet – the sales objectives are still present, but the customers aren’t coming along with it. When the Winter months creep up, your first reaction might be an impulsive one, take your money and run. But beyond the fear is data that speaks volume and might make you reconsider taking out your marketing budgets altogether.
We’re consumers too, and we get it. ‘Twas the months before Christmas, when all through our minds, visions of dollar signs left our wallets confined. The holidays come with a hefty price and good old Saint Nicholas isn’t footing the bill.
What do the automotive data trends suggest?
With the help of autoTRADER, the leading digital player in Canadian automotive, we took a deeper dive to better understand the key to your business, the consumer. The below graph shows the total number of monthly visits to the autoTRADER platform from a desktop or mobile device in all of Canada from 2016-2018.
Total Monthly Visits: autoTRADER.ca Marketplace
Source: autoTRADER Google Analytics Data, January 2016 – December 2018.
After analyzing the data, we weren’t surprised to see that the month with the lowest traffic year over year was in fact the month where Mr. Claus reigns champ, December. Although there is a definite trend that backs the dealer’s reality showcasing lower website traffic throughout the months of November to February, there was still a staggering average of 11,8 million users actively searching for a vehicle.
What does all this data mean?
Your online efforts don’t go unnoticed! There is still a numerous number of in-market shoppers actively searching for their next vehicle and without an investment in online advertising, your dealer is missing out on opportunities and market share. With dealerships hastily pulling out their budgets, making for less competition in the digital space, you have the advantage of growing your impressions share for those x users who are still in the market for less.
I know what you’re all thinking, if there is an average of 11,8 million in-market shoppers in Canada, why aren’t they walking into my dealership and buying cars? Your potential customer is present, they’re just busy behind the scenes in what we call the “Awareness” and “Consideration” stages, the first steps of the car buying journey. The awareness stage is not the time to bombard the consumer with sales-y text and aggressive call to actions, like the time old question of any relationship, “What do you want to eat,” your potential customer doesn’t even know what they want yet. This your time to get them curious about two of the Five Ws, who are you? and what do you offer?
While moving them down the funnel, contemplating the other three Ws in the consideration stage when they’re starting to question: where you are, when you can get your product to them, and how it all benefits them through a mix of prospecting, remarketing, and inventory campaigns. Adjust your marketing strategies to stay in line with the change in the consumer’s behaviour.
Remember, the average buying cycle is 62 days, so even if they’re not buying, they’re searching. Let’s shift our focus away from a lead driven mentality, and consider Q4 as the calm before the storm, and the opportunity to build your audience lists in preparation for Q1-Q3.