You made cold calls that left you on ice, sent direct mail directly into the trash, and got banned from Craigslist. How the heck do you get more automotive leads? All of the methods mentioned above are known as outbound marketing. Or as we like to call it, “interruption” marketing. The secret to automotive lead generation is a new concept called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing brings leads to the lot without paying for advertising. Sound interesting? Here’s how it works:


Create a great free “offer”.

This is not a discount. It can be in the form of an article, graphic, or other educational material for your customers to download. The content should answer common questions and objections of your customers. Here are some ideas:

  1.     The Ultimate Used Car Buying Guide
  2.     5 Questions to Ask your Used Car Dealer Before you Buy
  3.     Demystifying Dealer Financing
  4.     Used Car Shopping Checklist

Next, you’re going to put that offer front and center on your website. When people click on that offer, you ask them for their email address so that you can send them the free offer. This works on the age old principle of reciprocity – you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. When they give you their email address, this should be hooked up to your internet lead management software to help turn that lead into a customer.

Email is one of the most effective free ways to promote the offer.

In fact, an average of 20% of emails you send to prospects will be clicked as opposed to just 1% of pay-per-click advertisements. First, you want to setup an email campaign in your CRM. Schedule an email to go out every week until the lead closes or un-enrolls. The emails should be informative and helpful just like your offer. After the first few, you’ve got them warmed up and it’s safe to start using “buyer ready” offers like financing deals, discounts, etc.

Related Blog Post: 5 Email Marketing Tips for Dealers

3.5 billion searches each day.

You want your offer to get picked up in the search engines by potential buyers (Google alone has over 3.5 billion searches per day). Create a blog to write about the topics covered in your offer and make sure to link to a webpage with your offer at the end of the blog post. The best place to do this is on your website, but if you don’t have one Google Blogger is a good place to start.

Share your offer with the world.

Most dealerships that use social media never show a return. But that’s because they are treating it as yet another outbound method – a platform to advertise about your sales and inventory. The most effective way to use social, is to create one-on-one conversations with prospects. For example, do a quick search on Twitter for “need help buying a car” or “what is the safest car”. Essentially, you are looking for a question that your offer will answer. Then, tweet at the person with the offer. This is not the time to sell them, rather the time to help them. If you succeed in helping them, the sale will follow. If you struggle with social media, hire a college intern or put a greenhorn on it – it’s like second nature to them.

Summary

As outbound marketing becomes more difficult and expensive, auto dealerships are finding success by adopting the secret concepts of inbound marketing for automotive lead generation.