While the flying cars that The Jetsons promised are still decades away, the futurism of yesteryear is arriving today thanks to the rapidly expanding Electric Vehicle (EV) segment. The US automotive industry has been challenged to make half of its fleet electric by 2030, and OEMs have responded as we’re expecting to see at least 50 EV’s hit the market by 2025!
That means whether you’re ready-or-not, having a marketing strategy in place to influence and acquire EV shoppers is going to be a vital piece to future-proofing your dealership. And listen, you don’t have to have an EV in your lineup today in order to begin preparing for the all-electric future. In fact, the earlier you adopt and implement an EV marketing strategy, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
The best way to power up your EV marketing strategy is to watch Electron: Future EV Legacy over on Inspire+ where our team of experts will show you how you can start marketing toward the EV future, today!
That said, you don’t have to watch the show right away to get what you need to inform your EV marketing strategy. I’m more than happy to get you started off in the right direction, and then you can watch the show on Inspire+ at your convenience.
FINDING THE EV BUYER
So how do you develop a marketing plan geared toward EV buyers when there just isn’t a whole lot of data available to inform your decision making?
Well, you can start by developing buyer personas, which are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research, and they’re typically made up of demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.
When I think of EV buyer personas, there are three types of early adopters that will make up your initial audience from the outset.
The Environmentalist: This persona is extremely concerned about the environment, and typically feels that their personal choices make a difference on the macro level. They see EVs as a way to make a big environmental impact, however they may not be a fan of the traditional car shopping experience.
The Reformed Gas Guzzler: While this persona somewhat overlaps with The Environmentalist in terms of how important environmental and climate concerns are, they’re typically more accepting of current EV limitations, while also not being shy about visiting the dealership — meaning they’re ready to spend now on what’s available.
The Technologist: This last early adopter sees EVs almost like they see the latest and greatest iPhone or tech gadget. It’s about the style, the tech, the performance, and being “first”. The environmental impact is “neat”, but to this persona the vehicle is more of a status symbol than anything else.
The purpose of defining your buyer personas is so that you can then begin to identify where these types of people may reside in your area. Start by mapping out the surrounding areas that align with early adopter characteristics such as, age group, gender, and income range.
Then, check your own sales data history to see which of these areas you already have a customer base in. You can also check out your Location Report within Google Analytics, or your district sales report for additional insights.
Once you do that, you should have a pretty solid understanding of where potential EV buyers are located in your area, which will ultimately inform your targeting for your EV marketing strategy.
STUDY THE EV BUYING GUIDE
In addition to understanding the personas of early EV adopters (and where to find them) it’s also super important you and your team understand the the EV resources that they’ll be using to inform their decision making.
One of the top resources available to EV intenders on the web right now is the Cars.com EV Buying Guide. This detailed resource is informed by more than a decade of EV expertise and leadership, created specifically to help consumers make an educated purchase decision that fits their needs, preferences and budgets.
By studying this guide, not only will you as a car dealer be better informed about all the different choices and considerations that go hand in hand with purchasing an electric vehicle, but it can also get you started on pursuing your own EV content strategy specifically tailored to your OEM and market (more on that below, and on Inspire+).
And if you really want to satisfy your EV curiosity, then I highly recommend you check out Cars.com’s Guide for the EV Curious.
Now available to watch on demand, the same Cars.com editors that created the aforementioned EV Buying Guide gathered together to address all of the questions EV shoppers had around the different types of chargers, home installation, and the needs and realities around EV range.
While this event was geared to consumers, car dealers should check it out as well to not only learn more about the EV segment in general, but to also understand the types of questions shoppers are asking that they’ll expect you as their local dealership to have the expert answer to.
ADVERTISING TO EV INTENDERS
When it comes to actively advertising to EV intenders, there are tactics your can implement right now (literally, right now) even if you don’t have any EVs to sell, as well as some tactics that you can keep in your back pocket until you have electric vehicles to sell.
START WITH SEO
It’s not often that a business is able to be proactive with an SEO strategy. Usually SEO is about shoring up your current rankings, or filling in the keyword gaps that exist between your dealership and your competitors.
In general, SEO takes time. So when it comes to EVs, you actually have the opportunity to start establishing your website’s authority on the subject well before your first EV hits your lot.
A properly developed EV content plan will cover all the stages of the shopping journey from awareness and consideration, all the way down to deciding what to buy, and who to buy it from.
ADD YOUR EV CHARGING STATION TO GOOGLE MAPS
If you plan on making your EV charging station available for public use, then you’ll want to add it to Google Maps so both local EV drivers, and those just passing through, are aware of your convenient service offerings.
To make your charging station discoverable on Google, follow these simple steps:
- Go to Google Maps
- Click the hamburger menu in the upper-left corner
- Click “Add Missing Place”
- Fill in all of the blanks
- Click “Claim The Business” and complete the follow-up steps
While filling in the blanks in Step 4, Be sure to use Electric Vehicle Charging Station for the category, and also make sure you add your dealership in the Located In section so your charging station will appear as a department in your dealership’s main Google Business Profile.
BUILD AN EV-MAIL LIST
EVs are certainly exciting, and it might be tempting to “blast” your entire customer database with an email every time you have something new to share.
A better approach, however, is to start a separate email list just for those folks who specifically want to be kept in the EV loop. This serves two purposes. For starters, the list will mature into a critical asset that’ll aid in the targeting of your paid EV advertising down the road. And secondly, by having a list solely made up of people who are interested in EVs, you lessen the risk of email unsubscribes and spam reports from your customers who aren’t interested in those topics.
The easiest way to start building your list is to send one email to all your current customers which asks them if they’d like to opt-in to start receiving EV specific email content. From there you can add a signup form on your website, and even promote it on your social networks.
CREATE EV AWARENESS ON SOCIAL
Something else you can start doing before you even have EVs to sell is to utilize your social channels to organically engage your followers, while also attracting new ones, with your EV related content.
Educating your audience on the benefits of EVs, and providing EV ownership tips can help get people used to seeing and hearing about the electric future in their newsfeeds from a trusted source.
If you already have an EV in your lineup, embrace short form video as a way to generate interest and awareness for specific models. TikTok for example is seeing a ton of engagement on EV related content with over 1.9 billion views for videos that were shared using the #ev hashtag.
CAPTURE ORDERING & BUYING INTENT
Once your EVs are nearing the point of arrival, then you can start investing your digital advertising dollars to capture the buying intent of local shoppers. From search ads targeted to those searching for how to order the latest and greatest EV, to social ads targeted toward those in your email list as well as those who’ve viewed your EV related content on your website.
You can go even further from there. What about having exclusive access to a pure in-market audience of EV intenders located in the zip codes that you identified when creating your buyer personas which you can then target your video advertising to?
That’s real, and it’s exactly the kind of power that FUEL: In-Market Video gives you. Once you claim your zips, they’re exclusively yours, and now you can reach real in-market EV shoppers who were on Cars.com with your specific video advertising across the most popular social and OTT video platforms.
SUPERCHARGE YOUR SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Electric vehicles are a different kind of beast compared to their gasoline powered counterparts. They have different service needs, different driving dynamics, and thanks to Tesla being pretty much the only mainstream EV option for the past few years – a different shopping experience.
As EVs come to market, they’re going to be a bit more expensive than the typical vehicle. Consumers, by nature, will want to understand if they can actually afford the EV they’re interested in prior to taking the next steps and contacting a dealership.
That’s where having a modern retailing solution like Online Shopper on your website can really play a critical role in helping consumers answer the all important “Can I afford it?” question.
By giving shoppers the ability to compare an EV model side by side with a traditional gas powered vehicle to compare different finance scenarios is kind of a big deal. That will allow your website visitors to start selling themselves on the feasibility of owning an EV.
BE THE PRODUCT EXPERT IN STORE AND ONLINE
Speaking of experts, the early adopter buyer personas will undoubtedly want to make sure they have as much knowledge about their purchase as possible prior to finalizing their decision. And while you’ll be publishing plenty of content on EVs, and your OEMs will be doing their part to educate consumers as well, sometimes it’s a lot quicker and easier to just ask an expert.
The reality is that in-market EV shoppers are going to turn to their local dealership to get all of the answers to their questions. And for the most part, they’re probably not going to make a special trip, or even pick up the phone to call. Instead, they’ll do what the behavior profile of the early adopters suggests they’ll do, and that’s start a chat with you on your website.
But it’s not the chat tool that’s the important piece to consider here. It’s who’s answering the chats that is key. Remember, when a consumer starts a chat, they think they’re talking to you. So if you’re still not answering your own chats during business hours, then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to provide a superior level of customer service.
This is particularly important when it comes to EV’s. If you’re not handling your own chats, and are relying on managed chat, when these types of detailed questions pop up, the managed chat agent isn’t going to be able to provide helpful information. They’ll only be able to attempt to get the lead for someone at the dealership to follow up with them later, which is the polar opposite of the experience that type of shopper wants.
LET’S AMP IT UP TOGETHER
From upgrading service bays, to training your sales team — when it comes to preparing your dealership for the soon-to-arrive EV future, you already have plenty on your plate. While we can’t retrofit a service bay for you (although we’re totally willing to try), we can help you implement an effective marketing strategy that’ll allow you to grow your EV business right from the start. We’d love to connect with you and power-up together!