These days, shopping online is the easiest way to grab those essentials or max out your credit card on luxury items that you ‘need’ to order a week before payday! DVDs, games, clothes, concert tickets…. we’ve bought them all – but what’s next? Cars, boats and houses..?

According to reports by Google and Ispos MORI, the internet plays a dramatic role in the purchase of a new or used car. In 2009, Google announced that 80% of new car buyers start their search on the internet and from this, 69% started that search using a search engine. Whatever happened to walking down to your local car dealer, who you’ve dealt with for years, and picking the newest model off the showroom floor based on your dealer’s advice? The only decision you had to make was whether you wanted it in black or silver! In our consumer obsessed society, manufacturers are now engaged in a tougher battle for your custom; simple advertising methods such as billboards and TV advertising are failing to make us drive up to our local garage to pick up our new dream machine.

Further to First Rate’s own research into New Zealand consumer search trends for cars, according to Google the automotive buying cycle for new cars takes an average 5 weeks from initial research to final purchase of the vehicle, and often it can take up to 12 weeks (2008/2009 data). During this period, 55% of buyers switch brands, 62% are undecided on which make of car and 69% remain undecided on which model.

Automotive Buying Cycle: Projected volume of new car researchers by time prior to final conversion event

What can we take from this data?

As a marketer it is essential that you ensure your brand is visible throughout the entire buying cycle. Unlike an e-commerce store selling DVDs, it is impossible to use tracking software such as Google Analytics, or even sophisticated cross-channel conversion attribution tracking, to track whether or not a consumer buys a car – offline.

In similar vein, with almost half of consumers changing their mind in the buying cycle and starting their research again, when are you going to allow your brand to drop out of the process?

How to advertise to New Zealand Automotive Buyers

How to Reach New Zealand Car Buyers Online

YouTube – Video consumption is up 237% year on year and YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google. Don’t miss out on an ideal opportunity! With 54% of new vehicle buyers reportedly going online to view a video… have you got yours up there? Below is a graph of where auto enthusiasts use their time online to view car videos:

How to reach New Zealanders looking for new cars online

Search Engines – As previously mentioned, 80% of new car buyers are going online in order to purchase a car, where do you fit in? Make sure you get the relevant free traffic with a well ranking website that has been optimised for search engines (SEO).

Paid Advertising – Yahoo, Google, Facebook, all allow enhanced visual campaigns to support your offline marketing. You no longer solely need a static “information/contact only” website. Ensure your car dealership has their online showrooms and TV ads well supported online through the use of image, video and text ads across a variety of channels. Facebook Ads and Google Advertising (Adwords) are an absolute must these days for any car dealership wishing to reach today’s consumers!