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The millennials have been known to impact several industries, causing consumer behavior to shift significantly and transforming the business landscape. Years ago, many experts believed that millennials would not be interested in owning vehicles. The top reason backing this forecast was the growing environmental consciousness among millennials, which was believed to be the success driver for ride-sharing services and public transportation.

With car sharing being the most popular transportation solution, the prediction was that vehicle ownership will not be as strong as in previous generations. Studies, however, have shown otherwise. Surprisingly, most research points to the idea that millennials are actually interested in owning vehicles. According to Deloitte, this generation is expected to take up 40% of all new vehicle purchases for the next 10 years.

The big question then is: What is the verdict? Will millennials likely be vehicle owners or stick to ride-sharing? If they will take up a large portion of the purchases, what can dealerships do to attract a larger market from this generation? Read on to learn more about the millennial generation and their attitude towards vehicle ownership.

Who are the Millennials?

Millennials refer to people born between 1981 to 1996 based on the Pew Research Center’s classification. However, others consider the generation’s birth years to be from 1980 to 1994. Generally, they represent about 30% of the world’s population and are known for having different lifestyle preferences compared to the previous generations.

For one, millennials are known for being more vocal, with many wanting to share their opinions on certain topics or products and services from businesses. They are comfortable with the online space, having been exposed to many social media platforms, and thus enjoy looking for content online. YouTube, in particular, is a hit for them as videos appeal the most to their age group.

Furthermore, smartphones have become integral to the millennial lifestyle as they grew up at the time when technology and mobile phones advanced rapidly. A study by Nielsen showed that their generation had the highest mobile penetration rate of more than 85% in the US. Thus, the device serves as a primary source of information for virtually everything.

Millennials have long been considered to be disrupting many norms that have been established by the past generations. From food eating habits to house-buying decisions to entertainment options, several differences distinguish this generation from their parents. Thus, the challenge for the auto industry is determining how to retain and expand the market from this generation.

Millennials Want to Own Vehicles

Contrary to the belief that millennials will be less likely to own vehicles, surveys show that many of them still own vehicles. While it is true that they have a different behavior and perception on transportation, experts say that their choices will not affect vehicle ownership as much as what was once initially thought. According to Knittel and Murphy, who used data from the US National Household Transportation Survey, these life choices are only expected to reduce vehicle ownership by less than 1%.

Other experts explain that millennials are not necessarily aversive to purchasing and owning vehicles, but several generational factors may have transportation implications. For example, this generation is more likely to live in cities and urban areas, which can make owning a vehicle less advantageous. Additionally, millennials are more likely to be single and childless in their life, which can also affect their choice of transportation.

Despite the reasons mentioned above, insurance expert Adam Johnson states that the factors do not necessarily point to a decline in vehicle ownership. It may seem like millennials are not too keen on having their own cars or vehicles, but Johnson emphasizes that this does not mean they are turning their backs on the idea completely.

Despite Ride-Sharing Hype, Vehicle Ownership Remains High

The demographic shift is threatening the success of the automotive industry, with many questions being raised on the future of vehicle-buying given the generational changes. While it has been observed that millennials seem to be buying less cars or driving less frequently, numbers say otherwise.

One survey in 2019 showed that the global ownership of cars is high among millennials, with 75% of respondents saying that they currently own or lease a car. Among this group of respondents, 83% say that they plan to own or lease another vehicle in the next five years. These results show huge potential for dealerships as the trend is expected to continue in the following years.

Several Factors Driving Millennials’ Transportation Behavior

Ultimately, the verdict is that despite the hype for ride-sharing services and a car-free lifestyle, it is clear that millennials still rely on personal vehicles to get around. Several studies and research paint a different story from what was expected and predicted by many experts. Comprehensive analyses revealed that several factors must be considered to understand the shift in their purchase behavior.

Going back to Knittel and Murphy’s study on vehicle ownership across generations, their findings show that millennials own about 0.4 less vehicles than Baby Boomers at the same stage of life. By looking at general identity alone, it appears that younger people are less interested in owning a vehicle. However, analyzing the data deeper, the researchers found that the story was much more complex than it initially seemed.

One significant finding shows that millennials generally travel less than their predecessors, but after considering the number of children, education, and marital status, they end up travelling more miles. Knittel and Murphy concluded in their study that any differences on millennials’ view on car ownership is trivial.

Creating a Pro-Millennial Customer Experience

How, then, can dealerships appeal to millennials? This big question is now at the top of many business owners’ minds, especially since the generation has different preferences than the previous generations. Creating a pro-millennial experience is perhaps the most important step to take to attract more customers from their age group. Here are some vital tips to take note of:

1. Go Digital

One of the first and possibly the most important things to do is to go digital. The millennials are known to be digital natives, having grown up in the age of the internet, so you can expect that they look for most of their information online. When it comes to vehicle-buying, they will likely conduct their research online, looking through various websites and reading customer reviews.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the many restrictions that came with it, customers are also starting to lean towards an online buying process. Traditionally, the process was to do research online, but buy the vehicle physically. Today, however, changes are being made as buyers are now more wary of leaving their homes. Thus, dealers must allow buyers to buy online if they want to keep up with the trend.

2. Promote Transparency

Whether it be buying vehicles or paying for service repairs, millennials want transparency in prices. You must be more direct and honest about prices from the start as they are not afraid to voice out their opinions whenever they can. Aside from prices, the process must also be explained to them thoroughly, so they know what exactly to expect when working with you.

For dealership service centers, it is important to show customers proof of what repairs need to be done. Doing multi-point inspections allows you to create a sense of trust and prove your reputation and credibility. Overall, transparency truly is key, so your goal is to make customers feel that the process, pricing, and whole experience is fair. This way, they will have a good impression on your business and possibly recommend you to other people they know.

3. Use Social Media

Digital advertising presents tons of opportunities to reach more customers. Nowadays, the traditional word-of-mouth is no longer enough. Given that millennials are highly immersed in technology, social media platforms are the perfect way to tap into that market of customers. Surprisingly, many dealerships have yet to harness the power of social media, so doing this can give you an edge over your competitors.

Creating a Facebook page can be a good starting point to expanding your social media presence. Facebook has introduced several advertising tools that can help you target a more specific demographic by filtering factors like age, geographic area, income, and the like. These can help you create more targeted advertisements to ensure that you reach your intended audience.

4. Create Loyalty Programs

Customers are now becoming more selective about the brands they support, so coming up with more marketing practices will be essential. Creating promotions and loyalty programs can set you apart and help you appeal to millennials more as they value personalizations and discounts. However, in doing this, you must think of what is important to your customers.

Millennials are known for being more socially conscious about their decisions, so you can use this to promote your brand further. One way is to look for organizations where you can donate a portion of your sales to, so customers feel like their money is also contributing to a larger cause. Millennials make up a huge market in the overall population, so capturing their interest is essential to widening your customer base.

5. Inject Fun

If you want to make your dealership or service center memorable, you must give customers a reason to keep coming back. You can do this by injecting some fun, making your place look welcoming, greeting customers in a friendly way, and overall creating a warm atmosphere for them. Make your waiting area accommodating by having a TV turned on for entertainment, preparing some snacks and drinks to keep customers busy, and the like.

Transitioning into the Digital Landscape

Transitioning into the digital space is one of the biggest steps that dealerships and service centers must take to attract the millennial audience. You can start with a social media page, but having an accessible website will be useful to provide all the pertinent information that buyers need. You can make your site more interactive and helpful by integrating features like calculators to assist shoppers in estimating costs based on their vehicle needs.

Once you have your website designed and optimized to reach your target audience, you can proceed to use social media for marketing. With social media, you can engage with your customers, update them with important announcements, and keep them on the loop with whatever you have to offer. Social media platforms also have tools that you can use to create targeted ads to reach more users.

Moving into the digital space also means streamlining your operations with technology. Millennials want speed and convenience, so providing them with a seamless online experience is a must. Make sure to update them through texts or social media, allow them to book appointments online and remind them about these, and offer online payment options. There are tons of ways to go digital and enter the online space, so capitalizing on these opportunities is essential.

Understanding how to use various digital tools is now integral for vehicle dealerships. Technology is now a crucial aspect of any business, and now that the pandemic has restricted people from moving around too much, it has become even more important. Currently, many dealerships have yet to adjust to this change since transitioning can come with some roadblocks and challenges. However, doing it as early as possible can give you an edge and set you apart from your competitors.

Contrary to beliefs that millennials are not likely to be vehicle owners, the numbers show that this generation is certainly a promising market for dealerships. Essentially, the verdict is that they want to own vehicles and are still interested in buying them. However, the nuances in their lifestyle and preferences will require businesses to make some adjustments to grow their customer base. Failing to appeal and respond to the unique needs of this demographic will be the main reason why millennials do not shop from your dealership or visit your service center.

It is no secret that in today’s digital age, the online space is a powerful and valuable asset. Nowadays, gadgets have become something of a necessity, making it normal to see everyone carrying a smartphone wherever they go. Likewise, the Internet has evolved into a top source of information, which billions of users browse through daily to learn about various things. With the level of advancement that technology has achieved in the present day, it is no surprise that businesses are capitalizing on it to further grow and scale their operations.

 

Harnessing the capabilities of search engines can prove to be useful, especially for businesses. Having an established digital presence can attract a larger customer base and ultimately generate more leads and sales. Thus, strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) have become essential in any marketing plan. SEO is now a household name for every business and marketer as it is the ultimate cornerstone to solidifying your online presence.

 

When using SEO, it is important to stay updated and well-informed about Google’s algorithms to ensure that your site ranks high in search engine results pages (SERPs). Back in 2019, Google launched a major algorithm update known as BERT to better understand how people use language. As one of the biggest changes to Google’s algorithms in the past five years, many questions are now being raised on how SEO strategies can be refined to optimize for BERT.

What is BERT?

 

BERT is short for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers and is a natural language processing pre-training that aims to understand the nuances in language. It was designed to help the Google search engine understand how people communicate. When users search for information online, they expect to get accurate answers to their queries. BERT was developed to address this need and better process search queries to understand the intent behind them.

 

With BERT, search engines can better understand what users mean when they search for particular things. Thus, the smallest nuances, such as the use of prepositions, can affect the entries that appear in the SERPs. With this update, the search process is expected to be much more helpful, providing users with accurate answers to their questions.

 

BERT Emphasizes Natural Language

 

Keyword research is one of the essential aspects of SEO. However, BERT prioritizes natural language and writing since it tries to understand how people communicate and write queries. The term bidirectional in BERT means that Google reads searches from left to right or right to left, allowing the search engine to process queries more comprehensively.

 

For example, the search query is “do RV dealers offer online payment options.” Before the BERT update, Google would have shown search results with keywords like RV dealers or online payment. However, with BERT, Google would show results that directly answer the query. As such, RV dealerships must optimize their content to answer the common questions that first-time buyers may have, especially since the online buying process is still new to many.

 

Overall, the main point is that BERT can detect search intent even without matching keywords. Thus, your content need not force keywords or jam them together if it makes the language sound unnatural. While using keywords will still be helpful, it should not be the top priority. Instead, more focus should be placed on writing naturally and in a way that is easy for any person to understand. By doing this, Google can better understand the meaning behind your words.

 

BERT Understands Long-Tail Keywords

 

Another important thing to note about BERT is that the model understands the intent behind long-tail keywords. Long queries have been relatively tricky to deal with in the past, especially since longer keywords require an understanding of the context.

 

Fortunately, BERT uses a feature called attention scores, which involves going through each word in a sentence and comparing it to one another. The attention score helps Google understand the influence that each word has in a sentence. It is particularly effective in dissecting ambiguous words, allowing the search engine to recognize what words have heavier weight in the user’s search intent.

 

One significant change would be the use of prepositions, which BERT can understand to identify intent more accurately. For example, if you are searching for “RV rentals to city,” then BERT will pay more attention to the use of “to.” Back then, your SERPs would likely have shown entries on RV rentals, but they would not have been focused on those that are catered to a particular city. However, BERT understands the purpose of including the preposition in the query and will thus show you rentals that can go to the city.

 

Overall, BERT can be particularly beneficial for longer search queries since the update can better understand the context in searches. Thus, it may be a good opportunity to polish your long-tail strategy. In refining your content, make sure your headings answer your title and keywords directly. Since BERT is designed to understand natural language, it is also effective for voice search optimization, which tends to use more long-tail keywords.

 

BERT Checks for Inaccuracies

 

With the BERT update, Google is set to provide more reliable and accurate content to users. Back in 2016, the search engine released a fact-checking mechanism by comparing an article to other similar articles and content pieces. However, BERT was designed to enhance this feature by using the model’s understanding of language and context to create more accurate matches and expose inaccuracies more effectively.

 

Essentially, BERT performs fact-checking the same way it processes search queries to understand the intent behind them. Thus, it is best to go over your content once more and use fact-checking tools like Google’s Fact Check Tools to ensure your article is not rendered inaccurate.

BERT Improves One in 10 Searches

 

The new Google algorithm is said to affect one in 10 searches in the US in English to improve search results quality and match results to intent more accurately. According to Google, the BERT algorithm is so complex that it can only be used for a limited number of searches. However, even with this limitation, the changes will still be evident and visible, especially with the billions of searches made by users every day.

 

BERT aims to make the search process more user-friendly and helpful. Thus, for content creators, the main task will be to understand what their target audience is searching for. Only then will they be able to provide reliable and relevant answers to their questions.

 

BERT May Impact Featured Snippets

 

BERT may affect featured snippets, though in a more indirect way. Technically, BERT is merely focused on natural language processing and trying to understand what users are looking for in their queries. However, similar to how the model will affect what appears in SERPs, it will also likely affect what appears in featured snippets. The bidirectional reading mechanism, attention scores, and understanding of prepositions can all change the snippets returned by Google.

 

With that said, the update should not be a cause for alarm or concern since it essentially tries to cater more to how humans naturally speak.

 

What Does the Update Mean for Marketers and Content Creators?

 

After Google rolled out BERT, many marketers, web makers, and content creators became wary about how the update will affect their existing website and strategy. However, the primary objective of BERT is to provide more accurate results to users’ search queries by understanding their intent. Thus, if your content has already been written to cater to your users, you need not do anything differently. The main takeaway is that you must write content for readers and not for search engines.

 

If anything, the most important change to remember with BERT is that you can now write more naturally, similar to how the human language works. If you are unsure about this aspect, you can perform a content audit to look back at your existing articles and see whether you can make some improvements.

 

Understanding how BERT works and how it affects your website is crucial to ranking high and appearing on the right SERPs. Whether you are new to SEO practices or more familiar and experienced with the strategies, it is essential to examine your content and see if it will be effective in the age of BERT.

Top BERT-Friendly Practices for Vehicle Dealers

 

Technology has indeed transformed the business world and workplace in more ways than one. Industries that were once focused on face-to-face selling are now starting to diversify into the online space. This is particularly true for vehicle dealerships as the majority of customers begin their research online and prefer to do most of the buying online as well.

 

The big question now is: How can dealerships create effective websites and content, especially with the BERT update? Take note of these important practices to help you optimize your content successfully.

 

Understand Your Audience

Knowing your target audience is perhaps one of the most significant steps to take now that BERT is underway. Since this new update aims to deliver more accurate and relevant results to users, the first thing you must do is identify who your audience is. Know who they are, what answers they want, and how they make search queries. This way, you can create content that answers their questions directly.

 

There are various ways to better understand your audience. One of these would be to create personas to identify the types of audience that your site attracts. You can check your site analytics to know more about your visitors and learn about their behavior or how they engage with your content.

 

Focus on Context in Keywords

Keywords have long been an important part of SEO as they help Google determine what entries to include in a user’s SERP. However, BERT is more focused on search intent, so it processes queries by examining the nuances in the language to understand the context. Due to this update, you must now shift your emphasis from the traditional way of viewing keywords as exact match terms that will show up in SERPs.

 

Now, it is important to look at the context surrounding your keywords and positioning them in your sentences appropriately. For example, if you want to use a keyword like “RV dealers,” it would help to include points related to RVs, such as camping, traveling, and the like. Using related keywords will also be useful as it helps BERT recognize your content as inclusive.

 

Sound More Conversational

BERT emphasizes the idea of writing with your readers in mind, so your content must sound more conversational and organic. One of the biggest reasons explaining this would be the growing popularity of voice searches. Since these sound more natural than textual searches, Google is working to deliver more accurate results to users. Focus on being straightforward and concise, and avoid using too many filler words.

 

Use Long-Tail Keywords

With search intent now a top priority for Google, you can better capitalize on your long-tail keyword strategy. Voice searches tend to be longer in nature since people word their queries differently when speaking, so you can tap into the potential of using long-tail keywords while still sounding natural.

 

It is important to take note that the BERT update does not mean you must optimize purely for long-tail keywords. Your main focus must still be on keyword quality and tying this into the context of your content, rather than keyword length. However, the purpose of bringing up long-tail keywords is to mention how BERT can better recognize the intent behind longer queries, giving you more room to work with them.

 

It is worth noting that there is nothing to optimize specifically for BERT. However, it is useful to know how this update affects your content to know what practices you can better work on and refine. That said, if you have already been creating content that answers your audience’s queries and using natural language, you need not worry about your site getting affected by BERT.

 

 

BERT is revolutionizing the search process to better account for natural language and the different contexts and nuances in words. The changes brought about by this Google update have led to deeper transfer learning in natural language processing, making it one of the top machine learning contributions in 2019.