August 15, 2018 | By: Marion Marketing

Automotive Digital Marketing That Brings In Buyers

Is your company an automotive dealership that sells cars, trucks, vans and SUVs?  Perhaps your dealership sells tractors, mowers and farm equipment.  Even if you sell jet skis, 4 wheelers, ATVs and other off road vehicles, these automotive dealer marketing strategies can be used by your marketing staff to improve the overall amount of online leads and foot traffic your dealership receives.

Car Dealer Marketing Services

Every automotive dealer must participate in various forms of marketing to acquire new leads, and ultimately, buyers.  Most dealerships typically use a combination of traditional marketing tactics like TV commercials, radio advertisements, magazine advertisements, direct mail campaigns and even billboards.  While these options have worked in the past and continue to work today, they aren’t as effective as they once were.

Radio and television usage in its current state is declining rapidly.  Variety say’s that, “40% of all consumers in the U.S. by 2020 will show little interest in traditional media, having grown up in an on-demand digital environment.”

With that being the case, it is very important to transition your auto dealer advertising dollars into a digital marketing strategy that works for your dealership…and by “works”, we mean generate sales.  If resources allow, continue your traditional marketing efforts.  Be sure to be strategic and leverage whatever advanced targeting may be accessible.  However, if you’re looking to find this newer generation of buyers, a proper digital marketing strategy for dealerships will be necessary.

auto dealer marketing

Car Dealer Website

In order for the auto dealer digital marketing to be effective, you must have a responsive web design with a great user experience.  Page loading speed is extremely important. High quality vehicle images are imperative to the success of any car dealer advertising.  Include well written vehicle descriptions (consider re-writing the descriptions provided by the manufacturer) on the vehicle pages.

Your website needs to have prominent access to the main call to actions that convert visitors into buyers like:

  • Inventory Search – When the website receives visitors, hopefully they will be in one of two different scenarios. Ideally, they are looking for a vehicle to purchase quickly or have a specific vehicle they want, and they believe you carry it.  Either way, upon visiting the website, they’ll want to the search your inventory.
  • Virtual Demonstration – Include any videos (likely provided by manufacturer) that show the vehicle in use. This type of media helps push users along the sales path.
  • Credit Application – Make sure it’s available to submit online with quick approval or disapproval. This is usually the first step towards making the purchase official.
  • Schedule A Test Drive – Once the user has found the vehicle they want, and been approved, you want to get them into your dealership as soon as possible.  Depending on resources and location, you may offer a ride to expedite their arrival to your location.

Once you have the core foundation of the website in place, launch it.  Over time, consistently add your vehicles, dealership content and the proper CTAs. With testing and data-driven web design, you can make the adjustments and allow the growth of your company to drive the design of the website.

Add Google Analytics to effectively track where website visitors are coming from and how they engage with your website.  Within Analytics, create audiences based on website visitors and the pages they visit.  This will be important later.  Don’t forget to include backend marketing automation. We prefer Hubspot — It integrates seamlessly with WordPress, and creates the opportunity to enhance your customer relations and marketing.

Now, you have a new car dealer website and the tools in place to convert website visitors into online leads and foot traffic.  What kind of automotive digital marketing can be used to generate traffic to your new website?

Car Dealer SEO

Most small dealerships are in a certain area and generally serve the people in that community.  Bigger dealerships tend to be more accessible and attract buyers from further distances.  Dealerships that sell new cars typically have marketing support from the manufacturers of those cars.

There are franchise dealerships, like CarMax, that will deliver vehicles to the location of the buyer’s choice.  Newer companies, like Carvana, allow you to purchase a car online and have it delivered or pick up at a designated location.  Luxury dealerships, like BMW, provide rides to the dealership.

Regardless of the size, all dealerships want to be found online to showcase their inventory, and ultimately, sell cars. With so many options for purchasing a vehicle and an enormous amount of competition, how does a car dealership optimize their website to be competitive?

SEO for a dealership needs to be executed differently from most small businesses.  Normally, one could write high quality content, build high authoritative backlinks, showcase expertise in a certain area, and that would be enough to generate decent online traffic.  However, for a dealership this just the beginning.  Auto dealer marketing requires implementing local SEO best practices and strategic social media marketing.

car dealer marketing

Local SEO for any company involves claiming and optimizing directory profiles like Google My Business.  There are hundreds of different directories available and, your company’s information must be consistent across them.  It’s a tedious process when done manually. Find a YEXT certified company (like MARION) to manage correcting your local listings.  Once these listings are claimed and updated with the correct business information, you can begin to market your cars, trucks, vans, tractors, mowers, or whatever type of dealership you have, within those directories.

**Check the accuracy of your local listings here**

Add the images, descriptions and prices of the vehicles to each directory.  Also include the offer you are promoting.  Consistent updates across all profiles with this information will bolster the traffic received from the internet.  This will require consistent management depending on how fast your vehicles sell.  Repurpose the same images, prices, descriptions and links to your website on your social media platforms.

If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage your own search engine optimization efforts, consider partnering with reputable SEO companies in your area.

Car Dealer PPC

Paid search strategies for a dealership should be used to support the SEO and Social Media strategies that are in place.  Remember the “audiences” we established earlier in Google Analytics?  Using Google Ads, we can create promotions that target those audiences specifically.  For example, your dealership has GMC Yukon for sale on your website.  That website page gets found in a search by someone looking for a used GMC Yukon.  Once the user visited the webpage, they were added to the “audience” we created.  You create advertisements for a GMC Yukon that only display to that audience, so once the user has left your website, the ads will display to them.  This strategy is called remarketing and is proven to be extremely effective.  This can be done across websites that are in Google’s Display Network.

automotive digital marketing

Facebook and Instagram offer similar retargeting options.  Once the visitor leaves your website and begins swiping through their social media channels, your GMC Yukon ads will be displayed.

All of the platforms will charge you when someone clicks on the ads. Pay-per-click advertising is usually more targeted and costs less.

Review Your Current Auto Dealer Marketing Services

There are dealer marketing services that include an array of digital and traditional marketing strategies.  Which techniques you use will depend on the size of your dealership and the frequency at which you sell vehicles.  It also depends on resources and how fast you want to grow the dealership.

Billboards, direct mail and commercials can help market a dealership.  An aggressive digital marketing strategy for an auto dealer can prove to generate leads and potential buyers online. Any traditional marketing should be used to support the digital efforts.

If you represent a dealership and are looking for digital marketing techniques, try the strategies mentioned above for about six months and review your results.  Or, you can leverage the expertise and resources of a marketing agency to see faster results.

Contact MARION today for an analysis of your current automotive marketing strategy.


About Marion Marketing

MARION is a full-service marketing agency. We partner with customers to either supplement their existing marketing department or serve as their full outsourced marketing department. Our areas of expertise include branding and graphic design, online marketing and traditional marketing.

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