A digital illustration of a car coming out of a social feed

The 10-Minute Guide to Digital Marketing For Car Dealerships

In this post, I am going to show you how to do Digital Marketing for Car Dealerships.

These are the exact tips you can use to boost your car dealership website as well as foot traffic.

Let’s dive right in:

Digital Marketing for Auto Dealers: Why is it so Important?

Gone are the days when a salesperson could woo customers using his charisma. People interested in cars are doing their research.

The age of technology has made everyone aware of the advantages and disadvantages of automobiles. So, car dealers need to go digital to educate and inform users about their cars and which ones they should buy.

Instead of relying on customers to come to you. Digital marketing for auto dealerships enables and empowers you to go to them. Instead of relying on window shoppers, you can nurture leads and convert them over time with educational content.

Modern consumers spend most of their time online. As a result, choosing one product over another has never been as easy as it is nowadays, thanks to a wealth of information and resources available at the touch of a button. 

Despite all the technological advancements, there are still purchases made in person, and digital marketing for car dealerships can help.

If you are interested in knowing more about implementing online car marketing for your business, click here.

Difference Between Traditional and Digital Marketing for Car Dealerships

Traditional marketing and internet marketing can both work wonders. However, if you had to bet money on one, you should always go with digital marketing for auto dealerships.

Why go with digital marketing for your car dealership? You may ask…

Digital marketing helps you with:

  1. Being Cost-Effective: Marketing and advertising are among the most significant financial drains in the auto industry.
  2. Investing in Digital Marketing Pays Off: An average return of 5:1 on your internet marketing efforts is standard. That means for every 1 dollar spent on internet marketing, car dealerships make 5 dollars.
  3. Analyze Quickly: Using tools such as Google Analytics and Social Media, we can easily see the traffic medium, demographics, and device usage of your potential customers.
  4. Easy to Adjust: We can test different variants of website copy, social media ads, and content adjustment. Online marketing helps you pivot faster than ever.
  5. Developing Your Brand: Easy to stay top of mind using your social media presence and website.
  6. Easy to Share: Content distribution, whether it is paid or organic, is easily scalable compared to traditional word-of-mouth
  7. Aiming Precisely: Want to target a couple in their mid to late 30’s with a budget car. You can easily do it with Facebook and YouTube Ads.

Car dealers shouldn’t take traditional Marketing lightly. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most vital conversion factors in marketing your products or services. The main point is prioritizing your digital marketing initiatives with traditional marketing efforts.

How Online Content Helps Drive Car Sales

People are buying online more than ever. Car dealerships should use this factor in their marketing to their advantage. The most significant factor in helping them buy online is structural changes inside the dealership and modernization of sale practices.

Online marketing car dealers need to tailor their offerings to match the expectations of customers. With just a click of a button, a customer should see the latest prices, offers from brands, and schedule a test drive.

Not so long ago, customers compared cars in showrooms rather than online, but now they visit two dealerships on average before purchasing. 

One great way of increasing sales velocity is to take the documentation process online to assist customers in the buying experience. This way, they will come to the showroom to confirm their purchase and get keys to their new car.

Online sales have skyrocketed due to the massive amount of content available online. Whether it is 360-degree test drive videos or in-depth car coverages (we will later explore them later).

You will have to take a two-pronged approach when it comes to car dealership marketing: SEO and Paid Ads.

These traffic sources need to work hand in hand for your digital marketing initiatives to bear fruits.

Other sources such as Social Media Marketing for car dealers can help sustain brand awareness and update your customers with the latest offerings, new features, and price changes.

Let’s discuss every automotive digital advertising channel in detail:

Starting with:

A well-designed website with SEO-friendly content

The car dealers’ website will convert 2x faster than any other auto internet source. This is possible by making the customer experience easy to follow.

You need to add a tool to your website that helps customers go through the buying lifecycle online—browsing new and used cars in a listing format, entering financials and trade-in information. 

All of this information is collected in a database managed by the dealership. This helps in managing the customer’s purchasing journey. Finally, they just need to arrive at the dealership to get the keys to their car.

Make content that is relevant to your customer’s needs. Your content strategy needs to revolve around your potential customer’s lifestyle fit.

The price range for new and used cars

Car features


Make sure important information such as sales and service numbers and their timings are displayed in the header. Additionally, they should be clickable and lead to phone calls.

Add video testimonials from your previous customers to help your future shoppers choose you over the competition.

a girl surprised after seeing a car

Add a chatbox to initiate conversations with your website visitors and answer their queries and concerns.

Use high-quality images to relay information and add context to your words.

Making online experiences more helpful and accessible can have a positive impact offline as well. Additionally, it builds relationships with customers that extend beyond the dealership.

Reviews on the Internet

Happy customers mean good reviews, and unhappy customers mean bad reviews. It’s as simple as that.

How you make them happy depends a lot on the customer and purchasing experience they go through.

Some questions you can ask yourself to make your customer experience stand out:

  1. Are we greeting our customers when they visit our dealership?
  2. Are we giving them the correct information regarding the cars or budget they have?
  3. Do we have the cars they are looking to buy, and how can we convince them to buy from our dealership?
  4. Are we getting their contact information for retargeting?

A detailed review can garner trust in parties that want to purchase a car or are interested in looking at different options.

Pictures from satisfied customers, coupled with a paragraph about how they were treated, will go a long way in creating brand equity for your business. Nevertheless, brand reviews are user-generated content and act as an authority multiplier in the eyes of Google.

Reviews can boost your search engine ranking as well.

A Moz study found that online reviews contribute 15.44% to Google ranking factors. This is because your name will appear more frequently in search engine results as you get more reviews. You can also get noticed locally with reviews.


Since 2015, Google is penalizing websites that don’t follow mobile-first guidelines. You can use Google’s Mobile Website Checker to ensure your website follows mobile-first indexing.

The mobile experience must be seamless to satisfy on-the-go shoppers who use mobile devices to find directions, hours of operation, and contact information.

60% of car-related searches are taking place on mobile phones.

Make sure that your website performs well on mobile as well as desktop. Getting your website responsive is mission-critical to your online success.

Also, the content on your website is optimized for a mobile experience. For example, bold headings and subheadings, images appropriately resized and compressed for Mobile experience. A fast website that loads and processes data.

These are all the prerequisites for a responsive website. All of these things play a significant part in your search engine optimization efforts.

Mobile Marketing Facts

The numbers behind this strategy are compelling:

  • Over half of all local searches are now conducted on mobile devices.
  • Today, mobile devices are used for more than half of all Google searches.
  • More U.S. Internet users are accessing the Internet via mobile devices.
  • Businesses that have implemented responsive design have seen a tripling in conversions – people contacting them via mobile devices.

You cannot underestimate the impact of mobile browsing. Most of your customers are on mobile, and you need to convert them into paying customers.

To meet the growing demands of mobilizing your customer experience on mobile devices. For example, car dealerships should prioritize taking all of their processes over the counter and onto your customer’s mobile devices.

Maintenance and Service, whether reactive or regular, needs to be structured via a mobile application. Not everyone has the time to leave their work hours or their precious family time to maintain or service their cars.

Dealerships should develop an app that features a pickup, service, dropoff service for your car so that customers don’t have to leave their homes or jobs. Dealerships go to them instead of them coming to you.

Use of Social Media

Social media is a behemoth that needs to be utilized effectively. Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, Twitter, and newcomers like TikTok Marketing and Snapchat need to be incorporated into your content strategy.

Car shoppers use social media sites as significant influencers in their decision-making processes. 

By now, most marketers understand the importance of incorporating social networks into their marketing campaigns somehow and started to implement social media marketing, social media scheduling in their strategies.

A Facebook page may suffice for some brands, while other companies take a more comprehensive approach to social marketing to generate leads and engage with their customers. 

However, the automotive industry must social selling as consumers are turning more and more to social media.

Ideas for Social Media Strategy for Car Dealerships

Here are some ideas for you to incorporate in your social media strategy:

  1. Create a Facebook page and join auto-related groups
  2. Participate in discussion regarding cars on Twitter and engage consistently
  3. Instagram is a great way to reach Millennials.
  4. Storytelling through Youtube videos
  5. Offer coupons on services or accessories via social
  6. Promote your latest offers and deals through advertising banners.
  7. Create a sales flyer to visualize the services you offer to your customers

All of these points are great for an initial social media strategy. The main thing to consider in all of them is consistency and dedication. Sixty-three percent of purchasers will think of buying their future car online, so having an outstanding online presence is necessary.

Increase brand awareness by promoting your values and avoid publishing too many promotional messages.

Promote user-generated content and hashtags on your social channels. Engaging your audience can be as simple as asking a question. You can make your customers your best advocates if you give them world-class service.

Car dealers can also utilize Google and YouTube to increase your reach. Let’s explore this option in depth.

Advertising on Google & Youtube

PPC campaigns require a sound strategy that includes high-yield keywords, properly targeted audiences, unique ad text, and elegant landing pages. PPC for auto dealerships is no different.

You need to run ads on Google and Youtube as they search heavily instead of running ads on social media focused on interest and behavior targeting.

The automotive industry is no longer dependent on word-of-mouth marketing. In today’s world, brick-and-mortar dealerships must thrive online. Customers are sitting online these days, which translates to selling vehicles.

These are five key auto micro-moments during a buyer’s journey:

  1. Which car is best for me?
  2. Is it right for me?
  3. Can I afford it?
  4. Where should I buy it?
  5. Am I getting a deal?

Accelerate dealership visits by being there when the user is answering the first and second questions. In addition, studies have shown that YouTube Videos help dealerships with top-of-the-funnel content such as “[Brand/car] + Review and Luxury Car Reviews.”

Customers want to know that their car choice will meet their lifestyle needs and requirements once they have narrowed their choices.

Branded Campaigns

Run branded campaigns using branded keywords that contain your website or company name.

Essentially, these will give you the ability to choose how your dealership appears online and prevent your competitors from targeting your branded keywords and poaching your customers. Branded campaigns convert well – and that’s what matters most!

A PPC campaign is not about throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks because that is how you waste money quickly. Instead, preexisting data should be used as a starting point.

Use Google Analytics or Search Console to find out your brand keywords that get traffic and run ads on those. By examining these, you will be able to understand customer searches better.

Dynamic Campaigns

Run dynamic campaigns using your existing inventory. Ad networks will create keyword templates that target make, make + model and make + model + year to create ads.

A dynamic campaign allows you to target short and long-tail keywords, offering a more comprehensive campaign strategy.

You can include the name of your dealership and the city in which you are located for long-tail keywords.

Digital marketers will run retargeting ads on Facebook to capture all those visitors who went to your website but didn’t convert or stay top of mind for future considerations.

General Campaigns

Lastly, we will discuss general PPC campaigns for your dealership.

This campaign aims to cover everything. Over the years, people have changed how they find dealerships. Therefore, all the queries that marketers didn’t consider in the other types of campaigns will be considered in the general campaign.

In the following list, we provide examples of queries you should target in your general campaigns:

  • “…Near me”
  • Add on Services (e.g., oil change, car maintenance, winter tires)
  • “Where is the nearest….”
  • “What is the best….”
  • “Where to…”

These are not traditional keywords to rank for, but people are increasingly searching for terms like these. A PPC campaign can help you precisely in these scenarios where an SEO strategy cannot.

Advertisements by auto dealerships – how much do they cost

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, franchised dealerships spent an average of $554,292 on advertising in 2019.

Online Videos

Your car dealership needs to be in the video marketing game, period. YouTube channels create qualified leads by engaging customers at every stage of the funnel.

Video marketing is the answer to elevating your brand perception and improving sales.

According to a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, video marketers generate 66% more qualified leads than other marketing methods.

Using videos, you can provide future customers with a view into your entire operation and quickly communicate your brand’s message. Through video sharing, your dealership will start to grow a customer base that feels more comfortable doing business with you.

The best way of creating trust and brand recognition is test drive videos. To get a holistic feel, target 360-degree videos so people can experience test drives from home.

According to Google, 64% of Online Shoppers watch videos online to educate themselves before purchase encourage new formats like 360-degree videos. They would also consider buying a car through these videos.

Incorporate partnerships with local and branded content and experiment with different video lengths.

Statistics show that 73% of branded content should have less than one minute, and 64 % of creator content should have a period of at least ten minutes.

Video Examples

Video has apparent SEO Benefits as you are creating educational content that resonates with your audience. 

Targeting relevant keywords using your videos can be a great way to increase brand awareness and move your visitors down the funnel.

To grow their social media following or better engage with followers, car dealerships should use video.

One of the most popular forms of content on social media is video.

 Research expert videographers in your area instead of handing your phone to the sales team and saying, “Go for it.”.

A video produced by these professionals demonstrates your vision, meets your goals, and captures your customers’ attention.

Think about what the audience will want from each video before organizing it. 

You might want to think about these things when filming a dealership tour for customers:

  • Are there any questions that customers have about our dealership?
  • Customers are interested in what areas of the facility?
  • Are there any topics that customers would like us to discuss?

Be sure to consider the concerns of the customer when planning a video.

The automotive inventory at your dealership is the focus, but there’s more to the car-buying process than the car itself. Your clients are looking forward to learning more about your team, your policies, and your values long after the sale has been made.

Car Dealers can use videos to showcase your product, company, sales team, and more.

Track every aspect of the video’s performance online after you’ve published it for everyone to see.

Among the metrics to be reviewed are:

  1. The average time spent watching a video
  2. In terms of the number of social interactions
  3. Customers’ actions following viewing the video
  4. Online sites where the video is shared
  5. Comments from customers

Based on the data you receive, decide what videos you will make next.

Marketing via SMS

SMS marketing is a great way to introduce new offers or discounts on parts. Digital marketers should create a system for customers to schedule maintenance and service for their cars.

Whether it is promotional messages or transactional, SMS is a great way to keep your customers top of mind on your latest offerings.

Some other stats that uphold its value are:

  • SMS is an excellent way to correspond directly with your customers, thanks to smartphones being widely available. In 2019, 81% of adults in the United States owned a smartphone. Incorporate a link within this text to drive engagement online.
  • Sending an SMS and email simultaneously is the most efficient way to implement both strategies. However, while Auto dealers can use SMS for instant notifications, emails contain more long-form content.
  • SMS engagement rates are almost double that of emails, with 90% of SMS messages read within 3 minutes of receipt. As a result, SMS is an effective way of transmitting critical information.

Car Dealerships can utilize SMS Marketing by blasting SMS for their promotions on different parts and accessories. 

They can send personalized texts to a particular customer about customer orders.

Appointment reminders via text message can work wonders for staying top of mind, and appointment messages via email and SMS can act as a double whammy for closing out sales.


Word-of-mouth as a marketing platform should not be understated. It is still one of the most critical factors in deciding where your car dealership will end.

Employees, Relatives, Family Members, Brand Advocates can all contribute to this. The recommendation from a friend or a relative can be the single most significant call to action a brand can receive.

One downside of this is there isn’t an effective channel through which car dealers can measure its metrics. It is a physical phenomenon and cannot be analyzed via digital metrics.

To incentivize users to promote your brand using word-of-mouth marketing, you can offer referral bonuses and affiliate commissions to your employees and brand advocates.

Ads on OTT platforms

You must be wondering, “What is OTT?”

(OTT) Over-the-top advertising means delivering advertisements directly to viewers through streaming video services on the internet.

In contrast with traditional TV advertising, this is a different kind of media. TV advertising has traditionally been controlled by the networks and the businesses advertising on them.

OTT ads have given marketers a powerful tool to reach audiences directly and get them to buy their goods. 

OTT ads are great for regional dealerships that want to invest in increasing their reach by targeting people on streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc.

Over the past decade, streaming services have surpassed cable TV commercials in terms of popularity. As a result, businesses are directing their paid media dollars more wisely.

Car Dealerships should use OTT ads to convey their story, values, buyer journey, and experience via video ads. 

Digital OTT commercials work by eliminating wasted runs through precise targeting. So, for example, if you enjoy car-related content, you’re likely to see relevant ads by brands in that category while watching smart TV.

Close-the-loop advertising also allows marketers to retarget OTT advertisers after viewers have viewed an advertisement on a smart TV.

Car Marketing plan for auto dealers

So, we have discussed every marketing channel that car dealerships can throw in their marketing bucket list. But how do you make sense of all this?

Let’s give you a marketing plan to take things forward.

1. You need to define your brand

Defining your brand is the first step to a successful digital marketing plan for car dealerships. Knowing your brand’s ins and outs will help you sell it to your audience.

Define what makes your business unique – A Regional or Local Car Dealership that deals in new and used cars and provides maintenance, accessories, and service options as a cross-sell.

How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? – An Online Purchase Journey to help customers do their documentation and legal processes online

To market your business effectively, you must understand what makes your company unique.

You should create unique selling points (USPs) to show customers how your brand differs from others. This can be in the form of Videos, Social media posts, or SMS. 

In addition, they also convince a potential customer to choose your company over your competitors. Your unique selling proposition strengthens someone’s image of your brand and encourages them to choose you over the competition.

You should also define the values and mission of your brand. Then, tell us why you do the things you do. How does your business get motivated to provide for customers every day?

2. Create buyer personas

If you don’t know who you are trying to reach, you can’t create an effective digital marketing plan. Defining your target audience through buyer personas is the next step of your internet marketing plan.

You can create buyer personas by defining the characteristics of people you are trying to target to purchase your products. Ideally, these are the type of customers who buy from your business most often.

Collect information such as:

  1. Dealership Location 
  2. Age
  3. Income
  4. Job title
  5. Hobbies and interests
  6. Goals

All of these insights will help you develop your buyer persona.

New vehicle sales are declining rapidly. As a result, it’s more important than ever to understand a buyer’s persona.

Buyer Persona Example

In general, a new car buyer:

  1. 84% of the time owns another vehicle
  2. A child at least
  3. Has a greater likelihood of being in the top 25% of the income bracket than the average consumer
  4. A person who enjoys exploring their surroundings
  5. Embraces different cultures and people
  6. Is willing to try new things
  7. Moreover, they are adept at navigating the digital world. This generation is mobile-first and spends over 13 hours each day on different media platforms. In addition, they spend about three hours on social media during this time.

Online research plays a significant role in their search for a vehicle. When shopping for a new car, they look for factors such as:

  • Free delivery
  • Free service of their new vehicle
  • Low monthly payments and interest
  • Solid exchange rate for their old vehicle
  • Extended warranty protection
  • A return period if they aren’t satisfied

A broad picture like this gives a good idea of how car buyers think. So, how does creating a buyer persona help your digital marketing plan?

When you run a campaign, buyer personas help you target the right people. Many times, you’ll be targeting more than one buyer persona. By developing buyer personas according to their interests and requirements, you can target different types of buyers.

Think about a clothing store that offers clothes for men, women, and children. In that case alone, you’ll have an individual buyer persona for men, women, and parents.

Marketing to a single woman is different than marketing to a woman who is married with three children. Customer personas let you create marketing messages tailored to the different types of customers in your audience.

3. Set your goals

Define your goals before embarking on a marketing journey. Your marketing campaign should have plans to gauge how well it is working on expanding your business.

When you set goals, set both small and big ones, your small goals should help keep you on track to achieving your big goals.

If your big goal is to increase conversions by 40 percent, let’s say that’s what you’re hoping to accomplish. You might consider gaining ten new subscribers as a small goal towards achieving that goal. To complete your bigger purpose, you must achieve these smaller goals.

It’s crucial that you set measurable goals when you set them. They are also called SMART goals.

The SMART acronym stands for:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Attainable
  4. Relevant
  5. Timely

Set goals that define what you want to accomplish.

It should also be relatively easy to measure them. For example, instead of saying, “We want more subscribers for car dealership channel,” you should say, “We want to acquire 50 new SMS subscribers each quarter for our car dealership” This second goal is more straightforward to measure.

If you define goals for your digital marketing campaign, you’ll become more successful faster.

4. Choose your digital marketing methods

Choosing the proper digital marketing techniques can help you create a successful online marketing plan. Next, determine which channels will help you accomplish your goals and reach your customers.

We have described each digital marketing channel in detail above. So choose one and work on it or work on all of them side by side.

You can reach your audience through these channels. But, first, you must decide how you will get your audience when you create your digital marketing plan.

5. Set your budget

An essential aspect of your used and new car marketing strategies is your budget. Before implementing your digital marketing campaign, you need to know what you can afford to spend. By setting a budget for marketing, you can allocate your resources to the services you need.

Online marketers can break down budgets into different channels based on their budget allocations. However, to provide valuable results, you must balance the amount you are willing to spend on each channel and the amount you need to invest.

While a PPC campaign that costs $500 may generate some results, it won’t drive the same results as one that costs $1000.

Your online marketing plan will be more effective when you know how much you spend on each channel and how much you can spend.

6. Measure results

Measuring results should always be part of your plan. If you want to know whether your efforts were successful, you have to measure results. So ensure you’re monitoring your results constantly and you’re putting out the best campaign possible.

Your campaign’s success can be determined by key performance indicators (KPIs). You can use KPIs to determine if you have achieved your objectives.

If you don’t meet your goals, restructure your campaign to get better results. Your strategies can be altered and optimized to improve your marketing efforts.

Key takeaways

We hope our guide has been helpful to you. You should understand that digital marketing for car dealerships is essential to retaining existing customers and attracting new ones for a car dealer. 

When trying to succeed with today’s changing consumers, you need to develop a comprehensive automotive digital marketing strategy.

A roundup of all the talking points convey the following topics:

  1. Digital marketing for car dealerships can begin with PPC, which is an excellent method for reaching customers rapidly. However, it does require effort and knowledge to succeed.
  2. Connecting with consumers on social media in their domain is one of the best ways to build relationships.
  3. The importance of SEO applies to all types of websites, small and large, since search engines such as Google and Bing will usually be your top website referral sources.
  4. It is possible to use various forms of marketing at the same time to build brand awareness and attract customers today and in the future.
  5. Experiment with new channels such as OTT advertising to see what sticks

We hope this guide has informed you of new trends and techniques to master car dealership marketing.

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