Digital Car Dealership Marketing: How to Get Started
Digital Car Dealership Marketing: How to Get Started

Digital Car Dealership Marketing: How to Get Started

Did you know there are about 18,000 light vehicle dealerships in the United States? They supply about two million jobs and account for a large portion of the 50 million used and new cars and trucks that were sold in 2019. Operating a car dealership used to be a local business where you could focus all of your efforts on localized car dealership marketing.

That isn’t the case anymore. Nearly $1 of every $5 spent in 2020 came from an online order. From July to September, consumers spent $199.44 billion online. When your customers are turning to digital shopping options, it’s time to go where your customers are.

Consider these car dealership online marketing ideas to supercharge your car dealership in 2021.

Why Car Dealership Digital Marketing?

So digital retail e-commerce trends and statistics are impressive, but how does that relate to your car dealership? After all, who cares if people are buying clothing and electronics online when you’re trying to sell them a whole car? The fact is that you should and need to care. These smaller purchases are translating into much larger ones.

In 2011 the online car dealer market valued at $20.2 billion. Fast forward ten years to 2021, and the online car dealer market values $36.1 billion. That’s a steady growth of 4.3%. This trend should tell you that online car dealers will become a fiercer competition in the future.

Instead of worrying about the dealership across the street or on the other side of town, now you have to worry about the dealership in your customer’s pocket. This dealership has its entire inventory readily available with a few taps on a mobile device.

Digital Car Dealership Marketing: How to Get Started

Create and Maintain a Website

There was a time when marketing a car dealership was about radio spots and billboards. You focused on raising awareness in the local community.

While these efforts are important, they are no longer the only option. Thanks to the internet, you can now generate a significant online business. Having a comprehensive and informative website builds trust and loyalty with car buyers both near and far.

Follow the established digital marketing formula when creating the content for your website.


There are several versions of this funnel that marketers will preach. They vary in steps from four to seven. However, they all follow a standard formula.

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Desire
  • Action
  • Advocacy

You can create content for your website that falls into these different categories. A quick write-up introducing a new vehicle model can raise awareness. Then develop interest by creating content that talks about all of the cool new features and elimination of less desirable ones. Create a sense of desire by adding a full write-up of the vehicle. You can go into depth on all of the details.

Motive your audience into action with the promotion of your current financing offers and deals. Show people living their life with their new vehicle and motivate people to contact your dealership to purchase a new vehicle or trade-in their current one. Create a sense of loyalty and advocacy by providing content that provides support to your customers. This develops the relationship further and encourages repeat future purchases.

Digital Car Dealership Marketing: How to Get Started

Embrace Social Media Marketing

Consumers have become more sophisticated. It isn’t enough to have social media accounts or online reviews. You need to engage with people by messaging on social media platforms. This builds trust with current and future customers. This lets you communicate with potential customers before they ever step foot in the showroom for a test drive.

Focus on the social media platforms that your car shoppers use. This probably means skipping LinkedIn, since this platform is more for professional networking. However, Facebook and Instagram are good places to find new customers that are interested and capable of buying a new car.

Reputation Management

Unfortunately, you won’t please everyone. Don’t let the fear of negative reviews keep you from developing and maintaining an online presence. No presence at all is way worse than a few negative reviews.

Respond to criticisms and complaints in a calm and constructive manner. Try to solve the problem while showing concern for the issue. This shows other consumers that you’re actively engaged with your customers and want to do right by them.

This does not mean “the customer is always right” and does not require you to bend over backward to every demand.

Develop a Personality

If you already have local marketing for your car dealership, then you already have a brand voice and personality. Continue this throughout the rest of your marketing. This will develop a singular personality and make it easier for consumers to relate to you.

Pay Per Click (PPC)

Using paid advertising is an excellent tool to supplement your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. With PPC, you can ensure your auto dealership shows up at the top of the search results page, above the top performer for that search term. What’s nice about this strategy is that your digital advertising can begin appearing with days or even hours of setting up your campaign.

Test your marketing campaigns on several platforms. This lets you determine where your money is best spent on ads. Google is the most popular search engine, but this also means their ads are the most expensive. You may have better luck on Bing where the competition isn’t as fierce.

Video Marketing Efforts

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, imagine how many a video is worth. The automotive industry is perfect for utilizing video. Auto dealers can make their automotive digital marketing stand out with well-made videos. Digital marketing trends are already moving towards the increased use of video, which means your marketing tactics are ahead of the curve.

Focus on making videos that appeal to your target audience. Make videos that speak to someone in each phase of the car-buying process. Create videos about the auto industry, new car models, and vehicle-specific how-to tutorials. This improves the customer experience throughout the entire sales process.

Email Marketing

Another part of your digital marketing strategy is to develop an email subscription list. These are people who visit a dealership’s website and sign up for emails. These emails give automotive dealers an opportunity to communicate with potential car buyers on an ongoing basis. This may seem like a more traditional marketing method, but it’s still a useful one.

These emails keep your automotive dealership at top of mind. Interested recipients are more likely to contact you when they’re ready. This type of marketing is essential for developing a relationship with those who are still in the research phase and aren’t quite ready to buy.

Develop Your Car Dealership Marketing Plan for 2021

It’s time to get your car dealership marketing plan together. Take a look at your website, social media, and content marketing plan. Make the necessary additions or improvements to jumpstart your digital marketing in 2021.

Contact me today and start creating effective content marketing for your car dealership.


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