Auto Dealership Marketing: The Definitive Guide (2021)


When it comes to digital marketing for auto dealers, many find the results of their efforts have been rocky at best. If they have expanded beyond traditional advertising methods at all, many find they’ve wasted too much money with the wrong keywords, ran social ads to an audience that didn’t convert, or sent emails that didn’t deliver. If this is you, it can feel like digital marketing just isn’t worth the cost.

When we look at the digital marketing efforts undertaken by many of the dealerships we partner with, there are two related areas that we attribute this lack of success to:

  1. Using tactics that reach the wrong audience (often too broad of an audience)
  2. Not utilizing data to reach the right audience.

With the right targeting and message, we’ve seen dealerships succeed again and again. We work with a number of exotic and luxury car dealerships to manage email and multi-channel digital campaigns for lead generation. Despite the competitive nature of these markets, these campaigns have generated impressive sales by utilizing the right data.

Develop your message

What’s Your Goal?

Do you want to bring more visitors in for a test drive, increase the quality of your leads? Think about your goal to develop the right offer for your audience. A great, low-friction offer is the key to succeeding in the digital marketing environment. Are you advertising a special event, new deal, offering test drives, or simply raising awareness? Craft a great offer that gives real value for your audience, to get them in the door, then prepare your sales team to take it from there.

Our Best Performing Offer

While we’ve worked with dealerships on a number of different campaigns, with a range of offers, our best performing campaigns have historically been test-drive campaigns. The best test drive campaigns create truly-qualified leads by focusing their budget on a narrowly-defined target market. One exotic car dealership that we’ve worked with told us that, of the leads we generated for them, more than half came in for their test drive, of those, nearly one in eight moved forward with the purchase process. When we implement data to back a test-drive offer, we see this type of success again and again.

Reach the right audience

The Importance of Data

Many dealerships begin their journey into digital with far to large a target audience. This isn’t their fault. It’s a result of Facebook and other platforms removing more and more of their detailed targeting.

Did you know? Facebook doesn’t let you target by household income. The closest it gets is to target only high-earning zip codes. This doesn’t help if you’re targeting only your local area anyway.

This isn’t all, certain Facebook ad types can no longer target by gender or zip code, and some demographic factors are further restricted. Worst yet for automotive dealers, you can no longer target by car ownership or interest. For many advertisers, the continued tightening of targeting capabilities on this and other platforms is a major cause for concern, as their cost-per-lead drives up, and their profit margins become increasingly slim.

How do you get around the ever-changing nature of social media targeting? Target your own list of prospects. Especially in high-cost product categories, our data outperforms Facebook’s targeting again and again, for the simple reason that we can narrow our list by those who actually have purchase-ability. Don’t waste your marketing budget showing ads to those who don’t need, want, or have the ability to purchase a car from your dealership. Start with the right data, and reach the right audience.

Essential Platforms to Promote Your Dealership

The best-performing campaigns utilize consistent style and messaging to reach targets across the digital world. Pay particular attention to making your marketing content recognisable and personal across the following channels, then improve your efforts with automated followup and nurture flows as necessary.

  • Social: Start with Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube
  • Email Marketing
  • Google Retargeting

Quick tips for your digital marketing campaign

The best digital marketing for auto dealers simplifies the conversion process for consumers. Once you’ve established your messaging, and targeted the right audience, refine your marketing efforts with these best practice tips.

  • Pictures are worth 1,000 words. Videos are worth 1,000,000.
  • Give potential customers the option to call you. Make your Phone number clear in ad copy, landing pages, and anywhere else you market your offer or event.
  • Make your start-to-finish experience seamless and consistent
  • Stick to your style guide, to keep your ads feeling consistent
  • Not sure what to write? Check what your best performing competitors, or other dealerships are doing. If their tone is working, let it influence the way you speak to potential customers.



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