Digital Marketing for Car Dealerships

Digital Marketing for Car Dealerships

The Internet and mobile devices have changed the way consumers shop for everything, including cars. Thus, digital marketing for car dealerships has inevitably evolved with the needs of the consumer.  If your car dealership’s marketing efforts ignore digital, you’re giving away customers to your competitors who have embraced these mediums. But there is hope yet! 

Whether you’re new to the digital marketing game or just need the extra manpower or expertise to get your car dealership’s strategy rocking and rolling, Dealer Authority has just what you need.

Have Your Marketing Efforts Kept Up With the Times?

If you doubt how much the shopping experience has changed, consider your own buying habits. Just about anything you used to buy in a physical store location, you can buy without getting up from your couch. Groceries, toys, houseplants, appliances, and even cars can be purchased and shipped right to your door.

No Shock Here: More Buyers Prefer Shopping in Their Pajamas

So, it’s easy to see why buyers prefer online shopping. When customers shop from their computers, they don’t need to get dressed up. Customers can shop any time without being constrained by a store’s regular business hours. And shopping from home allows buyers to avoid high-pressure sales tactics and other unwelcome interruptions to their experience.

Even if consumers make their final transaction at a brick and mortar store or showroom, chances are, most of their journey took place on a computer, tablet, or smartphone. According to a Think With Google report, 84% of Americans are shopping for something over any given 48-hour period, and 63% of those shopping experiences begin online.

    Man shopping from home in pajamas

    This means your overall marketing strategy needs to include all digital platforms and channels, including: 

    • Your dealership website
    • Online reviews
    • Video
    • Social media
    • Mobile
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Pay-Per-Click advertising
    • Email marketing

    If that all sounds daunting, don’t worry. The team at Dealer Authority has the expertise to get your car dealership’s digital marketing running like a well-tuned engine.

    From car buying to parts and service, we’ll help you reach the top of the search results and keep you top of mind with your customers.

    Digital Marketing Won’t Break Your Budget

    A lot of businesses, including car dealerships, have hesitated to include digital marketing in their business development blueprint. But when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, digital marketing is far more cost-effective than traditional print, TV, and radio advertising.

    It has been reported that dealerships spend, on average, $1,581 per car on traditional ad mediums, compared to just $150 per car on digital channels.

    And what do they get for their money? Advertising on TV, radio, and billboards earned dealerships $1,702 per vehicle while digital marketing netted $2,514 for each car sold.

    If you’re interested in wrapping multiple digital marketing channels like SEO, PPC, and Social Media into one cohesive service, you should take a moment to learn about Octane 360.

    One Piece of Content, Dozens of Uses

    What makes digital marketing for car dealerships so cost-effective?

    The content you create can be repurposed for use across your marketing spectrum.

    Video virtual test drives can appear on all of your social media channels, as well as your website. You can also edit marketing copy and images to work on all of your digital platforms.

    Not only that, you can repurpose these assets for traditional ad mediums. You can’t get much more cost-effective than getting dozens of uses out of one piece of content.

    Let’s take a look at each piece of the digital puzzle and see how they all come together to form the big picture for your car dealership’s marketing efforts.

    Your Website is Your Virtual Showroom

    The fact is, most shoppers are going to see your website long before they set foot at your physical location. Like your showroom, your website should be easy to find, clean, and uncluttered.

    Your site should provide clear, secure access to everything a buyer needs.

    That includes vehicle availability and information, applying for financing, ordering parts, and scheduling vehicle service. Make sure your messaging is engaging and informative without feeling intrusive.

    Whether online or in-person, shoppers want to know that help is available, but they don’t want to feel pressured to interact at every click. And remember, important dealership information such as hours of operation for all of your departments should be no more than a click away on every page.

    Offer Virtual Test Drives through Video

    Even before we found ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, car buyers were using online tools to research vehicles without visiting a showroom.

    Today it’s easier than ever to give prospective buyers a 360-degree walkaround of the vehicle they’re interested in and take them for a virtual test drive. And you don’t have to wait for buyers to come to you.

    You can live stream walkarounds and test drives on several platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Or you can pre-record and edit a video for distribution across all of your digital media channels.

    Virtual Test Drive illustration

    Buyers are Heavily Influenced by Online Reviews

    Online reviews are absolutely critical to your dealership’s online presence. These review sites range from local reviews such as you’ll find on Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List, to auto-specific sites like DealerRater, Edmunds, and

    Make sure you claim ownership of your business on these sites and monitor them regularly.

    Curate your best reviews and add them to your website and post them across your social media channels.

    An important thing to keep in mind is how your business responds to reviews—both positive and negative—can heavily influence a prospective buyer’s decision whether to buy from you or move on to your competitor.

    Time to Go Mobile Bane, Dark Knight Gif from Tenor

    Gif Courtesy of Tenor.

    Goin’ Mobile

    Is your digital marketing content ready for prime time?

    When was the last time you tried to use your car dealership’s website on your tablet or mobile phone?

    Have you asked a friend to try using your site on their smart device, or observed a customer in your showroom navigating your site?

    More than half of auto buyers use a mobile device for part or all of their buying journey.

    No matter how brilliant your marketing content is, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly and prospective buyers can’t read it on their device, they’ll move on to the next car dealership. From your website to your social media presence, make sure your content is clear, dynamic, and conveys the core values of your dealership.


    SEO Can Make or Break Your Chances of Being Found by New Customers

    There’s no question that shoppers have a lot of options when it comes to choosing a dealership for their vehicle purchase.

    Getting your business to rank high on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is incredibly competitive.  Automotive Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become far more complex than adding relevant keywords to your marketing copy.

    Besides keyword ranking, how else can you boost your local SEO?

    One of the most important things you can do is to complete your Google My Business profile

    This is a critical component to digital marketing for car dealerships that should not be skipped. Our SEO professionals can help you set up your Google My Business profile and optimize it to increase your chances of appearing in the Google Three-Pack on the search results page.

    You’ll also get expert advice on profile optimization, including best practices for images, to help lift your dealership to the top of the search rankings.


    Social Media: Big Reach for Little Cash

    Do you think people don’t use Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to research and shop for cars? Think again! Automakers were among the early adopters of social media as a digital marketing platform. Why?

    Because it offers a staggering reach at little to no cost.

    While major auto brands use social media influencers to generate interest, you can create awareness for your dealership without an influencer partnership.

    User-generated content—where one of your customers tags your business in a post with a photo of their car—can help get your name in front of thousands of local car shoppers. You can reuse this content in your own feed, in the form of organic posts or in a paid advertising campaign.

    Paid ad campaigns on social media sites often cost less than $5 per click and can be as low as a few cents.

    Social media advertising offers the versatility to adjust your Call to Action (CTA) per ad based on your objective (ex: Book a Test Drive, Learn More, Shop Now). If you’ve been ignoring social media, it’s time to dust off those logins and start posting or let us do it for you!

    Learn More About Digital Marketing for Car Dealerships by Department:

    Get Your Dealership Brand in Front of Car Shoppers with Pay-Per-Click

    We’ve talked before about the importance of crafting an effective Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaign.

    Google Ads allows businesses to bid on specific keywords (and exclude irrelevant words) so that your dealership ads appear only for customers who are searching for a car, parts, or service.

    Setting up a campaign in Google Ads can seem overwhelming, so you should consider bringing in a PPC expert to guide you through the process.  With so many different ways to engage shoppers through PPC, it’s no wonder this is a critical component of digital marketing for car dealerships.

    Don’t Overlook Your Email Lists

    Email marketing is still a fantastic, low-cost way to stay in touch with your customers by offering post-sale services and advice.

    Your emails should offer engaging, informative content as well as special, email-only deals on parts and service.

    This not only keeps our current customers coming back, but they’re also motivated to forward your messages to their family, friends, and co-workers, helping you generate new business.

    The Future of Car Buying is Here

    If you’ve stuck with the old tried-and-true methods of advertising for your car dealership, it’s time to expand your efforts to include digital marketing.

    The team at Dealer Authority has years of experience working with car dealerships across the United States. We can help you craft a comprehensive digital marketing strategy or walk you through Pay-Per-Click and SEO.

    Take a look at the services we offer online or give us a call at 888.963.9617.

    Contact Us.

    Still have questions? Drop us a line anytime!


    Dealer Authority is an automotive digital marketing company focused on giving our dealerships a competitive advantage with custom Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Google Business Profiles, and Pay Per Click.

    Call Us Now! 888-963-9617