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Where Good Dealers Fail in Automotive Marketing


Automotive marketing is much a reflection of the dealership itself.  Successful dealers know how to attract interested car shoppers, provide them with an exceptional customer experience, and are always measuring what’s effective. This is communicated at every touchpoint in the customer journey- from their own dealership website to the kinds of automotive marketing strategies they pursue and car shoppers’ experiences on the lot.  

However, some dealers struggle with their automotive marketing, floundering and wondering why their sales aren’t there. They may be attracting a lot of leads, but these leads aren’t converting and sales are in a slump.  The answer may be to examine your automotive marketing to determine how to get back on track.

Let’s look a little closer at the failures in automotive marketing and the opportunities to rectify them:

Inauthentic Automotive Marketing

It’s important in automotive marketing to be authentic and to present your dealership in not only the best light, but as an accurate reflection of who your team really is and how they value customers.  In some instances, dealerships want to compete with other local dealers and tend to copy their style. What works for one dealership may not necessarily work for your dealership. The key is to stay authentic because car shoppers can see through bad automotive marketing strategies.  If your dealership values a warm family friendly environment, communicate that in your email marketing, your website, and highlight that in your online marketing and advertising. In contrast, if your dealership is all about providing the lowest prices with minimal hassle, this should be the focus of your automotive marketing.  Not every dealership can afford the fancy perks like coffee shops inside their stores or free giveaways. Stay true to your dealership’s identity and let it shine in your automotive marketing.

You’re Not Tracking Attribution

Attribution has been a marketing buzzword for some time, but it’s actually a very important part of automotive marketing. Attribution refers to the ability of a dealership to accurately track where leads are coming from. If your dealership is not aware of the source of these leads, you could be investing valuable resources in the wrong channels. It’s not enough to guess that one channel is driving leads; you should have measurable data to confirm where your leads are coming from.  This is as easy as installing Google Analytics, keeping track of your automotive PPC in Google Adwords, and using call tracking software.  Each of these tools can provide you with a more nuanced look at where your leads are coming from so you can invest your resources in the channels that work for your dealership.

Not Targeting the Sale After the Sale

Your dealership has many different departments, including parts and service.  However, many dealerships’ automotive marketing focus solely on trying to sell cars.  When car sales are down, and leads are slow, the key is to target the sale after the sale.  Once you’ve sold a car, you have a massive database of customer information. Instead of letting those loyal customers linger in limbo, reach out to them with parts and service coupons in your automotive marketing, give them a call and invite them back to see a new model.  Target the sale after the sale. Set a reminder to reach out after 4 years and see if your customer is still happy. They may be in the market again for a new car. By targeting the sale after the sale, you keep your dealership top of mind and are more likely to retain customers better.

Failing to Update Your PPC Campaigns

Paid search advertising is one of the strongest drivers of leads to your dealership.  Car shoppers in purchasing position are far more likely to click on paid links in search engines.  Approximately 65% of consumers will click on a paid ad when they’re ready to purchase.  But PPC requires constant tinkering, monitoring, and adjusting to ensure you’re getting the highest quality leads. If you’re not constantly monitoring its success and making adjustments based on available inventory or to capture your desired locality, you could be making a critical automotive marketing mistake. Whether you manage your campaign in house or you pay an automotive ad agency to monitor your campaigns, they need continuous strategizing and adjusting.  

Automotive marketing can be tricky with so much competition out there.  However, dealers can recover from these missteps with minor adjustments to promote increased sales and profits.