The Crucial Difference Between Digital Marketing and Traditional Auto Sales

After decades of relying on tried-and-true marketing strategies like TV commercials, newspaper ads, flyers, events, and radio spots, most auto dealerships are focusing more time, effort and money on digital marketing.

Online research and shopping are here to stay. Up to 92 percent of car buyers do research online. Auto shoppers visit an average of four websites during the process and use third-party sites (KBB, Autotrader, etc.) to investigate prices and compare top choices. If your inventory and dealership aren’t well represented in the buyer’s research process, one of your competitors will likely steal that buyer.

Not a One-Trick Pony

Many dealerships face the challenge of choosing the right digital marketing strategies to establish their online presence and start bringing in business. The world of online marketing includes social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest), content marketing, online ads, email campaigns, online sales events, third-party car sites, videos, and more — each with their formatting requirements.

Translating the online potential into practical results with a reasonable return on investment (ROI) requires strategy and expertise. On the positive side, you can attract more clients with online marketing. Your new clients may even have a sense of comfort and familiarity with you and the dealership and walk in pre-sold because of time spent on your listings, social media accounts, and website.

Establish Your Presence Online

Digital marketing strategies bring customers into the dealership by making you visible in the following ways. It:

  1. Increases awareness, exposing your name and listings to new buyers.
  2. Establishes you as an authority in the marketplace through quality information.
  3. Engages buyers in the process, including offering multiple opportunities to speak with your business.
  4. Displays social proof in the form of public reviews and successful customer service conversations.

You can engage auto shoppers from their first look to the final purchase. Since six out of 10 car buyers start undecided, visibility online means showing up where shoppers are looking. The power to direct sales to your inventory is online.

What Is the Crucial Difference in Digital Marketing for Auto Dealers?

Traditional marketing is a one-way conversation. You share your deals, successes, and promotions, and they come in to shop. Digital marketing connects you in real time to real people. It also yields rich customer data that you can track and analyze. In these two ways, digital marketing is a conversation with consistent and direct feedback from shoppers and customers.

In a word, the crucial difference is interaction.

As car shoppers and owners have more ways to get in touch with your dealership, customer service builds your credibility at every interaction point. Customers adjust their opinion about your business with every interaction. A responsive dealership that remedies complaints when they come up builds the online credibility that translates into more sales.

Digital Marketing Strategies for Auto Dealerships

Your digital marketing strategy will grow as your content and online community evolves. Here are a few things you can do to make your dealership’s presence known online.

Optimize Your Local SEO

Local search terms like near me or that include a ZIP code or city name call up Google’s local SEO results. At the top of the page, users see three highlighted local businesses with a map and contact details.

Auto sales is a location-based business, and local SEO should be a high priority. That top position is free to dealerships who earn it. The first step is to register with Google My Business and optimize your listing.

Marketing Strategies

Nearly 46% of all Google searches are for local information, and 88% of shoppers who did a local search visit or call the business within 24 hours.

Integrate Your Email Campaigns

A strategic digital marketing approach allows your direct mail and digital campaigns to work together seamlessly. Email marketing campaigns keep your name, news, and special offers in front of an opted-in audience.

Before a buyer walks into the dealership ready to make a deal, they’ve had an average of between five and 18 online and offline contacts with your business. Partnering email marketing campaigns with direct mail, specialized landing pages, and social media marketing gives consumers multiple exposures to crucial decision-influencing information.

Publish Beneficial Content

Providing blogs, webpages, and videos with useful information about cars and car buying helps consumers, but it also is an important SEO ranking factor. Google and other search engines prioritize content that benefits the end-user.

Sales pages are only a small part of the content solution. Posts that compare different models and years give useful car buying or maintenance tips, and answers to FAQs provide content for shoppers. They help your website gain authority and SEO ranking.

Blogs and Webpages

Written content is the foundation of blog posts, website pages, white papers, case studies, and SEO-building content. Blogs and other written content contain keyword phrases that help Google identify and rank your web pages.

The best source of topics is your customer’s most common questions and concerns. For example:

  • What car models do customers ask about most often?
  • What questions do buyers have about the purchasing process?
  • Do your sales or maintenance team find themselves repeating the same thing to multiple customers? Those answers are perfect blog topics.
  • What “insider knowledge” can you share to make shoppers feel like you are looking out for their best interests?

Filling in your content marketing with answers that your customers are actively seeking engages them. It also builds your organic SEO and online authority.

Leverage the Power of Images and Infographics

Photos and graphics add a visual element to the page that grabs readers’ attention. Sleek images show off your cars and dealership. A quality infographic or data visualization summarizes key information for shoppers to grasp quickly.

In the world of e-commerce, quality photos from multiple angles improve the click-through-rate (CTR) on product pages, sales pages, and car listings.

Data visualizations and infographics powerfully communicate your point. Pie charts, bar graphs, and statistics lists are all good ways to demonstrate your expertise and deliver facts, trends, and statistics.

Images and infographics are also highly shareable. Customers can post them to their social media accounts, exposing your dealership to new audiences.

Embrace Video Marketing

The popularity of video marketing keeps rising. At least 85% of all internet users watch video content every month, and 54% want to see more videos from brands and businesses they support.

Videos are an opportunity to show off a hot car model, introduce your sales or maintenance team, or invite viewers for a virtual walk around your showroom.

Written content signals SEO and establishes you as an expert in your industry. Well-labeled videos also improve your SEO ranking. Adding videos to your website can increase your organic ranking by as much as 150%.

Adding videos to your blogs and webpages attracts and engages users who can scroll down into the text for more detail. They invite shoppers into your dealership and build a sense of familiarity that helps buyers through the purchasing process.

Written content is the most crucial element of online content marketing, but quality images, infographics, and videos boost social sharing and engagement. They also create a sense of personality for your brand.

Use Third-Party Websites

Third-party vehicle listings websites like,,,,, and more are popular research websites for consumers — even for mobile users. While you want to attract shoppers to your business website, keep them there, and bring them back, few dealership websites can compete with the big comparison websites.

Add your vehicle listings to one or several third-party listing websites to stay in front of shoppers at every stage of their purchasing journey. Tracking incoming traffic from each source will help target your dealerships’ best platforms and maximize your ROI.

Don’t skimp on photos or vehicle details since the more information you provide, the happier consumers will be with your listing. Make sure your website and contact details are current and prominent!

Stay Top of Mind With Social Media Marketing

Consumers spend time every day on social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more. Automotive social media marketing techniques can build your online community, improve customer loyalty, and drive new and repeat sales.

Facebook is the most populated platform and a great place to start if your dealership doesn’t have a strong social media presence. It can be tempting to create an account with every social media platform, but it’s more effective to select a few and develop a strong presence on each.

The postings for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter each require different image sizes and text length. An effective social media strategy requires consistent posting and rapid response to comments and queries. Each post should be unique and relevant to the automotive industry.

A few outstanding strategies to employ on your dealership’s social media accounts include:

  • Promoting your website’s best features, like outstanding search tools, pricing calculators, or listing notifications.
  • Encouraging customer reviews
  • Sharing your videos
  • Keeping current and prospective customers in the loop (promotions, sales, new models, wins for the dealership or the community)
  • Cross-promoting using your most substantial traffic sources to build newer ones

Hiring a digital marketing agency makes it easier to develop and implement the most effective social marketing strategies for your dealership.

Boost Business With Integrated Marketing Strategies

Your customers are online. To stay competitive and attract new customers, you need to be involved in their research and shopping process. Effective digital marketing puts your dealership and inventory in front of shoppers at each step of the purchasing journey.

At J&L Marketing, we bring offline and online campaigns together to deliver the right message at the right time. Contact us to boost repair orders, motivate stalled shoppers, and attract new customers.

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