Car buyers do their research online before ever stepping into a dealership, so digital marketing is key to increasing vehicle sales.

how to market car dealership

Car buyers rely on online searches more than word-of-mouth, TV ads and even dealer visits to get the information they need. If you’re selling cars, embracing digital marketing is the key to driving sales.

Nine out of 10 car shoppers in Canada go to the internet to research before purchasing, and 92 per cent of Canadians surveyed in 2021 were willing to do a lot or a moderate amount of comparison shopping to find a bargain.

The automotive is highly competitive and you may wonder: how do I market my car dealership? It is critical to develop a digital marketing strategy that includes search engine optimization (SEO) and digital ad campaigns.

How to market your car dealership to increase sales

  1. Website design that puts users first
  2. Optimize your website for mobile visitors
  3. Expand your online presence
  4. Drive organic search through SEO
  5. Target car shoppers with paid ads
  6. Manage customer reviews
  7. Develop a multi-channel marketing strategy
digital marketing strategy template

Digital strategies to market your car dealership

The best way to increase sales is by showing up everywhere consumers are looking for their next vehicle and providing them with up-to-date information that compels them to visit your dealership. Sales happen on the lot, so you need to bring people into your dealership so your sales team can get to work.

1. Website design that puts users first

A dealership website is a must. When car shoppers visit it, they should find everything they need to take the next step. Design or review your website with your customers in mind by answering the following questions:

  • What’s important to them?
  • What information do they need to feel reassured that you can help them?
  • What do they want to know before visiting your dealership?

Make sure that everything on the site is accurate and up to date. Have a reliable means of uploading information about new vehicles and removing it once they are sold. Customers want to trust what they see online, so handle these basics immediately.

2. Optimize your website for mobile visitors

Once your website provides the best shopping experience possible, assess the mobile version to make sure everything in the design is responsive and works on phones and tablets. Try navigating the site, searching for vehicles, and looking for contact information and location details.

Your mobile customers should find it easy to shop on your site if the answer to these questions is yes:

  • Is everything working smoothly, and can they find what they need quickly?
  • Can they easily search your website from their smartphones?
  • Is the text easy to read, and do the images load fast enough?
  • Can they click on a button to call you or find you on a map?

3. Expand your online presence

An online presence beyond your website will help you ensure customers can find you anywhere they are shopping for cars. They’ll only look at your website if they can find you. They may be looking at manufacturer websites, larger aggregate sites and automotive marketplaces – so make sure your dealership shows up there.

4. Drive organic search through SEO

Most people begin their search for a new car online, which means you need to be sure you show up on the search engine results pages. And you can’t simply show up on the first page or two of results. People are likely only visiting the top few sites they see, so get you need a strategy and a plan for SEO.

Let’s look first at organic search results. Showing up organically when someone types in a search term means having relevant content that triggers the search engine to list your website. You will need a content marketing strategy that targets specific keywords to draw relevant customers and builds out content over time to make progress.

Choose keywords with high search volume but low competition. Try looking for long-tail keywords with lower competition. One strategy is to target specific types of vehicles or combine them with your location to develop keywords that make sense for you.

How much should you be spending on search engine marketing? [download your free guide]

5. Target car shoppers with paid ads

Let’s talk about search engine marketing, or paid ads. While your keyword research is relevant to your SEO and organic content marketing, you’ll also likely need to create a budget for paid ads. With an ad budget, you can ensure you start showing up in search results immediately instead of waiting for your content to draw visitors over time.

Create ad campaigns based on your keyword research to target your ideal customers. Use ad extensions to make your Google ads stand out and offer more information or options to your customers, such as an address, phone number or additional links.

Make sure you actively manage your negative keywords (search terms you don’t want to appear for). For example, if you advertise that you sell Honda Passports, you want to avoid showing up in searches for information about passport renewals. You pay for each click and every person who clicks away immediately hurts your ability to attract the next relevant searcher.

6. Manage customer reviews

Buying a car is a significant purchase for most people. In fact, 97 per cent say buying a vehicle is one of the most important life purchases. They need reassurance that they’re dealing with someone they can trust. How do they dig up this information? Online reviews. You can bet that any potential customer has taken a good look at what others have to say about your dealership online. They may be reading your social media posts, checking Google Business reviews and using other review sites.

Have a strategy to promptly monitor and respond to reviews, and address concerns quickly and efficiently. Answer reviews publicly to show your audience they can count on you for support before and after purchase.

It’s helpful to encourage people to leave reviews. Unhappy customers tend to look for ways to be heard and are more likely to leave a review than satisfied buyers. Be proactive and invite your happy customers to leave a review by mentioning it in calls or providing a link in follow-up emails. You may boost the number of positive reviews you get, and as a bonus, you can incorporate that feedback into your ads and messaging.

7. Develop a multi-channel marketing strategy

One customer may visit your website from a laptop while killing time during their lunch hour. Another may find you on their mobile phone while nearby and hoping to test drive a vehicle. You can create a better impression by providing a device-specific experience.

Your desktop customer may have time to read about this year’s crop of SUVs. On the other hand, your mobile phone customer likely needs fast and easy access to listings, your location, your phone number and a way to book a test drive. Your website can serve up different information based on how these customers view your site.

Car shoppers are online, whether you’re ready to serve them there or not. A robust digital marketing strategy can ensure they find you. Make sure you’re implementing the best digital strategies to increase your dealership’s visibility in all the places consumers are searching.

Your next customer could already be looking for a vehicle online. Have you done everything you can to ensure they’ll find you?