5 Dealership Marketing Strategies to Reach Online Car Shoppers

The ways consumers research, choose, and purchase vehicles continue to evolve and shift dramatically. Today, 95% of vehicle buyers use online channels as a source of information. In fact, twice as many start their research online versus visiting a dealer.

For dealerships, adapting to this digital landscape isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential. So, how can you leverage digital strategies to drive more sales? Let’s explore.

5 Dealership Marketing Strategies to Reach Online Car Shoppers

1. Optimize for Local SEO

Most people who search for a dealership are looking for options nearby. Approximately three in four people shoppers for both new and used vehicles run a search before buying

Local search engine optimization (SEO) ensures that when potential customers search for dealerships in your area, your name pops up.

SEO Tips for Car Dealerships

  • Claim your Google My Business listing: This is an essential tool that provides valuable information like your hours of operation, location, and customer reviews.
  • Encourage Reviews: A majority of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
  • Keyword Research: Focus on local terms, such as “Honda dealer in [your city name]” or “[your city name] used cars”.

2. Reach Car Shoppers with Social Media Advertising

According to the CMO Council, 1 in 4 car buyers talk about buying a new car on social media and 38% say they will consult social sites before they purchase a vehicle.

Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer an array of targeting options and ad formats that allow you to display your ads to specific demographics based on age, location, interests, and more. Create social media advertising using captivating visuals of your latest vehicles and promotions, you can attract a wider audience.

Social Media Advertising Tips for Car Dealerships:

  • Use Carousel Ads: Carousel ads let you showcase multiple vehicles or different features of a single vehicle. This format is interactive and provides potential customers with a richer understanding of what you offer.
  • Leverage Video Content: Videos, especially those that depict the car in action or highlight unique features, have higher engagement rates than static images. Consider using videos for test drives, feature highlights, or customer testimonials.
  • Highlight Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Social proof is powerful. Showcase positive reviews or testimonials in your ads to build trust and credibility.
  • Utilize Location-based Targeting: If you have multiple dealership locations, use geo-targeting features to ensure potential buyers see ads relevant to their nearest location.

3. Utilize Email Marketing

A well-crafted email campaign can keep your dealership at the top of potential buyers’ minds and maintain your current customers’ loyalty. Regular updates about new inventory, promotions, and dealership events can engage past customers and entice potential ones.

Email Marketing Tips for Car Dealerships:

  • Use Segmentation to Personalize: It’s important to segment your list to be successful. When you don’t, 74% of customers become frustrated when their email communication experience isn’t personalized.  Consider categories such as new vehicle inquiries, existing vehicle owners, service customers, previous purchasers.
  • Capture Emails and Relevant Data: Use every interaction—be it website visits, social media engagement, showroom visits, or service appointments—to gather email addresses. Additionally, capture preferences, vehicle interests, and purchase history to send personalized content. Supplement your own data with additional automotive marketing data for deeper insights to further personalize your communications.
  • Utilize Automated Campaigns: Use email automation to send email messages that most resonate with your audience. Send a warm welcome email once someone subscribes or makes a purchase. Send automated service reminders for oil changes or tire rotations, or offer special deals or wishes on personal occasions such as birthdays or purchase anniversaries.

4. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising ensures your dealership appears at the top of search engine results when potential buyers are searching for specific vehicles or dealerships near them. By only paying when someone clicks on your ad, PPC can provide a high ROI.

According to research, 66% of the automotive calls generated by search engines come from paid search. The other 34% are driven by organic search.

PPC Advertising Tips for Car Dealerships

  • Use Geo-Targeting: Focus on local PPC ads to reach potential buyers in your immediate vicinity. This ensures your ads are shown to those most likely to visit your showroom.
  • Spend Time on Your Keyword Strategy: Optimize for both broad terms like “new cars” and more specific terms related to your dealership or vehicle models. Don’t forget long-tail keywords like “best SUVs for families.”

5. Engage with Video Content

Videos have a higher engagement rate compared to text or images. A Google study of over 1,000 car dealerships found that video users experienced a 30% increase in online sales and that videos influenced 75% of auto shoppers.

Consider virtual tours of new models, customer testimonials, or behind-the-scenes looks at your dealership. Hosting these videos on platforms like YouTube also gives you another channel for customer engagement.

Video Marketing Tips for Car Dealerships:

  • Showcase Inventory: Regularly film short, engaging walkarounds of new arrivals or featured vehicles, highlighting their key features and benefits.
  • Share Customer Testimonials: Capture authentic testimonials from satisfied customers. These genuine endorsements can resonate powerfully with potential buyers.
  • Record Service Demonstrations: Offer video tutorials on basic vehicle maintenance or introduce your service team. It establishes trust and showcases expertise.


Digital strategies for your dealership marketing aren’t just about attracting eyeballs – they’re about attracting the right eyeballs. By understanding your target audience and leveraging the tools and platforms they use, you can create a powerful digital strategy that drives sales and propels your dealership into the future.

Automotive Marketing Success Kit

Need to rev up new car sales? Navigate today’s new economic landscape with tips and strategies from our Automotive Marketing Success Kit.

Automotive Marketing Success Kit

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