Former CEO of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca, once said, “The most successful businessman [person] is the man [person] who holds onto the old just as long as it is good, and grabs the new just as soon as it is better.”
What are the old and new trends impacting automotive marketing? What’s the forecast for 2023?
17 Automotive Marketing Trends for 2023
1. Auto Sales
Automotive sales for 2023 are projected to return to pre-pandemic levels – with growth forecast around 9%. Growth in the EV and Hybrid sector is predicted to grow 29% from 2022 to 2023. Although this is subject to change because of possible geopolitical issues and the resurgence of Covid related supply chain issues, forecasts are looking toward more stability in 2023. But although some normality may be returning, things will look different from the auto market of the past. – EY
2. Impact of Inventory on Brand Loyalty
In 2022, brand loyalty suffered due to lack of inventory. Supply chain issues, coupled with global microchip shortages, decreased inventory to record lows. Consumers were left with fewer options – and brand loyalty suffered as a result. According to S&P Global Mobility loyalty data, brand loyalty dropped to an 8 year low in 2022 – S&P Global Mobility
According to the study, brand loyalty for luxury brands suffered more than mainstream brands.
3. Brand Building
With inventory still low, there wasn’t the need to offer as many incentives to urge consumers to buy. As a result, advertising dollars were directed toward building brand loyalty in 2022 – promoting the cars auto companies want buyers to gain awareness of – like EVs (electric vehicles) WSJ/TrueCar.
4. Trends in Mobile Marketing
It’s no surprise that shopping for your car on your mobile device is commonplace. As per Google, 92% of buyers research online before they buy, and placing Mobile ads can lead to 45% in conversions – Recurpost.
And once a consumer arrives at the dealership, they continue to use their mobile devices for additional research. Did you know that consumers using a mobile device are 72% more likely to visit another dealership than those who were without a smartphone or tablet while car shopping? And 33% of customers went to another dealership based on a mobile ad they saw while shopping for a car. (Source: Placed, Inc. and Cars.com)
5. Video is King
Research that Google commissioned from Millward Brown Digital indicates that 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched and views on YouTube of test drives, features, and options, and walk-throughs have doubled in the past year.
Consumers tend to search out videos at the beginning of the car buying process. The 3 types of videos consumers spend the most time watching include:
- Test drives of specific makes and models
- Videos that focus on features of different makes and models
- Interior and exterior car walk-throughs
6. Consumers Expecting a 24/7 Real-Time Response
According to a study by Arthur D. Little, dealers’ average response time is 9.2 hours and OEMs average time is around 24 hours. This is a huge opportunity for improving the overall customer experience.
7. The Role of Integrated Mobile Apps
Integrated mobile apps and connected vehicle services deliver more value for the customer, enhancing customer loyalty after the initial car purchase. A study by DMEautomotive showed that vehicle buyers using a branded app were 73% more likely to make a purchase from the dealership, and after making a purchase, booked 25% more service appointments than shoppers without an app. They also spent more money than non-app users when purchasing a vehicle, 7% more according to a study commissioned by Cars.com.
A study by Google found:
- 40% of shoppers discovered a new vehicle they weren’t previously considering because of video marketing.
- The watch time of vehicle test drives on YouTube has increased by more than 65% in the past two years.
- 75% of auto shoppers say that online video has influenced their shopping habits or purchases.
- 64% of shoppers who watch online videos say they prefer new formats such as 360 videos– and that they would convince them to buy a car without a test drive. – Google.
8. Digital Tools
According to a recent study conducted across all age ranges, 66% of car buyers are using online tools (apps/social media/websites) to research a car purchase, such as price calculators, automated vehicle configuration tools, etc. – 59% surveyed selected a price calculator was their favorite online tools. EY Mobility Consumer Index.
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9. For Now, the Dealership is Still Relevant
Most car dealers predict significantly more online sales in the future, and they believe this change will have a positive impact on their profitability. Currently, about 80% of car buyers still prefer to go to dealers in person – to experience brands and products, test drive and complete transactions. Baby Boomers have the most resistance to online purchases. – EY
10. Decision-Making is Increasingly Done Online Before Heading to the Dealership
Although about 80% of car buyers prefer to go to dealers in person– to experience brands and products, test drive, and complete transactions –they are increasingly doing their research online.
11. Marketing Automation Tools
Dealerships are continuing to adopt marketing automation tools to automate and personalize communications with new prospects. For example, if a website visitor fills out an online form expressing interest in a certain vehicle, an automated email can be triggered with information about that vehicle and an alert can also be sent to the sales team for follow-up.
Dealers using marketing automation are 2x more likely to see higher marketing ROI than dealers who do not use marketing automation. Dealerships are also utilizing the data they have on hand for personalization when contacting a prospect. The most common pieces of consumer data include basic contact details, vehicle interest, and purchase/service history.
12. Online Sales Strategy
Dealers are embracing business changes to increase online sales in addition to increasing digital marketing spending.
13. Leverage New Technology to Target In-Market Buyers
Advancements in data insights and mobile technologies have also given dealerships new ways to target in-market auto and service shoppers by mobile IDs. Mobile targeting has generally taken the form of audience targeting, such as targeting based on device, apps, site user is visiting, and assumptive “look-alikes.
Real-time location targeting targets every device within a store’s proximity such as beaconing and geofencing. However, unlike traditional mobile marketing, which only targets the device, new technologies can target the actual consumer during the crucial 48-72 hour period when they’re making a buying decision.
Porch Group Media offers a solution called Mobile Signals to give dealerships the ability to identify which of their customers and prospects are visiting competing dealerships and which dealerships they are using for service. Mobile Signals is different from traditional mobile marketing or lead products because Signals leads represent real people who are actively shopping at a dealer lot. Mobile devices are matched to actual people including demographics, contact information, and VIN data.
Additionally, Porch Group Media’s Machine Learning algorithms can identify consumers who have the same behaviors and traits as those identified as shopping for a car. Porch Group Media’s Signals and Predictive Modeling services can forecast who will be shopping in the next 90-180 days.
14. Life Events Drive Purchase Intent – Target New Movers
The majority (90%) of new movers are open to trying new brands for any items and services. Good reviews (56%), better prices than other brands of the same industry (51%), and recommendations (48%) are the top factors that entice new movers to try new brands. The data from 2022 confirms that there may be a connection between recent life events and moving. 28% of new movers purchased a car/vehicle.
1 out of 4 New Mover Households Buys a Car
15. Invest in Email Marketing
Email marketing is still an important part of the automotive marketer’s toolbox. The average expected ROI is $40 for every $1 you spend on email marketing – Oberlo.
- Email to New Movers in your community….90% of New Movers are willing to try a new brand – Porch Group Media.
- 49% of emails are opened on Mobile Devices – HubSpot…the importance of responsive email templates that render correctly on mobile devices.
- Personalized emails that use a first name in the subject line are 20% more likely to be opened – Forbes.
16. Digital Marketing Ad Spend Increased
- Automotive digital ad spend increased by 13.7% in 2022 – and is back to pre-pandemic levels – eMarketer
- Automotive digital ad spend is forecast to increase over 11% in 2023 – eMarketer.
17. CTV Advertising is on the Rise
With more households turning to streaming services, advertisers are following suit and investing big in CTV (Connected TV) advertising, a form of digital advertising that appears within streaming content.
According to eMarketer, CTV investments in the U.S. grew by 41% year-over-year in 2020, to over $9 billion. In 2025, this number is estimated to be over $24 billion
Statista estimates this number to be over $38 billion in 2026!
CTV Measurement and Attribution
As connected TV continues to grow, CTV measurement and attribution are increasingly important for advertisers. Metrics that are usually measured in CTV advertising include cost per completed view (CPCV), cost per acquisition (CPA), or average order value (AOV).
While linear TV advertising is highly untrackable, CTV can be evaluated to see how it drives short-term sales and can also provide an understanding of what successful campaign performance is attributed to.
For example, if a consumer sees an ad on linear TV, they may later search for the brand on Google before visiting the brand’s website. This action cannot be attributed to the TV spot, but rather it will be credited towards the search engine.
However, if a consumer sees an ad on CTV, that click can be tied to the CTV ad because the audience is defined ahead of time – the brand knows precisely whom they are targeting.
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