Digital Marketing Trends for Auto Dealers in 2017

Technology is changing and evolving constantly. The days of dial-up internet and VHS tapes are long gone, replaced by fiber-optic internet, on-demand movies, and Netflix. As technology changes and advances, so do our buying tastes and preferences.  Today’s consumers are increasingly well-informed and research-driven. This is especially evident in the automotive space, where consumers are spending more time researching vehicles, and 75% of that research happens online. Running an ad in the local newspaper is no longer enough—if you want to entice these tech-savvy consumers to stop by, you must reach them digitally first.  These four digital marketing trends will help auto dealers reach consumers at these crucial moments:

1. Responsive Websites

Whether you like it or not, your website is often the first thing potential customers see. It’s the first impression they’ll have of your business, and if your website has an outdated design or is hard to navigate, customers will quickly leave your site to find another dealership.

While having an easy-to-navigate, visually appealing website is important, it’s only part of the battle—you must also make sure that your website is mobile friendly, or “responsive”. With traffic on mobile devices routinely exceeding desktop, having a responsive site is necessary to ensure you retain these potential customers.

Now-a-days, having a responsive site isn’t the struggle it once was. Many website providers can help you create a visually stunning and affordable website that is fully-responsive.

2. Online Chat

You can help keep potential customers on your site by adding a live chat feature. Having a live chat option will allow customers to get immediate answers to their questions, enabling them to stay more engaged with your site. People may not be able to (or ready to) send you an email or give you a call, but they can easily click “chat” and find out what they want to know.

If you choose to add a live chat feature to your site, remember that customers will expect chats to be answered almost instantly. Be sure to turn the feature “off” if no one will be available to answer.

3. More Video

If you’re looking to reach people online, creating videos is the way to do it. 78% of people watch videos online every week and that number is only increasing! To help potential customers decide which vehicle is right for them, auto dealers should create a variety of different videos. You can create videos about test drives, model comparisons, feature highlights, customer testimonials, and any other video you can think of. These videos will help persuade potential customers to visit your dealership. Research shows that 1 in 4 people visit a dealer after watching content about cars, trucks, or racing on their smartphone.

Record these videos on a digital camera or your smartphone, or invest in a more unique camera such as a Go Pro, 360 Camera, or Drone. Videos created with these cameras usually attract more attention than standard videos. If you’re active on social media (which you should be—read our blog to learn why), you can also create a Facebook Live Video stream, which can help your fans/customers learn more about your vehicles and your dealership in real-time.

4. Facebook Advertising

With an average of 1.23 billion daily active users, Facebook is a great platform to use to advertise to car shoppers in your area.  Facebook ads can be highly targeted and don’t require a large budget. If you’ve already created video content (test drives, feature highlights, etc.) you can re-use that to create your ad.

You can use your ad to do whatever you want—from announcing new inventory, to creating a “special offer”, the sky is the limit when it comes to Facebook advertisements. To get the most out of your Facebook advertising budget, you should start with a small daily budget, test out an ad, analyze the results, and then refine the ad(s).

Whether you decide to upgrade your website, or start advertising on Facebook, your dealership will benefit greatly from having an omni-channel marketing strategy. Auto dealers can reach customers through a variety of different methods but, in today’s connected world, using these four tools will help your dealership stay one step ahead of the competition.


April 14, 2017 | Kelly Rodriguez