Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Make You Your Own Worst Enemy?

Before you accuse the dealer across town of stealing local market share, consider your digital marketing strategy

If you blame your lackluster sales performance on high competition within the area, it’s time to think again.


The biggest culprit behind poor auto sales among dealers isn’t the dealer across town, it’s a lack of a strategic digital marketing plan. Too often, dealers fail to align inventory with their digital marketing strategies, and target the wrong consumers through the wrong channels.

The average car shopper spends 75% of his or her product search time on the internet—not in-person at a dealership. So with carefully planned digital marketing efforts, dealers can connect interested buyers with the right cars before they even step foot on the lot.

Selling cars is hard work, but with an improved digital marketing strategy, dealers can worry less about competing dealerships in the area, and set themselves up for success in the new year. Here’s how.

Sync inventory with digital efforts

One reason you’re missing out on sales is because you’re attracting buyers looking for specific cars that you no longer have on the lot. Failure to align digital marketing content with actual inventory—particularly the vehicles you’re looking to move soon—can seriously hurt your bottom line.

Dealers should use inventory data to inform digital marketing efforts. Cars that have been on the lot for more than 30 days should be marketed heavily, and consumers should be targeted with specific vehicles they’ve recently searched for or browsed on your site. This way, you’ll attract buyers ready to make an immediate purchase.

Target at-market consumers

Another key aspect of a digital marketing strategy for dealers is to target the right consumers. This may seem simple, but dealers often fail to use web browser history and demographic information to target at-market buyers with the vehicles they’re most interested in.

Rather than relying on spray-and-pray approaches (i.e., targeting everyone within a specific radius with the same ad), dealers must focus on interested buyers and target them with personalized content.

In the area surrounding your dealership, many residents are never going to buy a car, and those that are interested have specific needs based on their demographics. For example: Low-income buyers are not likely to respond to an ad for a luxury sports car.

Use the right channels

Although TV is the go-to channel for dealers to generate brand recognition, a balance of traditional and digital advertising will increase sales. In addition to TV, target at-market buyers on the digital channels they visit most. This could be anything from display advertising to in-app marketing to social media.

Social advertising is an effective way to reach consumers on a channel where they’re already spending time. One in four car shoppers uses social media to discuss or communicate a recent purchase.

What’s more, 84% of car shoppers are on Facebook, and nearly a quarter of them use the social network as a resource during their research process.

Include relevant, accurate details

Consumers are less likely to engage with ads that do not include relevant details (price, specific features, contact information, etc.) even if they were reached with an ad for the right vehicle through the right channel. Make sure your ads are detailed with the information buyers need before making a purchase.

What’s more, vehicle pages on your site must be easy to navigate, include high-quality images, and be searchable by make, model, or other car features. Because many dealers within the area might be selling similar inventory, differentiate yourself by providing the information your buyer needs. Detailed product description pages also ensure that your site shows up in search results for relevant keywords.

So before you accuse the dealer across town of stealing local market share, consider your digital marketing strategy. Are you aligning your efforts with actual inventory? Are you reaching the right buyers with the right vehicles through the right channels?

If not, take a step back and develop a more strategic approach to reach today’s digital-savvy car shoppers.

Jeremy Anspach is the CEO of PureCars, a digital advertising platform designed exclusively for the automotive industry. Armed with the industry’s most extensive data library, Jeremy founded PureCars in 2007. A Detroit native and renowned industry speaker, his drive and passion has led PureCars to become one of only seven automotive Google Premier SMB Partners, powering digital for over 3,000 dealers across the country.

Jeremy Anspach

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