A Roundup of Google’s Latest Best Practices for Your Dealership

by Ilana Shabtay

Simply put, in times of crisis, we look to the experts. We turn to the voices that will provide us with actionable support to help us navigate through uncharted waters. We want to make smart business decisions during this time so we can thrive in a post COVID-19 world. 

In response to the pandemic’s impact, Google has compiled a variety of best practices for dealerships. Here’s what you can invest in now and in the coming weeks to ensure increased engagement and quality leads from your website. 

What can I do for my dealership now?

Assess budget allocation across profit centers

This is the time to assess profit outlets and reallocate budget for what would make the most sense mid-pandemic. For example, is your showroom still light in foot traffic? Turn up the budget on service and direct more traffic to these pages if it’s operating as usual during this time. Or, if your market is showing buying signals for used cars more so than new, make sure to adjust budget according to this new normal, and put more dollars into used campaigns. We suggest being hyper-aware of these trends to make the most out of your marketing budget.

Adapt messaging to match customer needs

Adjusting your messaging in your current campaigns (search, video, display) is important for showing empathy toward your shoppers. Make sure your tone, copy, and visuals match the current reality. Switch up your CTA’s to be more empathetic. Instead of using “Hurry in today!” replace it with “We’re here to help.” It’s also smart to leverage any videos you may have in your inventory as a virtual showroom visit - include any best offers, incentives, or flexible payment options in response to the crisis.

Example of crisis-sensitive messaging


Begin to value online metrics

As automotive switches to a digital-first industry, online metrics will carry a whole new weight. Use this time to make sure your bidding goals reflect this. If you are currently bidding to increase store visits, switch to high-value web-based conversions for better performance.

Think about ways to give back

During this unprecedented time, we all need to stay flexible and responsive to the rapidly changing environment. Whether it’s conscious or not, shoppers are checking in to see the positive ways in which businesses are coping with this pandemic. Be sensitive and acknowledge the gravity of the situation, like using your dealership for local good, or going the extra mile to make a customer feel safe. If you can, offer complimentary or discounted services to healthcare workers on the frontlines–i.e. a free oil change or vehicle cleaning. This will resonate with your community and position your business wisely, while also focusing on giving back.

What can I do for my dealership in the near future?

Virtual showrooms and test drives

As social distancing will continue beyond the enforced lockdown, give your shoppers a way to experience your showroom without stepping foot into your dealership. Reach more customers by uploading recorded videos of your most popular inventory or giving them an option to test drive your vehicles in the comfort of their own home.

Example of test drive app


Capture existing consumer demand

Website traffic has pretty much remained steady across the nation with some cases of traffic increasing by more than 20%. Dealerships must be prepared to intelligently identify and capture the existing consumer audience along with all their current demands. With reduced advertising budgets, investing in technology that facilitates an end-to-end digital experience attuned to the current customer expectation is the best way to stay relevant.

Re-engage those who are displaying shopping interest

The average time a shopper spends before even purchasing a car averages around three to four months at a time. During COVID-19, your branding is your voice. Find your in-market shoppers on and off-site so they know your name, respect your name, and recommend your name. This can be one of the most powerful tools you own in your wheelhouse.

Use Google Trends to understand how your customers’ needs are evolving

Google gives us insight into how shoppers are evolving in real-time. Understand what your customers are searching for on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Find major shopper trends with Google’s latest trending stories, such as “Coronavirus search trends.” Or keep track of search popularity with the “interest over time” graph. This will help you define shopper’s needs on a seasonal basis. Google also offers a heat map to see where search terms are most popular by location. This allows you to adapt your message to the local community.

It’s not easy to keep marketing momentum during a global pandemic. However, these expert best practices can save you time while keeping your dealership strong and resilient. It’s the first step in preparing your dealership for a digital-first industry and the inevitable path to technology adoption post-COVID-19.


Ilana Shabtay

Ilana is an expert in sales, digital marketing, and business development. She is constantly thinking about how to perfect conversion funnels to build brand awareness. As Director of Marketing, Ilana works to engage audiences and expand market share. She contributes thought leadership for tech companies in and out of the automotive industry including Dealer Refresh, Dealer Marketing, and for the DrivingSales community blog.