Your Dealership's New Unforeseen Competitor. How Will You Keep Up?

by Ilana Shabtay

Your dealership isn't competing with the dealer next door, it's competing with Netflix. The fight for digital real estate is real. In-market car shoppers are also in-market baby clothes shoppers, or Netflix-obsessed parents, or perhaps college seniors looking for their first apartment. With every Google search comes a story -- a digital footprint-- that tells the internet who that person is and what they want to see. 

This means that the in-market shoppers landing on your website, searching for cars in your inventory, or even needing an urgent oil change, have other non-auto related interests. Shocker, right? So while you need to make sure you're #1 in your primary market area, your dealership is also competing against some of the biggest e-commerce giants in the world to gain real estate on every page possible at just the right time.  

So... will that newly promoted mother of three see the Carter's clearance ad for the onesies she was eyeing or will she see your lease special for the Suburban she's always wanted? This is where the real competition lies in 2021. 

How will you keep up?

It's obvious that dealerships need to operate as technology companies in order to compete with technology companies like Netflix. Manual, thin-on-tech digital marketing will no longer cut it when competing with the big guys. Is your dealership optimizing ads in real-time? Are your inventory ads VIN-level specific to match shoppers' interests? Are you running your A/B tests on autopilot? Below are the top three principles that your dealership should be abiding by to play at the same level as the "big guys."


There should be no lag time when it comes to updating your ads and campaigns. While going in manually to adjust pricing and disclaimers used to be acceptable, if you're not operating at lightning speed, you're creating irrelevant customer experiences with outdated targeting and messaging. Changing and optimizing your campaigns in real-time will give your dealership the proper leverage to compete at any time of the day, yes, even at 3 AM.  


golden egg

The expression don't put all your eggs in one basket has never been more true when it comes to vehicle-specific ads. Picking 5-10 models to focus on each month will limit your targeting range. Your dealership should cast a wide net, leveraging every single car to target the right people at the right time so that you can scale your marketing. Leverage technology to market every car as if it's your only car, creating scalable optimization tests that run on autopilot to give every vehicle a chance to find its buyer. When you can scale your A/B testing to tens of tests simultaneously, and you can create algorithms to combine the best keyword strategy to find the cheapest quality leads, you're operating on a competitive level. 


When your dealership has the speed to optimize 24/7 and the scale to market every car with personalized messaging, you're then able to make the specific matches between shoppers and inventory, ensuring that your message will be prominent for the buyer at just the right time. This granular 1:1 targeting means that your ad will always show up for that newly promoted mother of three, beating out Carter's every time. 

When it comes to marketing in 2021, it's critical to adopt these principles and operate as a technology company so you can beat out the competition and stay on top of mind -- and top of Google search pages-- for your shoppers. 

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.

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