6 Digital Marketing Trends for Car Dealerships


According to these estimates, digital marketing is hogging more than 50% share of ad spend for 2019. In the new normal that may be witnessed after the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control, customers who have accessed digital platforms more during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will continue to do so well into the future.

In such a scenario, it is but natural that car dealerships will employ more and more digital marketing strategies to sell cars. The trend is already there as many dealerships are gearing up for electronic and remote sales as they see a shift in car buying habits across the U.S.

Here are 6 digital marketing trends for car dealerships in the U.S.

1. Innovative websites

Automakers have not only used technology for their cars but also for sales purposes. They offer graphic views of their cars for customers to browse through before they make up their minds to buy. They use augmented reality and virtual reality applications enabling customers to explore any car. They can take a virtual tour and make changes and see how the car looks. For instance, they can change color and see it from any angle. They can virtually sit inside the car and have a 360-degree view. Customers can do their research on any device including smartphones.

2. Increased online activity

As per this USA TODAY report, dealerships are expecting laws to be changed to accommodate totally online and paper-free sales. For the past few years, dealerships have been well into adopting digital marketing techniques. Dealerships are using video, voice, content sharing, and chat resources facilitated on a cloud platform to apprise customers through a variety of devices such as telephones, desktops, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices. Now, customers have the facility for doing a live walk-around.

3. Personalization

The concept of segmentation is acquiring a new meaning now as Big Data is able to collect data on individual customers and map the individual’s unique characteristics through personalization. Based on this, dealerships can communicate with the prospective customer using an array of channels and devices. Customers are well aware of the various digital marketing channels through which they can be connected. There are social media channels, email, mobiles, and websites that can be used. Contrary to thinking that this would cost more in reality, personalization costs very little because of technologies employed in digital marketing.     

4. Less time at dealership point

Digital marketing has allowed customers to spend much less time at the physical premises of dealerships as most of the other aspects of car buying have already been completed online. It is possible that the look of existing dealerships will get a complete makeover. The physical time spent at dealerships (a USA TODAY report said customers spend an average of three hours at a dealership) by customers is considered to be too long. Digital marketing will certainly reduce the time spent there.    

5. Online reviews

Research indicates that customers will begin to depend more on reviews being posted online. Customers are well attuned to the machinations of online interactions especially with a host of social media platforms. These allow customers to interact with likeminded people and consider any views they have on a variety of topics including those on cars and car buying. Further, dealerships and automakers solicit feedback from car buyers. The feedback is posted on their respective websites. Thus, new car buyers have much more information to base their car purchase behavior.   

6. Proximity marketing

Proximity beacons allow car dealerships to track ad campaigns and gauge the response. These can also be used to send notifications to customers near the beacons to motivate them to perform an action. For instance, if a customer who is looking out for a new car passes a nearby dealership that hosts a proximity beacon then that customer can be enticed to come in for a test drive.

Car dealerships have to upgrade and handle digital marketing activities increasingly to stay competitive. They can begin by engaging with a a competent full-service digital agency for car dealerships to understand the nuances of digital marketing to keep them ahead of competition. 

In this information age where information is king car buyers will have most of the necessary information on all aspects of cars before they even step into a car dealership. Digital marketing will allow car buyers to be as well informed if not more than the car salesperson at the dealership. Car dealerships will also benefit immensely as marketing costs reduce substantially with digital marketing interventions.