9 Automotive Marketing Strategies to Attract Customers in 2023
Promoting your auto business can be easy and affordable using the automotive marketing strategies below. From ensuring your business can get found online to getting positive reviews and leveraging social media, use a mix of effective automotive digital marketing and traditional auto marketing tactics to drive brand awareness and increase sales.
1. Build Trust With Customer Reviews
One of the best ways to get new business is by getting referrals from happy, loyal customers. In fact, businesses with reviews are trusted by 73% of consumers. You can wait for word-of-mouth, but it’s better to tip the odds in your favor by asking satisfied customers for reviews on Google.
The more positive reviews your Google My Business listing has, the more relevant your automotive business will appear to Google as the best option. When members of your target audience search for services or products like yours online, your listing is more likely to be placed at the top of search results.
To get more reviews on Google, the obvious first step is to simply ask customers to leave a review for your business. There’s more you can do, though. Make it easy by sending an email after servicing a vehicle or selling products asking for a review and including a link to your Google My Business listing.
You can also add a Google review link to receipts to encourage customers to go online and leave feedback for your business after a transaction. If you sell online, you can add a link with a request for review on the landing page customers visit after completing a purchase.
2. Optimize Your Online Presence for Search
Starting with a great website is one of the best automotive marketing strategies. It takes less than half a second for a user to form an opinion about a business website, which determines whether they will stay on the page or leave.
A good website should be easy to navigate, look professional, and help you rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Learn more about what makes a good website, including more than a dozen ways to make yours stand out.
To establish your brand presence online, use one of the best website builders. Intuitive site editing tools and premade templates make building a website that leaves a good first impression easy. Most also have strong built-in search engine optimization (SEO) features to ensure your business can get found online.
Open the tabs below to learn how to more fully optimize your website for search:
Follow SEO Best Practices
Search engine optimization (SEO) is needed to help your website rank on search engines and is essential for an automotive digital marketing strategy. You can do this with properly written titles for your pages and articles, using keywords your audience commonly searches for in your site’s pages and blog articles, and ensuring your site is mobile-friendly and loads fast.
It can take a while for search engines to recognize your website as an authoritative website in the automotive industry. To make it easier, see which of the best website builders for SEO can help you rank higher. Wix tops our list, but Squarespace, GoDaddy, and IONOS also have solid features to help your site get found online.
Wondering how to improve your website’s SEO? Use Semrush, Serpstat, and other free SEO audit tools to diagnose any issues and identify areas of improvement.
Implement Local SEO
Having a great-looking website isn’t enough for people to find your auto industry business online. You must also take the right steps to rank higher on Google in locale-centric searches, including researching the best keywords to use based on your business’ location.
Use a top keyword research tool like Semrush to research local SEO keywords based on search volume and see what keywords your competitors use to rank on Google. Choose keywords that have high volume but low keyword difficulty (KD). Usually, the higher the volume, the harder it will be to rank for a keyword because other websites compete for rankings.
Add local keywords, such as the name of your city, in addition to the keywords your target audience would search for. For instance, if you own an automotive repair shop in Phoenix, you might find luck with keyword phrases such as “repair shop Phoenix” or “car repair Phoenix.”
Once you have a list of keywords you want your website to rank for, publish web pages and blog articles that answer the questions searchers are asking, and incorporate them with your keywords. For example, if your target audience searches for “best car repair shops in Phoenix,” you could write a blog article explaining why your business is one of the best car repair shops in the city.
For more guidance, read up on what local SEO is and how you can rank higher in local searches. For expert help and intelligence-driven tools and insights, turn to WebFX. They offer local SEO services from $425 per location.
Another way for your site to rank higher on Google is to earn backlinks. This is because Google interprets backlinks to your website as an indication that your website is a relevant “best answer” to related questions (or queries) that people put into online searches. This, in turn, increases your website’s domain authority with Google.
A common way businesses earn backlinks is by implementing an SEO content marketing plan that includes helpful blog articles. Helpful articles often gain backlinks, especially when they have instructions, videos, and downloadable guides.
For example, you could publish a blog post that includes an infographic showing do-it-yourself instructions for replacing a car battery (or something similar people can do themselves). Another idea for earning backlinks would be to publish an e-book on automotive maintenance, or a checklist people can use when buying a new or used car.
3. Sell Products Online
Another automotive marketing idea is to expand into selling products from your website. Online sales of auto parts and accessories increased by 4.6% in 2023, so adding ecommerce to your site can help you take your piece of the $8.4 billion U.S. market share.
When you’re ready to create an online store, the best ecommerce site builders make it easy and save time. To test the waters, you can even build an automotive ecommerce site on Weebly for free with features like unlimited products, inventory management, and automated sales tax calculation.
If you prefer to sell as a third-party distributor, many ecommerce platforms could work for your automotive marketing strategy. Retailers like Amazon and Walmart accommodate third-party merchants, as do niche platforms. If your automotive business sells unique items such as car decals or decorative seat covers, for example, selling on Etsy would be a good option.
4. Register in Online Business Directories
More than 64% of consumers find addresses for local businesses through Google Business Profiles. This shows that online business directories are a critical and great auto marketing strategy.
Listings can also help improve your SEO as well as allow people to discover your business and its hours of operation, address, phone number, and website. Start with the basics, such as registering on Google, Bing Places for Business, and Yelp, then look into auto industry-related business directories that allow free listings as well.
Find the best places to list your auto business in our list of 39 general and niche online business directories.
Create or Claim Your Google Business Profile
To get to the top of Google’s local search results pages, aka SERPs, create and fill out your Google My Business profile listing. It’s free to do this and doesn’t take much time. To optimize your position in local search results, include keyword search terms, such as those you use to optimize your website, like “car detailing Phoenix.”
Ranking in local search results is a must for local brick-and-mortar businesses. When someone searches Google for a specific type of business, like a car dealership or an auto repair or parts shop, Google will often include a map with local businesses on the top of the results page.
The top three organic results are called the “three-pack,” or map pack. The listing in the top organic spot in Google search results receives an average of 27.6% of all clicks and is 10 times more likely to receive a click than the last listing on the first page of results. Being among the top three organic results is ideal as far as your automotive digital marketing strategy goes.
Just like regular organic search results, it may take time for your listing to rise in the ranks. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the process, such as getting more positive reviews and advertising on Google.
Create a Listing on Bing Places for Business
Google is often the search engine people think of first, but don’t dismiss Bing. Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, attracts a different type of audience in terms of demographics. Users tend to skew older and have a higher household income. To make it more likely for your automotive business to appear in Bing search results, learn how to add your listing to Bing Places for Business.
Use some of the same keywords in your Bing business listing that you used to make your website and Google My Business listing search-friendly. To appear before organic results on Bing, invest in Microsoft advertising. Bing ads are generally more affordable, while Bing’s search engine receives over 1.2 billion visitors every month.
Add Your Business to Yelp
Yelp is often the go-to site for people wanting to check out the reputation of a local business before buying. Just like Google and Bing, you can add a free listing to use Yelp for Business. Use the same types of keywords that are helping your website rank higher in search results to optimize your Yelp business profile.
Once you’ve registered and listed on Yelp, keep an eye on any reviews left on your business listing and respond to each one, whether positive or negative. Listings with the highest number of reviews and most positive reviews get top spots in organic search results, but you can also pay to have your listing sponsored to appear higher than the organic results.
5. Delve Into Automotive Social Media Marketing
Social media is an excellent tool to power your auto marketing campaign. Not only is over half of the overall global population on social media, but more than 74% of consumers say they rely on social media networks to guide purchasing decisions.
Automotive businesses can reach a large, engaged audience, build brand awareness, and drive sales by joining social channels and creating content that resonates with their target audience. Find out more in our small business guide to social media marketing.
It’s important to note that creating a successful social media campaign requires a consistent and thoughtful approach, as well as an understanding of the target market. To help you get started, learn how to create a social media plan for your business and fill out our easy social media plan template.
Engage Your Audience on Facebook
Create a Facebook business page for your auto shop to make sure anyone can find your services, regardless of where they look. Facebook business pages can even rank on search engines. Incorporate some of the same keywords you used to optimize your automotive website into your Facebook profile’s “About” and “Description” sections, and in the content you share on the platform.
Join or create Facebook groups about specific cars, common auto repairs or issues, or even automotive parts—and share posts showing your expertise. Followers will see your business name every time you post, which can help your brand awareness. Plus, you can post about new products or services to help spark interest (and new visitors to your website or business).
Create Videos for YouTube
YouTube can be a great platform for reaching potential customers at various stages of the car-buying journey. According to a study by Google, 70% of car shoppers use YouTube during their research process. Creating engaging and informative videos, optimizing your videos for YouTube’s search algorithm, and promoting your videos through other channels are some of the essentials for online auto marketing strategies on YouTube.
In creating your videos, remember that the star of your content should be your products or service. For example, if you are marketing a car dealership, showcase the features of the cars that are most important to your target audience. This can include things like safety features, fuel efficiency, and performance. Use real-life footage of people experiencing the products and services you offer to help viewers envision themselves as your customers.
Optimizing your content for each platform you post on is crucial. For creating YouTube videos, it is best to keep your videos from five minutes to 15 minutes per post. Use proper video editing and ensure the final video is well-lit, with good sound and smooth transitions. Also, keep in mind that the best aspect ratio for YouTube videos is 16:9, or the widescreen ratio to occupy the entire YouTube video frame.
Leverage Instagram, Pinterest & TikTok
Facebook isn’t the only social network where you should implement automotive marketing ideas. Instagram and Pinterest are both visual social platforms, and so they are excellent places to post pictures of vehicles, parts, or before and after photos of what a car detailing service can do. TikTok works well for those who want to create fun, short videos for their followers, and these videos can also be cross-posted to Facebook and Instagram.
On any social network, use hashtags so people interested in your industry can find your posts and your pages. For example, if you own a car dealership, you might use #carsofinstagram, #caroftheday, #autoparts, or #autorepair. Likewise, you can incorporate locale into your hashtags to hyper-target your audience, such as #CarRepairPhoenix.
Figuring out what to post regularly can be difficult, especially if social media marketing isn’t your forte. Hiring a social media manager on Fiverr can help you get started and plan out your content on different platforms. Social media management services start for as low as $10—perfect for trying out a new auto marketing strategy.
Partner With Social Media Influencers
6. Explore Traditional Automotive Advertising Strategies
One of the most common automotive marketing strategies is advertising locally in newspapers, TV, radio, and with creative billboard ads. Automotive digital ad spend increased by 11.7% in 2023. According to the NADA, car dealerships spent $4.26 billion in advertising last 2022.
Despite being overshadowed by their more glamorous digital marketing rivals, all of these traditional auto marketing tactics are still viable. They enable you to hyper-target your ad’s placement and contribute to your brand’s credibility. Plus, depending on your location, the cost of billboard advertising can be surprisingly affordable.
In addition to advertising outlets, everyday small business marketing materials can also be used to promote your automotive business. This includes things like direct mail postcards, business cards, brochures, and leveraging coupons and special offers. Open the tabs below to learn more.
Send Direct Mail
Whether you use a mailing list of your customers or create an Every Door Direct Mail® (EDDM) campaign, you can drum up a lot of interest in your brand, an event, or a sale with direct mail. Add something memorable and fun to the design that provides value for the recipient, such as a scratch-off section that reveals a percentage off.
Setting up a direct mail campaign can be time-consuming. However, using one of the best direct mail services reduces the time it takes to create mailers and set up direct mail campaigns, and makes it more affordable. Two great examples are VistaPrint, which has thousands of premade templates and easy editing tools, and PostcardMania, which offers a great deal on EDDM mailer campaigns.
Direct mail marketing creates an advantage and opportunities for businesses that use it for auto marketing. In fact, customers who receive direct mail often spend twice as much as those who don’t receive or use direct mail. Given the opportunity to reach new customers using direct mail, check out our article with dozens of direct mail marketing ideas you can use to boost your business.
Did you know? 50% of millennial consumers ignore digital ads, but 8 out of 10 are attentive to direct mail, according to alter agents and PebblePost.
Put Your Business Cards to Work
A business card is an essential marketing tool regardless of industry. Customers will often pick up your business card at the point of sale when dropping their car off or shopping at your business. If you have sales reps, business cards are a must. Likewise, you’ll need business cards to hand out for all types of networking events.
You can also establish a referral lead generation partnership with complementary businesses and provide them with business cards to hand out to their customers. For example, if you run an auto repair shop or a parts store, consider setting up a referral partnership with an auto detailing service. As part of the agreement, you will both display or even distribute one another’s business cards to generate referrals.
Browse dozens of the best business card designs for ideas that would work for your automotive business or design your own. When designing your own, consider adding elements like QR codes that turn your cards into web traffic generators when scanned by smartphones.
When you’re ready to print your business cards, we recommend VistaPrint. They top our list of the best places to print business cards quickly and affordably.
Educate With Flyers & Brochures
Flyers and brochures offer more space than marketing materials like ads and business cards. They can be an ideal way to promote your auto services and educate your customers. For example, you can use business brochures or flyers to:
- Explain payment or financing options for large ticket transactions
- Describe maintenance plan benefits
- Educate customers on car maintenance topics or timelines
- List guarantees or warranty information
Flyers and brochures are also very affordable to print, and you can create digital versions of them to post online, send by email, or share on social media. Get more inspiration from the dozens of business flyer examples in our article, which also links to free templates you can customize with your own designs.
Business brochures are even more versatile than flyers. They come in different shapes and sizes to showcase your marketing message and get your audience’s attention. Find out which brochure design ideas are best for your project.
Extend Time-limited Offers & Coupons
Special offers are a proven way to stimulate sales and attract new customers locally. Our article on coupon marketing offers a step-by-step guide to creating an effective coupon-based marketing strategy. With your strategy in place, develop a multi-channel distribution strategy for extending special offers and discounts to your customers via:
- Email blasts
- Social media posts and ads
- Point-of-sale displays
- Referral partnerships
- Your Google and Bing business listings
- Direct mail postcards
Looking for inspiration? Check out dozens of coupon examples for promoting a local business.
7. Try Online Automotive Advertising Ideas
One of the biggest factors to consider with any kind of advertising is the target audience. Identifying who you want to reach is the first step to creating the message that will be most effective in reaching and engaging them. For example, if the target audience is young professionals, a digital ad could be more effective than a traditional media campaign.
Even if you are using traditional advertising, integrating online marketing can help you get the best results. According to a report by Statista, digital advertising was the top advertising expenditure of car dealers for 2021. Google and Facebook advertising are both leading pay-per-click (PPC) ad platforms, so it makes sense to explore these options for your automotive marketing strategy.
Need more inspiration? Check out our local advertising ideas that are sure to grow your small business within your area.
Use Google Ads
The Google Ads platform makes it easy to reach customers when they are ready to buy with search ads, and to remain top of mind when remarketing. Search ads are text-based ads that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs). Remarketing displays web banner ads to people who visit your website when they are on other websites that are monetized with Google AdSense.
Get started today in our step-by-step guide for advertising on Google.
The cost of Google Ads can get expensive, especially if your ads aren’t set up correctly or targeted to the right audience. The last thing you want to do is waste money on clicks that don’t bring in business. The experts at WebFX are a great option for Google Ad management, and they can also set up and manage ads on social networks as well.
Advertise on Local Search Pages
Another way to get to the top of SERPs is by using Google’s Local Services Ads. These are ads placed at the top of local search results based on target keywords and industry. Unlike search ads, Local Service Ads require a Google background check for approval. As a result, these ads also display a “Google guaranteed” tag that increases trust with customers.
Advertising on Google is one of the cornerstones of a solid search engine marketing (SEM) strategy. Learn the difference between SEO and SEM and how to leverage the four key elements of search engine marketing to drive traffic to your website, generate leads, and grow your business.
Advertise on Facebook
Facebook advertising is another good way to get your automotive marketing content in front of your local target audience. Facebook ads show up in the news feeds of users based on ad campaign targeting, such as location, interests, age, gender, and other demographics. They allow you to reach potentially interested customers to build brand awareness for future sales as well as those who may be ready to make a purchase.
Not only can you target your desired audience with Facebook ads, but you can also target “look-alike” audiences that fit your criteria to a certain degree. So, if your ideal buyer types are males ranging in age from 25 to 49 who live in Phoenix, a look-alike audience might include men 18 to 24 or women in the same age range (25 to 49), all in Phoenix.
Facebook ads also target audiences based on recent searches conducted by users on Facebook or its advertising network. For instance, if someone has a strong interest in sports cars and searches for similar content online, your ad or a sponsored post could show up in their feed. Learn more, including how to set your budget, in our article detailing how much Facebook Ads cost.
Due to the sheer complexity of advanced audience targeting, running Facebook ads could be more than you want to take on yourself. We recommend Lyfe Marketing as the best Facebook advertising agency for local businesses. Plus, there are no long-term contracts, so you are free to try the service for a month to see if it works as part of your automotive marketing plan.
Facebook Ads is just one of the many social platforms you could use to reach your audience. Discover more ways in our guide to social media advertising for small businesses.
8. Send Marketing Emails
Permission-based email marketing allows you to send informational and promotional emails to your contact list, including things like special offers and coupons. In fact, getting coupons by email is one of the top reasons consumers subscribe to email lists.
For example, offering a discount on the next purchase can help convince a customer to give you their email address, mobile number for text marketing, and even a mailing address for future direct mail campaigns. You can also use website forms to gain contacts, such as a pop-up form offering 10% off for new sign-ups.
The first step in email marketing is to build a contact list. An easy way to do this is to get customers to sign up at the point of sale at your business or online. Get started today by reading our guide on how to get started with email marketing in a few easy steps.
SendX is one of the most cost-effective email marketing software platforms for small businesses. Paid plans start under $8 a month with all features included. Create sign-up forms for your website and landing pages to convert people who click on your email links and ads. It’s easy to use and you can try it free for 14 days.
9. Nurture Brand Image With Public Relations
Proactively communicate with the media using press releases to create a positive image of your auto dealership, repair, or parts business and build a strong reputation. Press releases can also drive brand awareness for your automotive business. Writing them takes practice, but understanding what a press release is and using our free template will make the process faster and easier.
In addition to being published online, a news agency could pick up your press release for a story, which could boost your news and brand. Make a press kit and add it to your website so that journalists covering news about your business or industry can easily add details about your company to their stories.
A press release is relevant for many occasions, such as when your business expands, for new product or service releases, when you contribute to a charity, or to promote a special event. Learn more about the different types of press releases you can use to bolster your company’s public relations (PR) efforts, and what to include in each one.
To increase your odds of getting picked up by news agencies, use a press release distribution service like eReleases. eReleases will target your press release to your ideal audience based on factors like location and industry, and distribute your press release to more than 5,000 different outlets. You can even bundle writing services for an all-in-one solution.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much do auto dealerships pay for advertising?
On average, car dealerships paid $312,000 on digital advertising in 2021 and $48,000 on radio advertising costs. Also, keep in mind that the cost of advertising varies greatly depending on the channel. Overall, auto dealerships spent more than $8.19 billion on advertising in 2021.
How do you market in the automotive industry?
Your strategy should incorporate a mix of digital and traditional automotive marketing and advertising tactics to get the best results. Digital marketing has become the dominant marketing strategy for most industries, but there are many online and offline local advertising ideas that work especially well for local businesses, including car dealerships, detailers, auto parts stores, and repair shops.
How do I get internet leads for car sales?
The first step in generating internet leads for car sales is to have a search-friendly website. It should show your areas of expertise and include keywords you want your site to rank for. Add topic-specific landing pages to convert traffic generated from ads or marketing campaigns using webforms. Once a form is submitted, funnel the leads to your customer relationship management (CRM) software or email marketing platform for automated lead nurturing.
The key to choosing the best automotive marketing strategies to implement is understanding your customer’s journey. Whether you find the most success with email, direct mail, SEO, word of mouth, or social media marketing, try a mix of automotive marketing strategies, track your results, and reinvest in those that produce the best return on investment.