A comprehensive automotive marketing strategy is essential, whether you’re representing an individual seller or a big franchise. Dealers can expect to pay anywhere from $350 to $500 in advertising and lead-acquisition per car sold — a significantly higher up-front cost than most other industries.

Any auto seller will be well-served by having a marketing strategy in place that follows the industry’s acknowledged best practices while also taking advantage of cutting-edge technology. Not only will this ensure you’re getting the most out of your ad spend, your business will also be primed to capture and convert more leads, and boost your overall revenue.

Let’s take a look at some of the strategies employed by the top auto marketers and explore how they can benefit your business, right now.

Make your site mobile-responsive

One of the single most important steps you can take to improve your auto marketing is to make your website mobile-responsive. As SearchEngineLand reported, more than half of all consumers now use mobile devices to search for and shop for cars. In addition, 80 percent of all searches for local dealerships are likewise performed on mobile.

This means that it’s essential for your business to maintain a mobile-friendly version that displays properly on a wide range of tablet and cell phone devices. Providing a consistent digital experience for your prospects and customers is a straightforward, guesswork-free way to improve sales and lead-generation.

The bottom line: Without a dedicated mobile version of your site, your mobile-savvy prospects are far more likely to take their business elsewhere.

Personalize, personalize, personalize

Targeted marketing is widely considered to be the key to a successful ad campaign, and for good reason. Targeted ads generate more engagement, bring in more leads, and are more likely to drive conversions than their non-targeted counterparts.

But auto dealerships have more to consider when building a targeted campaign, because it’s not enough to just target your ads to a narrow demographic. A prospective car buyer may visit a dealer or manufacturer website without converting into a lead for the simple reason that they’re researching their options, and aren’t ready to make a purchase just yet.

In cases like these, targeted ads that are too broad in their approach may drive new visitors without converting them into leads — if someone is looking to purchase a truck, sending them to a general-purpose landing page that also displays sedans and coupes is a wasted opportunity.

Instead, your marketing should use micro-targeting to send customized offers for popular car makes and models, or for vehicles that are in high demand in a specific geographic region. Targeted advertising platforms like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords can help your dealership zero in on your audience’s personal and regional preferences, reducing your bounce rates and providing an overall boost to your marketing efforts.

Making the most of extensions and dealer ads

Today, roughly 90 percent of consumers start the auto-buying journey by doing research on the internet, so it’s a given that online advertising is a reliable and low-cost way to drive leads and customers.

That makes call extensions one of the most potent tools in your advertising arsenal — call extensions allow you to place a phone number directly inside your display ads, which is a proven method of driving more calls. On mobile devices specifically, customers can tap on the number displayed in a call extension ad in order to quickly and easily place a call to your business.

When buying ads on Google, auto dealers can also now purchase specialized placements that are designed to be more robust than a regular PPC campaign: Model Automotive and Dealer Automotive Ads. These ads feature larger images than the standard variety, along with the option to link to the manufacturer’s website, relevant dealerships in the consumer’s geographic region, and more.

These new ad formats have proven to be highly effective and lucrative for automotive sellers, making them worth their premium cost. Google reports that Model Automotive and Dealer Automotive ads show 30 percent greater engagement rates over regular ads. Toyota’s US branch took these new formats for a test drive and saw a 45 percent increase in conversions, along with a 30 percent decrease in Cost Per Click.

Indeed, mobile searches for “car dealerships near me” are up 80 percent from just a year ago according to that same Google report. So if you aren’t taking advantage of this specialized ad format, there’s no time like the present to get started.

Drive inbound leads by marketing your services, not just your cars

While car sales are the main attraction at auto dealerships, most firms offer a range of services beyond just selling new and used cars. Odds are, your dealership has one or more mechanics employed on-site in order to refurbish vehicles ahead of being resold, or to provide service to returning customers and fulfill their warranties.

Despite the ubiquity of service departments at most dealerships, the vast majority of dealers don’t take advantage of this untapped marketing opportunity. You can test this yourself, right now: Try searching for auto service and repair in your geographic region, and see how many dealerships appear in the organic results. (That number will be zero, or very close to it.)

Most dealerships just don’t advertise their repair and tune-up services, which presents you with a real opportunity to stand out from the crowd. By marketing your dealership’s service department, you’re doing double duty — not only will this bring in new prospects who might be interested in making a purchase, it also will build loyalty and peace of mind for your current customers.

When making your next round of ad purchases, try bidding on auto service search terms and publish some ads touting discounts or incentives for customers to bring their car in for service at your dealership. With this simple and relatively low-cost move, you’ll ensure that your dealership is always top-of-mind the next time your audience is looking to purchase a car.

With these tune-ups to your marketing strategy in place, you’ll start bringing in new leads and customers in no time flat. All that inbound activity will also drive a cornucopia of inbound sales calls your way, so you’ll need a call tracking system to make the most of your efforts — don’t worry, because CallRail’s got you covered. To learn more about how call tracking can help shift your auto business into high gear, request a demo of CallRail today or start your free 14-day trial.

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