How auto dealers can use seasonal marketing to boost car sales

Like any industry, automotive salespeople and dealerships experience swings in sales for several reasons. The state of the economy, significant life events, holidays, and even the weather all play a part in whether your website and showroom are bustling with traffic or chirping with crickets.

Planning your marketing calendar around these seasonal shifts provides immense opportunities for your car dealership. Here are a few seasonal tactics you can use to edge out your competitors, get more leads, and make more sales.

Why seasonality matters for auto dealerships

Just like trying to sell full-price convertibles during the winter won’t result in many sales or profits, not knowing when consumers are most likely to buy a vehicle can hurt your bottom line and lead to gridlocked inventory.

Understanding the seasonality of the automotive industry will help you fine-tune your automotive marketing strategies, better manage your inventories, and make more sales throughout the year. And even better, a well-executed seasonal marketing strategy allows smaller dealerships to compete directly with the larger dealerships in their area.

The automotive industry’s two peak seasons are spring (March through May) and fall (September through November). During these seasons, demand skyrockets and sales prices often rise by 15%. That means it’s not just easier to sell vehicles, but your dealership can make significantly more profit while doing so.

Where to incorporate seasonal content in your automotive marketing strategy

If you run a smaller dealership, it might be discouraging to think about competing with the larger marketing budgets of bigger dealerships. But, you don’t necessarily need to create new advertising material or marketing channels for every season or holiday. Instead, focus on adapting your current marketing materials and incorporating them into a few high-performing channels.

Here are the top channels you need to focus on to get the best results from your seasonal automotive marketing.

Your Website

Your dealership website is the most important marketing tool at your disposal. Ninety-two percent of consumers turn to the internet during the car buying process. To capture their attention, you need to make sure your website shows up for the right online searches — including seasonal events!

Anticipating the uptick in consumer demand during the Memorial Day weekend, Stewart Chevrolet in Colma, California, created a web page with a simple “Memorial Day Sale” banner to showcase their sales event.

Stewart Memorial Day Sale

Source:Stewart Chevrolet

But they didn’t just create the page and let it sit on their website. They made sure to add a descriptive title and text content specific to the event, including the most popular cars in their inventory. By keeping SEO in mind, this comprehensive page ranks well in their local area for keywords like “Chevy dealer in San Francisco”, and also for specific vehicles they sell (like “Chevy Bolt EV” and “Chevy Volt”).

Chevy memorial day sales event search

Source: Google Search

Now, whenever someone searches for Memorial Day car sales near San Francisco, Stewart Chevrolet shows up at the top of the search engine page results pages (SERPs). Claiming that top spot increases their chances of gathering more clicks, more leads, and more people calling and visiting their dealership.

You don’t need to make massive changes to your website when peak seasons come around. Making sure your site is optimized for search engines, dedicating web pages to seasonal sales events, and including simple seasonal decor can dramatically help your dealership succeed during peak seasons.

Bonus: Learn how to combine SEO and call tracking for even greater lead generation

Google My Business Page

A Google My Business (GMB) page places your dealership on the map and can serve as a free advertising platform with Google’s new “Post” feature. These pages function like mini-websites on Google — displaying your dealership name, address, phone number, customer reviews, upcoming events, and dealership inventory.

Mike’s Auto Sales in Salinas, California, uses their GMB page to highlight their inventory and upcoming May sales event to consumers looking for a local dealership during the peak automotive season.

Mike's Auto Sales

Source: Mike’s Auto Sales

As Mike’s get ready to jump into the spring season, they’ve begun promoting their sales on new and used trucks and sedans using the “Post” feature. While they’ve used a “Buy” call-to-action (CTA) in these posts, you can set your posts and CTA to promote phone calls and dealership visits.

Similar to optimizing your website, make sure to optimize your Google My Business listing to attract more viewers to your dealership during peak seasons. Here are a couple of steps you can take to accomplish this:

  • Make sure your dealership’s name, address, and phone number are consistent.
  • Ask previous customers to leave reviews on your profile.
  • Post attractive photos of your dealership and inventory.
  • Consistently post deals, events, and photos to let Google know your profile is active.

Pro tip: Don’t just think of sprucing up your GMB listing during peak seasonal time periods, make it a part of your digital marketing strategy and think of ways you can use it for other marketing efforts. Not only can this help level up your content strategy for other marketing tactics, but it can ensure you have a healthy line of car shoppers year-round.

Google Ads

If you want to show up at the top of the SERP during peak holiday seasons without having to spend time optimizing your website, Google Ads provides the quickest solution. Google Ads gives you complete control over how much you spend per click, who sees your ad, and when/how long you want your ads to run.

Toyota of Wausa, located in Wausa, Wisconsin, capitalized on their year-end Toyotathon sales event by using Google Ads to place their dealership at the top of the SERP.

Toyota of Wausa search

Source: SpyFu Google Ads Library

According to Ahrefs (a leading keyword research tool), the term “Toyotathon” received nearly 75,000 searches between November 2020 and January 2021. As a result, Toyota of Wausa’s ads were in a prime position to attract a majority of online car shoppers looking for new and used Toyotas in Wisconsin.

Ahrefs Keyword Search

Source: Ahrefs Keyword Search “Toyotathon” (data collected May 4, 2021)

As you look at your marketing calendar, consider creating one or two Google ads to promote your upcoming sales events. Use specific holiday keywords, craft compelling CTAs, include helpful site links to help your viewers navigate your website, and choose the right target audience to receive your ads.

To get even greater insight into how your ads are performing, consider integrating a call tracking solution to better understand your return on investment (ROI) and see which of your ads perform the best.

Social Media Platforms

Over 70%of the U.S. population uses social media, and the average user spends 127 minutes per day browsing platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. If your dealership isn’t using social media to highlight your brand or promote your seasonal automotive marketing content, you’re missing out on a large portion of buyers’ attention.

In Seaside, California, Victory Toyota uses its Facebook page to engage with over 2,000 followers. They do so by showcasing their inventory of new and used vehicles and promoting sales and seasonal material.

Victory Toyota Seaside FB page 1

Source: [Victory Toyota Seaside, Facebook Page]( You’ll notice that not every post on Victory Toyota’s page is a sales pitch for a vehicle. Instead, they provide engaging and informative material to keep their dealership top-of-mind when consumers finally decide to search for a new car.

Related content: Sample social media calendar for car dealerships

They also use Facebook posts for seasonal promotions to get more foot traffic to their dealership. This post, for example, offers free tickets to a local ski resort to visitors who come in for a test drive.

Victory Toyota Seaside FB page 2

Source: Victory Toyota Seaside, Facebook Page

Additionally, by setting up a Facebook page, you’ll have access to Facebook Ads, Facebook’s extensive advertising platform. Like Google Ads, this ad platform allows you to create hyper-focused ads for target audiences, encourage them to visit your website, leave a message, or even call your dealership.

Check out our guide on optimizing your Facebook Ads with call analytics to learn more about improving your Facebook Ad marketing.

Peak seasons (and holidays) to consider for your automotive marketing

Alright, so we’ve talked about the importance of seasonal automotive marketing for car dealerships and outlined the top-performing channels you can use. But which seasons and holidays should you focus your marketing on?

Here’s a quick cheat sheet of seasons and holidays you can use for your seasonal automotive marketing.

  • Spring (February through May)
  • Super Bowl Weekend
  • Tax Season
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • Fourth of July
  • Fall (September through November)
  • Labor Day Weekend
  • Black Friday
  • December (year-end sales events)

For each of your seasonal and holiday events, a good rule of thumb is to start promoting your seasonal marketing material at least a month in advance. Not only will this build hype and anticipation for your consumers, but it will also help prevent you from scrambling for marketing material days before your sales event.

Pro tip: Make sure to connect your digital marketing efforts with your in-store ones, doing so will ensure a seamless customer experience. And if you're extra creative, you can even link them together to create social media-worthy opportunities, such as a pop-up event or Instagram wall, that generate brand awareness and showroom traffic.

Tap into the seasonal spirit

Don’t let peak car sale seasons pass you by. Use these seasons to maximize your marketing for the greatest impact and get viewers excited about purchasing their dream car. To get the most out of your seasonal marketing, though, don’t simply rely on calendar events.

Practicing good lead generation and lead management is the key to keeping a steady flow of customers visiting your website and coming into your dealership throughout the year. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, create seasonal marketing content that caters to their wants and desires, then follow up with excellent customer service.

Using business communications and call analytics software like Lead Center can help. Not only will you have a clear view of which marketing channels drive the most leads, but you can better close them with customer insights at your fingertips. Experience the difference yourself with a free 14-day trial to Lead Center.

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