Marketing 3 min read

Survey Reveals How US Car Dealers Approach Digital Marketing

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welcomia /

In a blog post on Monday, CarGurus‘ Vice President Ashley Karr offered valuable insights into how US car dealers optimize their digital marketing channels.

Previous studies showed that sixty-six percent of calls received by car dealerships today are generated through paid search, while the remaining 34 percent comes from organic search. Around 61 percent of car buyers also contact dealerships after doing online searches first.

These figures are clear indications of how important digital marketing is to the car dealership industry. But how do car dealers approach marketing?

How US Car Dealers Approach Digital Marketing

Digital Channels

For their research, Karr and her team surveyed over 300 US car dealers regarding the seven most popular marketing channels today, namely:

  • Facebook
  • paid search
  • retargeting
  • web video
  • paid email
  • third-party lead provider
  • other social channels

The team discovered that 91 percent of respondents use third-party lead providers for marketing their products and services. It was followed by Facebook ads at 71 percent and paid search marketing at 45 percent.

Surprisingly, the popular marketing medium web video fell behind, with only 21 percent of respondents using it.

The survey also showed that between franchises and independent car dealers, the former was 4.5x more likely to utilize retargeting and 2x more like to use paid search.

Dealerships in the metro were 30 percent more likely to use other social media platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram in their marketing strategies. A mere 19 percent of metro dealers were also into paid email marketing.

The rural dealers, on the other hand, were 19 percent more likely to use retargeting. A wise strategy since dealers in rural areas have a smaller pool of buyers.

Marketing Channels: Quality vs. Quantity

The survey also revealed a slight difference between the quality and quantity of the leads generated by the marketing channels included in the research.

Karr and her team discovered that web video and Facebook ads were rated less in lead quality than lead volume by the car dealers. Apparently, the number of leads from the two channels is acceptable, but the quality’s not good enough.

Meanwhile, the respondents were happier with the volume of leads generated by paid search, even if the quality’s not that high. The behavior toward paid search allegedly stems from the fact that it’s a high-funnel channel that’s not expected to produce ready-to-close deals.

Confidence in Marketing Strategies

When it comes to confidence, 55 percent of franchise dealers said that they’re very or extremely confident in their marketing strategies. On the other hand, only 38 percent of independent dealers feel the same way.

The majority of dealers who utilize all channels in the survey revealed higher confidence, scoring 24 percent higher than those who only use two or three channels. Karr said:

“This correlation could be interpreted in one of two ways: confident marketers could be more likely to use more channels, or using more channels could lead to higher confidence – but either way, there is a connection.”

Right Marketing for Your Dealership

Karr emphasized that there’s no single answer as to what constitutes the ideal mix of marketing channels. In her post, the B2B marketing expert, instead, offered some basic guidelines into getting the right approach.

  • Always be looking for the next channel to add
  • Choose content and media to match buyer demographics and shopping journey stage
  • Execute, measure, adjust

The right approach will always lead to the most results-driven marketing strategy.

Read More: Why Car Dealerships Will Be Extinct By 2025

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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