Your Guide To Digital Marketing for Automotive Businesses

Christy Walters


March 17, 2022 (Updated: October 26, 2023)

black interior of an audi car to showcase digital marketing for automotive companies

Many consumers, in all industries, do initial online research before making a purchase. In the automotive industry, 92% of car buyers report browsing options online before they ever step into a dealership. With that many people online, taking advantage of digital marketing automotive strategies can help you convert those researchers and browsers into in-person customers. In this article, we cover:

What Is Digital Marketing for the Automotive Industry?

Digital marketing for the automotive industry includes the channels and processes used to engage with your target audience through online sources. As an automotive marketer, your goals likely include reaching more customers, selling more cars, staying competitive with other dealerships, and growing your business. Digital marketing is just one method that you can use to make all those things happen. It’s also a tool to help you refine and target your messaging so it’s reaching the right people, in the right way, at the right time.

How Is Digital Marketing for Automotive Different From Other Methods?

Traditional marketing and advertising for the automotive industry usually take place on television or in radio, print, or billboard ads. In contrast, digital marketing takes place online through both static and dynamic channels. Digital marketing is also more interactive, allowing the readers and viewers to be part of the search or conversation rather than just passively experiencing the content.

Digital marketing can target specific demographics and classifications of consumers and provide feedback to the dealerships to see how well the advertisements perform in that part of the market. It’s also easier to change and adapt digital marketing campaigns as they’re happening, compared to traditional marketing. With a social media post or a website, if you learn something isn’t working or there’s an error, you can go in and make an immediate change rather than waiting for the campaign to finish and trying again with a new one.

Why Is Digital Marketing Important in the Automotive Industry?

black interior of an audi car to showcase digital marketing for automotive companies

Image via Unsplash by @adamsky1973

Shopping for a vehicle today differs from what it was even five years ago. With the invention of companies like Carvana where you can browse, buy, and even order and pick up your car completely online, people’s perceptions of what the experience of car buying can look like changed dramatically. That’s not to say that all car sales are online-only, but it means that if your dealership wants to compete, it needs a digital presence so it shows up in the same channels as these types of businesses.

Having an online presence gives people a space to look at your products and review your services before they ever make a phone call or visit your physical location. Working in digital marketing can help maximize how many people see your content and know your company exists. This can increase the chances that they contact one of your salespeople throughout their buying journey.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Strategy

Channels for Digital Marketing in the Automotive Industry

There are both paid and free channel options that auto dealerships can use to get started with and advance their digital marketing campaigns. Using omnichannel, or multichannel, digital marketing can help you reach your goals while saving your team time and money. Some available digital marketing channels include:

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is like traditional advertising. It allows you to choose where, when, and how you want your ads displayed to the public online. As you can tell by the name, this is a paid channel. To use PPC advertising, sign up for a service, such as Google Ads, and create an advertisement to display across the search engine or another service.

From there, you pay a fee each time someone clicks your ad. The ad placement, keyword choice, and other factors affect the amount you pay per click. These types of ads can be text only or include images.


Your website serves as your home base online. It’s where people may go first when looking for your dealership. Or, if it’s not the first place they visit, it’s the place you can link back to with all your other content and information. Your website likely holds pages for:

  • Products
  • Dealership history
  • Employee information
  • Blog links
  • Social media links
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Tips
  • Car buying and maintenance resources

An excellent website is not only informative but optimized for search engines so that you can get the most from organic search results.


You may run a separate blog for your content or include one as a component on your website. Adding a blog to your web presence can help provide additional value and information to your customers beyond traditional car sales. Sometimes, before people look to buy a new vehicle, they may research specifications about certain models, or even try to determine if it’s worth it to repair their current vehicle instead.

If you publish articles and posts on these topics, they may come up in search results. Creating automotive content at scale helps expose your target audience to your content and brand, where they may not have learned about your dealership otherwise. Doing that research may help them determine that it’s time to buy a new vehicle from you or keep your dealership in mind when it is actually time to do so.

Social Media

Putting your dealership on social media is a way to get in front of people where they already spend their time. Your audience may check social media to see what kinds of products you have, or how responsive your dealership is to questions. There are plenty of social media platforms where you may choose to create accounts, such as on:

Many social media platforms also have their own PPC ad programs. This may allow you to target specific audiences within the channels and point them back to your profiles or website.


Videos can be helpful digital marketing tools on their own or in collaboration with other channels and strategies. You can upload videos to your YouTube channel, share them on other social media platforms, or add them to your website or blog posts. Videos you may use to showcase your dealerships include:

  • New vehicle showcases with their unique features
  • Cars on test drives
  • Testimonials from customers
  • Tips for maintaining or repairing your car
  • Advertisements for your dealership


Email marketing can help you stay in touch with leads and previous customers. Potential customers may give you their email addresses to learn more about your services or access gated content, known as lead magnets. Email can also help you get customers to return to the dealership for their next purchase or maintenance, such as inspections, tire rotations, or oil changes.

You can segment your audience to make sure you’re sending the right emails to the right groups. You may do this by asking people to opt in to certain mailing lists or by conducting surveys online or through email marketing. Use email for additional correspondences too, such as to share new products and offers or to distribute a newsletter.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

Text Messages

Similar to email marketing, you can handle communications with customers and leads through text messages (SMS). You can collect people’s cell phone numbers the same way you try to get email addresses: by offering valuable resources or content in exchange for that contact information.

This channel may be quicker and more efficient than email marketing because people have their cell phones with them often. They may be more likely to turn on alerts for their text messages rather than their emails. You can offer similar content as you would through emails, such as information about promotions, coupons, or links to additional content.

Related: How To Develop Audience Segmentation in the New Year


In the past, auto dealerships could get their businesses listed in the phone book where people could find their information. But when was the last time you used a phone book? It’s probably been a while. Online directories like YelpAngi, and even Google’s “near me” search may be more likely places for people to look today to find information and contact details for a company or service.

Creating profiles on these sites can help with your local SEO. These directories are also a chance for you to link back to your website and social media accounts to get more traffic across all your channels.

Third-Party Websites

There are many third-party websites throughout the automotive industry that list new and used inventory and details about each car on your lot. These may be sites that potential leads visit first because they’re larger, have more widely known brand names, and perform well in organic search. By getting your listings on third-party websites, you’re more likely to get your content and products in front of your local target audience. Some examples of third-party automotive sites include Cars.comAutotrader, and CarGurus.

Over-The-Top (OTT) Advertising

If you’re attached to traditional television advertising, over-the-top (OTT) advertising may appeal to you. These paid ads appear on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Roku as people watch their movies and television shows. When you advertise with these services, you bypass traditional cable advertising but still get your content in front of people similarly. OTT advertising is often less expensive than traditional TV advertising and can better target the consumer, especially if you own or perform marketing for a automotive brand with dealerships across the country.

Tips and Strategies for Digital Marketing in Automotive

Use these tips and strategies to help you prepare for your digital marketing campaigns:

Optimize for Organic Search

Engaging in search engine optimization (SEO) best practices is what can get your content to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is ideal because you want people to find your business and content easily. You also want to be a recognizable brand when people are browsing during the car buying process. Plus, organic search is a free tool. It may take time and trial and error to get your pages and content just right, but it’s worth it if you can save money and still get the traffic and recognition you want from your audience.

Are you ready to create SEO-focused content that gets car buyers excited to purchase from your dealership? Start a call with CopyPress. Our team of strategists and creatives works with you to develop results-based, on-brand product descriptions, articles, and blog posts.

Engage in Local SEO

Most of the sales from your dealership come from people who live near your storefront. It’s unlikely that people may travel across the country to buy a car from you when there’s an option nearby. That’s why it’s important to focus not just on SEO, but local SEO, specifically. Local SEO is even more important if you’re trying to target segments of your audience that do their research on mobile devices. This is because location services can help bring up your information when they’re near your storefront and show it as a more relevant result because it’s nearby.

Related: Local Online Marketing: What It Is and How To Use It

Make The Website User Friendly

Having a website is important, but making it user-friendly is better. What good is taking the time and energy to have a website if it’s slow, clunky, confusing, or not mobile-friendly? A website is a good way to connect with people early in the sales funnel and on their shopping journey.

Make sure you update your content regularly and that it’s valuable and relevant to their needs. This keeps people on your website longer and encourages them to come back if they have more questions or want to do more research. Make the content easy to browse in a way that they can do it on their own. But add calls-to-action (CTAs) where shoppers can contact you or chat with you if they need help. You can also allow the customer to set up email alerts when a particular car that meets their criteria arrives on your lot.

Having a robust internal search feature that allows people to find cars by make, model, price, and other factors can also make your site more user-friendly.

Expand Your Reach

We’ve already said it once, but this point is worth making again: put your information on as many channels as possible to catch people where they visit. Car buyers use a variety of sources online to gather information before making a purchase. Some of the most common places they look include:

  • Google and other search engines
  • Manufacturer websites
  • Aggregated shopping sites
  • Local dealership websites
  • Social media

Make sure your information is present in all these places so they can find you, but also see your content repeatedly. This can help build trust and your reputation as a reliable resource.

Use Paid Ads Strategically

Organic search and optimization are great for your long-term strategy, but if you’re looking to see immediate results, paid ads can help. Paid ads are great for time-bound promotions and sales, or to help new or rebranded companies get initial recognition and reach. With paid ads, you’re guaranteed reach. With specific targeting features, you have a better chance of getting more qualified leads.

Paid ads can also give you insight into your target audience. Who’s seeing your ads? What are they doing about them? This information can help you refine all your strategies and improve what you’re doing to better target your audience.

Ask for Feedback

In the old days, people used to go to a car dealer they knew or ask friends and family for product and location purchase tips. This is still a popular method for car shopping, but it takes place on the internet, with recommendations for all customers and consumers. Encouraging people to leave positive online reviews can help establish a reputation for your brand. The more people that leave positive feedback, the easier and more natural it is to build trust with new customers who are considering purchasing with your dealership.

Digital marketing makes sure your dealership is discoverable multiple times across the internet. No matter how they find you, your constant, repeated presence can help put your dealership at the forefront of their minds and turn to you when they’re ready to convert and become a paying customer.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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