How Automotive Marketing Has Changed in 2020 and Beyond

The shift towards digital retail has been happening for years and 2020 has only accelerated that trend. 2 out of 3 car buyers are now more likely to skip dealerships and buy directly online. And according to Google, searches for “dealerships near me” dropped over 20% earlier this year.

But none of this is cause for alarm — just adjustment.

The same tools used by digital retailers are also available to dealerships. In the right hands, they can help dealers connect with new customers and market their inventory more effectively. Below, we’ll breakdown how automotive marketing has changed in 2020, where it’s headed, and how dealers can adapt to an ever-changing landscape.

It’s time to walk away from traditional marketing

Every dollar counts in today’s ultra-competitive dealership market. Throwing good money after bad simply isn’t an option for most dealers. Unfortunately, that’s what dealers are getting with traditional marketing channels. Ad spend keeps going up, while their effectiveness plummets.

With so many other options out there, it’s time for dealers to consider why they should keep using these outdated channels at all.

Don’t let traditional marketing channels waste your ad spend

Dealers have relied on traditional channels like TV and radio for decades. But customers are now spending more time online than they are in front of their tv sets. That’s not the only issue. Modern buyers prefer personalized ads that speak directly to them. Are you going to be able to do that through a commercial or radio spot? Probably not.

Despite these flaws, ad space on these channels continues to be as costly as ever. When you put it all together, it’s no surprise that many dealers are opting for cheaper (and more effective) marketing options.

Most dealers still rely on third-party lead providers to move inventory. However, these sites are delivering lower quality leads even as prices increase. Even worse: these sites thrive on keeping customer loyalty all to themselves. Instead of directing visitors to your VDPs, customers are instead sent to listings on their site.

Demand is at an all-time high right now. Avoid sacrificing customer loyalty by skipping these third-parties entirely.

Why Digital Marketing Benefits Dealers & Customers

Digital marketing has given dealers more tools to reach maximum customers for minimum ad spend. But new digital solutions aren’t just benefitting dealers. Personalized ads and streamlined dealer websites are also creating a better experience for customers as well. It’s a win-win scenario that is improving the car-buying experience for each party.

Providing a seamless online experience for buyers

For 31% of shoppers, the last stop on their car-buying journey is a dealership website. Sites like Carvana and Vroom have shown just how effective creating a seamless online experience can be. For dealers, that means making sites easy to navigate with clear CTAs and clean VDPs. Adding more advanced online features can also help in converting buyers. 56% of car buyers have said viewing a 360-degree video would be enough to convince them to make a purchase.

Helping customers find what they want with personalized ads

Today’s customers want to find the right car right now. Dealers can help these customers find exactly what they’re looking for with custom digital ads. Unlike traditional marketing channels, these ads are made specifically for individual buyers. New tools collect customer data for dealers so that they can provide buyers with the most personalized ads possible.

Even better, customers will see them where they spend the most time — online and across social channels.

How Better Data is Changing Marketing Forever

We’ve reached a point where the words digital and data are nearly synonymous. That’s especially true with the advent of real-time data. This information gives dealers unparalleled insight into their local audience.

Utilizing data to find the right customers

Dealers know who their ideal customers are: active local buyers searching for inventory they have in stock. So how do dealers find these customers online? By using customer data platforms (CDPs) and other real-time data sources.

These tools collect information like gender, age, income, even previous vehicles they’ve owned. This data is critical in ensuring digital ads are only served to interested customers.

Targeting active buyers with direct digital advertising

Digital marketing is more effective (and affordable) for today’s dealers. However, hiring a digital marketing agency is still out of the question for most operations. The good news: it’s never been easier for dealers to run their own direct digital advertising.

Creating and running their own digital ads puts dealerships back in control of their marketing. Dealers can control how much they spend, while also measuring their campaigns’ effectiveness through metrics like Cost per Click (CPC), Cost per Impression (CPM), and Cost per Lead.

Help your Dealership Thrive in Today’s Digital World

The world gets more digital each day, and the automotive industry is no exception. Dealers who embrace the benefits of digital marketing today are setting themselves up for success tomorrow. However, many dealers don’t have the time to manage their own marketing. And according to Forbes:

“There’s no true end-to-end framework to track marketing campaigns, prioritize likely buyers, personalize messages, or ensure that the sales and service teams have complete customer information.”

Well, now there is. Meet AdCue. AdCue is a revolutionary digital advertising system built for today’s dealers. Its platform lets dealers easily:

  • Manually or automatically craft digital ads that target active local buyers
  • Use their inventory data to include stand-out options, features, and photos
  • Serve ads across Facebook, Instagram, and the Google Ad Network
  • Clearly track the ROI of each ad

The best part: AdCue sends customers straight to your VDPs, not a third-party.

Ready to revolutionize your marketing strategy? Schedule your demo today to get started.



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How Automotive Marketing Has Changed in 2020 and Beyond

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We get it, change is hard. But when you think about getting rid of multiple systems and replacing them with better data and better tools, maybe it’s worth a look. Let us give you a free demonstration of VinCue and show you what your world could look like. 


Created by dealers, for dealers, VinCue is based on data and built for the modern automotive industry. 

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