No matter where you land on the spectrum of auto digital marketing expertise, the current “digital Darwinism” that continues to plague the retail industry can teach dealerships some valuable lessons in automotive marketing.  


Coined the “retail crisis,” the downfall of big retail, including well-known names like J.C. Penney, Toys R Us and Sears, offers auto dealerships a dire warning – those who do not listen to their customer’s needs and swiftly adapt to the digital age will not survive.  

Auto Buyer Stats You Need to Know for Smarter Automotive Marketing 


  • Ninety-five percent of vehicle buyers use digital as a source of information. 

  • More than half of automotive internet shoppers use a mobile device in their quest for automotive information. (J.D. Power 2017 New Autoshopper Study) 

  • Among automotive internet shoppers, 22 percent use a social media site as a source while shopping for their new vehicle. The most popular social media sites used by auto internet shoppers during the shopping process are YouTube and Facebook. (J.D. Power 2017 New Autoshopper Study) 

  • Out of the 24 times a customer interacts with a dealership, 19 of those are digital, with 34 percent beginning with a Google search. 

  • 54 percent of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers their preferred experience, even if it didn’t have the lowest price. 


Drawing from the lessons learned of big box retailers that ignored their customer’s needs and refused to adapt to the digital age, dealerships today have the foresight to do better. For dealerships to avoid the same fate, they need to understand the modern car buying journey and then build a robust digital marketing arsenal that responds effectively. A data-driven automotive marketing strategy will help your dealership win against the right opportunities to drive more sales. 

Build Your Automotive Marketing Arsenal with Digital Aligned to the Consumer Journey 


Building a bullet-proof digital marketing strategy requires a baseline knowledge of the tools that are available, as well as a keen understanding of what drives today’s modern car buyer.  


Using data from the LOCALiQ Auto Buyer’s Journey Study, which surveyed over 500 online consumers who have purchased a car in the past two years, here are some examples of proven automotive marketing tools used to help LOCALiQ AUTOMOTIVE dealership clients.  


Search Marketing 

Fact: When beginning the car buying research process, search engines were the most popular starting location overall.  


What This Means: Search engine advertising puts ads on top search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, along with dozens of local listings directories, so you reach potential customers.  


Review Management 

Fact: Reading reviews online resonates more strongly with younger consumers than older consumers. Reviews are critical to a dealership’s reputation.  


What This Means: Customer feedback matters. Building a positive online presence is key to successful automotive marketing. Using the right review management tools, dealerships can effectively manage reviews and increase their ratings. 


Email Marketing 

Fact: While Millennials gravitate towards social media, Gen Xers and Boomers, who have more buying power, are top users of email.  


What This Means: Targeted email marketing can help dealerships connect directly with these groups.  These emails should be customized and used to increase brand awareness and website leads or promote a specific service offer or sales event. 


Social Media Marketing & Social Ads 

Fact: Facebook was the most preferred social media research method (70 percent), with approximately half of respondents reporting they have used Facebook Marketplace when car searching (47 percent).  

What This Means: With so many ways to utilize Facebook – from live videos, to retargeted ads, to slideshows and story ads – connecting with potential customer on social media is easy. However, dealerships need to move beyond just creating a company page and start integrating social ads into their lead generation programs.  


There are now Facebook solutions that deliver leads instantly to dealers, so they can focus their time on converting those leads to customers, not managing their campaign. Plus, social ads with dynamic creative is a game changer by allowing for more relevant ads to boost conversions. 


Local Listings 

Fact: While the most popular starting location was search engines, the most preferred method of research was visiting a dealership in-person. This is reinforced by 70 percent of people saying they would need to see the car in-person before purchasing, suggesting research online is ultimately supplementary to in-person research. 


What This Means: It’s clear that clean local listings help drive more traffic to your business from search results and should be a core part of your ongoing automotive marketing strategy. Making sure your dealership is accurately portrayed in local listings helps potential customers find your dealership in the first place. There are over 50+ directories, including Google and Yelp.  An in-house team can manage this process, or local listings management service are available.  


What’s Next? Putting it All Together  


As we have witnessed in the current retail crisis, ignoring the pleas of customers to evolve has significant bottom-line repercussions. However, by taking steps now to implement smart digital marketing strategies that continually meet the needs of customers, dealerships can transform the car buying experience for the digital age.  


Contact us to learn more about how we can help you navigate the changing digital world. 



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