5 Automotive Digital Marketing Strategies To Win Online Sales in 2021


This year saw more people and businesses go online more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic was undoubtedly a major reason for this migration from physical to digital. However, buyers and sellers have been increasingly moving online for a few years due to its convenience and benefits. In fact, according to a 2018 reportOpens a new window by MHP, a Porsche company, almost two-thirds of potential buyers were willing to purchase a new or used car entirely online.

A typical buyer’s journey starts with gaining awareness and information gathering. And in the digital era, this happens mostly online, un-assisted by manufacturers and dealers. The online discovery process has gained much momentum this year due to the pandemic. With digital increasingly becoming the customers’ default choice for decision-making, automotive manufacturers should develop their marketing strategies for a growing online market.

Here are a few automotive digital marketing strategies and channels you as a manufacturer should consider incorporating in your marketing plans to boost sales.

Learn more: Why You Should Ditch Keyword-Lead Content Marketing Strategies

1. Leverage Advancements in Voice Search

It is common knowledge that any person who searches for a vehicle does so by typing a search engine query. Simultaneously, like web-based search engines, voice-based virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, and Siri are becoming popular ways to search for information. According to Juniper Research’s studyOpens a new window , voice commerce will reach $80 billion per annum by 2023. Considering the future of SEO, it is necessary that you optimize your web assets to rank high for voice search and virtual assistants.

People may not directly use Alexa or Google Home to buy a car. However, when they try to gather some information about a vehicle, such as “What is the maximum torque of Nissan Magnite,” they should be able to find it from your website. If the answer is not available and your competitor has an answer, the chances are that they may get the upper hand.

Besides optimizing their brands for voice search, a few auto manufacturers are also leveraging the technological advancements in voice assistants in other ways. One example is General Motors (GM). The car manufacturer conducted a few studies around infotainment systems and customer satisfaction. Based on its research, the manufacturer will soon offer Alexa Voice ExperienceOpens a new window in a few vehicles to provide a seamless voice search experience between the car and home.

2. Create and Distribute Digital Content

Content marketing is an essential aspect of search engine optimization (SEO). While there is a significant impetus for voice search, traditional web search and search engines will not go away. Further, as people want more information about a vehicle they want to buy, content plays a vital role in web and voice search. Before making a purchase, a customer typically checks for information about a vehicle in the form of blogs, third-party websites, images, and YouTube videos, before shortlisting his/her choices. Hence, as an auto manufacturer, you should focus on creating and distributing content across your owned and paid assets.

You can create textual and visual content such as images and videos to provide information about your vehicles, such as specifications and unique features. You can also create a blog and social media posts and thought leadership articles to establish yourself as an industry leader. You can market this content on various social media channels and third-party websites.

3. Leverage Social Media

According to a study by We Are SocialOpens a new window , more than 3.8 billion people were using social media in January this year, a 9% increase from last year during the same period. This means that there is a significant population on social media that could be potential vehicle buyers. Hence, as an automotive manufacturer, it is necessary for you to be present and engage potential buyers on social media platforms. A few popular platforms include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

There are several ways you can connect and engage with your social media audience. For example, you can use Facebook to increase your audience engagement through regular posts. Mercedes Benz posts more Facebook posts than any other car manufacturer daily and generates thousands of engagements per post. A significant number of Facebook and Twitter posts by the brand talk about its features. Here is a recent post by the brand.

You can also place highly targeted ads to reach people who are in the market looking to purchase a vehicle. You can narrow down your target audience based on filters such as geographical location, age, and consumer interests. Similarly, you can use platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to reach out to millennials. These platforms allow you to share your posts and brand story more creatively.

Further, you can leverage user-generated content (UGC) on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to build customer advocacy for your brand.

Learn more: 5 User-Generated Content Ideas To Turn Customers into Fans in 2021

4. Target Mobile Devices and Apps

We live in an age where people prefer to use smartphones to consume information over other digital devices. According to research, automotive shoppers are increasingly using mobile devices to gain vehicle-related information. When deciding to buy a vehicle, they check for various aspects such as price, brand, features, dealership, and payment options, using their phone. Many people even book a test drive or the vehicle on their phones. Hence, as an automotive manufacturer, you need to optimize your website, content, and campaigns for these devices.

You can further leverage the growing popularity of mobile applications to serve your customers with targeted ads. As the number of vehicle buyers increases, there are more automotive apps created to serve them. These applications prove to be an excellent platform to serve in-app advertisements to customers who are in the market looking to purchase vehicles. You can further gamify your ads to improve engagement with prospective customers.

Nissan, the Japanese car manufacturer, leveraged a smartphone’s touch screen to garner engagement for its SUV ad. The ad features Nissan’s Rogue SUV fighting a gang of evil snowmen. The audience could tap the various hot spots in the ad to learn more about the SUV’s features. The ad ran across Juice mobile’s network and registered a whopping 93% engagement. Here is the ad (regular version).

5. Leverage the Popularity of OTT Platforms

Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms and connected TVs (CTV) such as Hulu, Netflix, and Roku are gaining more popularity in the past few years. According to a study by Integral Ad Science (IAS), 88% of people watch streaming content on CTV. The study further states that 91% of CTV users watch some form of ad-supported content. Furthermore, more OTT platforms and CTVs are coming into the market, and more people are steering away from traditional TV. This provides a massive opportunity for you to place ads on these devices and platforms.

Having said that, viewers are scattered across devices and platforms. Hence, marketers need to use targeted ads to reach their users. An advantage of OTT platforms and CTVs is that they allow auto manufacturers and dealers to create much better targeting than traditional media such as TV and radio. By combining first- and third-party data, and contextual targeting effectively, they can showcase the right ads to the right audience segment.

OTT and CTVs offer automotive marketers another advantage. Ads on these platforms and devices are non-skippable, which leads to high completion rates. This provides an opportunity for the manufacturers and dealers to improve their conversion rates as well. By adding tracking pixels, they can track the performance and improve campaign attribution.

Learn more: 5G Promises To Bring Low-To-No Latency To OTT Advertising

Over to You

Digital technologies have changed the way people search and buy their products and services. Digital is more of a necessity than an option for both buyers and sellers today. While the final purchase may be physical, a buyer’s research and decision-making process are almost entirely influenced by digital. Hence, it is imperative for you to integrate digital technologies and marketing strategies into your business to make your customer’s journey seamless and improve sales.

What other automotive digital marketing strategies should manufacturers use to achieve more sales? Do share with us on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .