Find out how to keep your auto marketing plan off the roadside and racing towards success.

Here, you’ll find:

  • The elements of an effective automotive website
  • How auto brands can leverage organic and paid tactics
  • Tips for creating valuable industry content
  • Why local automotive SEO is important

Today, the global car and automobile market size is worth reportedly more than $3.7 trillion. And while the industry took a hit during the pandemic, trend reports show that it’s bouncing back — and then some.

And with the number of U.S. auto dealerships nearing the 18,000 mark, the competition for customer attention is fierce.

Whether you’re running a dealership, managing an auto shop, or working elsewhere in the field, a comprehensive digital marketing plan can be instrumental in reaching company goals.

By leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search for your business, you can gain a competitive edge and bring new clients to your site — or doorstep.

Not sure where to begin with an automotive marketing strategy? Keep reading.

automotive marketing image of a white sports car in a parking garage

According to Google, 95% of car buyers start their search for a vehicle online before visiting a dealership. (Image: Unsplash)

1. Give your website a tune-up

Your website is the one-stop shop for your company’s online presence. Nearly everything you do to promote your offerings will lead the target audience to your site, so you want it to leave a good impression and accurately reflect your brand.

The main aspects of a successful automotive website are:

  • High-quality images and videos
  • Valuable written content
  • Easy navigation
  • Fast-loading pages
  • Responsive design
  • Up-to-date contact information

If you already have a website, conducting an audit (which can encompass things like your site’s technical SEO, content, and more) can help you figure out how well it supports your marketing efforts.

The main goal is to make it appealing and easy to use for your target audience while helping drive SEO and paid search (also called pay-per-click or PPC) efforts.

2. Rev up the valuable content

According to Google, 95% of car buyers start their search for a vehicle online before visiting a dealership. If a visitor lands on your website, you can work to keep them from bouncing by publishing high-quality, educational content.

The type of content you post will depend on what specific part of the auto space your company inhabits.

Popular automotive content marketing options include:

  • Videos and images of available vehicles or before/after photos of repaired vehicles
  • Tips for choosing the right vehicles
  • Tips on vehicle maintenance
  • Top auto industry news
  • Fuel economy tips
  • Driving safety tips

Pro tip: More than 60% of buyers visit a dealership after watching a video of the vehicle they’re considering buying. So, it could be worth your time to post test-drive or other car-related videos on your website or YouTube channel.

3. Leverage local SEO

Since most auto businesses target a local audience, implementing local SEO tactics is crucial for your automotive marketing plan.

Similar to traditional SEO, local SEO starts with high-quality keyword research. After you’ve included keywords in your content and metadata, you can try out some of the other tactics below.

Google Business Profile

Local SEO starts with claiming and optimizing your Google Business Profile or GBP (formerly Google My Business). Besides sharing accurate NAP (name, address, phone number) data, you can choose relevant categories, upload high-quality photos and videos, and provide your full list of services.

Pro tip: GBP has a convenient Q&A section designed to help you answer clients’ questions. Rather than waiting for the questions to come, you can ask your own questions and provide answers to create a helpful, keyword-rich FAQ section.


Citations are another important aspect of local SEO, as well as a Google ranking factor. (This means the search engine takes them into consideration when building a search engine results page to answer a query.) 

Citations are pages on third-party sites, such as review sites, that your business has a page or profile on. The top places to consider for auto citations include:

Once you create profiles on these websites, don’t forget to keep an eye on them and update them as needed. This includes keeping data accurate and replying to reviews (both positive and negative, ideally). 

Keep in mind that citations vary in quality. For search engines, one citation from a credible website looks better than a dozen from low-quality ones. 

yellow van parked on a side street

for most industries, the best strategies include both organic practices and paid search tactics. (Image: Unsplash)

4. Maintain a social media presence

Almost 80% of vehicle buyers find social media useful when contemplating a purchase. Meanwhile, 86% want to engage with the brand on social media after buying a car. 

Maintaining a social media presence can help with your automotive marketing, sales, and retention efforts.

Building an organic following on social media takes time. Thankfully, all the main social media channels offer easy-to-use paid marketing options if you’re looking for quicker results.

Facebook and Instagram in particular provide excellent targeting possibilities that allow you to reach narrow segments of your target audience. Meanwhile, TikTok allows for cutting-edge interactive videos ads, and Twitter offers Takeover Ads that create an immersive experience for your potential buyers.

Pro tip: When it comes to paid social, consider exploring dark posts. These are promotional posts that only appear in the audience’s feed but don’t surface on your profile.

5. Leverage paid search marketing   

Our years of experience tell us that, for most industries, the best digital marketing strategies include both organic practices and paid search tactics. 

Paid search campaigns usually achieve marketing objectives faster than organic efforts. But unless your paid ads and landing pages are paired with solid SEO practices, you’re not playing a long game.

To create high-quality PPC ads, start by determining the keywords that reflect your audience’s search intent. (Including negative keywords as well can help minimize useless clicks.)

The best part about PPC ads is that they’re easy to track and analyze. Search engines provide a variety of tools to monitor your campaign and make adjustments in real-time. This can help you tweak your paid search marketing and minimize expenses.

Pro tip: Sure, we’re biased, but working with a PPC agency of experts can help you build and optimize high-performance campaigns, ensuring you’re doing things right the first time.

Microsoft Advertising

In spring 2022, Microsoft Advertising expanded its Automotive Ad placements

Now, besides showing up on Bing search results, your ads can appear on Microsoft Audience Network, the Microsoft Autos Marketplace, and the Windows search bar. They will also show on Yahoo! and DuckDuckGo.

The takeaway

Both organic and paid automotive marketing efforts are integral to a successful campaign. 

Starting off on the right foot involves studying your audience’s needs, doing keyword research, designing an effective website, and putting the proper SEO and PPC tactics in motion.

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