Today Smartphones are Central to Digital Marketing for the Automotive Industry


Smartphones are the primary way that consumers research and compare products when they are making a purchasing decision. According to Pew Research Center, as of 2015, 80 percent of the prized demographic of automotive marketers (individuals 50 years and younger making at least $75,000) own smartphones, and they prefer them to other media television or using a desktop. Digital marketing in the automotive industry is dominated by the smartphone.

Here’s how you can keep pace and reach your target audience using automotive digital marketing:

Take a mobile-first approach: Google reports that 50 percent of all searches are now conducted via mobile devices, providing motivation for those in the automotive industry to prioritize mobile functions when it comes to search, social and display options. Dealerships can also use geotargeting to aim ads based on a user’s location and offer smartphone-friendly options like “call now” or “find the nearest dealer.”

Hone your phone skills: Even though its use is more like a small computer, smartphones still function as phones. Smartphone browsers are likely to give you a call and ask about your inventory, so have people on staff that are skilled at the old-fashioned, lost art of conversation.

Don’t lose your technological edge, though. Use analytics to find out what led your potential customer to make the call. Which pop-up ad, blog piece or video was the catalyst to having them reach out to call you?

Embrace on-the-lot research: A study by Placed, Inc. shows that 63 percent of car shoppers will pull their phones out right on the lot to comparison shop and do additional research. While this may feel threatening, you can use it to your advantage. Make sure your customers know that you will match any deal, and use your in-person sales skills, which are critical to pair with your digital marketing for the best return on investment.

Keep it simple: A Facebook study demonstrated that 70 percent of shoppers using mobile to research a car purchasing decision felt overwhelmed by too much information. You can distinguish yourself from competitors by creating landing pages that are succinct and include only the most critical information for decision-making purposes.

Use video early: The same Facebook study showed that car buyers are generally offered the opportunity to view a video an average of one month before purchase, but at that point, most customers had narrowed their decision to one or two models. Instead, you should introduce a video much earlier in the process to help your customer make a decision and associate your particular dealership with that model.

The age of smartphone dominance is here. If you aren’t using a mobile-first approach to optimize your reach with your target audience, you may be missing out on sales. Use these guidelines as a framework for designing a digital marketing plan that can create significant sales growth and help you stand out among your competitors in the automotive industry.


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