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Automotive Marketing: 11 Marketing Strategies & Ideas for Your Brand in 2024 [+Examples]

By Leah Clark Last updated: 18 minute read E-commerce & RetailMarketing Guides

The automotive industry is flooded with competitors, and it takes a unique edge to engage and convert target customers. Brands need the top automotive marketing strategies to help them stand out in this massive market.

Only one in every three car buyers knows what they want when going to a dealership. Almost 80% of new and previous car customers have to use search before finalizing a deal. And these customers have to visit a website at least 4.2 times during their buying journey.

Automotive buyers clearly need a lot of convincing.

But how do you persuade automotive marketing customers?

And how can you fashion your approach to be unique from your competitors?

From SMS marketing and PPC ad campaigns to building credibility and referral marketing, we have loads of ways to reign the automotive market!

Ready to learn about automotive marketing strategies and the best automotive marketing success stories?

Here we go!

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    An Overview of Automotive Industry’s Evolution

    Before digital marketing and technology, automotive shops had to secure sales and brand awareness from their local communities. These micro brands didn’t have the know-how or platforms to reach global audiences and accelerate their reputations and reach. But this is now very different. Now micro automotive dealerships and repair shops can use a long list of online strategies to tap into new markets, build brand loyalty and rise against competitors.

    Source: Chris Haroun

    11 Automotive Marketing Strategies and Ideas

    If you’re looking for awesome automotive marketing ideas for maximum sales, here they are!

    1.Build Credibility

    Cars are an investment because they typically cost a lump sum. To convince buyers to spend large amounts of cash, you must develop authority and credibility. There’s no better way to do this than through customer reviews on your website.

    93% of customers say online reviews influence their buying decisions. And 91% of buyers between 18 and 34 trust reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family.

    Customer reviews matter so much because they give prospects an insight into your business and product value. When buyers have seen others have positive experiences with your brand, this gives them more reason to trust your offerings. And if you use video testimonials instead of customer reviews, you can increase your chance of conversions by 80%!

    So how do you get your customers to leave reviews to build brand credibility? 

    Here are the best ways to generate customer reviews for automotive marketing:

    • Ensure the cars you sell are in excellent condition and provide value for money. Over 50% of buyers leave reviews because of high-quality products.
    • Provide buyers with an incentive for leaving a review. 
    • Directly ask every customer to leave a review on your My Google Business Page or social channels.
    • Send buyers follow-up emails to ensure they’re enjoying the car you sold them, and ask them for a review.
    • Provide outstanding customer service to motivate buyers to leave positive comments about your brand.
    • Tackle and solve negative reviews as soon they are published.

    2.Create a Referral Marketing Campaign

    Referral marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy to attract more buyers through your existing customer base. When a customer refers someone to your brand, you can offer them an accessible and valuable incentive. 

    When most buyers walk through your doors, they are naturally wary of sales reps. Sales reps at car dealerships are notoriously known for putting pressure on buyers to make a sale. While urgency is a fantastic marketing tactic, it’s better to make your customers feel comfortable. Get your sales reps to find personalized options and not just close the deal.

    Your referral marketing campaign will achieve your desired results with a well-trained and friendly sales team. Think about this in action. A buyer walks in. A friendly sales rep welcomes them with a smile. The sales rep asks all the right questions, listens to the buyer’s needs, and finds the best options. 

    Your buyers will certainly want to tell their friends and family about the pro sales rep that didn’t rip them off. The people they share this experience with will gain interest in your brand because they also want to deal with sales reps like yours.

    But you can apply this logic to any aspect of your business. Customers will share your brand if your product is fantastic. And the same goes for hands-on customer service and optimizing your buyer experience.

    Here’s how you can run a successful referral marketing strategy for automotive brands:

    • Create a reward system. Your campaign must be a win-win for your business and your referees. Provide a valuable and relevant reward for referees. Ensure they can access your incentives quickly, without a complicated process. 
    • Share your referral campaign through social channels. Tell customers about your referral campaign through social platforms like email, SMS, Instagram, and Facebook. 
    • Have sales reps tell buyers about your referral program. After each sale, tell sales reps to inform buyers about your referral program and what they can gain. 
    • Reach out to positive reviewers. Reach out to positive reviewers and tell them about your program! They’re more likely to be interested because they like your brand and product. 
    • Partner with other automotive companies. Find auto companies in your area and create referral partnerships with them. These companies can’t sell the same products as yours. For example, if you sell cars, find a repair shop to partner work with. When the repair shop refers buyers to your business, they get a commission. And when you refer your buyers to the repair shop, you get a commission!
    Referral for automotive marketing
    Source: StartupTalky

    3.Include Traditional Marketing Campaigns

    Incorporate traditional marketing strategies for automotive marketing.

    Unlike Ecommerce brands that rely solely on digital marketing, automotive brands deal with physical customers. Conduct research to understand your target audience well and determine which traditional marketing strategies will engage them and how you can achieve this.

    Do your customers watch a lot of television? When would be the best time to run TV commercials based on your audience data? What must your content cover to engage targeted buyers?

    There are many other traditional marketing strategies you can use for automotive marketing like:

    • Billboards
    • Brochures
    • Printed media features (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
    • Radio ads and features
    • Trade shows and automotive events

    While optimizing all the digital aspects of your automotive marketing strategy, don’t forget traditional marketing!

    4.Develop a Text Marketing Campaign

    SMS marketing is an effective strategy for automotive marketing. The open rate for SMS marketing is a whopping 82%!

    34% of buyers read their texts within five minutes of receiving them, and over 50% of customers say SMS is the most effective communication channel.

    SMS marketing works because it’s not as invasive as phone calls. Customers may not have time to answer your calls or postpone your calls. This can complicate your sales and marketing funnels. 

    However, if you use an SMS marketing campaign, buyers won’t feel obligated to hear what you have to say. You can reach them while they’re in their comfort zones through assertive and personalized marketing.

    You may be wondering about SMS vs. email marketing.

    Based on your target audience and how much time they spend on email, email marketing can be effective. But compared to SMS marketing, your customers may not spend as much time reading and acting on email newsletters. 

    SMS marketing_automotive marketing
    Source: MobileMonkey

    There are many ways to use SMS marketing for automotive companies like:

    • Customer service. Drive customer appreciation through SMS marketing for customer service. You can send buyers updates about car viewings, test drives, or repairs. Brands can also remind existing customers about car services. For customer service, you can use SMS to generate customer feedback too!
    • Internal communication. How well your internal team communicates translates into your customer service, and sales and marketing efforts. Your team must all be on the same page at all times. SMS is a quick and easy way to share brand news and updates and motivate employees by sharing customer testimonials and sales targets. 
    • Sales and marketing. As I mentioned above, SMS marketing has impressive results and statistics. Not every buyer will be ready to buy a car on their first visit. You can use SMS to keep prospects, and existing customers engaged, share business news and marketing campaigns, and create another channel for customer communication.

    5.PPC Ads

    Paid-per-click (PPC) ads will boost your web traffic. Organic traffic works but having the extra help makes a difference. Because you have to be so specific in your search terms for automotive marketing, you can build a highly targeted ad campaign. 

    Here are the best tips for PPC automotive marketing ads:

    1. Start with strong research. You can’t start a PPC ad campaign without extensive research. The more you know about your customer’s buying habits, search intent and similar aspects of your market, the better. You must personalize your campaign to your audience so you secure impressive reach and conversions. From all this research, you will also know the best keywords to use for maximum traction. 
    2. Focus on trending keywords. Brands must optimize their PPC ad campaign to target trending keywords. Whether targeted buyers see your PPC ad relies on the keywords you use. Don’t take shortcuts for your keyword research and document all the features of the best keywords you find. 
    3. Spy on your competitors. PPC ad campaigns require businesses to compete with their competitors for maximum reach. Use a tool like SpyFu to determine which keywords your competitors use for their PPC ad campaigns. Find a way to leverage this information to your gain. 
    4. Perfect your CTA. Your CTA must convince buyers to click on your ad. Use a clear and direct CTA that persuades customers to click on your ad through clear, personalized content. 
    5. Track and measure. There will always be ways to improve your PPC ad campaign so track your ads and measure their performance against your goals. 
    PPC ads_automotive marketing
    Source: 99firms

    6.Manage Negative Keywords

    Negative keywords are a new concept to many business owners. You exclude these keywords from your PPC ads, so your ads don’t appear for specific key terms. 

    The automotive industry is huge and highly competitive. If users search, “buy a car”, how saturated do you think the search results for this keyword are? And how many kinds of automotive buyers would use this search term? 

    When you manage negative keywords, you can focus your PPC ads to hone in on targeted keywords relating to your business and ideal buyer.

    Remember, you spend money every time someone clicks on your PPC ad. So, when you exclude negative keywords from your PPC ad campaign, you can ensure your targeted buyers are clicking on your ad. If random buyers click on your ad because of vague or general key terms, you’ll spend more on your PPC ad campaign than what you convert.

    SEO keyword research and customer analytics is the only way to know which negative keywords to exclude from your PPC ad campaign. When you understand the search terms used by your target audience, you can focus on optimizing your PPC ad content based on these keywords. 

    SEO keywords change over time. Keywords that are trending today could be entirely different tomorrow. It’s vital to manage your negative keyword list because of this. Be strategic about the keywords you must exclude and consistently maintain your list for a successful PPC automotive ad campaign.

    7.Use Remarketing Ads

    Remarketing is a practice that aims to re-engage web visitors who viewed and interacted with your products but didn’t purchase. This process works with web cookies. Web cookies garner and use small bits of data based on how users interact with Google and what they search.

    These web cookies will track buyers’ online activity and place your retargeted ads on websites they frequently visit. Your retargeted ads will appear on sites users visit after yours.

    Around 97% of people that leave your website won’t return. To minimize this figure, use personalized retargeted ads and drive traffic back to your website. Retargeted web visitors are about 43% more likely to convert, and retargeted ads have a ten times higher conversion rate than typical PPC ads. 

    These are the best tips for remarketing ads that convert:

    • Keep it simple and personalized. Avoid long text and keep your content optimized, direct and simple. Web visitors must quickly notice your brand and the products that initially interested them. 
    • Consider the language and terms you use in your content. If you use provocative language, curse words, or a lot of symbols like exclamation marks, Google won’t publish your ad. 
    • Use a branded approach. Your retargeted ads must align with your website and branding. It must be obvious to identify your business from your ad design. 
    • Use high-quality images. Use top-tier pictures for your ads that are bound to grab web visitors’ attention and engage them. 
    Remarketing ads_automotive marketing
    Source: Compass Media

    8.Optimize Your Website SEO

    We recently explored negative keywords for automotive marketing. So, this should give you a hint that SEO plays an important too. In automotive marketing, targeted audiences start with the local community. Automotive buyers typically buy in their area, so your SEO strategy must consider specific key terms.

    Let’s say you’re selling auto parts in New York City. Avoid vague or general search terms like “buy auto parts” and “auto parts for sale”. Use keywords specific to your audience, like “buy auto parts New York City”, or “auto parts for sale NY”. 

    Create a Google My Business Page with optimized information about your brand, location, website, and your service. It’s best to add as many details as possible, so Google can match your business to targeted users searching in your area. 

    With that out the way, you must ramp up your SEO game on all fronts to attract qualified website leads. On-page and Off-page SEO are imperative to get noticed, and you must maintain and track your SEO consistently. Down the line, you’ll have to retouch old content and improve content based on keyword trends. Brands must evaluate their SEO throughout their strategy. 

    9.Secure Listings in Online Directories

    In the good old days, we had the Yellow Pages, where people could find businesses and services. We now have digital directories that offer the same convenience. Take advantage of this and provide a profile similar to your My Google Business Page. 

    Getting listed in an online directory offers a range of benefits. First, it’s another opportunity to leverage SEO and drive traffic. Second, you can improve credibility by securing a presence on another channel your targeted buyers use. Online directories are also cost-effective. All you need to do is create your listing and maintain your information.

    I want to stress how crucial it is to maintain your business information. Outdated information can make your brand look incompetent. 

    These are the best online directories for automotive brands:

    10.Adjust Your Strategies Based on Car Buying Trends

    Covid-19 taught businesses the market can switch quickly. Customer’s lost their jobs, and buying a car fell to the bottom of their priorities. 

    Keep updated with market news and insights and advertising and SEO trends. Although impactful events like Covid-19 aren’t frequent, stay ahead of what your buyers need and prefer. When car buying declines, put measures in place to minimize the financial impact on your business while accommodating your buyers. 

    And when car buying increases, create strategies to capitalize on this. 

    11.Refine Your Value Proposition

    Your value proposition must be different from that of your competitors. There are loads of automotive brands in most towns and cities, making the market highly competitive. You must market your brand as more than just an auto shop.

    Why do you do what you do?

    How do your brand and products add value to customers’ lives?

    What makes you different from the next auto shop?

    Your value proposition must align with your brand identity and mission. If you aim to offer the best rates on second-hand cars in California, every aspect of your business must align with this. 

    These are a few top tips for your automotive value proposition:

    1. Be clear about your target audience and tailor your content accordingly.
    2. Study your competitor’s value proposition to understand how you can design yours in a way that beats them.
    3. Focus on the aspects that make you different from other businesses in the market and better for your target audience.
    4. Promise and deliver clear-cut benefits to your customers.
    5. Use social proof to add credibility to your brand and value proposition. 

    Summary: 11 Automotive Marketing Strategies and Ideas

    1. Build credibility
    2. Create a referral marketing campaign
    3. Include traditional marketing campaigns
    4. Develop a text marketing campaign
    5. PPC ads
    6. Manage negative keywords
    7. Use remarketing ads
    8. Optimize your website SEO
    9. Secure listings in online directories
    10. Adjust your strategies based on car buying trends
    11. Refine your value proposition

    3 Automotive Marketing Campaign Success Stories 


    Chevrolet needed a fresh image and a new target audience for their brand. On April Fool’s Day, Chevrolet launched the #BestDayEver campaign to target millennials and broaden their audience. 

    Using influencers and celebrities like Alec Baldwin, Kelly Clarkson, and Olivia Wilde, Chevrolet created a video campaign of these icons doing “Acts of Awesomeness”. The American car brand worked with YouTube to promote an eight-hour live stream hosted by Garfunkel and Oates. 

    The campaign was a huge success and filled with fun! Kelly Clarkson hosted a lunch for new moms, sharing good advice and creating connections between Chevrolet and its audience. Alec Baldwin and Olivia Wilde also acted as substitute teachers in college classrooms! Who wouldn’t want to be taught by Alec Baldwin for one day?

    Chevorlet_automotive marketing
    Source: Wile Magazine

    The Results

    • 1.5 million social impressions for the hashtag #BestDayEver
    • 3 million YouTube viewers
    • 75% of the campaign’s engagement came from users aged 35 and younger.

    The Key Takeaways

    • Influencers are a fantastic way to ramp up social buzz and awareness.
    • Use a landmark day like April Fool’s Day because people are already looking forward to something fun or celebratory.
    • Spreading positive and wholesome awareness is a great way to emotionally connect with your target audience. 


    Ever thought of hosting a V-day campaign? Well, Mustang did, and it worked! To celebrate Valentine’s weekend, Ford Mustang created a prank video to humor and engage viewers worldwide.

    Mustang worked with a talent agency and pretended to offer casting roles to actors and actresses for a dating commercial. The talent agency told candidates they had to meet with the show’s star, and she would decide if they made the cut.

    When eager talent met the show’s star, she was actually (and unbeknown to them) a Mustang stunt car driver. She invited actors and actresses to take a drive in her Mustang while she “interviewed” them. The stunt car driver pretended she didn’t know how to drive at all and in a split second, started driving like a headless chicken with the help of her stunt skills. 

    But why did Ford Mustang use this approach?

    The campaign was to raise awareness and remove the cliché of women being bad drivers. While we don’t know how well the campaign changed people’s minds, it drove impressive results. 

    Mustang_automoive marketing
    Source: ShortyAwards

    The Results

    • 12.8 million YouTube views

    The Key Takeaways

    • Video marketing is a direct and engaging method for automotive marketing
    • Don’t be afraid to approach social issues and cultural misconceptions.
    • Find a fresh, fun angle for your automotive marketing campaign.

    3.Local Auto Dealership Works with Digital Diagnosis Marketing

    Digital Diagnosis Marketing is a digital marketing agency that helped a local auto dealership maximize its sales. With the growth of online competitors and the economic hardship from Covid-19, a local auto dealership found it extremely challenging to increase sales.

    To solve this problem Digital Diagnosis Marketing used paid search and targeted display ads. They used a series of custom designs and content personalized to the auto dealership’s ideal buyers. 

    This automotive marketing success story shows how local auto dealerships can leverage digital marketing too! With audience insights and a tailored approach for your PPC ad campaign, micro automotive brands can accelerate sales too. 

    Automotive marketing success stories
    Source: Digital Diagnosis Marketing 

    The Results

    • PPC ad campaign CTR grew by 1.35x
    • 55.2% increase in conversions
    • 49% increase in impressions

    The Key Takeaways

    • Working with an agency is a fantastic idea for a local automotive business.
    • Personalized PPC ad campaigns are fantastic for automotive marketing.

    Summary: 3 Automotive Marketing Campaign Success Stories

    1. Chevrolet
    2. Mustang
    3. Local Auto Dealership


    Automotive marketing is competitive, and businesses the best strategies to stay ahead. For customer-centric automotive marketing, build credibility through customer reviews, create a referral marketing program, don’t neglect traditional marketing, and leverage SMS marketing.

    Although it’s challenging to stand out from the card in automotive marketing, using these strategies makes it easier. Plus, the best automotive marketing success stories have valuable and easy-to-action takeaways for successful auto marketing!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the best strategies for automotive marketing?

    The best strategies for successful automotive marketing include building credibility, leveraging SMS marketing, creating a referral marketing campaign and building a PPC ad campaign. Read this full article for more on the top automotive marketing strategies and the best success stories to learn from!

    What are the best examples of automotive marketing?

    The top automotive marketing success stories include Chevrolet, Mustang and a case study by Digital Diagnosis Marketing on a local auto dealer and micro automotive brand. Read our article for the key takeaways of these success stories and how you can use these strategies for your brand.

    How has the automotive industry evolved?

    When the automotive industry first came to the scene, businesses had to rely on marketing to the local community. But thanks to digital marketing, micro automotive brands can increase their awareness and reach through personalized, customer-centric online strategies. Read this article to find out how automotive marketing has evolved and the best strategies to use.


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