Internet and digital media have created new opportunities for car dealerships to laser-target their potential customers. Studies also reveal that using diverse marketing strategies can lead to greater sales and in-person visits to car dealerships remains a fundamental aspect of the car buying experience.

We have gathered 26 automotive marketing statistics to help the automotive industry understand opportunities created by the media in 2020.

The Rise of Search Engines

1. According to DialogTech, nearly 66 percent of the calls to automotive dealers are generated by pay-per-click advertising, which is almost two times greater than search engine advertising. Google Ads, Facebook, and Instagram marketing ads are a major source of these calls.

2. Recent research reveals that the majority of the potential customers start their car buying experience on the search engine.

3. More than a quarter of car buyers turn towards search engines to find potential answers to their questions before visiting a dealership.

4. Most people start their car buying search one to three months before buying the car. For dealers, it means they can create online marketing strategies to laser-target customers using product mentions.

5. According to Cox, one in three car buyers are undecided about the car they will purchase. Therefore, targeting these undecided customers digitally is a potentially lucrative opportunity for dealerships.

6. Nearly 90 percent of car buyers suggest that online reviews are very important for them. Dealers should ensure that their online reviews reflect customer expectations.

New Segments Worth Exploring

7.  In 2018, sales of electronic cars grew by 75 percent due to higher brand recognition. Research reveals that the idea of an environmentally friendly car is a hit among customers who are increasingly relying on fuel-efficient vehicles.

8. There are more women than men with a driver’s license in the United States. Automobile dealers targeting only men may be losing a big chunk of the market. While men prefer luxury and technology, women are inspired by durability and safety.

9. There are fewer low-priced new cars available in the market due to the competition created by pre-owned cars. Dealers should not forget to target segments such as women who mainly prefer low cost and pre-owned cars.

10. According to Cox Auto Inc, the sales of new cars decreased by 2% due to the increasing demand for pre-owned cars. The study also revealed that buyers spend time looking at the vehicle history report and mileage of pre-owned cars.

Marketing Diversification

11. ComScore suggests that nearly 78 percent of the calls generated through local search marketing results in a sale of the car within a few hours of the call.

12. Neilson 2018 auto market report suggests that there is a 29 percent increase in purchase intention when TV ads are used with social media to attract potential buyers.

Social Media Marketing and Digital Ads

13. Nearly half of the respondents that buy cars actively use social media, which means that Facebook marketing and other social channels should be integral to the automotive marketing plan.

14. Studies reveal that there are usually 24 touch-points in the user’s journey to buy a car. Among these 19 are digital touchpoints such as Google Search, OEM website, and financial calculator.

15. The rise of Siri, Alexa, and Google Home means that nearly half of the search will be voice search in 2020. Car dealers and auto dealer marketing agencies should incorporate voice search as a part of the marketing mix.

Dealerships as Final Destinations

16. Despite the digital influence on car shopping, the majority of customers still prefer in-person research by going to the dealership. 

17. In the past, people would visit five car dealerships to select the automobile of their choice. Due to the prevalence of the Internet, most people visit only two dealerships. 

18. Seven out of ten consumers who perform voice and local searches for car buying visit a car dealership located within five miles of their location.

19. Online videos for social media featuring model reviews, test drives, and walkthroughs influence nearly 70 percent of car buyers in making their decision.

Automotive Digital Ad Spending

20. The US digital ad spending in 2020 for automobile ads is expected to reach $18.15 billion. This will represent a 14.1 percent increase in ad spending compared to 2019.

21. US auto marketers spend nearly $6 billion in ads. Nearly 44 percent of the ad expense is on digital ads.

22. As automobile ad spend continues to rise every year, an average automobile company spends nearly $205 for a potential customer lead.

Power of Phone Calls

23. J.D. Power predicts that car buyers spend 33 percent of their car-buying research on mobile. They also suggest that the click-to-call button on the mobile phone and mobile ads generate millions of calls every year to US dealerships.

24. Phone calls convert 15x to 20x more than web leads. The higher conversion rate is an opportunity for automobile dealership to start focusing on local search engine optimization and ads that entice potential customers to call the dealership.

25. Caller retention rate is 28 percent higher than the lead generated by online ads. The higher retention means more profit for the dealerships focusing on customer calls.

26. Phone calls can provide a more immediate return on the investment as call leads convert 30 percent better than web leads. According to another study by Dealix, 72 percent of automotive marketing specialists do not ask the caller for an appointment, which reflects a lost opportunity for car dealers.