9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Marketing Priorities & Strategies: An Excerpt from the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

Cover graphic for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

This post is the second in a series of articles exploring our 2017 State of Automotive Marketing report. Read the first post, or download the full report now.   

Our first excerpt post from our 2017 State of Automotive Marketing report explored the big-picture ideas, trends, and strategies embraced by dealerships throughout the U.S.

This second post will take a closer look at the current auto market trends as well as the auto marketing priorities and strategies used by dealers in 2016.

We will then point out ways in which you can better prioritize your own automotive marketing to increase your return on investment (ROI) and make this your most profitable year yet.

2017 Automotive Marketing Priorities

The first question we asked automotive dealers and marketers was: What is your biggest marketing priority?

We started with this foundational question because we needed to know if a survey like this actually provides insights and helps the industry.

In the 2016 report, most people said that increasing the volume of their leads was their #1 priority. In 2017, improving conversion was #1 — by a long shot.

Chart of marketing priorities for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

Digital marketing is essential to reaching these goals, as correlation with improved sales and ROI will prove later on in the survey.

2017 Auto Marketing Strategies

Anyone who has researched marketing vendors for a dealership knows how overwhelming it can be to decide on the right auto marketing strategies to implement.

In this survey, we wanted to identify what marketing tactics actually worked based on two broad categories: inbound marketing and outbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Inbound marketing attracts interested people to the dealer’s website or store. Inbound tactics include showing up on Google, blogs, social media, and other efforts that are created for people looking for information.

Outbound marketing is interruptive and attempts to place information in front of a potential customer, even if they are not expecting or looking for it. Outbound tactics include traditional ads in newspapers, radio, and TV as well as broadly targeted digital ads.

In one of the most profound findings of this survey, inbound marketing surpassed outbound marketing as the primary strategy used by surveyed dealerships.

Chart of marketing strategy for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

Overrated Marketing Tactics

In fact, over 60% of surveyed dealerships listed print advertising (a form of outbound marketing) as the most overrated marketing tactic.

Chart of overrated marketing tactics for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

Measuring ROI

One of the most interesting findings of the 2017 survey of auto market trends was that dealerships that simply check and document marketing ROI are four times more likely to see an increase in ROI year over year. Four times!

Chart of marketing ROI for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

This data supports the idea that knowledge is power.

Check your ROI to increase your ROI. This is, of course, an extremely simplified statement, but the relationship between the two is apparent.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook advertising — it's worth it.

Our survey found that dealers that used Facebook ads in 2016 were more likely to see higher marketing ROI than those that didn’t.

Chart of dealers using Facebook ads for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

Furthermore, dealerships that didn’t take advantage of Facebook ads were twice as likely to have lower ROI.

Dealership Marketing Content

We were also interested in how dealerships create and manage their marketing content. First, we asked dealerships: Who creates your marketing content?

Chart of marketing content creators for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

We found that marketing staff and marketing agencies were the top choices for the dealerships we surveyed.

Following Up with Leads

We then took a look at the ways in which dealerships follow up with their digital leads. We found that dealerships that have a specific salesperson or business development center (BDC) to handle digital leads had significantly higher ROI in 2016 compared to 2015.

Chart of lead follow-up for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

This points to the important of designated digital salespeople.

Marketing Automation

We also decided to take a look at how dealerships use marketing automation. Marketing automation tracks what a website visitor is looking at and engaging with online. Marketing is then automatically personalized for that person.

As an example, if someone looks at a red truck on your website, they would receive an email with information about the red truck, they would see ads for the red truck, and your sales team would be alerted about the potential customer.

Marketing automation can do wonders for your auto marketing. So, we asked dealerships: Does your store use marketing automation?

Chart of dealerships using marketing automation for the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

We found that most dealerships that are experiencing lower ROI are also not using marketing automation. This suggests that marketing automation is an integral piece of the automotive marketing puzzle.

Stay Tuned — More Auto Market Trends Coming Up!

Our next 2017 State of Automotive Marketing excerpt post explores auto marketing trends related to 2017 automotive marketing analytics and ROI — two very important marketing considerations for auto dealers everywhere.

Read the next excerpt post, or download the entire report here!

Download the 2017 State of Automotive Marketing Report

Rather devour the entire report in one sitting? Download the full report now by filling out our short form below.