9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


[Case Study] Honda Dealer Increases Leads with Digital Ads, SEO, & Email

facebook ad example honda

In the past 12 months, two Honda stores in the Menholt Auto Group have increased traffic from new customers using Facebook ads and search engine optimization (SEO). They've also increased returning visits from existing leads and customers using email.

By how much, exactly?

These two Honda stores have seen a:

  • 48% and 89% increase in overall web traffic, respectively
  • 14% and 15.5% conversion of Internet leads to sales, respectively
  • 400%+ growth of web visits from email for both stores
  • 57% and 58% increase in traffic from search, respectively

Here's how they did it.

Conquest New Customers with Facebook Ads

Facebook ads allow Honda dealers to find people living in their communities who drive Hondas that have been purchased at other stores or who drive competitor vehicles.

Based on these audiences, 9 Clouds ran targeted Facebook ads for the two Menholt Honda stores to introduce them to new, relevant customers.

These ads focused on certified pre-owned (CPO) and pre-owned vehicles, which made for an easier conquest. Each ad had a slider with photos of vehicles that were actually on the lot, since our research shows a 74% increase in click for photos on the lot. Each photo on the slider (or “carousel,” as it is called by Facebook) included the vehicle's mileage and price so that customers could easily shop.

facebook ad example honda

These ads performed incredibly well, attracting more than 200 clicks from conquest customers at less than $2 per click.


Attract New Customers with Improved SEO

Showing up on Google means that customers searching for a specific Honda (or a vehicle in general) can easily find your dealership.

The Menholt Honda dealerships already dominated searches for their own brands. In the past 12 months, their focus has expanded to include conquesting competitor brands in their marketplace. One prime target is the Subaru Forester.

9 Clouds used comparison pages to showcase the Honda CR-V compared to the Subaru Forester. By adding information about the Forester on their websites, potential customers searching for the Forester now landed on the Honda dealers' websites. On this comparison page, they could learn the differences between the vehicles (and why the CR-V would be a great alternative).


This content-based approach to SEO has helped Rushmore Honda move from not showing up for Subaru Forester searches in Rapid City to being ranked sixth for local Forester searches.

Re-engage Leads and Past Customers with Email

Too often, auto dealers mark a lead as lost and never reach out to them again. Or, worse, they sell a customer a vehicle and then blast them with emails every month, forcing them to unsubscribe.

What works for email marketing is targeted, personalized emails that provide information that is useful to the individual customer.

For the Menholt Honda stores, 9 Clouds created segmented email lists of potential CR-V customers. First, we filtered anyone who purchased a car in the previous two years. (We know that if someone recently purchased, getting a promotion may drive them away instead of encouraging them to return.)

After this filter, we found all customers and leads who were interested in related brands — both Honda and other brands that contacts may have serviced at the Honda store or purchased from the used lot.


Then, we sent these customers emails that we knew would be useful to them. Since we knew who these customers were, we could write a personal email that fit their vehicle and interests. This personalized approach had amazing results:

  • 27% of the people who opened the email clicked through to see the CR-V special.
  • Almost 100 people who clicked the email were tracked by the marketing automation system, meaning the sales reps knew which vehicles leads were interested in (and which leads they should call first).


This personal approach quadrupled email traffic in the past year and re-engaged hundreds of leads and past customers.

It also encouraged the dealerships to improve their email collection efforts both online and in the store — growing their database 16% and 368%, respectively.

Get More Digital Marketing Results

An integrated, data-focused marketing effort has helped the Menholt Auto Group and its Honda stores consistently grow.

Want to learn more about how a personalized digital marketing effort could help your store? Request a digital audit, and we will take a look at how you can improve.