Join Our Dealer Panel

Earn rewards for providing your valuable feedback on our products and services.

The Top 5 Places To Meet New Car Shoppers In 2021

In case you missed it, it’s a new world for digital advertising.

With consumer demand for improved data privacy reaching a fever pitch, Google and Apple have both recently announced key changes regarding the use of consumer information on their platforms, impacting both how user information is collected and how it can be used in targeting digital ads. 

The secret sauce of any digital advertising campaign’s ROI is your ability to target consumers that are actually, currently in the market for your product. Knowing the perception Americans now have about “being tracked” by Big Tech, Apple’s privacy policy updates have dealers (along with all advertisers, really) concerned that the platforms they rely on for targeting consumers will no longer be as effective for their customer acquisition strategies.

of Americans think the potential risks of data collection by companies about them outweigh the benefits.

The truth is more nuanced: you can adapt your existing targeting strategies, and infuse them with new audiences, to maintain your campaign performance. If you want to learn more about those tactics, our Dealer Inspire team has a comprehensive guide and webinar from their digital advertising specialists on how to do just that.

STAY ON TARGET - Adapting Search & Social For The New Rules Of Engagement

But the real lesson with this change in privacy policy here should be a wake-up call for dealers everywhere that these platforms can be unreliable sources of in-market shoppers, and it’s time to invest in the places you know you will find 100% pure in-market audiences.

We’ve got the Top 5 to get you started.

1Go Where They Start Shopping

Let’s get this out of the way early: if it’s more difficult to to finding in-market shoppers through digital advertising, why not just let them come to you at the place you know has a 100% in-market audience?

3rd party marketplaces like continue to be among the best and first places to engage a pure in-market audience, because after all, people aren’t browsing to buy toasters — they go because they’re in the market for a new vehicle. Google and Facebook want to be used by everyone at all times, but our search engine is for the 25.4 million monthly active car shoppers looking for their next vehicle, 84% of which are in the market to buy within the next six months1. It’s the best place to get your inventory, brand, and customer experience in front of local customers looking to buy soon. Shoppers Are 2X MORE Likely To Buy Than Any Other Referral Source

1. Consumer Metrics Study, Q4 2020
2. Dealer Inspire Roxanne™ Data Science, Q1 2021

2Follow Them Where They Go After

With the roll out of iOS 14.5, Apple device users will have to explicitly opt-in to having their online activity tracked for each app they use on their iPhone or iPad before opening the app, and we expect the majority of consumers to opt-out. The ROI of out-of-the-box targeting options available on social platforms like Facebook are in serious jeopardy. So it’s a must to go outside the box and tap into exclusive audiences you can use to power your social, video, and display advertising.

Where Fuel Gets Its Power

The same 100% pure audience you gain access to by listing your inventory on can be used to stay in front of those car shoppers wherever they go next, whether it’s scrolling on social or watching their favorite show on streaming apps. By injecting our exclusive first party data into these platforms through FUEL: In-Market Video (only one dealer per territory can use it), you can win mindshare and market share by having the dominant brand presence.

“We've chosen because that's where the shoppers are. The audience with FUEL and, it's a perfect match.

3Meet Them Where They Start Asking Questions

While paid search often gets all the attention, we can’t underscore the importance of using organic search to attract in-market shoppers. Nothing says “I’m in-market” like a Google search of Honda Leasing Offers Near Me, so optimizing your website and digital stragegy for organic search is critical to stay in front of high-intent audiences.

Read the "Staying On Top of Search" Guide
We’ll show you how to optimize your website, your listings, and your reviews to outrank and outperform the competition. This is the triple threat of SEO, and it will maximize the potential for in-market shoppers to find and choose your dealership, wherever, and however they search.

A robust SEO strategy and an optimized site architecture that answers consumers’ questions not only makes your dealer website a more powerful trust symbol to your visitors, but it’s a great way to capture high-intent, low-funnel Google searches — the same keywords you would’ve bid on anyway. And best of all, once those pages build momentum and start driving organic traffic, they never stop working for you. It’s hard to create better ROI than “free”. 

We’ve got a whole deep dive on how you can create SEO value yourself, but if nothing else make sure you do these three things:

  • PERFORM REGULAR AUDITS. Technical SEO — your website’s meta descriptions, title tags, XML sitemaps, internal linking structures, etc., — can easily get out of date as you grow and change your site, and while it may not impact your user experience, it can definitely affect your search ranking. Run audits to find common errors, and fix them early. 
  • WRITE FOR PEOPLE, NOT GOOGLE. At the end of the day your website needs to be relevant to show up in search, and the best way to be relevant is to make your website the best answer for the questions car shoppers ask Google. If you’re stuck, start with a list of common questions customers ask your sales and service departments, and just answer them thoroughly and helpfully with your website content. Chances are if a walk-in wants to know something, there are plenty of people trying to ask the same question on Google first.
  • THINK LOCAL, LINK LOCAL. Remember, it’s not just your website that creates SEO value, it’s your entire online presence that sends signals to Google that your website is the right answer for a query. Make sure you’re linking to local businesses and event pages — both of which are more likely to be relevant to your readers — and don’t forget to keep your Google My Business® listings up to date (both sales and service departments), which sends critical signals to Google that your site should be an answer for anyone searching “near me”. 

Dealer Inspire started out as a search engine optimization company and continue to be leading experts in all things automotive organic search, so schedule a strategy call if you want to take your SEO to the next level.

4Meet Shoppers Where They Pick Their Dealer

We all know the importance of protecting our reputation and building customer loyalty through positive reviews — but don’t forget that review platforms are also a prime destination for low-funnel, in-market shoppers. In fact, 97% of car shoppers now head over to review sites before buying3, so securing positive reviews across multiple sites allows you to stay in front of shoppers as they make the critical decision of where to buy.

Being present and looking good on every review platform that matters can mean much more than a first impression — it can be the last impression you get to make before an in-market shopper decides which dealership to choose. So it’s important to build a positive reputation everywhere, since you never know what review platform a customer might turn to first.

That’s easier said than done, so we created a solution to make it automatic for your team. DealerRater’s ReviewBuilder™ syncs with your DMS to solicit each day’s sold customers to share their story, and then distributes those reviews across Google, Facebook, DealerRater, and to build your reputation on all the key platforms.  

 3. BrightLocal 2019 Local Consumer Review Survey, December 2019


ReviewBuilder™ makes building and managing your reputation simple and automatic

5Meet Them Where They Go To Convert

You can have the most sophisticated targeting in the world, but at the end of the day if your dealer website isn’t optimized to convert, you’re leaving great leads from in-market shoppers on the table. This is a big discussion in and of itself (and our dealer website experts at Dealer Inspire have a lot to say about it), but here’s a couple things to bear if you’re looking to turn your website into a digital showroom for online shoppers:

  • CLEAN UP AROUND YOUR PLACE. You’ve got a landing page setup for your campaign (don’t you?), so give it a once over with the eyes of a shopper. Any broken links? Does the page content connect with the ad? All seasonal offers up to date? Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression.
  • MAKE SURE GUESTS HAVE SOMETHING (SPECIFIC) TO DO. Nobody wants to show up to a party and hear, “So, what do you want to do?” Too many buttons, widgets, and CTAs can drive a user to bounce out of frustration or confusion, so make sure your landing experience has a clear path for visitors to take the next step towards buying without second-guessing themselves (or you). 
After a Dealer Inspire customer in South Carolina reduced their number of CTAs on their VRP, Conversion rates saw double-digit increases. The easier experience always wins.
  • TRY TO MAKE A PERSONAL CONNECTION. The more relevant your experience is to the shopper’s intent, the more likely they are to convert. Whether that simply means designing unique landing pages for each of your campaigns, or using dynamic technology to surprise and delight every user, understanding what your visitor wants and personally guiding them to it (just like a walk-in) will help you make the most of your traffic. 
  • WORK THE DEAL WHEREVER THEY ARE. Once you have shoppers in your digital showroom, it’s important to engage them there. Just like you wouldn’t let shoppers wander around your physical store and leave without asking how you can help them, you should give them and your team the tools to have meaningful conversations that drive buying decisions. With technology like live video messaging and real-time digital retailing, you can guide online shoppers down the entire road to the sale online.