Automotive Advertising for Your Business: A Local Approach
It's no secret that automotive businesses are especially dependent on advertising that reaches a local audience. Mechanics, auto detailers and auto repair businesses cater exclusively to local customers, and auto dealers, tire shop owners and auto parts stores sell the vast majority of their products to local consumers as well.
As a result, automotive businesses are projected to spend $11 billion on local advertising in 2019, according to research from BIA Advisory Services. In fact, local advertising accounts for roughly three-quarters of the entire automotive advertising spend in the United States, underscoring the importance of reaching a local audience.
But location isn't the only factor automotive businesses need to consider. Seasonal marketing trends in this industry can vary according to your specific niche. If you're an auto repair or mechanic shop, your services are a year-round need—car owners aren't lucky enough to time when their tires blow, when their oil needs changed, or when their brakes wear out. Automotive product retailers can follow many of the best practices of traditional product brands, including increased advertising around holiday seasons and peak sales windows. Auto dealers, by contrast, tend to have their own tightly defined car dealer marketing seasons based on incoming inventories—and these are often influenced by the auto brands they're authorized to sell.
Regardless of your niche, your automotive brand has plenty of options when looking to reach a relevant local audience. Here's a look at some of the top channels and strategies to consider in your advertising strategy.
Expert Tip: Take Advantage of Polk Predictive Audience Data
Before you nail down an automotive advertising strategy, it's helpful to look at consumer data to figure out where your buyers are located, as well as what types of advertising channels are most likely to reach that audience. One resource to review is the Polk Predictive Automotive Audiences, which compiles tens of thousands of data attributes from more than 700 sources regarding automotive purchase histories, car ownership, loyalty behaviors, make and model trends, and other data points to help you deepen your understanding of your local audience.
All of this data may seem overwhelming, but the right advertising partner can help you break it all down. For example, if you're a business specializing in Honda repairs, this partner may help you determine where the highest concentration of Honda owners are. With these target audiences located, you can focus your local advertising in those areas.
Major national brands aren't afraid to place automotive ads on broadcast TV, but local businesses are better off opting for more cost-effective cable advertising inventory. One benefit to cable over broadcast is that cable advertising markets break their designated marketing areas (DMAs) into zones that offer even greater location-based targeting.
If you're an auto detailing shop located in Encinitas, for example, it can be a waste of money to pay for TV ads that broadcast to the entire San Diego DMA. But thanks to zone-based advertising available on cable channels, that business could restrict its ad to only play on the North Coastal Zone within the San Diego DMA. The resulting cost is much lower, but the relevance to the viewing audience will be much higher.
Use search retargeting strategies to show your ads to people searching for your competitors, or for a specific item like new tires or 2019 Toyota Camrys. Retargeting offers two key benefits over search engine marketing. First, the ads offer much higher relevance when retargeted to a consumer rather than displayed to a new individual, resulting in a higher engagement rate and stronger ROI. But retargeting can also be a cheaper option than traditional search engine marketing, due to the high competition for automotive customers. According to Lion Tree Group, the average cost for a digital automotive lead in 2019 is $205. With retargeting, the cost of the campaign is more likely to be rewarded with strong conversions and performance.
Location-based strategies take an even more accurate step forward when using mobile technology to target consumers. With geofencing technology, your automotive business can choose to deliver mobile ads only to consumers within a certain mile radius of your business. This means a mechanic's shop can choose to send out a promotion or coupon to mobile devices within two miles of their business location, cutting out anyone deemed too far away to be willing to travel for car service.
By writing blogs and creating other original content that is relevant to your local target audience, you can rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and engage your audience while demonstrating your authority on the subject. An auto detailer could write blog posts on how to keep maintain a car's exterior, produce videos demonstrating how to properly wax and buff, or write content that introduces new detailing strategies to keep cars looking their best. This provides consumers with useful information while also creating an opportunity to increase organic website traffic.
Digital Audio Advertising
Podcasts and audio content have become one of the most popular types of streaming media on smartphones. With digital audio ads, your automotive business can use services like Spotify, Pandora, iHeart Radio and other channels to reach your target audience.
In addition to effective digital advertising options, your business can engage a local audience by hosting fundraisers or community events in your business parking lot. Consider bringing in food trucks to increase foot traffic to your property, and make your inventory and sales floor open to the public as they enjoy your event and explore your business location.
With so many advertising options to choose from, your business has the channels and the insights needed to reach a relevant local audience. The trick to maximizing your results is to test a bunch of different channels and campaigns until you find an automotive advertising strategy that works well for your business.