Top Marketing Trends That Are Driving the Automotive Industry

by Leilani Wertens, UpCity

How big of an impact can your marketing strategy have on your success this year? Quite a bit, actually. Most automotive consumers don’t have a concrete idea of what they want when they begin the shopping process. Only 32 percent of shoppers know exactly what they wanted at the beginning of their journey. While these numbers reflect those purchasing new vehicles, the same can easily be said for customers that are looking for vehicle enhancements or need repairs.

There is rarely an automotive transaction that doesn’t have a big influence on the consumer’s wallet, so they take these transactions, and the decisions that lead to them, very seriously.

There is a need for those in the automotive industry to leverage their marketing strategies to reach out and appeal to consumers at every stage of the journey. It isn’t just about advertising a brand or a service. The trends in automotive marketing focus on one very important concept, and that’s customer value.

Let’s look at the customer centered marketing trends that are fueling the automotive industry this year.


The path to purchase is filled with stops along the way in the automotive industry. Five distinct stops to be more accurate. These are called micromoments and what happens during each one will influence the next direction the consumer decides to take.

For the automotive customer, these 5 micromoments are:

  • Which car choice is best?
  • Is this the best choice for ME?
  • Can I really afford this?
  • Where should I make my purchase?
  • Am I being offered the best deal?

Do you want to land more committed customers at your door? Then you need to be there for each of these micromoments. The good news is that you can accomplish this with digital marketing.

Let’s look at the visual below.


In one car buying journey alone there were over 100 Google searches, over a dozen videos watched, and even more images viewed. What if you were able to highlight your brand during each of those interactions? Can you imagine the potential?

Let’s say it all begins with a video that features a real-life view of a specific automobile. This video serves the double purpose of helping the viewer choose a vehicle and deciding if it’s the best choice for their lifestyle. Then you follow this up with a shared blog post about budgeting and financing for a new car. By the time the customer is ready to purchase, your name has been there every step of the way. All you need now is a final social media blast that promotes a big inventory blow out sale you are having.

Creating a multi-tiered marketing strategy that captures customers in each of their micromoments is a sure way to generate leads that turn into conversions every time.

VIN Specific Campaigns

We have all had the experience of looking up something on Amazon and then having that product, or one like it, follow us around pretty much everywhere that our digital journeys take us. Love it or hate it, it’s a marketing strategy that works.

The automotive industry can tap into the power of this strategy by using VIN specific marketing.

The idea is that once a visitor searches for a specific brand or model on your site, you attach that VIN to them and use it as a marketing strategy. For example, if someone is interested in a Ford Expedition, you can use this information to further encourage their purchase decision by showing them gently used models that are priced to sell, highlight an end of year sale on the model, or share a post about the advantages of owning the vehicle.

fairlane ford example

This is a great strategy that will be used by those in the automotive industry to keep them in the line of sight of customers all the way through the decision-making process.

Content That Connects To The Consumer

Here’s the thing. Customers don’t always enjoy the research process of buying a car. They find owning a new car exciting, but getting there involves comparison shopping and a large financial commitment, both of which can take some of the excitement away.

How do you change their minds and make them more excited about every part of the buying process? You create great content that transforms the industry’s image into a friendlier one.

What customers are looking for from the automotive industry is an answer to the question “How can you make my life better?”. One of the trends we see in industry marketing strategies is focusing on content that answers that question before the customer walks through your door.

Content is moving from brand focused to “life” focused. Video is going to be a big factor in bringing this to life. Brands will be creating video content that showcases the real-life value of their products. For example, a dealership that features a large inventory of vehicles suitable for larger families might target their advertising on how a new, larger vehicle would simplify family life, as opposed to highlighting their most recent sales initiative.

Subaru has always been a great example of this strategy, and it’s paid off for them. Let’s look at their 2017 “Share the Love” campaign. The campaign was designed to celebrate 50 years of Subaru by sharing real life stories of Subaru owners, plus they pledged $250 of each sale go to charity. This was a strategy that was built entirely around making the customer feel good about the brand before ever making it into the dealership.


In the coming year, more of the automotive industry will begin to create content that is lifestyle and emotionally focused to elevate their image in the eyes of their potential customers.

Mobile Targeted Marketing

Have you been giving any thought to what device the automotive market is using when they begin a search? If you’re not, then you need to be. It might seem minor, but it can make a big difference in your marketing strategy. Currently, 53 percent of your market is using multiple devices. However, if your marketing strategy isn’t optimized for the mobile user, you could be losing out on the nearly one-fifth of leads that rely solely on their mobile device.

Mobile marketing is more than a trend, it’s the future of marketing success. It’s more important than ever to deploy a mobile first strategy in your marketing plan. This means creating mobile friendly content, like videos, and designing your site to be mobile friendly, as well as optimized for mobile SEO.

Article originally appeared on UpCity.

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