With over 30 years of industry experience, we want to share effective marketing practices and actionable insights for your business.

Case Studies

Read our case studies to see how we have helped our partners.
Read them here

Marketing Guides

Browse through our selection of marketing guides.
See our Guides


GSM's blog shares the latest industry insights and marketing trends.
Read Our Blog


Watch some of our marketing tip videos to gain some valuable insight.
Watch Our Videos


4 min read

Part 2: COVID-19 Marketing Tactics for Automotive

4/15/20 8:52 AM

GSM has been staying current with how the marketing landscape has changed due to COVID-19. From our research, we've uncovered the best channels and strategies to use until the pandemic blows over. These strategies will help you engage and connect with consumers until business returns to normal.

1. Use Video to your Advantage
Research from GlobalWebIndex points to online video having the greatest staying power after the outbreak ends in the US and among Gen Z and Millennials in particular. Keep in mind the sales cycle will be longer, especially with the new consumer debt considered.

Video can help speed up the purchase process and ease financial uncertainty by offering viewers an inside look at vehicles, parts/accessories, your valet-service process, and so on from the comfort of their own homes.

  • 76% of U.S. online video watchers say they plan to consume just as much video content when the outbreak is over
  • YouTube is the second highest (35%) used social media platform for up-to-date news about coronavirus, behind Facebook (47%)1
  • 2x more test drives will happen digitally on YouTube on 2020 MY vehicles than on dealership lots2
  • Use video to highlight virtual showrooms
  • Increase virtual content such as vehicle walk-arounds, comparison videos, feature-focused videos, and test drive videos to reach those that are still searching

2. Empower consumers to move farther down the marketing funnel with Paid Search

  • Add negative keywords and new keywords to avoid appearing in irrelevant searches due to shifts in search category consumption
  • Use Ad Extensions for on-site conversions
    • Price extensions: highlight your specials and incentives. Many consumers will have unplanned debt as a result of the pandemic.
    • Sitelinks: add sitelinks to take consumers to relevant pages directly from the search results. Consider including links to your service specials, parts specials, online scheduler, and your dealership’s COVID-19 measures.
    • Call extensions: give consumers a quick way to reach your dealership. They will have many questions – are you open? Is the waiting area cleaned regularly?
    • Structured snippets: highlight certain aspects about your products and services such as “Valet Services Available, Senior Day Saturday, Extended hours”
  • Retargeting consumers who visited your service and parts pages from mid-March onward. These consumers have demonstrated purchase intent and are actively looking for parts and services during the outbreak. You will be top-of-mind when they are more inclined to buy. Consider retargeting the segments below:
    • Potential customers browsing on your site
    • Your current customers searching for parts, service, or maintenance
    • Customers who’s lease expires soon
  • Consider Dayparting your PPC ads. Dayparting is a PPC tactic by which you schedule your campaigns to run only at certain times, on certain days, or at certain times on certain days. This optimizes your budget by showing your ads only when they’re most likely to get results – i.e. the specific times when your audience is most active.

If you combine this with a Call extension, this helps ensure customers can call your dealership when you are open and reach them in real-time.

  • Paid Search and PPC messaging
    • Adapt your current messaging to show how you can help your customers
      • Use words that reinforce the safety of your customers such as “contact free”, “virtual”, “remote”, “in-home”, “curb-side pick-up”, “browse our online inventory from the comfort of your own home” etc.
      • Check your Call-To-Actions (CTAs), some may come off as insensitive such as “Hurry in today” or “Stop by now.” Ease up on the urgency of your CTAs because right now, nothing is as urgent as COVID-19.
      • Check your disclaimers: Some may no longer be applicable, for example “Not valid online, in-store only”, “Must be present to win”
      • Check for sensitive words such as Killer (killer deal), Contagious, Infectious, Viral, Gather, Come together, etc.
      • Relate to your customers situation: “Stuck at home? We can still service your vehicle.” Highlight any at-home, valet, or curbside options you offer.
    • Inform upcoming messaging by monitoring Google Search Trends
      • Look for shifts or increases in search interests
      • Searches for dealerships have declined, however, consumers are researching Finance (“BRAND Finance Options”) and general vehicle payments (“Car Payment Deferment”).

        Include payment and financial messaging in your search campaigns and direct potential buyers and owners to your Finance page with a sitelink extension.

Don't be afraid to try new things. Now is the time to explore new strategies for engaging consumers in an increasingly digital and connected world.

1 GlobalWebIndex: Coronavirus Research | April 2020 
2 Google/Kantar Automotive Path to Purchase 2019 | YouTube Internal Data, 2020 | IHS Markit


Topics: Best Practices

Written by GSM

Post a Comment