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Lead Generation for Car Dealerships & the Automotive Industry

  • May 28, 2024
9 min read
Lead Generation for Car Dealerships & the Automotive Industry

Table of Contents

    Zoë Edelman

    Zoë Edelman

    Table of Contents

      Lead Generation in the Automotive Industry

      While you may live, sleep, and breathe automotive, the average person doesn’t. Buying a car for your everyday Joe is a big deal. They do their homework, shop around, and take their time choosing the right option for their budget and lifestyle.  Making sure they chose your dealership for their final purchase is a matter of ensuring you meet them where they are – researching on the internet.

      It takes as little as one internet search for a shopper to meet your dealership. Digital advertising offers you the opportunity to capture a shopper’s attention and gain their trust long before you learn their name or shake their hand. 

      Automotive lead generation is a day in, day out essential to your success. Let’s talk about just how easy it is to retain your competitive edge when it comes to strategic automotive lead generation.  

      Automotive Lead Generation Strategies

      Lead generation isn’t just a matter of getting more contacts into your CRM – it’s about making sure you drive high-quality leads that can ultimately result in a sale for your dealership. 

      By implementing best practices for automotive lead generation, you can ensure you are setting yourself up to win not only new leads, but more sales as a result of your efforts.

      Here are the top 5 ways your dealership can up its automotive lead generation game:

      1. Automotive Google Search & Display Ads for Lead Generation

        Ever since ‘Google’ became a verb, it has been the #1 stop for any shopper. If you haven’t mastered Search and Display ads, you haven’t maximized your automotive lead generation potential.

        Search and Display Ads are something you’re subjected to everyday, even if you don’t know it. Google Search Ads are those ‘sponsored’ search results that come at the top of the rest of the results, putting your dealership front and center when shoppers search for a number of related phrases. Google Display Ads, on the other hand, will promote your dealership’s inventory and deals to people on a vast network of websites, reaching shoppers who may not be actively searching, but might still be in-market.

        These ads are completely customizable, so you can choose exactly what you want to promote via Google. Manually managing Search or Display Ads is all good and well, but mastery only comes with using AI to make sure your ads are responsive to inventory changes, new dealership or OEM deals, or VDP visits. With a marketing or advertising platform that uses AI, your leads should only be receiving Google ads that match their interests, whether it’s the VIN, dealership location, or mileage of a used car.
      2. Automotive Facebook Lead Generation

        Like Google, like Facebook. It’s all the same, but this time, it’s Meta.

        The majority of your customers are likely on Facebook, and those that are, likely use it everyday. Whereas emails might be limited to certain times of the day, people could be scrolling on Facebook at any hour.

        Facebook offers you the ability to advertise using their third-party data gathered directly from their users. When you combine that with the first-party data you already own, you can directly target leads on their Facebook main feeds, marketplace, and the side column. Even better than that, using ‘lookalike’ audiences you can target people that have never had any contact with your dealership, but have similar demographics and interests to other Facebook profiles that have proven to be promising leads. The automotive lead generation potential is endless.
      1. Email Marketing for Automotive Lead Generation

        Email marketing is a tried and tested method for automotive lead generation. You can reach as many people as you have email addresses – as long as they permit you to contact them – within just a few seconds.

        A few things to think about before you send out your emails:
      1. ChatGPT-powered Chatbot

        Using an AI-powered chatbot instead of the traditional chatbot we’ve been using for well over a decade, puts on-website conversations on an entirely different plane. With the right training, an automotive AI-powered chatbot can help with automotive lead generation by:
      • Instantly reply to incoming shopper questions around the clock with zero manpower required;
      • Provide detailed, data-rich responses to help shoppers make decisions;
      • Recommend specific offers based on your lead’s shown interests;
      • Continue conversations from previous website visits;
      • Encourage shoppers to leave their contact information (aka a lead!) for continued follow-up by your team.
      1. Activate Old Leads

        Fact: Your sales team is busy.

        Between calling fresh leads and following up on this week’s lot visits, there isn’t much time left to be trailing through years and years of data in your CRM.

        Part of generating automotive leads is revitalizing long-forgotten leads. Among the tens of thousands of customer profiles in your CRM are people that chose you or engaged with you at least once before. They will need a little nurturing so you can turn frozen leads hot – or at least bring them above 32°F.

        We all know that cars aren’t usually sold with the help of just one ad. We also know that a customer who purchased a car from your dealership won’t necessarily buy from you again. Lead nurturing is a long game, one that your sales and marketing teams need to play continuously to grow your customer lifetime value.

        It’s a thin line to walk when engaging existing leads and customers – pushing sales too regularly may in fact push a shopper to a different dealer for their next purchase, but carefully timed and worded communication – perhaps even just a phone call to see how they are – reminds a customer that you respect their time and know what they’re interested in. 

      How Fullpath Can Help Your Dealership Generate More Leads

      There are numerous options when it comes to automotive lead generation, and it can be difficult to know where to start, but you’re not alone. 

      Fullpath’s automotive Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP) helps your dealership tackle automotive lead generation. Our AI-powered Digital Advertising solution works with your first-party  data to build a digital marketing strategy that is both personalized and relevant for every shopper. It automatically generates and executes hundreds of ads on multiple platforms for hyper-specific audiences, optimizing around the clock to ensure you get the most leads possible from every marketing dollar. 

      To learn more about the Fullpath CDP and how activating your existing lead data can drastically boost your business, click here or email us at to schedule a time to chat with our team. 

      FAQs About Automotive Lead Generation

      1. What is automotive lead generation?

      Automotive lead generation is the process of identifying and attracting potential customers (leads) who are interested in purchasing vehicles, automotive services, or related products. This process typically involves collecting contact information and customer preferences to establish a sales pipeline.

      2. How do dealerships generate leads?

      Some common marketing strategies for automotive lead generation include using digital ads, email marketing, and using AI for features such as 24/7 smart chatbots and creating personalized 1-to-1 emails based on VDP visits. 

      Using existing data and marketing strategies, dealerships can not only generate new leads that are interested in making a purchase, but also keep past customers engaged to extend their customer journey. 

      3. What are common sources of automotive leads?

      Some of the most common sources of automotive leads include Google Search and Display ads, Facebook ads, email campaigns, website traffic, and in-website chatbots. 

      4. How can dealerships improve their lead conversion rates?

      • Improve digital advertising efforts using first-party data to create segmented audiences which can further be used to create lookalike audiences.
      • Leverage first-party data to engage customers with relevant offers and information, increasing their likelihood of conversion
      • Make sure all customer data is consistent and updated to ensure your marketing and sales efforts are as accurate as possible.

      5. What are some best practices for following up with automotive leads?

      • Make sure to respond to new automotive leads as soon as possible, reducing the chances of the customer losing interest or moving forward with a competitor.
      • Personalize all of your interactions. Be it email, Facebook ad, or phone call, you should always be basing your communication on what you already know about that lead from your first-party data. 
      • Launching lead nurture campaigns will keep you at the forefront of a lead’s mind. Through lead nurture email campaigns that speak to their personal preferences, they’ll already have all the information they need when the time comes to make their next purchase. 

      6. How does digital marketing impact automotive lead generation?

      Digital marketing has a significant impact on automotive lead generation by leveraging online channels to attract, engage, and convert potential customers. 

      Dealers can use targeted advertising to precisely engage interested shoppers and engage relevant audiences. They can also leverage SEO to increase organic traffic and local traffic to their website to capture shoppers who are actively searching for their offerings. Additionally, they can take advantage of social media marketing and email marketing to engage prospective customers wherever they are online. 

      By utilizing digital marketing strategies, automotive dealerships can enhance their lead generation efforts to attract more qualified prospects.

      7. What are some common challenges in automotive lead generation?

      • Ensuring that all leads are actually of a decent quality, i.e., in-market for something that your dealership can offer.
      • Following up with the most relevant information at the right time.
      • Holding all the information about a lead’s journey in one place that’s easy to follow. 
      • CDXP
      • Digital Advertising

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