Auto Inventories are Returning to Normal. Here’s How Advertising Can Help Dealers Increase Vehicle Sales

03.16.2023 Sara Brasfield4 min

If you’ve gone shopping for a vehicle within the past couple of years, you’ve seen first-hand the disruptions affecting auto dealerships across the country. Abrupt stoppages on auto assembly lines, destabilizing supply chains and a global microchip shortage all contributed to a dramatic and prolonged slowdown in new vehicle production.

During that period of time, used car prices soared across the country, leaving consumers with limited options: while new vehicles were in short supply, pre-owned vehicles were selling at a premium. These conditions contributed to arguably the worst sales year for auto dealerships in more than a decade.

But conditions are quickly improving. New vehicle production has increased, and inventory is widely available at dealerships across the country. As a result, used car prices have declined, giving consumers more affordable pre-owned options. According to a recent Cox Automotive survey, this normalizing marketplace is a big reason auto dealer sentiments are on the rise in 2023.

As dealerships hustle to move new car inventory onto their lots, digital advertising has become a key strategy for driving sales. With sales goals on the move, dealerships should be adapting their advertising strategy to better achieve these goals. Here are some tips for planning cost-effective ad campaigns that will keep your dealership ahead of the curve.

Highlight Recent Cost Reductions On Your Used Inventory

The shortage of new vehicles is more or less over. But if your auto lot is filled up with pre-owned inventory, you might be struggling to find room to fit those brand-new vehicles.

As every dealer knows, the best way to clear out inventory is by making some sales. With used vehicle prices finally on the decline, many buyers will be itching to score a deal after patiently waiting for the market to cool. Digital ad campaigns can tap into this motivation by highlighting the markdowns made on certain used vehicles, positioning these market fluctuations as limited-time discounts.

Display ads, social carousels and dynamic ad insertion can all be used to boost visibility for your used inventory. Dynamic ad campaigns can be linked to specific vehicles and updated to ensure that all promoted inventory is available on your lot at the time of the ad delivery, engaging prospective buyers with a pre-owned option that might fit their shopping criteria.

Build Awareness for New Vehicle Models

Vehicle production may have been stifled over the past couple of years, but development of new vehicle models has forged ahead without disruption. More than 40 new vehicle models have been announced for 2023 alone, underscoring the change and innovation that has swept the U.S. automotive market.

Many prospective buyers will be unfamiliar with these new models, which puts pressure on automotive brands and dealers to educate consumers and drum up demand for these vehicles. Top-of-funnel ad campaigns can be a great tool for building awareness, introducing vehicle models and highlighting their top features.

From digital video to social promotion to localized SEO, dealerships should decide which new vehicle models they want to push. Manufacturer incentives, local market dynamics and other factors should be considered by local advertisers when choosing how to prioritize campaign spending.

Educate Consumers on Current EV Incentives

Overall electric vehicle adoption remains low in the United States, but the EV sales volume is growing steadily. While automakers are expanding their respective lineups of hybrid and fully electric vehicles, consumers may be seeking more information about these vehicles—as well as the tax credits and other incentives designed to spur adoption.

Dealerships can lean on advertising to connect with customers interested in learning more about their electric vehicle options. Digital ad messaging can emphasize the value of tax credits in defraying the cost of a new vehicle, for example, or it can highlight the fuel savings electric vehicles can offer over standard vehicles.

Informative videos and SEO content can connect with consumers through in-depth information and demonstrated subject expertise, while other campaigns can emphasize the exciting EV models available at your dealership.

Drive Referral Traffic to “Virtual Showroom” Tools

The pandemic had a lasting influence on how consumers shop for vehicles, especially when it comes to conducting their vehicle search online. While any consumer can currently visit a local dealership and check out their options in-person, online research is a central role of the car-buying process for many would-be buyers.

Dealerships must cater to these preferences if they want to win the business of those buyers. Common elements of a “virtual showroom” experience may include video tours and video test-drives of current vehicles, test-drive scheduling through the dealership website, financing pre-approval applications, and other resources that can be easily made available online.

Digital ad campaigns—including dynamic ads driving referrals for a specific vehicle—can refer consumers directly to these resources, earning form submissions and other engagement that can become a promising source of sales leads.

Auto dealerships are poised for a potentially strong 2023 calendar year, but the success of your digital ad strategy will have a direct impact on your ability to grow sales revenue and profits in the coming months. A local business marketing consultant can help you plan out digital campaigns and media buys aligned with your dealership’s sales goals.

Contact Cox Media today to see how we can help.

About the Author

Sara Brasfield

Sara is the Content Marketing Manager for Cox Media’s corporate team in Atlanta, with a passion for writing and delivering relevant insights for advertisers. With more than eight years of experience in B2B marketing, Sara aims to help Cox Media’s current and future clients connect with their customers find new and unique ways to grow their business. Outside of the office, Sara loves spending time running, reading, and supporting her favorite teams (Go Braves & Gamecocks!).

View All of Sara Brasfield's Blog Posts

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