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Content Marketing for Car Dealers Getting More Attention: Lead Generation and Website Traffic

Social Media Based and Self-Published Content Marketing for Car Dealers is Getting More Attention: Used Primarily for Lead Generation and Growing Website Traffic in Marketing Strategies at all Tiers in the Auto Industry...

Yet despite the importance attributed to content marketing and near-universal use (91% of Econsultancy respondents), just 38% of in-house automotive marketing professionals who responded (both B2C and B2B) said they had a defined content marketing strategy, and only 13% of agencies serving car dealers said their clients had one.


B2B Marketers Agree: Content Works For Lead Gen

A separate report released in September 2012 by Optify found that the most successful lead generation marketers in the auto industry are highly focused on content creation. 


The latest Optify survey results show that, indeed, lead generation is the most-cited top-3 goal for content marketing, at 68% of respondents (up from 62% in 2011). Automotive thought leadership and market education (50%; up from 37%) is next, followed by brand awareness (39%; up from 34%).


Automotive Marketers focused on B2B objectives responding to the Econsultancy survey have a slightly different view, but still emphasize the importance of lead generation.


When marketing professionals were asked what the 3 most important business objectives for their content marketing activity:

  • 52% cited increased engagement from prospects and previous customers
  • 44% of in-house marketing professionals chose lead generation 
  • 34% said increased website traffic was a primary goal
  • 30% identified Thought Leadership as a content marketing goal
  • 30% said creating Brand Awareness was among their primary goals


Interestingly, though, B2B agencies (including those that serve car dealers and OEM's) responding to the Econsultancy survey see different priorities for their clients. Asked their clients’ top-3 most important content marketing objectives, these agencies chose increasing site traffic (40%) first, followed by increased sales (36%), improved SEO (link-building – 35%), raising brand awareness (33%), and then lead generation (32%). About 21% of these agencies cited automotive thought leadership as an objective for their clients.

Car Dealers Focused on B2B and B2C Should Differentiate Goals and Tactics

Further details from Econsultancy’s “Content Marketing Survey Report 2012,” produced in association with Outbrain, show that B2B and B2C automotive marketers have different goals for their content marketing activities. For example, while lead gen is a top-3 goal for 44% of in-house B2B automotive marketing professionals, it’s only a top-3 objectives for 18% of B2C marketers. Instead, B2C in-house marketers are more focused on objectives such as raising dealership brand awareness and increasing retail showroom and service drive sales units and revenue, a pattern also found among agencies serving car dealers from a B2C perspective.


The different goals held by B2C and B2B objectives for automotive marketers might help explain a discrepancy in results between the Optify survey, which was limited to B2B respondents, and the Econsultancy survey, which polled both B2C and B2B marketers. In the Optify survey, case studies (68%), white papers/e-books (61%), and press releases (58%) ranked as the most widespread forms of content marketing, ahead of press releases, with social content in the middle of the pack. In the Econsultancy survey, though, social posts and updates (83%), email newsletters (78%), and news/feature articles on websites (67%) ranked as most popular, ahead of press releases (64%), with white papers (23%) and e-books (12%) far less popular.


Those differences translated to measures of effectiveness, too: automotive marketers focused on targeting business and enterprises in the Optify study were most likely to say case studies (78%), white papers (73%), and in-person events (72%) are most effective. Alternately, all in-house automotive marketers responding to the Econsultancy survey most often chose email newsletters (50%), social posts and updates (46%), and blog posts (36%) as their top-3 most effective types of content for marketing.


About the Data: The Econsultancy data is based on a survey of 1,315 in-house marketers, agencies or consultants, and people who described their job roles as “publishers.” 38% described themselves as mainly B2C, 39% as mainly B2B, and the remainder as equally focused on both. Optify conducted a survey with the 30,000 + member B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn, receiving over 740 responses in less than 3 weeks.




Charts: Both charts can be clicked on to open a full sized view in a separate browser window

Views: 1144

Tags: Car Dealers, Content Marketing, Getting More Attention, Social Media, automotive, marketing


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Comment by Ralph Paglia on October 7, 2012 at 9:12am

Stephen, Kathleen and Jim - Thank you for the comments and reinforcement of the importance of content marketing in a dealer's overall marketing strategy.  One of the biggest challenges dealers report is the creation of original content.  In my social media marketing forum post on ADM available at I go into great detail about the use of However, comments made to me last week by two dealers who recently started using the Social Marketing software were both supportive of the daily supply of new content that the software provides through licensed RSS feeds.  I still prefer the creation of original content using something like, but those dealer comments reinforced to me the importance of solving for the content creation conundrum that many dealers face. 

Comment by Jim Flint on October 6, 2012 at 5:29am
Ralph, great post. The content everyone brings is part of what makes ADM so great--that and the people in the community. Same thing holds true for dealerships.

Comment by Kathleen Perley on October 5, 2012 at 3:01pm

This is a great article! We have been running beta testing with SEO content marketing for several of our clients and saw a 33% closing ratio of leads generated from the content pages.  Download our eBook, 5 Reasons Why Dealerships Should Use Content Marketing.

Comment by Stephen Murphy on October 5, 2012 at 12:33pm

I agree Ralph. Content marketing is becoming (and should be) the foundation for successful digital campaigns in the car industry. Your content should answer the questions that your prospects are asking, and guide the most qualified leads along a journey that will eventually bring them into your dealership.

One piece of advice: Successful content campaigns should include plenty of qualifying, because you dont want to scare away leads that are not ready to be sold. I find this to be the biggest disconnect between a content marketing strategy vs. a traditional churn & burn lead follow up approach.

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