3 Great Ways to Differentiate Your Auto Dealership
Alternatives to Autotrader

March 11, 2018 Carol Forden

After numerous conversations with car dealerships across the USA on Autotrader being their primary – or in some cases the exclusive – digital marketing strategy, we thought we should tackle this topic.

With over 80% of USA car dealers advertising on Autotrader, how do you have a chance to differentiate your dealership and showcase your online value proposition (OVP)?

It has become the industry standard and go-to place for auto dealerships to use automotive platforms such as Auto trader and Cars Direct to advertise and sell their stock of cars (and with Amazon reportedly looking to start selling cars online, watch this space for more news).

While these advertising platforms can be an easy way to advertise your lot inventory, allowing for other marketing initiatives that further maximize dealership success and will enable you to differentiate the dealership more effectively has got to be something to consider.  

There are three aspects to consider as part a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for your dealership.

We wanted to demonstrate the array of possibilities and ultimately the alternatives to Autotrader and similar platforms, such as Cars.com.

1. Maximize Brand Awareness

It may make sense to be where your competitors are, and utilize the services of Auto Trader, to become a well-recognized local brand – or a national brand, however, to have an effective marketing strategy your dealership needs to be far more diverse and forward-thinking.

To stand out from the crowd means being where your competitors aren’t (yet) and one step ahead of them with digital marketing.

Multi-Channel marketing is one of the most effective ways to positively impact your brand awareness.

Multi-channel marketing gives the consumer an assortment of ways to gather information about your business and the cars you have to offer.

Available channels include the physical store, your website, social media channels, SMS text, chat, plus. Multi-channel marketing has many benefits, click here to read more.

Digital marketing raises the visibility of your brand.  The more opportunities created to attract your target audience and engage with them, encouraging them to view the inventory on your website and in your store(s).

The way consumers are engaging with brands is changing and diversifying. You can no longer assume everyone wants to interact with your dealership via phone, in-store or on your website.

Today, consumers like to engage with and communicate with brands in more diverse ways via mobile, live chat, and even Facebook messenger.

Read more about why a multi-channel digital marketing strategy here

2. Outrank your Competitors on Search Engines

Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is critical when it comes to marketing your business online and making your dealership stand out.

You want to be promoting your cars to local consumers at the exact time they’re looking for them.


Using SEO to ensure that your website will rank higher in search results than a competitors’ on Google when consumers are typing keyword phrases that relate directly to your product or services.

Most customers shop for a car within a 30-mile radius of their home, and this is why local SEO matters more than ever.

There is a multitude of ways in which we support businesses to improve their local SEO significantly. Here are three that you should be thinking about:

Starting with ‘Your Website,’ the first impression put forward matters. SEO involves utilizing relevant local keywords in the meta descriptions, image tags, and title tags all impact search rankings. What is SEO and how it works? Click here to learn here.

According to DealerOn, 56% of car buyers were influenced to visit dealerships after visiting the dealership website.

Visited and Influences by dealership websites
Source: Dealeron

Next is ‘Useful Content,’ relevant and fresh content boosts your website rankings.

Content Marketing is not the “car special of the month” or the latest news and blog articles; it is quality articles, and blog posts, infographics, video and high-quality images planned to garner the most relevant traffic.

Lastly, ‘Google My Business,’ many people underestimate the importance of this tool and its impact on your local SEO and website rankings.

Google My Business allows you to display critical information about your business, from opening/closing times, phone number and a link to your website. Google now allow posting of links to articles or up and coming events.

SEO and local SEO is a continually evolving process which requires a constant investment of both time and expertise in on-page and off-page SEO.

Ranking organically is not something you can buy; it has to be earned. There are ways to exploit Google and build brand awareness online, faster. This is where paid advertising from Display Ads, Search Ads and social media ads come into play.

3. It’s more than the price

A Lloyds Banking Group study showed that 45% of car buyers still want face-to-face guidance from a dealer when purchasing a car.  This results ranged from 51% of 18-24-year-olds and 52% of the 55+ age group.

Automotive advertising platforms such as Autotrader limit the human element of the car buying experience.

The emotional impact of the purchase is taken out of the equation as the sale is almost entirely focused on the price.

If you happen to be the cheapest, good on you, but what if you’re $200 more expensive?

You won’t have the opportunity to influence other aspects of what consumers value outside of price.

Auto Trader Alternatives of customer experience

8 out of 10 Consumers will pay more for an improves customer experience, today.

Creating a great customer experience is not limited to a face to face interaction in store, by email or on a phone call.

The customer experience starts as soon as the potential customer lands on your website or landing page, basically the minute the customer interacts with any material about you, the customer experience has started.

Think about your website is it mobile-optimized?

The customer experience continues when they search for content and information about your dealership on Google and carries over to social media platforms or when they engage in a  chat to see the response time or send a question via Facebook.

Social media is another excellent way to tell your brand your story and show online users why your customers keep coming back, that it’s not just because of the price.

When was the last time you posted a picture of a customer taking delivery of their new car from your dealership?

Or a picture with a quote from them on how the experience of buying a car was working with your team?

Original and authentic reviews reinforce a positive experience for prospective car buyers who are researching your dealership online.

Outsell Digital works with our clients to repurpose authentic and valuable customers reviews into more creative ways.

These range from animated videos to branded images and graphics, these have a far more significant impact than just posting the words or picture of the “car special of the month” on Facebook.

The customer journey starts with a Google search and rapidly moves to social media platforms.

When a customer comes to your brand online, they often visit your website and your social media platforms.

They read customer reviews and recommendation long before deciding to visit the showroom.

Today, it is critical to have an outstanding image and brand presence at each step of the online customer journey.

How To Stand Out And Differentiate Your Car Dealership from Autotrader?

Although automotive advertising platforms such as Auto Trader have their purpose, getting the balance right on where you invest your marketing budget is critical to maximizing the ROI. To build online brand awareness, connect with your online audience and build customer loyalty.

Automotive dealerships need and want to get more “bang for their buck.”

Concentrating the bulk of your marketing budget within online automotive advertising platforms such as Autotrader may be cheaper initially, however when you have 100+ cars to sell per month, is it still inexpensive?

The cost escalates rapidly as you become dependent on one restrictive method to market your dealership.

By utilizing a portion of your marketing budget in other areas of marketing, including digital, social and content marketing enables you to have a better chance to stand out from the crowd.

You want to be creating other opportunities to target and engage your target audience online.

Ideally, this article offers insights into the various digital marketing strategies to differentiate yourself from your peers and competition on Autotrader and similar car selling platforms.

If you are interested in exploring marketing strategies and differentiating your dealership, contact Outsell Digital.