7 SEM Automotive Tactics Designed to Boost Sales

7 min read

When you take a look at what’s happening on the internet, you can’t help but draw comparisons to roads, streets and highways. At last count, Google reported that it was processing more than 40,000 search queries — every second. That’s more than 3.5 billion searches every single day. Take a look at the daily count here. It’s amazing stuff.


But keep in mind that’s just Google. While it claims about 80 percent of searches globally, there’s still a 20 percent share of searches conducted on other search engines like Bing, Baidu, Yahoo and Ask. That’s a whole lot of traffic you can’t afford to ignore.


Those are the type of statistics that back the case for developing an SEM automotive strategy to capture your share of search queries among car shoppers — and, of course, leads that translate into sales.


According to a 2016 study by AutoTrader, the average car shopper is spending 14.4 hours shopping for a car. Of that time, a whopping 59 percent is spent browsing the internet as part of the process. Only 2 percent of that time is spent researching print material. The remainder of that time?


About 3 percent is spent talking to other people about their car purchases while the remainder of the time — about 36 percent — is dedicated to shopping at dealerships, either the one where the car was purchased or other dealerships.

First, let’s dig into the definition of SEM — search engine marketing. The term has evolved over the years among many experts to include different variations of marketing. At one point, SEM was used to describe marketing that included search engine optimization (SEO) and the purchase of advertisements on search engines.


Today, if you hear the term SEM, SEM automotive strategy or other variations, it’s likely that the person is referring to paid search, including paid search ads and pay-per-click. While the concept is not incredibly difficult to understand, getting great results through SEM requires some pre-planning before execution, testing, data analysis and tweaking.


Here are 7 SEM automotive tactics to get you started:

Standing Out with Database & Saturation Mailers

Automotive mailers can come in two different forms: Database mail pieces or Saturation mail pieces. Database mail pieces usually target a specific set of people that an automotive retailer has in their database; say, consumers that purchased cars from them back in 2002.

Using a database mailer means that your message is usually more relevant to your specific audience!

If the dealership is having a sale and is providing a special trade-in offer for cars from 2002, they would want to send a database mailer to those specific customers in their database. Using a database mailer means that your message is usually more relevant to your specific audience!


Saturation pieces, on the other hand, are used to cover a certain set of zip codes to alert people to new promotions or events that are happening at a certain dealership. Their goal is to “saturate” a certain market, and to try and get a message out to as many people as possible.

With saturation mailers, quantity is just as important as quality. Even though you’re sending mail to a number of different consumers (database and otherwise), the offers need to be enticing, the messaging needs to be clear and the artwork needs to look good and highly relevant to that target market.

Leverage Mail Offers to Drive In-Store Traffic

Often, automotive mailers will feature a special game, as well as the chance to win from an assortment of prizes, If you win, you will be asked to come into a dealership to see what you’ve won. That’s how many of these mailers help move customers down the sales funnel and bring in-store traffic to a dealership.


What better way to get people into stores than letting them know that they’ve won a prize?! Once in-store, dealers can offer consumers another chance to play; whether that be spinning a wheel, registering to win, or texting to enter a contest.

These interactions with consumers go far beyond just a simple mail piece! Dealers are engaging their customers by generating excitement and giving them reasons to come in and learn more about the products. With luck, these in-store visits will convert into car sales.

Using a database mailer means that your message is usually more relevant to your specific audience!

Automotive mailers are an invaluable way for dealers to identify, target, engage, and expose customers to promotions and events that they are running. By standing out from the clutter, these automotive mail pieces are sure to mean better response rates and more in-store traffic for dealers. The dealer’s message is opening the door for two-way communication and interaction between dealers and consumers!