Lead Generation for Car Dealers: Tips from the Pros

By: Felicia Savage

As a dealer, your biggest goal is to collect leads for auto dealers to follow-up with — and as you know, that can be quite the challenge. Not only are there many different ways to go about collecting those auto dealer leads, but there are a number of different ways to reach out to them.


Of course, what’s probably the most frustrating aspect of lead generation for car dealers is that there’s no clear, direct path to reach every single consumer. There are just some methods that work very well and methods that don’t have as high of a success rate.


If there’s one thing that I’ve learned over my career, it’s that automotive folks who win BIG are often quite generous with their lead generation and marketing tactics. Many of these dealer professionals have been where you are now: determined to sell lots of cars, but also a little confused by the plethora of marketing information out there — and there’s a LOT of information out there. You’ve got DrivingSales, Ward’s Auto, Auto Success, CBT News, Dealer Marketing Magazine, the list goes on.


Today, I’m going to list off some of the best lead generation tips I’ve come across from some of the nation’s top automotive minds.


1. Quickly Respond to Your Consumers

Our first noteworthy tip comes from a segment on CBTNews.com. Brian Zipko of Keller Brothers Ford in Lititz, PA believes that in this day and age, time is of the essence. Living in a world of near-instant gratification, speedy responses are key to keeping the attention of prospective customers — especially groups like millennials, who have fully embraced the rapid communications.


That said, when a lead is captured via your website’s trade appraisal tool or via digital promotion, Zipko feels that it’s imperative for your team to respond FAST. With an average response time of 18 minutes, Keller Brothers Ford has experienced tremendous success.


Not only do they rank among the top Ford Motor Company dealerships in the country (in response time), but their speedy response times helped the dealership to achieve record sales; selling 100 new and used vehicles each month in 2015.


2. Create Vibrant Calls-to-Action to Capture More Leads

The next tip comes from an article by Scott Distel on DrivingSales.com. Scott is an Inbound Marketing Consultant in Washington state. One of the tips Scott provides is to “Position your CTA Correctly.” When consumers peruse your dealership’s website, it’s important to keep any and all Calls-to-Action “above the fold.” Basically, they need to be placed on a part of the page that doesn’t require scrolling to get to.


“Several heat map analysis show that of all the viewers of your web page, only 50% view the matter placed below the fold”

-Scott Distel


“Thus, with proper positioning of your CTA, you can double the impressions they get. This will help boost your website leads and eventually increase online sales.”


When consumers peruse your dealership’s website, it’s important to keep any and all Calls-to-Action “above the fold.” Basically, they need to be placed on a part of the page that doesn’t require scrolling to get to.


According to Distel, “Only 50% [of consumers] view the matter placed below the fold.” That said, making sure your Call-to-Action is the first thing a consumer sees when visiting your website is vital to collecting quality auto dealer leads.


3. Update Your Website OFTEN

Last but not least is a tip by Chief Digital Strategist, Dave Winslow of Dealer.com. Like Brian Zipko, Winslow also believes that time is precious — especially for consumers who are spending valuable time on your dealership’s website.


Although most in-store purchases are conducted over the weekend, online behavioral data suggests that consumers are researching vehicles at the beginning of the week in order to fully prepare for their visit.


According to Winslow, 30% of total online inventory views and 37% of total leads occur on Mondays and Tuesdays. Given how early in the week consumers typically begin their research, it’s important for dealers to ensure their website and all of their social media channels are updated to reflect important information regarding new and used inventory, event sales, trade-in offers, and really anything else that would prove valuable to the dealership’s consumers.


“Daily online behavior indicates that shoppers are researching cars at the beginning of the week to prepare well in advance for the weekend’s in-store purchase.” Winslow says. “Thirty percent of total online inventory views and 37 percent of total leads occur on Monday and Tuesday. As a result, it’s imperative for dealers to update websites and social media with sales information before the workweek starts.”


When it comes to generating leads for auto dealers, we’ve only scratched the surface with these tips. There’s a whole lot more information out there and as a dealer, it’s up to you to do your homework. Read top industry blogs, follow top industry leaders and see what they have to say. In addition to reading up on trends, it’s also a wise decision to go to different automotive conferences.


Not only does this give you and some of your guys the opportunity to learn about new things going on in the industry, but it gives you an opportunity to network and meet new people. You might not agree with every single piece of advice, but you might come away with one tidbit that helps your car sales lead capture and boost your dealership’s sales significantly.


Never stop researching, never stop improving and never stop experimenting! Keep up with our blog for more industry tips and tricks!