Lotus Cars Automotive Digital Marketing Case Study

See how digital marketing helped Lotus Cars deliver their first sales growth in 4 years worth $3M+ using content & social media tactics.

Lotus Cars Automotive Digital Marketing Case Study
Summary

Automotive digital marketing consulting

I was contracted by Lotus Cars Australia between 2016 & 2018 to provide automotive digital marketing consulting complimented with event management support. Using both go to market strategies I helped deliver incredible sales growth with a mix of marketing executions that grew the brand’s exposure in Australia in a short period of time.

Using a mix of automotive content marketing, SEO development, public relations & social media community engagement I helped to generate over $3M in sales growth of new vehicles with a marketing budget of less than $50,000. 

This type of sales growth and increase in visibility can be achieved for any brand, product, service or tour in the automotive industry whether that is for cars, 4WD’s, accessories or vehicle upgrades. In this short automotive marketing case study I explain how I achieved these results

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The strongest sales growth period in 4 years

Automotive Markteing Consultant for Car Dealerships in Australia photo

It is well documented that Lotus sports cars is an automotive brand sold in Australia that has changed ownership many times in its long history. In Australia this vehicle manufacturer has been sold by different vehicle distributors over the years but never managed to achieve significant sales volumes or brand exposure. The NSW sports car dealer, Simply Sports Cars, was the top selling dealership in Australia and they secured the rights to be the distributor for the brand.

With this renewed focus they engaged me to provide short term marketing consultancy to provide what was essentially an outsourced marketing resource instead of hiring a full time employee. The benefit of doing this is the lower overall staff costs & the ability to hire a contractor with lots of marketing experience.

Their goal was simple, increase exposure for the brand in Australia and sell more vehicles but work with a very limited marketing budget.

What digital marketing did the car dealership need?

With a very limited marketing budget my brief was to leverage any asset or relationship available to generate exposure for the vehicles in their range & the unique lifestyle that is created with ownership of the brand. 

Without resorting to price discounts, typical seasonal automotive industry promotions or big media spends I used a mix of;

  • Website content creation
  • Social media management
  • Forum / online community management
  • SEO development
  • Lifestyle photography
 

to bring the brand to life with a focus on the people and the community that Lotus ownership could deliver. Instead of focussing on car specifications or highly styled photo shoots in a studio, everything presented to consumers showed the mix of people who had great fun and enjoyment from owning a Lotus and being part of the lifestyle focussed on driving events, track days and other social activities.

The local dealership was not able to make any changes or develop the global OEM website so I had to redevelop the local dealer website as the main platform to communicate with local consumers. This could be done for any dealership or reseller that has agreements in place with global brands, but has a local trading entity. 

The first actions I undertook was was focussed on improving the website content marketing activities so that the vehicle ownership experience was brought to life. I placed a huge focus on including stories and photos of people enjoying the vehicles and this was shared on social media, local online forums, local car clubs and other online platforms to earn exposure in front of new audiences while engaging existing owners. 

My marketing contract period lasted just over two years and didn’t require agency involvement with the bulk of the work completed in-house to reduce costs, maximise efficiency and deliver a high level of authenticity for the brand.

These are activities I worked on;

Do car dealers have to rely only on carsales listings to sell new or used vehicles?

Every car dealership in Sydney uses carsales to list their vehicle stock & one of the challenges is the cost because you get charged per lead. In lots of cases these could be people just browsing, so it becomes a very expensive way to sell vehicles with your cost per acquisition anywhere up to $100 per vehicle.

The reason the industry is locked into this method of operating is because this vehicle listing website has such a dominant position online. According to estimates from Similar Web it gets over 12,000,000 visits per month with its closest competitor Cars Guide getting around 7,000,000.

Similar Web carsales.com .au traffic estimate photo

So what else can a car dealer do?

There are other choices to list vehicles like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace usage has become quite popular as well, especially after they made changes to the platform to cater specifically to car or boat dealers. 

A dealer’s own website could be used to combat this because with the right automotive digital marketing that includes SEO for a car dealer’s website you can get found locally for the inventory you are carrying. If you do this together with producing local content a dealership can generate local visitors from organic search who are looking for things in the niche’s they cater for.

This principle applies if you are selling vehicles, accessories, services or even tours. 

No – I am not talking about reposting generic information from the manufacturer, announcements of staff birthdays or the latest seasonal promotion – but instead, you can provide deep, good quality, information about the vehicles available for sale that uses keyword rich information that answers the most pressing questions people are wanting answers for.

You can even do free market research that takes about five minutes to complete. Below is a screenshot of all the questions being asked about the Lotus Emira that was released in 2021 and very quickly there was a stack of questions being asked online about this vehicle. I took that information and wrote content on the local NSW dealer’s website that answered most of the questions, within days organic traffic grew quickly & the dealer was getting visitors from around the world, not just locally.

While overseas visitors are not high value in terms of selling a vehicle, they do help towards the site improving its ranking for lots of keywords related to the topic of this vehicle, to it means even local Australian’s searching for information will find them online and get the information they want / need to make a purchase decision.

With the rest of the website hosting lots of content about events, activities and all the other aspects of ownership it contributes towards a consumer making a purchasing decision as they can see what they are buying into. This is a different approach to a typical OEM manufacturer website that focusses mainly on products. 

Online questions that car buyers ask

Want proof that it works? 

Do a quick test and search for ‘Lotus Emira in Australia, even though the content was created nearly two years ago, the local dealership Simply Sports Cars has secured first page positions on search results in amongst news websites, the OEM global website and other results.

This principle can be applied equally to other automotive businesses that sell products or services, let’s try another one like ‘snorkel installation Sydney‘, as of February 2023 the first result is for Adrenaline 4WD which is another automotive client I provided digital marketing consulting to. I updated their website in the second half of 2022 with improved content marketing, SEO and updated brand positioning. 

Installing 4WD accessories was one of the major services they provided together with 4WD tours and selling a range of products from their shop. Although, they hardly ever got discovered via organic search, they relied on their existing customer base and locals driving past their store.

The digital marketing consultancy I provided led to a 7X improvement in their organic search results year on year, so just over 2,500 people going to their website vs 340 or so the previous year. Much like the tactics used for the Lotus car dealership, I used a combination of content marketing, SEO and keyword research to understand what consumers were looking for and how the business could satisfy those needs.

Automotive digital marketing SEO and growing organic search traffic with keywords

Most car dealerships rely on their OEM website templates or locally made websites to try and generate leads. Although most of these have nothing more than generic copy & the same information as lots of other websites. So they are relying on consumers to decide they want that brand or vehicle. If they took things further & provided the information that people really want to know about, they can pick up organic search traffic to their website locally and grow their volume of leads.

This can be very powerful for people who are in their initial research phases and are looking for generic things like ‘new sports car models’ or ‘latest XX product’ where a local automotive store, local dealer or business can win online exposure by providing great content about those things they sell or services they provide.

This is the very strategy I implemented for this dealership which helped generate thousands of unique page views that contributed to selling new vehicles but also create brand exposure for the manufacturer & the dealership itself. It helped to also then sell servicing, upgrades, modifications and lots of events that were completely booked out. 

All of this work had long lasting effects and we didn’t rely on paid advertising.

digital marketing that can increase vehicle sales

With the same range of vehicle models, same pricing & no discounting, the Lotus brand experienced their first year of sales growth in 4 years. During the same period other brands had recorded sales declines according to VFacts data released in that year.

The car enthusiast community became more engaged with the constant flow of content marketing that I was creating which told stories about the cars, the people, the driving events and the fellowship that owning a Lotus delivered for many people.

This exact same approach could be used by any company in the automotive industry as it can be applied to products, services, modifications, upgrades or even tours. The secret is creating good quality content that resonates with the target audience and is executed well enough to earn organic search traffic to your website.

Getting this right means you don’t have to spend as much money on paid advertising and can be discovered by people searching online for the types of things that you sell. As you can see below, this dealership enjoyed more than 140,000 page views across their website. 

The digital marketing I executed were all tracked and measured using Google Analytics, Google Search Console & each social media platform’s insight tools. This meant the business owners could always see the actual results being delivered with total transparency. Qualitative feedback was also prevalent from the community of Lotus owners who were highly engaged on the social profiles and local forums.

I created a huge increase in website traffic volumes with more than 140,000 page views generated across different section of the site, improved community engagement levels across all social profiles with a growth in followers, I also became the leading contributor in local own forums as well as securing TV coverage for the brand on four separate occasions.

It meant the car dealership didn’t have to rely on vehicle listings on carsales.com.au to get their leads, for the first time in years, people were discovering the availability of vehicles & driving events through social media or organic search. 

Car dealership Facebook Page community growth
car dealership content creation to grow website traffic visitor time on site photo

Here are some highlights from my automotive marketing consultancy;

Lotus Cars Melbourne d photo

The marketing consulting reviews I received from this project

"Paul joined the team at Lotus Cars Australia and immediately set about helping us re-energise the brand within the automotive community.

Paul's understanding of marketing, both traditional and social was extremely beneficial, and when coupled with his ability to shoot emotive photographs, proved to be a winning formula for increasing brand awareness.

Paul invests himself into his work, particularly when he has a passion for what he is doing, and I would have no hesitation on recommending him to prospective employers looking for an energised individual who is passionate about what they do.

Paul leaves us to pursue other passions he has in the photography and marketing world and I wish him all the very best in his future endeavours."​
Richard Gibbs COO Lotus Cars Australia
RICHARD GIBBS
COO - LOTUS CARS AUSTRALIA
"Paul is dedicated and passionate, with a creative flair for brand marketing and PR.

During our time working together Paul demonstrated excellent in-market activation of marketing activity with fantastic results."​
Rob Borrett Manager Pr Content & Launch Programs Lotus
ROB BORRETT
PUBLIC RELATIONS DIRECTOR - LOTUS CARS UK
"Best of luck with everything Paul, you have made a significant and lasting impact on the Lotus brand here in Australia, and you should be deservedly proud of that. Keep in touch, and good luck!"​
ASHTON ROSKILL photo
ASHTON ROSKILL
CHAIRMAN - CLUB LOTUS AUSTRALIA
"Big loss for Lotus, you have done more for Lotus marketing in your tenure than Lotus HQ has done ever. However it's good to see that your passion is pushing you to higher goals! Definitely look forward to seeing you around as much as possible."​
JONATHAN
LOTUS OWNER
"Gosh...you will be missed by all of us Paul. Your contributions to Lotus have been indescribable. It went from a small back street garage where I spent plenty of time watching Lee tinker with my car while I irritatingly stood by and passed the occasional tool to him(usually the wrong one), and now to see it represent the whole of us I Australia in a professional and well run organisation. I wish you well mate, and hope you enjoy your next venture."
DAVID
LOTUS OWNER
"It's a big loss for Lotus and the community. Sad to see you go but we must follow our own path. Many thanks for being the most dynamic force I've ever seen in car marketing and for giving us more than a few chuckles on the forum.

Sorry I never got to meet you in person (just never at Lotus at the same moment as you nor at the same track days) hope to see you at the track in the future. Best wishes for your new endeavours."​
STEVE
LOTUS OWNER

Can these types of digital marketing results be continued?

When my contracted period ended I provided a list of suggestions to help the brand continue the marketing activities and build from the momentum that had been created. These included;

2022 Update

New website creates even more traffic growth

Growing organic website visitor traffic for a car dealership

In late 2020 and I was engaged again as a marketing consultant for the Lotus Cars dealership in Sydney.  I conducted a review of their website traffic to see how things had evolved after I left in 2018. 

As you can see in the Google Analytics report above, the growth trajectory for organic search website visitors was growing very quickly heading into the end of 2018. Although they didn’t continue with the same level of digital marketing execution and the traffic volumes remained steady. New website content wasn’t being created and activity on social media as well as forum platforms had dropped off as well.

The dealership continued to trade of course, although they decided to build a brand new website together with a new eCommerce store to sell more vehicles, spare parts and modification products. The new website would also assist with the launch of a new vehicle. 

As you can see in the Google Analytics report above, the new website I built delivered record levels of website visitors in a short space of time. The website even out-ranked the manufacturer’s website for certain keyword phrases as well as news sites. It proved that a local car dealer can use a marketing consultant to grow visibility for their dealership using digital marketing tactics,

More details about what I did I will explain in a separate case study.

Picture of Paul D'Ambra - marketing consultant
Paul D'Ambra - marketing consultant

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