Automotive digital marketing consulting
I was contracted by Lotus Cars Australia between 2016 & 2018 to provide automotive digital marketing & event activity support. I helped to deliver incredible sales results & a marketing success that improved the brand’s exposure in Australia.
With a mix of digital marketing, content creation, SEO development, public relations & local community engagement I helped to sell over $3M in vehicle sales growth with a budget of less than $50,000.
The strongest growth period in 4 years
Lotus sports cars has changed ownership many times in its history which has been well documented. In Australia the brand had been handled by multiple vehicle distributors but wasn’t really enjoying any level of sales volume or brand exposure. They had a dealership network with an outlet in each state servicing a region, Simply Sports Cars located in Sydney had become the highest selling dealer in Australia which helped them secure the rights to become the distributor for the brand.
At the time they didn’t have a dedicated marketing staff member, so I was contracted to provide outsourced marketing services to give them the level of expertise they needed to help grow vehicle sales & brand exposure.
What 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 vehicle models in their range & promote the unique lifestyle that comes with ownership. Without resorting to price discounts or typical seasonal automotive industry promotions I used a mix of lifestyle photography, social media, community management and SEO digital marketing expertise to bring to life the people, cars, events and driving experiences on offer from the dealership.
The brand was unable to make any changes or develop the global OEM website so we used the existing local dealer site as a platform to communicate to consumers with locally. My first steps were to improve the website content in order to bring the vehicle ownership experience to life. From there I used new places like forums, Facebook groups, local car clubs and other locations to get exposure for the vehicles beyond their ‘owned’ platforms.
My contracted period covered just over two years and didn’t require agency involvement, the bulk of the work completed was all in-house to reduce costs, maximise efficiency and deliver a high level of authenticity.
These are the key areas I worked on;
Do car dealers have to rely on carsales listings to sell vehicles?
Every car dealership in Sydney uses carsales to list their vehicle stock & one of the challenges is the cost involved because they pay per lead. In lots of cases these could be people just browsing, so it becomes a very costly way to sell vehicles.
Although, the challenge is that this vehicle listing website has such a dominant position in the market. 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.
There has been growth in Facebook Marketplace usage after they made changes to cater to car or boat dealers, but generally most dealerships will use the dedicated vehicle marketplace websites to showcase their inventory. The challenge is most are not doing anything else to combat this reliance & that is where having their own website can help.
With the right SEO development combined with digital marketing executions that focus on producing local unique content, a dealership can generate local visitors to their site. I am not talking about announcements of staff birthdays or the latest seasonal promotion – but rather, deep information about the vehicles they sell that uses keyword rich information to help answer consumer questions.
Want proof? Just do your own Google search for a vehicle brand or model – look at the ‘people also ask’ area – this is free market research to find out what people want to know. Most car dealerships rely on their OEM website templates or locally made sites that do nothing more than list specs & marketing blurb about the 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.
This is the strategy I implemented for this dealership which helped generate thousands of unique page views to help sell their vehicles but also create brand exposure for the manufacturer & the dealership itself. Cheaper, longer lasting & more cost effective than short bursts of paid ads or other types of promotional activity.
Their first year of vehicle sales growth in 4 years
With the same range of products, 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 declines according to VFacts data. The car community became more engaged with a constant flow of content created that told stories about the cars, the people, the driving events and the fellowship that owning a Lotus created for many people.
All of my marketing efforts were proven with tracking & measurement available via Google Analytics, Google Search Console & the social media platform insights tools. Qualitative feedback was also prevalent from the actual community of Lotus owners as well – I created a huge increase in website traffic volumes with more than 140,000 page views across their site, improved community engagement levels across all social profiles, became the leading contributor in local forums and even secured TV coverage for the brand on four separate occasions.
It meant the car dealership didn’t have to just rely on listings on carsales.com.au to get their leads & people were discovering the availability of vehicles & driving events through either social media or organic search.
Here are some highlights from my automotive marketing consultancy;
The car dealership marketing consulting reviews I received
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."
During our time working together Paul demonstrated excellent in-market activation of marketing activity with fantastic results."
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."
How could the car dealership continue their momentum?
When my contracted period had ended I did provide a raft of suggestions to help the brand continue the momentum that had been built and these included;
Update - looking back at the dealership website performance
Fast forward to 2022 and I was contracted again by the dealership to provide digital marketing services. I thought I would take a look at the historical performance to see how things evolved after I left. The trajectory they were on in 2018 was trending up for organic search. Although they didn’t continue a lot of the methodology I was using which meant content wasn’t being updated on the website, social media profiles weren’t getting regular posts & engagement on other platforms had dropped off.
The dealership continued to trade & late 2020 I was asked to help build a completely new website, new eCommerce store & help to launch a new vehicle. As you can see in the chart above, the re-launch helped deliver record levels of website visitors & even out-ranked the OEM website or local news sites. It proved that with the right execution an independent dealer can drive traffic to their own digital platforms.
Although more about that in another case study.