In our last post, Your Dealership, Consumer Intent, & the End of the Traditional Marketing Funnel – PART 1, we covered everything you need to know about the changing customer path-to-purchase.

In Part 2, we’ll tackle the marketing side of things. What does the shift in online customer shopping behavior mean for your marketing, and what can you do to adjust? We’ll also go over just how awesome it can get when your marketing is in tune with modern shoppers.

So sit back, relax, and get ready for Part 2:


Focusing Dealership Marketing on User Intent

Intent-based marketing doesn’t create a need, it provides a solution. This gives you a serious advantage: no wasted advertising spend on pushing vehicles people aren’t interested in. Instead, you show them the car they want, when they’re most interested in finding it.  

To do this, position your dealership’s marketing and advertising at key, intent-rich moments in the automotive purchase path. In essence: Be there for your shoppers.

That’s still a little vague, so here are some key practices to follow to embrace the new, unpredictable path-to-purchase. We’ve laid them out below:

Center Your Dealership’s Marketing on What Works

Remember what we mentioned about being there for your car shoppers? The first step in your strategy should be discovering how best to accomplish that.

You can do that by understanding and measuring how your customers respond to your various marketing and advertising touchpoints. Where does your dealership’s marketing best fit with intent-rich shopper moments? How could it be improved? There are likely several marketing opportunities you hadn’t considered.

Part of this also means re-evaluating the metrics that you use for success. Instead of defaulting to the standards of online advertising, consider what behaviors and actions are driving your business’s sales goals and long-term success? These are likely those same points customers find your content and messaging most relevant and meaningful.

Make Sure You Deliver The Right Message

Getting the right touchpoints is important, but if your marketing message is off, you’ll still slip up. Part of captivating car shoppers on their weird and wandering paths to purchase is giving them the exact right answer, when they are looking for it.

This goes beyond just optimizing your ad copy (though that should absolutely be a part of this). Building specific marketing and advertising audiences is integral. Start with small segments and a thorough understanding of that segment’s particular needs. Once you’ve established this, your website, marketing, ad copy, and even media images should directly address those segment-specific characteristics.  

Remember, overall, shoppers want relevant solutions, a search result, video, ad, or vehicle offer that matches their intent. Dealerships should use their marketing as an opportunity to show they understand the shopper’s needs.

Leverage Machine Learning For a Better Experience

Shoppers are now expecting that their needs and interests to be anticipated. They want streamlined, relevant experiences at every moment online. One of the best ways to provide that desired experience is by leveraging the latest in dealership website technology, machine learning.

This can be achieved in a variety of different ways. Our own machine-learning technology for dealership websites, Behavior-Based Targeting, can predict shoppers interested based on those high-intent signals, and display the most relevant dealership offer for that shopper in dynamic site-wide content. Pretty cool right? And that’s just one awesome tool we offer.   

Using this tech, we marketers can look at shopper behavior to understand their intent and predict their next step. This means we can create better-defined customer segments, and more easily discover new trends to take advantage of (check out the example of Hawaiian airlines below).



Modern dealership marketing works best when you’ve aligned your strategies to capitalize on areas of strong user intent. Ideally, you’ve discovered meaningful points in the highly variable path to purchase for shoppers, and you’ve established the best ways to be there for them. Get those right, and you’re ready to reap the rewards.

What rewards?

Well, for one thing, advertising. Specifically, paid search. On the SRP for high-intent commercial search queries, about 2/3rds of all clicks go to the paid ads. Unsurprisingly, high-intent + relevant ad messaging = conversion. Searchers want the best solution, the most helpful answer, as quickly as possible. If your ad is aligned to their intent and provides that solution for them, they’re likely going to click.

But the success of more modern marketing doesn’t end at paid search.

Here’s an example of gauging intent to anticipate needs (and provide solutions) from Hawaiian Airlines:

Hawaiian Airlines analyzed high-intent search signals to predict customers likelihood of booking a trip to Hawaii. Their research also revealed the desire to book direct flights from nearby airports. Using these pieces of information, HA crafted market-specific creative and went to work.

HA took a variety of approaches, utilizing the most effective and meaningful touchpoints to demonstrate their brand value. This included 15 and 30-second TrueView for Action video ads, with the CTA “See Fares” that directed to relevant local flight and pricing options.

Using their previous online ad campaign data, HA served these video ads to their in-market search campaign audience, ensuring the only people seeing the ad had already shown their interest in flights to Hawaii.  

This approach had some truly fantastic results: The month-long campaign boosted flight bookings by 185%, and cut cost per acquisition (CPA) by 69% compared to their other campaigns.



Dealers might be getting tired of hearing about how their power is being eroded. We understand that. And while it’s true to some extent, that’s not a very good blanket statement.

Sure, dealers might not be in control of vehicle information anymore, but that doesn’t mean becoming weaker (unless you let it). Dealers may have had to relinquish the role of information-owner, but now they can focus entirely on being the solution-provider. After all, shoppers still have to buy their cars from somewhere.

So remember our trend: The customer path to purchase isn’t following the traditional linear marketing funnel. In this brave new world of dealership marketing, it’s about who provides the best, most relevant solution for that shopper at that moment. It’s about being there for intent-rich shopping touchpoints, and dealerships still clinging to the notion of the linear marketing funnel aren’t able to do that.

As is so often the case these days, the dealerships who embrace changing automotive shopping behaviors are the ones to will succeed in the future. Be one of them.  


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