What is Automotive Lead Generation?


Car dealerships and their sales force want to move inventory and sell cars. Profit is the end goal for all businesses, and while many dealerships offer a service department for repairs and maintenance, selling inventory generates the most profit for the dealership. Foot traffic and repeat customers account for a portion of a dealership’s business, but generating leads to reach potential buyers is crucial to moving inventory, too.

Automotive lead generation is simply a term that denotes the dealership and its team using data to find consumers who are serious buyers. While there are numerous ways for dealerships to reach serious buyers, automotive lead generation software and other tools can help dealerships target the consumers who are most likely to pursue a purchase. 

These are the most common questions that dealerships might want to answer as they seek out lead generation tools to help move inventory:

  • How can I generate more leads for my car dealership?
  • What are the best strategies for automotive lead generation?
  • How can I measure the success of my automotive lead generation campaign?
  • What are the top tools and platforms for automotive lead generation?
  • How can I improve my sales funnel for automotive lead generation?
  • What are the advantages of automotive lead generation for car dealerships?
  • What are the latest trends in automotive lead generation?
Automotive Lead Generation

Top Techniques for Effective Automotive Lead Generation

Dealerships might look for tools and resources that help them generate more leads for their business. Not all leads are created equal, though. The best leads are those that result in car sales. How can dealerships generate more leads?

There are different types of software programs that can help dealerships generate more leads. In addition, there are several other methods that the sales team can utilize to organically generate leads. Advertising, lead-capture forms and impactful online chat functions all can be used to help buyers during the research phase of their car search and uncover leads, too.

Online advertising via sites like Facebook and Google can be used to target specific models and vehicles to a particular audience and even zero in on a geographic location, too. These ads can be designed in different formats. For example, some dealerships might launch carousel ads that allow them to showcase a slideshow of different vehicles. Each particular model links to a unique page and dealerships also could design the ad to link to a form that captures information for the consumer. This is how leads can be easily generated via online ads.

Chat functions on the dealership website also could be impactful for generating more leads. These functions let online visitors reach out to a sales team or dealership representative about inventory, promotions or any other information they might need. A chat could transform into a major lead for the dealership.

Social media activities also could enable dealerships to capture leads. If a customer is reaching out about a car or specific model in the comments, the dealership should be quick to respond. Ongoing conversations and social media outreach also could help the dealership identify customers who are serious buyers.

Understanding the Sales Funnel for Automotive Lead Generation

Not all leads move on to the next phase of the sales funnel, and not all leads will produce a sale for the dealership. The sales funnel is an important aspect of the buying process, and dealerships and their sales team need to understand the multiple parts of the funnel.

Zendesk explains that there are five phases of the sales funnel:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Evaluation
  4. Engagement
  5. Purchase

Through social media, advertising and other marketing initiatives, dealerships increase the buyer’s awareness of vehicle models and inventory. A buyer might show interest by visiting the dealership, contacting the dealership via email or on a chat function on the website or by entering their information on a lead capture form. In the evaluation phase, potential buyers might research their options online or visit the dealership. Some might take a test drive to further evaluate the car or to be more engaged with their potential purchase.

The end of the sales funnel points to more engagement between the consumer and the sales team. At this point, the buyer might be talking about trade-ins, getting pre-qualified for financing, etc. Eventually, this higher engagement might lead to the consumer purchasing the car (the end goal).

There are numerous ways for the dealership to begin the awareness phase of the funnel. Again, social media, advertising, online resources and other tools and digital marketing tactics could help buyers become aware of the inventory of a car dealership. This first phase, though, is simply the beginning; grabbing the potential buyer’s interest is the next step and every dealership might have their own methods for attempting to boost interest (e.g. photo slideshows, augmented reality tools, teasing upcoming models, special promotions, etc.).

Automotive Lead Generation

Advantages of Automotive Lead Generation for Car Dealerships

Dealerships might want to know the best strategies for lead generation. Ultimately, the best strategy might not be the same for each dealership. Some might find that lead capture forms tied to ads are incredibly successful. Others might organically harvest leads by staying active on social media and providing highly interactive and immersive tools on their website (like augmented reality showrooms). Some dealerships turn to lead generation software. Finding the best leads might depend on the dealership’s budget and their approach, too.

Tools and Platforms for Automotive Lead Generation

For dealerships interested in software and other resources that help uncover leads, what are the best tools and platforms for automotive lead generation? The site Capterra rounded up a list of the 10 best lead generation software programs for businesses. VideoAsk and Hubspot Marketing received top marks for features, and both also had high ratings, too.

Examples of Successful Automotive Lead Generation Campaigns

What works for one dealership or business might be the best campaign for another business or dealership. However, REVE Chat reveals multiple lead generation tactics that are effective. Some of the recommended tactics include:

  • Online chat options
  • Offering financing options
  • Choosing high-resolution and quality photos
  • Customer referral campaigns.

In addition, ‘walk-through videos’ also were noted on the list. EVOX Images is the most trusted source for high-resolution professional stock photos that dealerships can use to create impactful slideshows of new models. In addition, EVOX Images also offers videos that showcase the key features of vehicles and serve as a resource for buyers who are researching their options online.

Automotive Lead Generation

Trends in Automotive Lead Generation

Automotive lead generation trends might change and evolve as technology evolves. Social media has created a unique resource for businesses and especially car dealerships to showcase inventory and interact with potential customers. Dealerships who aren’t currently active on social media apps might be missing another resource for interaction and leads.

Chatbots and online chat functions also could help dealerships generate more leads. These online communication tools let customers find answers to their questions, and, in the case of more personalized online chats, even communicate directly with an individual from the dealership.

More consumers begin their car shopping process online. The tools offered by car dealerships could aid the buying process and move those  consumers to take the next step in the sales funnel. Ultimately, piquing an individual’s interest might be the hardest step in moving them down into the buying phase of the funnel.

Dealerships appeal to the interest of buyers in different ways. Some use social media or online ads to tease new models or to promote sales and inventory offerings. Dealerships also could tie in a lead generation form that allows consumers to enter their information to receive contact from the sales team.

Unique and immersive content online is another means to generate interest. Dealerships can include extensive car photo slideshows or even immersive photos like 360 degree spin images that let consumers interact with a detailed 3D model of a vehicle. Augmented reality tools take the immersive experience to another level and can invite consumers to explore cars in their environment at home or from any location.

There are many solutions and online marketing campaigns that can help dealerships increase lead generation and, ultimately, help move inventory. Some dealerships might even invest in lead generation software. As this type of software has become extremely popular among businesses, dealerships can choose from a variety of different platforms to find the program that works best for them.

Dealerships can combine a number of campaigns and tools to further increase their leads. Offer discounts or other incentives for customers who refer a friend. These programs can motivate current customers to reach out to friends and family and recommend the dealership.

There also are untapped opportunities to increase sales leads for car dealerships. Maintain the dealership’s Google Profile and encourage customers to leave reviews. This simple page on Google could help customers find the dealership and reach out.

When a car dealership is struggling to move inventory and increase sales volume, research the vast opportunities and methods for generating leads. Online tools, social media, lead generating software and even referral programs could be part of a larger campaign to generate serious leads to find the consumers who  are most likely to convert to buyers.

EVOX Images leads the industry in automotive imaging and offers the largest library of virtual reality and augmented reality assets available for commercial use. Contact our team or call us at 310-605-1400 to learn more about our innovative imaging solutions.