Source: iStock

Whether they’re looking for new shoes or a new SUV, 87% of shoppers begin product searches on digital channels. As this number increases each year, it’s no wonder everyone seems to be forecasting the day when the process for buying a car moves completely online, merging automotive and ecommerce. 

While there will likely come a day when it’s the norm to buy a car online, I think we’re missing the point if we think the only thing the auto industry can learn from ecommerce is how to stock the digital lot.

Online shopping has grown in popularity because as a customer, the experience is ideal. For the most part, it’s accessible, convenient, and comes with some pretty great perks. From free two-day shipping to browser extensions that automatically alert you to coupon codes to save money, the online shopping process not only feels painless, but tailored to me as a shopper. 

So how do we apply those feel-good strategies to car shopping at the dealership? Instead of overhauling the retail car shopping experience to be fully online, start by taking some of the best marketing tactics from ecommerce and putting them to work for automotive. Here are two major strategies to steal from ecommerce that will personalize your marketing to better engage leads and improve the sales process at your dealership.

Dynamic Digital Advertising

Dynamic retargeting ads are used by ecommerce brands to remarket to customers using the exact items they were browsing on their site. If you’ve ever browsed for a new pair of jeans online and noticed that same pair of jeans popping up in promoted posts on Facebook and display ads on your favorite news site—that’s retargeting. 2% of shoppers convert on the first visit to an online store; retargeting is meant to bring back the other 98%. 

Sample ecommerce retargeting ad

And it works. 26% of customers return to a site thanks to retargeting. And, website visitors who were retargeted with display advertising were 70% more likely to convert

In automotive, dealers can use a retargeting strategy in the same way to serve ads to shoppers who visited their website and browsed new or used inventory. With dynamic retargeting, ads will contain the exact piece(s) of inventory that each lead viewed. 

Sample auto retargeting ad

Because dynamic retargeting ads target in-market leads who have browsed inventory on your website, they offer a lower cost-per-conversion than standard display or retargeting ads. They serve as a great way to keep your dealership and inventory top-of-mind and pull leads back to your website when they’re ready to continue browsing. 

Dynamic Email Marketing

Dynamic emails are another way to remarket to customers who are actively browsing your website and shopping online inventory. Similar to emails you’ve received with product recommendations, lower price notifications, or reminders that you’ve left something in your cart, personalized, inventory-specific emails are a friendly way to re-engage car shoppers. It’s a strategy that works in ecommerce—81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of targeted email.

Sample ecommerce personalized emails

Sending vehicle suggestions and price drop notifications to active leads brings your inventory right to their inbox, making follow up for salespeople effortless and keeping car shoppers engaged with your inventory. Use a dynamic email tool to share information that car shoppers want, in the way they want—just like ecommerce. 72% of people prefer to receive promotional content through email and 61% of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands through email. 

Sample automotive personalized emails

More direct than dynamic retargeting ads, personalized email can have a direct impact on your sales numbers. Auto dealers who put personalized email marketing solutions to work have seen a 30%+ increase in close rate on average. 

Ecommerce Strategies for Auto Dealers

The key to providing a retail car shopping experience that’s similar to ecommerce? Personalization. For today’s customers, it’s not just appreciated, it’s expected. In a recent survey, 73% of consumers said they prefer to do business with retailers who use personal information to make their shopping experience more relevant. 

The good news—with dynamic technology, the personalization that customers expect is actually scalable. If you choose dynamic sales and marketing tools that integrate with your website, CRM, and other sales tools, you can add a layer of personalization to your existing sales process, without no additional time or oversight required.

Ready to get started? Whether you manage SEM yourself or work with a digital provider, layer in dynamic remarketing to get more from your ad spend. When choosing a personalized email marketing tool, select a dynamic solution that is fully automated to get the best results. 

This article was originally published online at