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AutoUSA Study Shows Internet Marketing Important to Dealers

November 10, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — According to a new AutoUSA study, 85 percent of auto dealers consider Internet marketing their most important marketing activity for new-car sales.

Other important marketing activities were television at 19.8 percent, radio at 13.2 percent, direct mail at 12.6 percent, magazines/newspaper at 12 percent and public relations at 10.2 percent. When asked the same question for used-car sales, the results were similar with Internet marketing leading at 88.6 percent. For full results:

Further, when dealers were asked, “Which of the following Internet marketing activities generates the highest volume of new car online leads?” 52.7 percent chose third-party Websites, such as,, etc. That was followed by organic search at 47.3 percent, OEM websites at 26.9 percent and pay-per-click at 12.6 percent.

Of those surveyed, 62.2 percent also chose third-party Websites as the best Internet marketing activity for used-car online leads, followed by organic search at 40.9 percent, OEM websites at 10.4 percent and pay-per-click at 7.9 percent.

“With the advent of social media and Web 2.0, there is a lot that can be done with online marketing but clearly third-party leads still play a very important part in the marketing mix,” said Phil DuPree, president of AutoUSA. “When it comes to online marketing, it’s never been an ‘either/or’ situation. If dealers want to generate a high volume of Internet leads, they need a comprehensive strategy that drives business in the door in as many ways as possible.”

The online survey, which was conducted in October, generated 167 responses from dealership employees around the country, including store owners, general managers, business development center managers, marketing managers, Internet managers and sales managers.

The study also asked dealers what they are doing after Cash for Clunkers lowered inventory. Sixty-one percent of dealers responded that they are switching buyers to vehicles that are in stock. Forty-five percent said that they are going to auction and buying used vehicles and 41.3 percent are taking orders on inventory. Only 9 percent of survey respondents said they were acquiring vehicles from dealerships going out of business.     

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