Marketing Your Dealership to Millennials in 2023

Millennials—the population born between 1981 and 1995—have grown up in a fast-paced world, with digital changes around every bend. From the computer to the internet to smartphones, these now 20- to 40-something-year-olds have seen it all. When it comes to cars, millennials have witnessed the wood-paneled Ford station wagon, the rise and fall of the Saab convertible, and the death of Plymouth (and the PT Cruiser). While rumor has it that millennials are less likely to own a car than their predecessors, actual data suggests otherwise. According to market research firm J.D. Power, millennials bought more new cars in 2020 than any other age group, accounting for 32 percent of total new car sales and surpassing baby boomers for the first time. The question for car dealerships, then, isn’t, Should I be marketing to millennials? It’s, How do I market my car dealership to millennials? With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few millennial marketing trends and consider how this intel can be applied to a smart and effective marketing strategy for your car dealership.

Trend #1: Social Media Tops the Charts

84% of millennials spend around 2.5 hours on social media platforms per day. While new social media platforms abound, mainstream channels—like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter—still remain at the top of the marketing game (no matter what generation you claim). Utilizing several social media platforms to market your dealership is an easy way to make your brand known, post photos of inventory, and expand your reach. It’s also a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors. On social media, potential buyers can get to know your specific offerings, employees, and niches. According to Sprout Social, “Seventy-five percent of millennials say that social media enables them to interact with brands and companies. Associating your brand with a lifestyle, activity, or subject of interest can make it easier to connect with millennial audiences. ”

Trend #2: Videos Build Trust

70% of customers are likely to trust a brand that focuses on video marketing. Video marketing is entertaining and easily accessible. A little goes a long way in helping your dealership increase engagement, educate your audience, and further your reach. Plus, it puts a face (or faces) to your name—a way to build a sense of familiarity and a deeper connection with potential customers. Most popular social media platforms even have video advertising options for automotive social media marketing. You can choose from several video types:
  • About Us: Share more details about who you are and what sets you apart from other dealerships.
  • Customer Testimonials: Give your trusted customers a chance to share their experience or answer specific questions.
  • Promotional Videos: Advertise specials, new cars, and holiday sales.
  • Demo Videos: Show off your autos or specific car features.
According to HubSpot’s 2022 State of Inbound Marketing Report, funny and/or interactive content—whether videos or posts—is exponentially more successful and engaging. So don’t hesitate to sprinkle a little humor in or ask a question that requires potential customers to respond!

Trend #3: Email Brings in the Customers

2 out of 3 millennials say that promotional emails are an effective marketing technique that affects their buying decisions. Whether you’re selling cosmetics, asking for donations, or trying to get people to visit your car lot, email marketing is still one of the most reliable marketing tactics across the board. At a very low cost, you can drive sales, generate leads, and increase customer engagement with a pre-automated, customized email campaign. V12, a leading data services provider, emphasizes the importance of email for auto dealerships: “Local Automotive Dealerships: The Role Of Interactive Media In The Local Car Shopping Process found that 23% of all visits to dealership websites were triggered through an email link. Receiving an email from the dealership was the number one action that convinced prospects to visit the showroom. And fully 59% of all motorists stated that it was the dealer’s email that got them to travel to the lot.” Here are a few tips to keep in mind for your email marketing:
  1. Update your email database list often.
  2. Segment your list and personalize your emails for the proper audiences.
  3. Make sure your emails can be opened on a phone.
  4. Respond, respond, respond. If someone sends a question via email, be quick to reply. This alone will set you apart from most dealerships!

Trend #4: Millennials Prefer Live Chat

60% of millennials think they should have to wait less than five minutes to speak to someone on a customer service line. In fact, most millennials would say that issue resolution time is the single most important factor in providing excellent customer service. For local dealerships, social media and Google Business Profile listings are the most efficient and accessible place to engage via chat. They give you the chance to message people on Facebook and Instagram, respond to tweets, address complaints on GBP, answer questions, and say “thank you” to all of those positive reviews.

Connection is Key

In this digital age, car dealerships need to keep up with marketing trends. That doesn’t mean you have to start selling cars online—it simply means that it’s time to fully embrace engaging potential customers online. The great news is that this doesn’t require a degree in marketing or a full-time marketing staff. And the ROI on all of these marketing strategies is proven: not just for millennials, but for every customer that walks through your doors. With people increasingly interested in an excellent customer experience, what better way to engage them than to give them a true taste of your culture, staff, and offerings before they enter your lot? And it doesn’t get easier than a quick video, a personalized chat, a funny, catchy post, or an email that invites them to “come on in.”