Retargeting Strategies for Dealerships

August 22, 2023

A savvy digital marketing strategy isn't just a "nice to have" for modern car dealerships. It's a must-have. Automotive merchandising has entered the digital space, with buyers decreasing in-person visits to dealerships and increasingly browsing products online¹. Automotive dealers wanting to remain competitive need digital automotive marketing strategies.

Retargeting strategies are an essential component of modern marketing for car dealers.

Retargeting allows car dealers to deliver ads to potential customers who have already indicated an interest in their business or product. This reminds the consumer of the brand after encountering it, increasing the likelihood that they'll make a purchase.

Discover why retargeting is so effective and how to make the most of it below.

What Is Retargeting?

Retargeting is a digital marketing strategy that focuses on recapturing a customer's attention after showing interest in a business, brand, or product. The logic is that a consumer may not be ready to purchase the first time they see a product—but may be more inclined to seal the deal after repeated exposure. For example, say an individual visits a car dealership website and clicks on a page to look at a specific vehicle. However, they don't make a purchase; they simply click away from the page. It's possible to show the previous website visitor displays or banner ads for that specific vehicle through display ad retargeting—for example, when they browse Google.

Retargeting can be list-based or pixel-based. With pixel-based retargeting, a pixel is placed in the browser once an individual visits a web page. A cookie then records that consumer's journey through the web, alerting the relevant retargeting platform—like Google—to take action and display an ad.

An example of list-based retargeting could be an email list. Say a car dealership hosts an in-person event and gathers email addresses from attendees. Adding those people to future email newsletters is an example of list-based retargeting.

Benefits of Retargeting in Marketing for Car Dealers

So, does retargeting work? It's surprisingly effective—and there's a real psychology behind it. First, consider the stats: Research has shown that website visitors who are retargeted with a display ad are 70% more likely to convert².

One reason retargeting is so successful comes down to a psychological phenomenon known as the mere-exposure effect. The more humans see something, the more they like it. Retargeting plays to that tendency³.

There are also practical elements that explain retargeting's power. When an individual first visits a dealership website to view the selection, they may simply be browsing and not ready to click "purchase." Retargeting reminds them where to go when they are prepared to buy.

Tips for Implementing Retargeting Strategies

Ready to incorporate retargeting strategies into your digital marketing? There are a few things to consider before going ahead. Follow these best practices for incorporating retargeting into automotive marketing strategies:

  • Pick your retargeting methods: There are many funnels for retargeting campaigns with pixels, including Google, Instagram, and Facebook. Google allows car dealerships to reach the most online users because these display ads are based on the customer’s online behavior⁴—but don’t underestimate the power of social media platforms, since shoppers spend a significant amount of time here as well. Diversify your retargeting efforts by including list-based campaigns, like email newsletters.
  • Set your retargeting goal: When investing in digital marketing, articulate your objectives. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Boost conversion rates? Close a loop in your marketing funnel?
  • Define metrics for measuring success: Setting measurable goals helps you determine if your retargeting is working. Paying for retargeting with tools like Google costs money. You want to make sure that money is well spent. So, if you want to drive conversions, measure those.
  • Create compelling retargeting materials: Great retargeting won't get you far if you don't have solid ad material. Ensure ads have eye-catching visuals and clear messaging and are relevant. Retargeting customers already have an idea of what they’re shopping for, so create ads based on specific make, model, and year searches⁵.
  • Adjust as needed: When you can measure the impact of your retargeting strategies, you can see what you're doing right versus wrong. What is and isn't working? You can then pivot accordingly. For example, if your ad copy isn't landing, rewrite it.


  1. Digitization of End-to-End Retail. Cox Automotive. Retrieved on June 29, 2023, from
  2. Fishman, J. (20 May 2020). What Is Retargeting and Why Is It Important? Forbes. Retrieved on June 29, 2023, from
  3. 17 Incredible Retargeting Ad Stats. Digital Information World. Retrieved on June 29, 2023, from
  4. Winters, K. (29 September 2021). A Guide to Retargeting for Dealerships. J&L Marketing. Retrieved on June 29, 2023, from
  5. Why Your Dealership Needs Remarketing Campaigns. Worth Advertising Group. Retrieved on June 29, 2023, from