6 Must-try Lead Generation Channels for Auto Brands in 2024

February 2, 2024

The internet has taken over car buying!

Today, as many as 88% of interested car shoppers have started researching vehicles online. 

They take rigorous steps to discover everything they can about your products from multiple websites. As a result, on average, car buyers visit 4.9 websites (social media platforms included). 

In this evolving customer journey lies an opportunity. Maintaining an active presence on these websites can attract high-intent leads to your auto business. 

Here are 6 lead generation channels you must use, including social media platforms and search engines. 

1. Meta

Meta has a large, solid and easily accessible audience on its primary social platforms—Facebook and Instagram.

Audiences on Facebook and Instagram

Sources: Statista, We Are Social

Apart from the size of its audience, Meta has made great strides in artificial intelligence (AI). The platform is at the forefront of integrating advanced technology and algorithms into its social platforms.

So, users who scroll on Instagram and Facebook receive more relevant recommendations. By capturing their attention, Meta ensures they spend more time on its platforms.

It spells good news for auto businesses. You can reach the right target audiences through both organic and paid posts.

How to use Meta for social media automotive marketing

1. Market videos through Reels 

Reels are interesting, bite-sized videos where viewers can quickly see your vehicle in action. They give interested buyers just enough information to have them coming back for more.

Create Reels with a focus on entertainment and attention-grabbing content.

Meta Reel ideas for automotive brands

2. Use Facebook’s Automotive Inventory Ads (AIA)

AIA is a catalogue-based ad specifically available for auto businesses. You can display your entire portfolio with real-time availability and pricing changes.

Lead gen forms in automotive digital marketing

AIA is perfect because you only need to set it up once instead of creating individual ads for multiple models. 

Moreover, buyers navigate inside Facebook faster, with all the information in one place. It reduces friction during their discovery process. 

To capture leads from AIA, direct buyers to your website, a lead generation form or an on-Facebook details page. 

Hot tip: Retarget leads who’ve previously shown interest in your products. Retargeting increases the chances of sale, keeping you on top of their mind.

3. Increase enquiries and test drives via forms 

Meta offers multiple ways to set up forms—you can use the native lead generation forms with pre-filled information. 

Or, you can create custom lead generation forms if you don’t want to use an existing template. Add these to your organic and paid posts using CTA buttons and URL options.

Custom forms can be targeted and branded. You can include more questions specific to your business to qualify leads better.

Using a lead management system, you may also sync lead information to your marketing platforms or the CRM. That way, leads don’t slip through the sales funnel.

Hot tip: Driftrock lets you connect custom forms, capture lead details, sync leads with your marketing tools and nurture them to conversion—all from one platform.

4. Personalise audience engagement with DMs 

Given their large audiences, Facebook and Instagram are crowded with content. It pushes younger audiences to connect via Direct Messages (DMs) on Instagram and Messenger on Facebook.

Meta recognised this shift. In response, it added features like Notes and Broadcast (available for creators) within the messaging section.  

Meta adopting a changing social media landscape

Source: Meta

Make the most of DMs by asking leads to message you with their questions. Answer their queries and direct them to your lead capture page.

How auto brands use Meta's social media platforms in the real world 

  1. BMW

BMW used Facebook and Instagram’s native forms to speed up the test drive-booking process. 

Users filled in details quickly without leaving the platforms. They could also select a preferred local retailer, courtesy of Driftrock’s dynamic dealer lookup feature.  

  1. Volvo

To drive conversations around the EX90 SUV, Volvo ‘took over’ Facebook and Instagram using the Meta Moment Maker. It created a high-impact video ad creative for distribution across the Feed, Stories and Reels. 

2. TikTok

TikTok is credited with making the short-form, vertical video content format extremely popular among users of all ages.

From entertaining dance videos, TikTok is evolving into a search engine for peer recommendations. For instance, a buyer could search for ‘Honda CR-V reviews’ on TikTok before entering car dealerships.

ikTok usage for automotive buyers

Source: Insider Intelligence

How to use TikTok for automotive marketing

1. Lean into the TikTok way

TikTok's first rule of success is to go native with content—stick to the platform’s light-hearted and entertainment focus.

20% of users think TikTok is more entertaining than other entertainment platforms

The platform is excellent for showing off your fun side instead of being overly promotional or formal. Imagine users seeing a TV ad on TikTok; they’ll scroll right through.

Instead, create vertical videos with interesting audio that take up the entire mobile screen. The viewing experience gets more immersive, making it seem more intimate.  

TikTok video ideas for automotive brands

Work with TikTok creators (since the platform encourages creator networks). Channel their expertise and influence to develop the right content for your audience. 

2. Choose from a wide range of paid advertising formats

TikTok has several paid advertising formats on offer through which you can reach both niche and large audiences. Choose the formats that suit your target audience best.

TikTok Paid Ad formats

You can also curate UGC through branded hashtags (on the dedicated hashtag challenge page) and branded effects (such as stickers, filters and special effects). 

3. Turn browsers into buyers 

Create entertaining and light-hearted content for the above TikTok ad formats.

To convert interested browsers into leads, retarget them with ads. Direct them to the website or a landing page so they can discover your products in depth. TikTok’s intent, interest, behaviour and hashtag targeting options significantly improve remarketing.

Hot tip: Another way to convert browsers to buyers is to use lead generation ad forms. Collect lead information and guide them into your sales funnel without them having to leave TikTok. 

You can further refine your targeting on TikTok. Use this first-party data to build lookalike audiences and reach more high-intent leads.

How auto brands use TikTok for video marketing in the real world 

  1. BMW

BMW Spain used an eye-grabbing video ad with a lead generation CTA on TikTok. Driftrock synced the TikTok forms with BMW Spain’s CRM, validated the leads’ email IDs and ensured quick actionability. 

The brand reduced CPL by 47% and improved overall lead quality. 

  1. Citroen

Citroen ran a fun campaign for their eC4x model. The car appeared to answer interview questions humorously, making the video entertaining for viewers.

Source: Youtube

3. YouTube

Videos are, undoubtedly, powerful storytelling tools to capture viewer imagination. And out of all the social media platforms, YouTube is the best for video marketing.

YouTube as a lead generation channel for auto buyers

Sources: Datareportal, YouTube, Motor Trader

Specifically, car buyers see the car in action (in high resolution, near lifelike quality) before stepping into car dealerships.

How to use YouTube for automotive marketing

1. Educate and engage buyers 

Buyers primarily use YouTube video content to dive deeper into research, considering it's the second largest search engine. 

Leverage this to create longer videos and address their pain points. Even if the duration may be longer, keep each insight relevant and valuable.

Secondly, engage viewers from the first few seconds. Or else, buyers can quickly move on to the next best video.

Encourage interested shoppers to act on their intent through CTAs. You could link to other video resources, the website, or a specific landing page for a ‘book test drive’.

Although your car takes centre stage, use visual elements like graphics and animations to make each video more interesting.  

Youtube video ideas for automotive brands

2. Optimise your videos for SEO

  1. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google
  2. Viewers are 4x more likely to use YouTube to find information about a brand, product or service

Sources: Oberlo, YouTube

Given YouTube’s popularity as the second largest search engine, SEO must be a part of your lead generation strategies.

You can rank higher by optimising primary, secondary and long-tail keywords.

Also, include related terms on YouTube’s search bar when you type in a query.  

YouTube search results showing relevant terms

Source: YouTube

Use the keywords in the title, descriptions, tags, file names, timestamps, closed caption scripts, cards and hashtags.

Undertaking SEO on YouTube also improves your rank on Google. 

3. Boost lead generation with forms

YouTube’s lead generation form ads can capture interested buyers’ data, converting them from viewers to leads.

Use the lead information (first-party data) to refine your remarketing strategy on YouTube or for marketing on other platforms. Plus, you can create lookalike audiences to boost lead generation further.

To consistently generate high quality leads, use a lead management system like Driftrock to validate leads before they enter the CRM.

Hot tip: According to Think with Google, campaigns using two or more video formats see better ad recall and brand awareness. So, make the most of both long-form videos and Shorts for lead form ads.

How auto brands use YouTube in their social media marketing strategy

  1. Nissan

Nissan experimented with YouTube’s lo-fi trend for Ariya, its all-electric car. It leveraged music to form a deep connection with viewers, giving them a reason to watch a video for as long as 4 hours.

The video also organically marketed Ariya through billboards along the scenic route, becoming a smart way to generate leads.

Source: Youtube

  1. carwow

carwow leveraged its chief content officer Mat Watson’s popularity on YouTube with a series of shorts. In them, Mat shows how carwow makes the purchase experience for used cars ‘wow’. 

Using tongue-in-cheek content, carwow increases buyer interest in its services. 

4. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the platform on this list that you can use for both B2B and B2C audiences.

You can market to other businesses (OEMs, vendors or car dealerships) and potential buyers looking for their next purchase.

Several professionals present on the platform are the ones making business decisions. Not only do they have the purchasing power, but they also have the motivation to buy vehicles.

73% of users search for non-luxury vehicles while 63% of users also search for personal luxury ones. 

Source: LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the perfect platform to drive sales among those seeking an aspirational lifestyle.

You can also build your brand reputation by highlighting the latest innovations and CSR activities without being too promotional.

How to use LinkedIn for automotive marketing

1. Leverage groups to attract high intent leads 

Groups on the platform are akin to communities of automotive enthusiasts and automotive industry forums for you and interested buyers.

Make yourself visible here by consistently engaging in ongoing conversations.

Hot Tip: Since you already have deeper insights into the automotive industry, offer value to others through resources, latest updates and practical tips. 

This exchange of expertise improves your reliability and authority within the community. More importantly, it attracts leads to your business. 

2. Capture authority with long-form content 

Native articles is a LinkedIn feature that can boost your authority in the automotive industry. Create long-form articles with original, opinionated content on current trends and pain points.

Authoritative content for social media marketing and lead gen on LinkedIn

Source: LinkedIn

You can also make them more attractive with images, catchy headlines, links to similar resources and CTAs.

These articles can be optimised for SEO since they appear on Google searches. 

Hot tip: You could create shorter video clips from long-form webinars, addressing specific buyer needs.

Specifically, testimonials (clips longer than a minute) boost your authority. 

3. Use sponsored content to refine first party data 

LinkedIn’s sponsored content ads offer first-party data, proprietary personas, customer intelligence and custom segments for precise targeting.

Leverage the platform’s varied ad formats—dynamic ads, lead form ads for native forms, and conversation ads (for InMail)—to generate leads.

Hot tip: You may also build custom forms for specific native posts. As an official launch partner of LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, Driftrock has seen, firsthand, the magic of forms. 

We’ve worked with several clients to save 50%+ on their CPL and improve lead quality. 

By generating high-intent leads, you can sync their first-party with your CRM and use it for future social media campaigns.

How auto brands use LinkedIn in the real world 

  1. Audi UK and Lexus

Audi UK and Lexus use LinkedIn to set themselves up for both B2B and B2B social media users.

Audi uses innovation as a central theme in its social media marketing strategy

Source: Audi UK, LinkedIn

Lexus attracts social media users with latest updates

Lexus, LinkedIn

The brands share posts on press articles, technological capabilities, latest innovations and partnerships. The content shows what makes the brands different from other competitors.

Innovation-themed campaigns work well on LinkedIn and are 57% more likely to drive favorability. These campaigns also drive consideration and recommendation 2.3 times more than other posts. 

Source: LinkedIn

  1. Toyota Motor Corporation

Toyota also talks extensively about its innovations. But the brand sets itself apart with a wide range of posts on other important subjects like:

  • Electric vehicles (the talk of the town today)
  • Sustainability initiatives
  • Vendor webinars
  • Press conferences, and
  • Employees in the spotlight.
Toyota highlights company initiatives on its brand account

Source: Toyota, LinkedIn

5. Pinterest

Although listed among social platforms, Pinterest is used more as a visual search engine—making it perfect for research and discovery.

Moreover, it’s the only platform where the audience is primarily women.

Pinterest as a lead generation channel for auto brands

Sources: Pinterest, Datareportal, AM online, Statista

You can, therefore, market to more women and convert them into leads. Specifically when female buyers are actively purchasing automotives yet very few brands market to them. In particular, EVs are struggling to attract female buyers. 

Pinterest is the perfect platform to fill in the gap. 

How to use Pinterest for automotive marketing

1. Create content for what’s top-of-the-mind 

Tap into buyer pain points and tie them to your USPs via educational content. For instance, some popular topics buyers on Pinterest search for are price, reliability and running costs. 

Hot tip: Leverage the platform for moment marketing. Some of the key moments that you can build your automotive content around are:
  • Moving into a new house
  • Getting married
  • Having a growing family
  • Adopting a new pet 

Similarly, set up individual theme boards for different products or lifestyle needs. Mercedes-Benz USA does an excellent job of this on their Pinterest profile.

Mercedes-Benz pins user generated content on its brand account

Source: Mercedes-Benz USA, Pinterest

2. Push social media users from discovery to leads 

Weekly Pinterest shoppers spend 40% more each month than other platform users. 

Source: Pinterest

Maximise this high purchase intent. You could run video ads linked to lead generation forms. The forms could be a sales page for the product with CTAs to ‘book a test drive’ or ‘call the dealership’.

Or, you could turn to lead ads wherein users fill out the lead form within Pinterest. You can set them up on Pinterest and use Driftrock to sync, validate and track the leads. 

How auto brands use Pinterest in their social media strategy 

  1. MINI

MINI tapped into the rising trend of dog owners during the pandemic, positioning their cars for a niche audience by understanding their needs. 

Source: Pinterest

The campaign improved Pin awareness and purchase intent for the brand, specifically for those aged between 35 and 64 years. 

  1. Volvo

For its EX30 SUV, Volvo did a ‘denim’ keyword takeover

Because the car used recycled denim interiors and the popularity of the ‘denim on denim’ trend rose simultaneously, Volvo made the most of the increased search volume.

6. Automotive affiliate publishers

You can use affiliate marketing to compensate third-party publishers for bringing in traffic and leads for you.

Affiliates place your product links within their content. Users who click on the link are redirected to your website. You can track the conversion and pay affiliates their commission accordingly.

This form of marketing is one of the oldest and is still around owing to its success for brands and affiliates.  

Hot tip: For your automotive business, it’s best to use affiliates in the same industry as yours or an adjacent one. 

These affiliates have more expertise and are, therefore, more reliable for customers. They attract high-intent leads which get passed on to you. 

Affiliates are essential for lead generation as they take on marketing duties for you. It’s their responsibility to advertise your vehicles by creating content and leveraging their influence to get prospects interested in your vehicles.

Not only does their content improve awareness, but it also positively contributes to your SEO efforts.

How auto brands reach target audiences with automotive affiliate publishers

A mix of both large and niche affiliate publishers will serve your lead generation strategies well. You can then integrate the leads from these publishers into a centralised lead management system. 

1. Use large affiliate publishers for their reach

Large affiliate publishers already have a strong SEO strategy to rank higher on SERPs. Integrate your content with them to improve your ranking.

Plus, you can access more extensive and newer audience segments and valuable customer data on their preferences and ongoing trends.

Large affiliate publishers will also be open to using different formats—videos, SEO-led blogs, podcasts, social media platforms and more.

Source: Youtube

The more formats you use, the more ways you have to reach audiences. 

2. Leverage niche affiliate publishers for their influence 

Niche affiliates focus on their expertise rather than popularity in numbers. They’re focused on supporting an active community around tailored, specific interests.

Mainly, you can use niche affiliate publishers when you have geographic considerations.

Customers in specific locations may follow local publishers with a strong niche market presence.

Hot tip: Affiliate publishers also post on Reddit, Quora and Discord spreading your reach on niche, discussion-based platforms.

Prospects on these platforms are typically deep into the research and consideration phase, therefore, having high intent. 

Look out for publishers offering additional posts on the above mediums. 

How auto brands use affiliate publishers in the real world 

Automotive brands either create or leverage content that’s already been published.

For instance, a large automotive affiliate publisher could market your products using reviews. Reviews are powerful social proof, generating leads objectively.

Readers who see the reviews are encouraged to check product links on the page.  

Some affiliate publishers also convert this content into social media ads. They use a lead generation form as a CTA, directing users to share their details. The leads generated from here are passed on directly to the respective OEM.

Then, there are niche publishers that, for example, could focus specifically on electric vehicles. They create engaging content through videos, reviews and how-tos, all for electric vehicle buyers. 

What’s next: Convert leads to customers with lead management

To generate maximum high quality leads, you must be present on multiple digital marketing channels—Meta, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Affiliate Publishers.

However, activating all of them simultaneously could be a massive challenge. You have to track multiple incoming leads and assess their quality.

In addition, you also have to develop specific marketing and lead generation strategies for each platform.

With a lead management system, you need not worry about the managing and administrative parts. Instead, leave it to us.

Driftrock can sync with 20+ lead generation and affiliate publisher sources. It validates lead data, enables end-to-end tracking and helps increase your ROI. 

Leading automotive brands—including BMW, MINI, Honda and Land Rover—and over 500 dealerships use our platform to make the most of lead generation.  

Connect with us to learn more about Driftrock and how it supports your lead generation journey.