UK Auto Dealerships - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q2 2023

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The Q2 2023 benchmarking report for UK dealerships has just been published. Learn how these leading 11 UK dealerships perform across the digital space.

The latest Q2 2023 benchmarking report for UK Dealerships has just been published.  It covers 11 of the largest national dealerships, including Stoneacre, Dick Lovett, Park’s Motor Group, Rybrook, Motorline Direct, Greenhous, Hendy, Eastern Western Motor Group, Lloyd Motor Group, Pentagon Group, and Mercedes-Benz Retail. Dealerships2 Logos Q4

The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other dealerships to increase market share, generate leads and sales, and increase brand exposure. The report highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons across 20+ online performance metrics for the dealerships included.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q2 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call. Digital Benchmark Report - Dealerships - Q2 2023

What The Industry Research Report Covers

The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each retailer based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.  

Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels

Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing.  Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.

Technical Website Compliance

Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. Dealerships will want to ensure that key pages such as location finders and finance information are especially easy to find, and that users are not sent down dead ends in search of essential information.

In our last report, we noted that Dick Lovett were seeing the highest levels of error codes in our crawls, returning 692 4xx errors. In Q2, Dick Lovett have reduced this figure to 231. Though ultimately the goal for 4xx errors is zero, this is a significant improvement over the past few months. The highest volume of 4xx errors is now seen by Parks, who returned 311 in our crawls.

Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance

When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. When trading in a highly competitive market, such as auto sales, dealerships will want to ensure that users are getting a positive impression of their brand at every touch point.

Last quarter, we noted that five dealerships had reached the 'okay' benchmark fo 50 for mobile page speed, following an increase from two in Q3. In Q2 2023, this figure has fallen back to two, with only Dick Lovett and Lloyd Motor Group reaching this benchmark. Dealerships who have seen a fall in performance for mobile page speed must ensure that any new site developments are not impacting user experience.

Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority

Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Dealerships can collaborate with authoritative sites from across the full automotive space in mutually beneficial partnerships that can improve backlink profiles and domain authorities.

A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. As in Q4, we saw DAs for auto dealerships range from 58 to 31, with Hendy remaining at the front of the pack.

Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop

A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. Automotive dealerships are one of many sectors feeling the sting of the cost-of-living crisis, with consumers opting to stick with older vehicles for longer and only upgrading or changing cars when essential.

As in our last report, only two dealerships saw a significant increase in traffic year on year. While seven dealerships saw a loss in traffic, and Eastern Western Motor Group saw a minimal gain of 3%, Park’s Motor Group and Greenhous both saw increases of over 100%, with Greenhous nearly tripling their traffic year on year. This is a significant achievement for any brand and, as one of the lower-traffic dealerships in our report, is particularly exciting for Greenhous.

Universal Search Opportunity

Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a retailer can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. 'Local pack' and 'reviews' could prove particularly useful for auto dealerships, who can ensure they have local visibility and are able to build trust directly from the SERP.

While image pack was the most widely used Universal Search result in Q4, very few dealerships are appearing for any of these results in Q2. While 'local pack' results are now most broadly used, Park's Motor Group are, by far, making the most local appearances, securing 3,300 results. The only brand appearing for 'reviews' is Dick Lovett, who have secured visibility on 3,000 customer reviews.

The Longtail Keyword Opportunity

Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for retailer new search terms as they enter Google’s index. For automotive dealerships, they could be including longtail keywords relating to financing options, availability, and models & colours, to capture traffic from both the consideration and convert stages of the funnel.

Though Greenhous are achieving high levels of traffic growth year on year, they are still ranking for very few longtail keywords, appearing for only thirty in the top three positions. Though they may be getting valuable traffic through on these keywords (and large volumes of organic traffic from other keyword targeting), they should consider whether there are further opportunities to grow their traffic volume to an even higher level with high-conversion potential search terms.

Facebook Adverts

With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019.

We've included examples of Pentagon Group's Facebook ads from both our previous report, and Q2 of this year. You can see a stark difference between the two visual styles, with last quarter's imagery coming across much darker, while a fresher tone has been adopted for Q2. Opting for a new visual tone for these ad campaigns will give Pentagon a good steer on whether this is a good move for the dealership across all content.

Q4 2022:

Dealerships2 Q4 FB ads

Q2 2023:

Pentagon Motor Group Facebook Ads June 2023

Top Social Shares & Content

When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your retailer engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. There is a wealth of content that automotive dealerships can look towards creating, tying into all manner of topics from across the wider automotive industry. Potential ideas could include how to choose a car based on insurance class, what to look for in a first car, and how to get the most from a test drive.

Facebook is almost universally the favoured social platform among automotive dealers, with Lloyd Motor Group securing the most engagements, with 22,222. Despite this, Lloyd Motor Group have comparatively few Facebook profile likes than their competitors. This either indicates that their content is highly engaging, and is being shared and engaged with beyond their follower circle, or that their competitors are failing to engage their existing audiences.

Website Readability & Accessibility

20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, retailers lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. Even brands in automotive sectors, should be prioritising accessibility, as there are a number of visual impairments that don't inhibit driving ability, but can make navigating poorly-designed websites a challenge!

In our last report we noted that Eastern Western Motor Group were flagging for the highest volume of alerts with 253. In Q2 this has doubled, with Eastern Western now showing 499. Eastern Western must review their site's accessibility in order to avoid alienating users.


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these leading 11 dealerships on, check out our quick-look table below; Dealerships2 W&L June23


To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

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