UK Automotive Dealerships - Digital Marketing Benchmark Report, Q1 2024

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The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK dealerships has just been published. Learn how the top 12 UK dealerships perform across the digital space.

The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK Dealerships has just been published. It covers the largest 12 national dealerships, including Harwoods, Lookers, Arnold Clark, Marshall, JCT600, Vertu Motors, Group 1 Automotive, Listers, Sytner, Inchcape, Stoneacre, and Hedin Automotive (previously Mercedes-Benz Retail Group).

Dealerships - Q3 2023 - Logos

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 dealership providers to increase market share, accelerate leads & sales, and improve brand recognition. The report highlights year-on-year digital performance, plus winner and loser comparisons across 20+ online performance metrics for the dealerships providers.

To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.

Dealerships - COVER


For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 12 dealerships on, check out our quick-look table below; Dealerships W&L Feb 24

Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's best and poorest-performing UK automotive dealerships or request a copy of the report for the full review.

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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. For automotive dealerships, they'll particularly want to take care over key pages such as offers, financing, locations, and new models that they have in stock, and ensure that prospective customers can easily find key information.

In the last report, we noted that Inchscape reported 726 4xx errors, even if this was a decline from the previous quarter. Fortunately, it’s reduced these errors to 13. However, Marshall flagged 343 4xx errors, and it needs to address any broken internal links to prevent customers from becoming frustrating.

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. For automotive dealerships, they'll want to ensure they have a fast-performing site that gives off an exceptional first impression to potential customers looking to buy these large-ticket items.

For Q1 2024, the mobile site speed ranged between 62 and 4, with Stoneacre at the bottom of the leaderboard. This dealership should increase the sizes of some images on its website to help increase this site speed score for the next quarter.

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. For brands operating in the automotive industry, they should be working with digital PR specialists to identify opportunities and ideas for out-of-the-box, surprising PR campaigns.

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. The DA range for this quarter ranges between 68 and 32, with Hedin Automotive (previously Mercedes-Benz Retail Group) at the bottom of the leaderboard. This automotive dealership should include a blog on its website to help increase this DA score.

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. The cost of living crisis and a drop in consumer confidence is having a wide impact across all non-essential sectors, as customers are cutting back on treats and expendable items. In the case of automotive dealerships, this could mean potential car buyers are sticking with their older models for longer, or only opting for used vehicles.

In this quarter, only Vertu Motors saw an increase in organic mobile traffic year on year (an 8% increase), while there was a loss range between -10% and -67% digital footfall, with JCT600 encountering the biggest loss.

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' could be a key Universal Search result for automotive dealerships to optimise for, as a way to quickly appear for customers looking for nearby forecourts.

Arnold Clark saw a total of 80,285 appearances for Universal Search results, scoring 61,000 results in the ‘image’ category — an increase from our previous audit.

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, longtail keywords could include terms relating to the colour and make of a car, along with buying signals such as 'buy today' or 'with finance'.

Arnold Clark continues to score the most appearances for longtail keywords, with 7,593 results in the top 3 search engine results — over double from the runner-up. Arnold Clark also has roughly 2.5 times the runner up’s total for the number of appearances for the top 4–10 positions.

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. For automotive dealerships, they'll want to use Facebook ads to secure visibility on offers and new lines, and can use the platform to target specific locations where they're experiencing the toughest competition.

We’ve included three examples of Lookers’ sponsored Facebook posts. This automotive dealership includes three vertical images to adhere to mobile users. Additionally, the user of emojis help to create a sense of branding.

Dealerships - Facebook Lookers Advert

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 brand engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. Tying back to the Universal Search opportunity results, dealerships appearing for high levels of 'People Also Ask' and 'FAQ' results have already got a headstart in valuable content creation.

Ten of the 12 brands prefer Facebook, and Arnold Clark has the biggest Facebook and Instagram accounts with 126,600 Facebook Likes and 35,300 Instagram followers.

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. Though automotive brands may not immediately think there is a need to remain accessible to visually impaired users, there are many forms of visual impairment that do not inhibit driving ability.

In our last audit, we reported that Group 1 Automotive raised some concerns with 134 alerts, which it’s slightly increased to 136 alerts in this quarter. However, Marshall is the brand to watch, as it reported 211 alerts. Under closer inspection, this dealership reported most of these errors due to redundant title text, which it needs to address to improve accessibility for those using a screen reader.


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 Chris Kursikowski on Unsplash

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