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Year of Search 2021: Automotive Marketing

Large pixelated text displaying the year 2021
Article Highlights:

  • +100% YOY increase of searches containing “electric vehicle charging”.
  • +36% YOY increase in searches containing “car repair near me” in June.

2021: a year of acceptance, adapting, and advancing. As we grew used to our world of uncertainty, so did the things we searched for. By monitoring this year’s online search trends, marketers can go into the new year with a better understanding of what matters the most to consumers. Learn what customers searched for this year and how to put it to work for your dealership.

Make Sustainability Simple

Over 80% of people say sustainability is more top of mind now than before the pandemic. This was shown clearly in the increase of the following searches:

  • +30% YOY increase of searches containing “sustainability”
  • +30% YOY increase of searches containing “environment”
  • +100% YOY increase of searches containing “electric vehicle charging”

Behavioral science teaches us that when we feel positive about our actions, we are more motivated to continue to act. Consumers want green choices to feel like the obvious choice. Your dealerships messaging should position sustainability as the default instead of a separate choice. This has been made a bit easier by manufactures making it a focus to their branding, such as GM’s logo change to promote electric vehicles and Hyundai’s Bubble Blowing Campaign.

Relevancy for Each Consumer

In The Psychology of Sustainable Behavior, author Christie Manning, Ph.D. discusses the importance of emphasizing personal relevance in your messaging pertaining to environmental benefits. Most Americans acknowledge that environmental issues exist, but for many it seems separate from their day-to-day lives. So, instead of talking about “the environment” in a grander scheme, point out the human aspects of these issues: “the air we breathe”, “the water we drink”, and “the climate that sustains human life.”

Focusing on local issues is another way to increase relevancy for your audience. Subaru has nailed this on the head with their Subaru Loves the Earth National Park Foundation partnership. As a company that sells predominately in states full of national parks, (Colorado, Washington, Maine, Oregon, Utah, etc.) their conservation efforts hit home for their audience.

The Downfall of DIY

In the cooped up world of 2020, searches for do-it-yourself solutions skyrocketed. Moving into 2021, however, there was a significant decrease. With this year creating more in-person obligations, people were much more willing to pay for services that will save them time.

  • +36% YOY increase in searches containing “car repair near me” in June
  • +100% YOY increase in searches containing “handyman near me”
  • +100% YOY increase in searches containing “installation near me”

Your fixed ops messaging should focus on convenience, expertise, and the amount of time you can save potential customers.

Address the New-new Normal

With new access to vaccines and reduced government regulations, many businesses started opening up earlier in the year. As a result, consumers were much more willing to shop in person than in 2020. Some search trends to back up that claim are:

  • +40% YOY increase in searches containing “dealership near me”
  • +400% YOY increase in searches containing “open now near me”

However, consumers are being much more careful with their money. Every choice feels astronomical when molding a new life for a changed world.

  • +70% YOY increase in searches containing “best car under”
  • +100% YOY increase in searches containing “low budget”



You can help your customers by equipping them with the information they need to make decisions and take calculated risks. Provide the content they look for the most, and be as transparent as possible with vehicle details, pricing, and finance options.

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Anna Perry is a marketing communications professional at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is an expert on Reynolds’ suite of cutting-edge marketing products, their functionalities, and how they can be utilized to improve dealership success. Anna received her Bachelor’s Degree in Digital Marketing from Miami University, as well as her Associate’s Degree in Business Management Technology with a concentration in global and social computing.

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