As I speak to dealers it is clear that it is becoming increasingly difficult to develop a marketing strategy as more and more services and programs are being offered. Innovation due to big data has flooded the marketplace with plenty of marketing options. Dealers are left with tough decisions with respect to their ad spend.
Here are Five Questions to Consider with your Marketing Budget
1. Are you at the front of the food chain? Not a day that goes by that a dealer doesn’t tell me that more and more customers are shopping them on the Internet. Because of this, once the customer gets to the dealership the profit in the deal is minimal. Even this is a best case scenario because sometimes the customer doesn’t even get to the dealership. This is when I ask dealers this question: Tell me about your lead generation and your spend?
Dealers usually tell me how much they spend on 3rd party leads and how frustrating it is. I ask them about using their owner data so they achieve more 1st party leads than 3rd party leads. The key is using the data to drive your marketing so that you can identify your customer at the front of the buying cycle. The more 1st party leads you create, the less 3rd party leads you will need. Remember, a 3rd party lead has been passed out to several other dealers. Your success rate and ability to make more gross is diminished the further down the line you are.
2. Are you spending the majority of your budget on the people with whom you will have the greatest impact? I would compare this to politics. The first goal is to rally and excite your base. Second is to go after the swing votes. The further you move from left to right or right to left, the less impact you will have. The same is true in marketing. Start with an Owner Marketing Plan. Next, look at becoming more strategic with conquest marketing. Conquesting has become more cost effective with digital techniques. In the future, this will become more advantageous as you will be able to use better data to streamline your efforts.
3. Are you staying in front of customers who have shown interest? This has become a point of emphasis as dealers can drive a lot of visitors to their website, but conversion to an actual appointment is often low. Retargeting has become a great way to stay in front of these customers. Remember, customers are now in the market and doing research for up to 180 days before they buy. It is vital that we stay in front of this customer beyond initial contact. Email campaigns are a cost-effective way to accomplish this goal.
4. Are you making it easy to buy from your dealership? Great marketing should go beyond a response; it should also make it easier to buy from your dealership. When we get a customer response, if we don’t make it easy to buy, then it becomes too easy for the consumer to just go to another dealer’s website. Marketing has to push people down the sales funnel. By engaging your customer this way, it takes your customer to a deeper level within your dealership and diminishes the need for the customer to visit other dealership websites. We should value marketing that creates more dealership appointments and test drives.
5. Are we measuring correctly? Every dealer I speak to wants measurable results. Who can blame them? The challenge is: are we using measurements that correctly gauge how customers buy? Measuring customer timeframes will help us calculate the effectiveness of our spend. We should also calculate how much time on average it takes to close the sale. For example, if it takes an average of 62 days from initial contact to close of sale, then you need to figure how to lower the average number of days to close. Choose a sales process or marketing tool that will help you better track each customer, expedite the process and keep the sale in-house.
Look at your budget and ask these five questions, then look at programs for the future. This should give you a great start and, more importantly, a better position for your dealership’s budget. Innovation is coming to the marketplace – make sure you’re positioned to benefit from it.