Advertising has always been full of buzz words. Sometimes they are important. Sometimes they’re misleading. Sometimes they’re misused just because a media rep or advertising vendor wants to say something that sounds trendy and important.
There’s a relative new term that’s been introduced with the advent of the data marketing revolution. The term is “in-market.” And it’s all three of the above.
For automotive marketers, “in-market” should mean that their advertising is reaching people who are ACTIVELY in the process of shopping for a vehicle. The idea is that if the objective is to sell automobiles, it’s more important to talk to a person who wants to buy an automobile than to someone who just purchased or doesn’t intend to for quite some time.
Media reps and advertising vendors may emphasize that their strategies are aimed directly at consumers identified as “in-market.” That’s well and good, so long as they can tell you exactly what they mean. “In-market” can have a variety of definitions. For many vendors, “in-market” doesn’t always mean “actively shopping”.
So how do you tell if your media is reaching actively shopping, in-market car buyers or if a vendor is pulling one over on you?
For some vendors, “in-market” may mean that based on a demographic profile targeted, your advertising might reach someone shopping for a car. A small percentage of audience members might be actively shopping but the large majority of the demographic profile targeted won’t be.
Or, for other vendors, “in-market” may mean that based on predictive data like vehicle equity and lease expirations someone should be coming into market. However, the phrases “should be” and “definitely is” are two entirely different things.
Then, there’s vendors where “in-market” may mean they utilize anonymous 3rd party offline or online data to target audience members that display characteristics that they may be thinking about buying a car. It has the potential to be highly accurate but it’s often back-filled with useless audience information to bolster numbers for overall reach.
The problem with all of them is their identification strategies aren’t necessarily a true indicator of someone actively shopping for a new vehicle. At best, they are all educated ways to blindly throw darts at a small target on a very large wall. Each is just slightly more accurate than the precursors.
To really get to the heart of reaching active, in-market shoppers – automotive marketers have to get beyond the sales pitch and find out exactly what “in-market” means, and how each of their vendors proves it. To truly locate and target active in-market shoppers, it’s all about extremely accurate data that’s based on real-time activity. And, most marketing vendors don’t have access to it.
Below are four basic questions anyone can ask to get to the truth. A media vendor’s ability to answer them specifically, without a lot of rambling, will tell you whether “in-market” actually means real shoppers that turn into eventual customers or if they’re just utilizing a buzzword to keep up with trends.
Question 1: Where do you get your audience data? The idea is that if they can’t tell you their sources how are you supposed to know if they’re speaking the truth.
Question 2: How current is your data? The speed at which active car shoppers move can vary greatly between awareness, familiarity, consideration, and purchase. Data that’s more than a few days old can mean that it’s too old to utilize and produce effective results.
Question 3: How accountable do you hold your data providers? If a vendor doesn’t own the data they use then they have to be purchasing it from someone else. If they are, how do they hold their vendors accountable for good data that produces results.
Question 4: How do you measure performance for the data utilized? If the right data is being used then it should and can be measured. Any marketing vendor who says they use data to reach car shoppers should be able to tell you exactly what their data and strategies are producing towards the goals you’ve set.
Data-driven marketing has, in some ways, taken the already vague world of advertising and made it even less distinct. There are dozens of ways of reaching prospects, and they are at least that many levels of accuracy. The key to making sure that the marketing dollars spent provide the greatest return is in making sure audiences reached are the right ones and then choosing the most productive media. Then, it must be insisted that performance is based on real-world measurement—sales rather than audience. And now, because of the active in-market shopper data that’s available to everyone, it’s something every dealership should and can do.
Intuitively, it may seem like keeping as many names as possible in the sales pipeline would be the way to go. The more leads you have, the more sales you will make, right? Not necessarily. Without nurturing your database, engaging subscribers becomes less and less effective. Nurturing means understanding where in the sales journey your potential customer is and communicating to move them to the purchase stage.
Without a system, nurturing your dealer database properly becomes nearly impossible. You simply end up sending the same message to everyone. Without engaging, personalized and consistent content your database may wither on the vine.
It is extremely important to add multiple ways of communicating, but even more important to communicate the right message at the right time. Your database is not made up of only in-market buyers. That’s why you need to nurture!
Follow these tips to nurture your dealer database so that you can focus your attention on the right potential customers.
1. Develop a clear, well-defined protocol for lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing requires regular follow-up contact with potential customers. Create a protocol your salespeople can use to work and encourage all of the leads within the database. Be sure to include a time frame for each action. For example, you may instruct the team to call leads within 24 hours of their expressed interest. Various statistics say you have less than an 80% chance of connecting if you don’t respond within 5 minutes! Understanding the journey of your customers and buying cycles starts with watching it, then working it.
2. Score your database.
Categorize any lead you add to the list based on the likelihood of the conversion. For example, you may categorize some leads as very likely to make a purchase, while others may be showing only marginal interest in purchasing a vehicle from your dealership. Lead scoring allows you to determine which type of information this particular lead should receive.
Scoring your leads allows reps to focus on prospects most likely to buy. Ongoing content touches can keep the conversation going with the rest. For example if a prospect just started the process, then the score is low and educational content is more appropriate. If they are a high scoring lead, ready to proceed more quickly, then relevant content sent could be about closing the sale i.e. low loan rates, special financing, incentives to buy now, etc.
3. Lukewarm is better cold.
Some leads are not ready to make a purchase right now, but may decide to do so in the foreseeable future. While these leads should not take up your sales reps’ time, they do deserve to remain in your pipeline. For instance, if you follow up with a lead who tells you that he or she has decided to wait until next year to purchase a vehicle, score the lead and put them in the nurturing pipeline. The nurturing pipeline should consist of potential buyers who have yet to decide on the type of vehicle and/or dealership. These are exactly the kinds of prospects that need information and helpful advice! Send educational information and what whether they interact. When they do, it is time to modify their score and move them through the journey to buy.
Have you ever felt like the abundance of emerging marketing and advertising technology, gizmos, and strategies is a bit like being in a tsunami of information? Just as you get comfortable in one area, BOOM, there’s a new wave crashing down. As technology progresses, it’s inescapable as a marketer. The decision to make is do you want to navigate the waters head on in an ark or risk it in a life raft.
When it comes to automotive marketing, doing something different from what you know can be a bit uncomfortable. You may ask yourself things like, “Will it give my store an advantage? Is it cost effective? How much time will my team and I have to spend on it? What if it fails?”
But, it’s even more uncomfortable when you find out you’ve fallen way behind everyone else because you failed to progress and evolve. That’s why it’s imperative to seek out and embrace new marketing and advertising strategies in order to keep your message where your audience is going to see it. Even though there’s a lot to sort through, the benefits of adopting the right strategies can be awesome.
- Today’s audiences can be more tightly targeted than ever before.
- Ads can be specific to the viewer; so, the message is much better received.
- Engagement, leads, and purchases can be tracked to the specific medium.
- Less time, money, and effort is spent figuring out how to reach the right people and more time can be invested working on selling more cars.
- For automotive marketers wanting to adopt emerging technology and media but not drown in the tsunami of information, we’ve compiled three things to always consider when getting started.
1. Know your audience and their media habits.
Although almost all dealers are already engaged in some sort of digital advertising, as much as 80% of their monthly advertising spends are still broadcast media specific. That, despite the fact that there are fewer viewers in news and fringe time – traditionally the favorite time slots of dealerships. According to the Pew Research Center, late night news has lost nearly a quarter of its audience over the last decade, and viewership in other fringe times is dropping. Considering the fact that only about 1 in 20 households reached will be in the market for a new car, dealership media buys are talking to a shrinking market, of whom, only a small percent are truly active prospects.
A profitable first step is to consider the alternatives based on knowing your audience’s behaviors and understanding the mediums where they spend the most time. Emerging technologies can solve both the audience size and the percentage of prospects problem by reaching targets who are currently in the market for an automobile. It’s a much smaller population, but with a much greater return on dollars spent.
2. Hold the medium accountable.
The objective of campaign marketing is to sell automobiles, and the media rep (whether digital or traditional) sitting across the desk or virtual meeting should have a good answer to one important question: How can we track the sales results of this investment?
Having an accurate answer to that question is essential to allocating your marketing dollars to the marketing that produces the best ROI.
And there’s a second question the media rep should answer: How do you make sure that you are pushing the right message to the right prospect? Is it spray and pray saturation coverage or are audience members actively in market shopping? The fact that the prospect is identified as being in the market isn’t enough. What is the prospect in the market for? How long have they been in market? And what is the source of the data?
Media accountability starts with a clear explanation of what the medium is going to do, and how it’s going to do it. It ends with an accurate accounting of the units sold through that medium. Anything less is simply a vendor asking the marketer to “trust me.”
3. Put your message where the buyers are.
On the average, the typical cable-enabled American home receives over 200 channels. And on the average, they watch less than 10% of them. While broadcast tv and cable viewership is dropping, it’s increasing on devices that can connect to video content (streaming players, game consoles, computers, tablets, and smart phones).
Increasingly, viewers are where traditional advertising is not. And that leads to another question that the media reps should answer: How will your dealership’s message get to viewers wherever they are? And, how will the media company make sure they’re getting your message to the right audience members at the appropriate time in their buying journey?
These are questions that some media representatives aren’t used to hearing. In some cases, you may even encounter a blank stare. Those who will be most helpful to you in navigating the change in the way marketing information is both transmitted and received will have a ready answer. It’s because that’s the way they’ve designed their programs.
Its answers to questions like the ones above that will help automotive marketers clearly navigate the confusing waters of emerging advertising technology. By gaining those answers, you’ll be able focus on doing more of what works and quit doing what doesn’t. Your pipeline will be full and you can sell cars and that’s a pretty sweet deal!
During the journey of today’s car shoppers, some dealers will have the opportunity to make far more sales to far more car shoppers than others. The simple difference between the two is that the dealer not making the sale isn’t making it because they probably got beat to the opportunity.
The basic marketing/sales funnel model hasn’t changed in years. The start to a sale begins at a vague level of insight called the awareness stage; a car shopper knows they want a new vehicle and they know that dealerships exist but they’re not yet ready to care about where to purchase. They’ll eventually choose a dealership but not until later in their journey. The key is to make sure once they’re ready, they choose your dealership first.
Historically, caring about where to purchase started to come into play when car shoppers reached the interest stage. During this stage, they began visiting dealerships to gather information about vehicles. And, it was with this stage in mind dealerships established their marketing and sales models. The model worked fairly well as long as dealerships were the conduit between interest and information.
As shoppers arrived, they were handed off to a sales team member who helped move them through the remaining steps: consideration, intent, evaluation, and finally, the actual purchase. It was up to the salesperson to separate the specific dealership from all the others in the market.
Now, internet shopping patterns have become the norm. The original marketing/sales model isn’t just old. It’s extremely antiquated. Roughly half of car shoppers test drive only one vehicle before a purchase because they have access to every piece of information they need. Salespeople don’t have an opportunity to exercise their skills until a prospect has essentially already made a decision. The opportunity to earn their business has become a matter of where in the process car shoppers meet your dealership and message. Today, sooner is definitely better. And, being first is key to earning an opportunity.
The marketing versus sales influence model has drastically shifted. Many salespeople have already recognized it. They see customers everyday who have done their research, made up their minds down to the accessory package, and arrive already in the “evaluation” phase ready to test drive. It provides a different challenge for the salesperson, but it provides an even greater challenge for managers who have to allocate marketing funds to put shoppers in front of their salespeople before any other dealership has an opportunity.
Most broadcast, direct mail, and even digital media are stuck in an old marketing model mindset. They can stick a dealership’s name in a car shopper’s head. Done right, they can even give car shoppers a reason to pay attention. But in the day of the educated consumer, the one that makes up his or her mind before meeting a salesperson, that’s no longer enough. A customer-specific message delivered quickly, efficiently, frequently, and much earlier in the shopping process is what’s needed to win an opportunity.
It’s not a matter of better late than never. It’s now a matter of, if your message is late, it’s never.
Want to see which of your advertising media strategies work and which are a waste of money? It’s actually pretty easy.
For decades, car dealerships of all sizes have used different forms of spray and pray mass media to try and connect with car buyers. The question however, how can mass media really be measured to determine it’s true ROI. Is it a solid investment, a necessary evil, or just a waste of money?
For example, take two of the most popular mass media advertising line items like TV and radio. They’re each a time-worn tactic few questioned because there was no true way to track their ability to produce traffic and sales. If car buyers showed up at dealerships to buy a new or used car then the tv and radio must be working, right? If no one showed up then they were simply explained as investments for building a brand and future sales.
Truth is, for car dealerships, most of the money spent on spray and pray mass media campaigns is wasted. That’s because only a tiny percentage of the audience is actually in the market for a new vehicle. Common industry experts estimate as few as 2 – 4% of the market is considering purchasing a new or used vehicle from week to week.
What’s that mean? As much as 95% (sometimes more) of every mass media dollar invested by dealerships trying to attract car buyers simply goes to waste because it’s not reaching the right audience. People simply aren’t listening because they have no need to.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
Over 95% media waste may sound hard to believe, but let’s look at the numbers. Assume a 2 week tv buy reaches an audience of 100,000 adults ages 25 – 54, and one commercial runs 56 times (4 times per day for 14 days) at an average of $300 per spot. That’s $16,800.
Now assume the tv buy is two stations deep. That’s a total of $33,600 for the entire two week tv campaign.
Of those 100,000 people targeted, only 4,000 of them (4%) are in the market to purchase a vehicle in the two weeks the tv commercial is running. Of those 4,000 prospects, only about 5% are in the market for the make and models of vehicles advertised. That brings the audience of viable prospects down to a whopping 200.
Knowing the tv buy cost $33,600, when it’s divided by 100% of the in-market prospects seeing it (200), the cost of reaching each prospect is $168. In actuality, the cost per prospect is most likely higher because it’s just not possible for 100% of all in-market prospects to see the spot. But hey, if we’re going to dream, lets dream big.
NOW CRUNCH THROUGH THE SALE
To continue this hypothetical example, assume the commercial worked really well and 50% of those prospects visit the advertised dealership during the time the spots ran (that’s 100 prospects). Finally, let’s say the sales team is fantastic and is able to close 25% of the people who saw the tv spot and visited the dealership.
All told, the two week buy cost $1,344 per sale. Not exactly a stellar return on investment for even a best-case scenario. To make it even more concerning, it’s simply not possible to know each and every time customers who purchased a vehicle ever saw the tv spot. Any ROI calculations are strictly guesses and not accurate. It’s possible the cost per sale could be higher.
WHAT’S A DEALERSHIP SUPPOSED TO DO?
We’re now in a day and age where, if executed properly, advertising channels are trackable to real actionable results (phone calls, floor ups, website clicks, emails, texts, and chats). Taken a step further, what really needs to happen is that every advertising channel should be tracked to the revenue it produced. If advertising can’t be tracked, then how in the world can any dealership know it’s true value and what to do with it?
This isn’t simply a rant about tv and radio inefficiencies (ok, it kind of is but all mass media is inefficient if consumers aren’t targeted properly). The fact is, most marketing vendors and advertising providers simply don’t go through the necessary lengths needed to target the right prospects and prove the true value of what they’re doing, even though the technology is available to do it. Instead, vendors are happy getting away with putting ads in front of anonymous audiences and discussing hypothetical results and inaccurate returns. The reason, most dealerships don’t vigorously demand to see actual proof that their advertising efforts are producing measurable revenue.
The technology and resources are available, right now, for dealerships to hold marketing vendors, advertising agencies, and media investments accountable for real production (all the way down to a sale, the revenue generated, and profit made). Do the math for yourself and see what each of your media sources is truly producing for your store. If the results aren’t good enough, be open minded enough to seek out and investigate strategies that may be able to perform better over the long haul.
Massive technological advancements in advertising delivery and tracking technology have made this an unbelievable time to re-think what’s normal and consider smarter strategies for getting the most out of your advertising investment. The dealerships that embrace a new mindset of what their advertising should produce and the value it can bring will be well positioned for sustained growth and competitive dominance for years to come.
With the wealth of data captured by the typical enterprise system, KPIs (or Key Performance Indicators) and the dashboards that display them are becoming very popular. Anybody who can’t monitor his metrics in real time just isn’t cool.
And, mostly, KPIs are a good thing, and the dashboard is a very appropriate tool. Some KPIs are like the speedometer in cars; they tell you when you need to press the pedal or when you can lighten up. MTD Revenue is an example of the speedometer KPI. Others are like the warning lights; they just tell you what you need to pay attention to, such as when inquiries fall below a defined threshold level.
Done right, Key Performance Indicators and dashboards can give dealership management better, more current information than they’ve ever had before.
Unfortunately, too often, they aren’t done right. Here are five ways that the best of measurement intentions can go bad.
1. Metrics and KPIs get confused.
It’s easy to confuse them because, while all KPIs are metrics, all metrics are not KPIs. A metric’s just a measure. A KPI measures success, and that means you have to know what success means. For each KPI, you should have an objective that not only indicates the metric, but defines success.
2. Too many things are measured.
The “key” in Key Performance Indicator means that the activity or results being measured has a significant impact on success. The rule of thumb is that you should have no fewer than four KPIs and no more than a dozen. Those who don’t choose carefully may get drowned in data. There are, of course, different sets of KPIs in a dealership. There will probably be a set for sales, one for service, one for marketing, one for F & I, as well as one that gives dealership management the big picture.
3. The wrong things are measured.
Often, we want to measure things that are just activity. For instance, we came across an article once suggesting one good KPI (among others) for a sales manager was the number of sales team meetings per month. Since what’s measured matters, this would probably ensure that the number of sales team meetings would increase. However, it wouldn’t ensure that they were useful. The better measurement would be the results of what was expected to come from the meetings: better conversion rates, higher customer satisfaction, etc.
4. The wrong metric is used.
Sometimes measurement is a matter of convenience. For instance, when dealerships buy time for television commercials, the metric is typically CPM or cost per thousand. That number doesn’t answer the more meaningful question: cost per thousand what? The short answer, of course, is viewers, but that still doesn’t tell us how they relate to our objective; it simply tells us that they watch TV. Similarly, advertising cost per car is not a good KPI. Simply dividing advertising expenditures by the number of units sold does provide a rough measure of effectiveness month over month, but it provides no help in rebalancing the marketing budget to favor more efficient media. A more meaningful measurement would be advertising cost per car per source; that is, the return on investment for each marketing medium. For any metric, the test is whether it correlates directly to the objective.
5. Action isn’t taken.
This one should have probably been first, since—if you don’t act on the information—it doesn’t matter how good it is. However, if the objectives are written properly, and the KPIs are good, the action—at least the first step—should be obvious.
KPIs can be a powerful management tool. They can tell you in real time what is going well and what is not going quite so well. But, like every other tool, they have to be used properly and with a good deal of skill.
Are you searching for new strategies and ideas to really stick it to your competition and take hold of your market?
Could your dealership benefit from higher advertising performance and lower costs?
If 2016 was a good year for your store but you know with the right advertising strategy 2017 could be a great one, then you’ve got to see what some of the most revolutionary dealerships in the US are already doing to achieve the goals you’re after.
Check out the video above to see if your store could benefit from what others are already doing to reach massive sales objectives and spend less advertising budget to do it versus their competition.
Check out the video above to see if your store knows something everyone else doesn’t or if you could benefit from what others know will drive car buyers through their doors without having to spend a ton of money to do it.
For TV stations, automobile dealers are very valuable advertisers. At the tier 3 level, dealers spent approximately $1.3 billion on TV spots alone last year. And that kind of money means that car dealers get a lot of attention from their local TV reps. Unless, of course, it happens to be the political season. Then suddenly there are no availabilities, station reps stop coming by, and the spots dealerships were promised to reach their market no longer exist.
This year political advertising on local television is expected to be about $5.9 billion. That’s almost the equivalent of 5 years of dealer advertising. Those kinds of dollars gobble up a lot of time. And local advertisers, no matter how valuable, receive the dreaded political bump until the election is over.
That’s the bad news. The good news for dealers who plan ahead is that not only are there other ways to reach active car shoppers without missing an advertising beat, but that the broadcast drought caused by political buys provides a good time to consider more precise and efficient media strategies and to determine whether they are profitable and sustainable alternatives to traditional “spray and pray” advertising methods.
After all, every dealer is in the middle of this political drought, making a reasonably level playing field. So, for every dealer, it’s a matter of finding new ways to meet the market.
One obvious alternative is to increase a dealership’s digital advertising budget, but simply throwing more money at online advertising services is about as useful as spray and pray tactics. Digital advertising means a lot of things, and some of them are not very effective.
For many dealerships, digital automotive advertising suffers from the same problematic mindset that early efforts to integrate computers into businesses did long ago. Working digitally was just a matter of trying to do the same old things, but doing them with bits and bytes. Consequently, computers for these businesses ended up just being big calculators, typewriters or inventory cards. Similarly, for some automobile dealers, the Internet is just one more place to put ads in front of people who probably don’t want to see them.
But, properly done, the internet is a lot more than that. It provides tools for precision marketing that have never been available before. Instead of delivering your message to thousands of people, a small percentage of whom may be interested in buying a car, much less the kind you sell, digital advertising delivers your message to a smaller number of people, all of whom are interested in your kind of car. And it allows you to tailor your message with remarkable accuracy, very different from the “one-size-fits-almost-nobody” model of mass media.
Creating a digital connection with your market isn’t a matter of mass marketing, but a massive amount of unique marketing efforts designed to put a potential customer in front of your sales person.
That is, of course, the objective. Meeting the objective means making certain that digital advertising dollars are being spent wisely. To do so means really understanding the types of online audiences you’re purchasing and the solutions digital media vendors are selling to reach them.
To make sure you’re spending your money effectively, make sure you understand what you’re buying. Here are a few questions that you need to ask:
1. How do you identify the best audiences to advertise to on behalf of my dealership? Is the audience a bulk media spend based on using demographic intelligence to reach a lot of people in a market? Or, are they made up of individuals actively in-market and shopping?
2. If they’re active in-market car shoppers, how do you define what that is? Are their lists made up primarily of offline audience intelligence or online real-time active shopping behaviors?
3. How do they reach their audience? Is their media strategy single channel or multi-channel? Can they connect and target audience members across devices?
4. How do they measure results? Are results based on audience reach and click rates? Are they based on A/B testing with other media sources using analytics programs like Google Analytics? Or, can they track audience members to a purchase made?
As with most marketing tools, some are very good, some are good, and some are just a waste. The way to know the difference is to ask the questions that penetrate the vendors’ smoke and mirrors.
Even if they’ve been through it before, some dealers are surprised when their TV reps, typically so attentive, tell them there’s nothing available to buy. They don’t seem to realize that, even in the political season, the dealer still has to do business.
There’s no changing that. However, dealerships do maintain control over choosing the alternatives and, by doing the right kind of homework, may make particularly sweet lemonade out of this lemon by finding a much more precise way to meet the market and weather any type of media storm.
There’s a simple time-honored formula at car dealerships for calculating advertising costs per car sold: advertising spend divided by total number of cars sold.
It’s simple. It’s understandable. It’s specific, providing answers to three decimal places.
And, it’s so incredibly outdated it’s wrong.
As with most back-of-the-envelope calculations, this cost per car formula provides solid answers resting on a really mushy foundation. It does set something of a lower bound for advertising cost per car (total advertising costs divided by total number of cars sold) and something of an upper bound (total advertising cost, assuming that one sale can be directly attributed to advertising). The true number rests somewhere between the upper and lower bound, but it’s difficult to find just where.
Calculating the total advertising cost is simple; it’s the sum of all the bills you received for media, advertising production, and agency fees for a period. Calculating the number of car sales actually influenced by advertising is much more difficult.
The Maritz Research New Vehicle Customer Study, as reported in Automotive News gives some insight. According to this study, the source cited as the most influential in terms of consumer buying decisions was the dealer salesperson (view the study here). Although that’s heartening news for dealers who spend a lot of time, thought, and money in creating effective sales teams, it doesn’t do much to help understand the impact of advertising on getting the customer in front of the salesperson.
To get to that, you have to dig a little deeper.
Maritz ranked 21 information sources according to their influence (as perceived by the consumer). Television ads ranked seventh. Newspaper ads ranked tenth. And radio ads and outdoor ranked seventeenth and eighteenth respectively.
The rankings don’t ‘t provide an exact figure to go by, but they do indicate that all of the dealer’s sales can’t be attributed to advertising, perhaps not even most of them.
Nearly a decade ago, Rob Anderson examined the subject in Auto Dealer Monthly. At that time, a commonly accepted average advertising cost per car was $350, but that was assuming 100% of monthly car sales were attributed to advertising. The number of things that it didn’t take into account included all those customers who would have bought even if the dealer just quit advertising: repeat business, drive-by traffic, and referrals among others. Anderson hypothecated that nearly half the dealers’ sales came from sources other than advertising. That means—even then—that the true cost per car was closer to $700 than $350, and it’s possible it’s higher now (view article here).
So what’s a dealer to do to get an accurate number? Many dealers would agree that the decisions based on the advertising cost per car sold are sufficiently important enough they deserve solid, uninflated data. And an equal number of dealers would agree they have too many other concerns to spend a lot of time, energy and money chasing the exact influence or influences that resulted in each vehicle sale. However, whichever side of the fence someone falls on, there are quick and easy ways to get to a more helpful (if not quite exact number).
The first is to compare the customers you sold cars to each month with your service customer database. A study conducted by CNW Research found that customers who regularly serviced their vehicles at a specific dealership were about 10 times more likely to purchase from that dealership than those who never serviced their vehicle there. It stands to reason that if you are encountering the customer every 5,000 or so miles, there’s very little that advertising could tell them about your dealership that they haven’t already experienced.
Second, take a look at customers not in your service records. Determine which of them are a referral from a current/previous customer. To track this, some dealers offer a small reward (a thank you note with a dinner or movie gift certificate) to the referring customer, which provides an incentive for your new customer to mention them. Another area to consider is to cross reference monthly sales with customers who purchased from your dealership in the past to see if they’re repeat buyers.
Finally—and you may already be doing this—take a moment between the time the sale is closed and the customer’s meeting with your F&I team to ask, “What is the biggest single reason that influenced your decision to visit us?” You may well find that it’s because they were visiting the dealer next door or simply driving by.
Now, back to the formula for determining advertising cost per car sold. Subtract cars sold to service customers, referral/repeat customers, and customers who came in from sources that aren’t advertising related from your total monthly sales. Then, divide the final number by your advertising spend. It’s as close as you can get to: total advertising spend divided by the number of cars sold directly attributable to advertising. Or at least, divided by the number of cars sold that are not directly attributable to something other than advertising.
You’ll end up with a cost per car number that’s a much more realistic view of if your dealership is making a good advertising investment or a bad one month in and out.
As a successful auto dealership executive, you already appreciate that maintaining your industry lead and competitive edge takes continually attracting qualified customers who are ready to buy. No earth shattering revelations there. But what’s changing — at the speed of an electron — is how you can find and market to those customers.
Customers engage via multiple devices and in numerous ways. Understanding the customer journey and building a solid marketing plan that engages the customer at each step of the buying journey is essential.
That’s where Client Command® comes in. We use the latest data-gathering technology and analysis to identify and reach the best in-market customers and pre-qualify them with our unique, comprehensive lead nurturing system. Using 177 algorithms to identify buyers and where they are in their journey is how we guarantee results. Not only do we use your database we search multiple databases and target buyers.
A gun shot approach is never as effective as highly targeting and marketing to buyers by offering the right message at the right time. We are especially thrilled about our direction and the investments we are making in our people and platforms. Our dealership marketing programs now include:
- A plan to personalize and optimize customer journeys to target customers at the right time.
- Test messaging and promotions to determine the best conversion rate and highest ROI
- Highly targeted messaging and conversion optimized landing pages that drive sales
- Effective, permission based email marketing. 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission based marketing communication via email than any other channel.*
- Relevant, targeted content that nurtures loyal relationships and helps close more sales.
The Client Command® system is proven and comprehensive. We continually fine tune by keeping abreast of new techniques and software and applying them to our process. We are voracious about generating leads that turn into sales.
Results are continually measured to ensure the most effective lead-generation methods and strongest returns. The Client Command® team includes experts who are among the most skillful in their fields. They excel at what counts most: sourcing quality leads that translate into sales.
We understand that effective marketing depends on a thorough knowledge of the automotive marketing industry. That’s why we stay informed on relevant issues such as new laws and proposed legislation, market case studies, gasoline prices, new car features, and more. Then we leverage this learning to adjust our marketing software and messaging. The bottom line: we take advantage of the latest industry changes so you get the most relevant leads possible.
We know how important it is that we learn about your target customer and dealership. We listen carefully to your input on how we can serve you better. It’s truly a partnership. We’ll use our data to assist you in developing client profiles, determining your highest value and most frequent customers, and when current customers will be ready to buy again.
The result? Working with Client Command®, you enjoy the best lead generation — and strategic marketing tool that technology can provide. It’s a proven system tailored around the particular needs of your dealership, and it delivers results. Guaranteed. Every time.