Marketing may have changed over the past decade, but its objective remains the same: getting the biggest bang for your buck. However, an increasingly multi-layered approach has added levels of complexity. Essentially, a dealer’s marketing spend could easily be bottomless with so many channels to choose from, but you need to make sure spend is converting into enquiries and sales so that you’re getting a good ROI.

In today’s multi-channel world, knowing you spend ‘x’ on marketing to gain ‘y’ enquiries just isn’t enough. You need to know the nitty gritty, not even which channel is delivering effective ROI, but which campaign produces the best results whilst providing the highest levels of personalisation demanded by today’s consumer. Savvy marketers continually tweak campaign messages whilst it’s live to ensure the best outcomes are achieved.

The key question is not ‘are you spending too much on your marketing?’, but ‘what ROI is your individual marketing initiatives delivering?’.

Dealers do need to ensure their marketing budget is realistic and reflective of the business. According to CDK Global research undertaken last year (2018) dealers spend between 0.2% and 1.3% of their turnover on digital marketing. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the total marketing budget is spent on digital tools compared to three years ago when this figure was 45%, whilst some dealers spend 85% of their budget in this area.

Earlier this year Marketing Week reported that the UK is now the largest online advertising market in Europe and the third largest worldwide. An almighty £1.34 bn was invested in online marketing in 2018 and by 2020 almost two-thirds (62%) of the UK’s advertising budgets will be spent online.

The digital marketing arsenal is extensive including the likes of live chat, consumer reviews and video marketing as well as website and social media demanding a clear campaign by campaign objective.

  1. Track your activities – make sure you’re tracking every penny that you spend and analysing the campaigns you’re doing. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell the effectiveness of your marketing activities or know what to continue or drop.
  2. Spend carefully – remember, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot. In this digital age, you can utilise platforms like social media and email marketing to attract customers without having to spend big bucks on newspaper listings or billboards.
  3. Consult an expert – if you’re not sure how to get the best ROI, you could ask a marketing consultant to do an audit of your marketing activities and make recommendations. Alternatively you could enlist an agency to help you with your long-term marketing efforts.
  4. Do some research – it doesn’t hurt to see what other dealerships are doing with their marketing. Don’t copy them outright, but you can learn a lot from a successful neighbour.

Dealers also need to develop complimentary pay per click (PPC) and search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies ensuring they don’t overlap or conflict. By working in tandem, PPC and SEO work together to deliver the right message to car buyers and entice them to the dealer’s website and make an enquiry. Basic mistakes include location strategies when a dealer could well be performing for this organically or bidding on keywords when different ones could well be more effective in generating leads rather than just appearing in a search.

For smaller dealers and independents, there’s no doubt digital marketing allows businesses to punch above their weight, but effective targeting and relevant messaging alongside accurate and real-time measurement are vital if ROI is to reach its optimum.

By Debbie Kirlew

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