Article

Five Ways to Better Manage Marketing Costs

February 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Daymond Decker - Also by this author

Managing marketing costs and maximizing spend have always been a critical part of running a successful dealership, yet in this economy, superior allocation of limited marketing resources can make all the difference. Here are five ways in which the use of digital marketing, and the right selection of a digital marketing vendor, can help dealerships better spend their limited dollars. 

1. Begin the transition from traditional marketing sources to digital advertising.
According to a recent study, 83 percent of “in market” car shoppers visit the Internet first to research vehicles. In the age of the Internet, online advertising clearly can broaden a dealer’s sphere of influence and go far to attract and engage consumers in a way traditional advertising media – newspaper, radio and print – cannot. Research continues to prove that digital ads consistently generate the highest conversion rates in dealership showrooms, the most completed lead forms on dealer Web sites and the most telephone calls into business development centers. And best yet: these leads belong only to the dealership doing the advertising, and are not shared like those purchased from third party lead providers.  

 

2. Utilize all of the possible digital marketing tools available, including live chat and e-newsletters.
More than 30 percent of Internet leads go unanswered by an average dealership, and 23 percent of online car shoppers take their business to a different brand due to unresponsiveness. To take advantage of these opportunities, dealers need a cost effective way to keep in touch with consumers. Live chat and e-newsletters can be inexpensive solutions that allow them to communicate better with customers and prospects. With a live chat solution, customers get the same engaging experience online as when they visit the dealership. With most services, it is a matter of simply adding a “Chat” button to a variety of areas on the Web site, and it is ready to go. E-newsletters deliver increased awareness that helps in developing a relationship with consumers, as well as providing them with current and relevant information that will drive more dealership revenue. Monthly content can include OEM-specific news, vehicle-related information and service topics.

3. Move functions such as credit approval to the Web.
In this economy, many car purchasers are struggling to get credit, but there is still a large group who can qualify. By utilizing a guided online credit application and pre-approval process for online consumers, dealers can improve F&I productivity while also generating qualified leads. Some of the features of a successful online finance site include a virtual presenter that guides customers through the process of completing an online application from the convenience of their home, secure environment for sensitive customer data, and the ability to save the finance application for review, edit or withdrawal.

4. Improve Your Web site.
There are many options available today to use your Web site as a profit center for all areas of the dealership. State-of-the-art Web sites include virtual salespeople to assist navigation through the site, online inventory that delivers a comprehensive description of all available vehicles and the ability to sell parts and accessories in real-time with secure shopping carts.

5. Consolidate your vendors.
Many dealerships use as many as six or seven different vendors to manage their customer communications initiatives. By consolidating to a just a few providers, dealerships can save time in vendor management and take advantage of discounts by consolidating their marketing buys.

To survive and thrive in today’s selling environment, dealerships need to look at doing things differently than in the past. Digital marketing presents a significant opportunity to provide a better way to find and sell customers without incurring new costs. 

Vol. 5, Issue 12

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