Article

Is Your Ad Strategy a Clunker?

November 2009, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Todd Swickard - Also by this author


Since the world is changing, your marketing strategy needs to change too, or you’ll be left in the dust. It’s time to trade in your old ways of doing things to get the most mileage out of your marketing budget. So, here are a few tips for how to go about reviewing your strategy to make sure it’s ready to roll.

Goals and Objectives of the Campaign

First, look at your goals. Are you trying to get more leads or more phone calls? Do you want to push used or new vehicles on your Web site? Are you looking to get more calls to service? Is the goal to rely more heavily on your Web site as your main lead source? Keep in mind that  your campaign will need to be adjusted to fit your goals.

Ensuring Proper Tracking of Results
Are you tracking your results? What are you tracking? You need to determine where the rubber meets the road. Even though overall sales are probably your main focus, the steps toward that goal are what you need to pay attention to. This means your leads. How many people are visiting your site? Where are they landing? Where are they coming from? Can you tell if they’ve come there from a print ad, pay-per-click (PPC) campaign or direct mailer? If not, you’ll want to revise your approach to include methods to track this. That way, you’ll know what’s working and what’s not.

Another factor in your tracking is frequency. Are you simply conducting monthly reviews? Why not check every week? Online marketing can be adjusted quickly, so you can make revisions to get the most bang for your buck.

Budgeting That Matches Your Needs
It’s standard  to apply no less than 10 percent of your total ad budget to online advertising, but many dealers have increased that amount to be equal to or above their traditional advertising. You’ll need to figure out what works for your dealership and find the right balance. Just like back in the day (five years ago?) when it was tough to find the sweet spot between radio, TV and newspapers, now you need to get the balance right between online and offline media. Tracking results will help determine where to up your spending, and where you can cut back.

Market Competitiveness
How competitive the market is can make a difference to your strategy. If you’re in a highly competitive market, you’ll probably need to up your overall spending, and you’ll need to spend more time paying attention to your tracking to see where your break-through is most effective.

I recommend that you perform a search yourself, using key words that you think people are likely to use (example: your make and city), and see what you get. If there are a lot of dealers or third-party lead providers on the page, you’ll know that you’re going to need to adjust your online budget up because it’s going to be more expensive to rank for the keywords you need. The fun part is that, by focusing money on search, you can sometimes – depending upon brand name recognition of your competitors – steal the leads their offline marketing has generated.

Don’t despair if your advertising budget won’t allow you to do everything you want. Select the tactics you want to start with, and replace the ones that aren’t performing as you go. Also, remember that for some tactics – like PPC advertising – you can do at a dialed-down budget, so you can still participate and achieve positive ROI and sales/leads. You won’t achieve full (100 percent) exposure on all of your keywords within the campaign that way; your ads will be dispersed throughout the day as evenly as the search engines can space them out based upon your spend. But you’ll be out there so people searching can be directed to your site.

Be realistic. Remember that every tactic has its own timeframe. While you’ll want to monitor on a weekly basis, don’t be too quick to toss out a tactic entirely. When a tactic isn’t consistently  providing results, that’s when to shift gears.

My last piece of advice: Remember that the total number of leads is not the same as the total number of qualified leads. Make sure you’re taking that into consideration. If one tactic is drawing half the leads of another, but 50 percent more are qualified, that’s a tactic you’ll want to stick with. Take quality over quantity every time.

Vol. 6, Issue 10

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