By Kevin LeSage, Director of Digital Marketing, Autotrader

The biggest lesson I’ve learned in digital marketing, over the years of helping dealerships with measuring the quality of their traffic, is that you must have a focused digital marketing strategy to drive the desired results.

Digital retailing is currently one of the most discussed topics in the automotive industry, but dealerships have yet to master it. As a result, new vendors are entering the industry, claiming to have mastered this difficult task. When considering working with new vendors who have not yet established their credibility or expertise, you must exercise caution, or it can be detrimental to your business.

After many discussions with other industry leaders and dealers at Digital Dealer 27, here are my three biggest takeaways from the conference.

Takeaway 1 – Find your wasted marketing spend.

When investing in a digital marketing solution, you must have a well-thought-out plan for your marketing budget with set benchmarks and defined KPIs to measure success. With a smaller percentage of shoppers submitting classic “leads,” measuring engagement and understanding attribution is key.

Many businesses make the mistake of abandoning current strategies for a perceived “flashier” upgrade that lacks proven results. Instead, proceed slowly, focusing first on building a foundation and then look for data/tech integrations. Building this foundation requires a step-by-step process of trial and error, understanding what works, what doesn’t, and why. This will enable you to reinvest what’s not working and reallocate funds to what is working.

Using your dealership’s data to determine what digital marketing tactics provide real results, which has been a consistent theme throughout the auto industry, will drive more quality leads from the digital storefront to the physical showroom.

Takeaway 2 – Double down on personalization.

Something I touched on in my presentation at DD27, that we’ve seen outside of the automotive industry, is that personalization sells. And now the auto industry is catching on to that too. Identity resolution and understanding your consumer base is critical. Leveraging your data to weaponize a digital strategy that drives custom experiences is where I see opportunity.

Today, dealers can effortlessly highlight relevant inventory for individual consumers. Technology integrations allow dealers to see what a user was shopping for on website X and then use that data to customize their experience on website Y. The results speak for themselves. Personalization improves engagement across a specific OEM dealers’ tier three websites by 25 percent. It’s no surprise that when dealers get the ideal content targeted to the right shopper, engagement levels spike. Increased engagement helps convert more online shoppers to actual in-store sales.

It is clear consumers want personalization, and the consumer experience remains KING. Taking advantage of an opportunity that helps drive better customer experience is a must for dealers who hope to facilitate consumer loyalty for a lifetime of automotive purchases.

Takeaway 3 – Data compliance is key.

As “cookie tracking” and identity resolution are on the rise, lawmakers have enacted rules to maintain a level of privacy for consumers. Dealerships are unable to access all this information about customers on their own, so they must work with vendors to create the most successful results.

Having access to all this data, however, puts businesses in the spotlight. Dealers must hold vendors accountable with data privacy laws to ensure they remain compliant. A vendor who is transparent when discussing legal content and restrictions is a good indicator of a strong partner.

The amount of new technology invading the automobile industry is exciting, but before rushing into business with new vendors, you must understand how their strategy will impact your business’ digital foundation, as well as how they measure performance. To deliver the best results, create a consistent plan, measure quality, and find trusted partners who can help you find solutions.

Author: Digital Dealer

Digital Dealer exists to help dealers and their managers sell more vehicles more profitably by creating the best live events and media in the industry. Write for Dealer Magazine & and share your insight with automotive dealerships across the U.S.!

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