Your dealership’s digital marketing strategy has a lot of moving parts. Paid search, organic content, social media campaigns, website offers, and more– it can be a real challenge understanding how all these pieces work together, and what each of them contributes to your ROI. One survey found that across industries, only two out of five CMOs could demonstrate the quantitative impact of their marketing spend.
In another, marketers stated that their biggest marketing challenge is measuring ROI.
But despite the challenges, you shouldn’t give up accuracy as a goal. First of all, guessing when it comes to your ROI means missed opportunities and lost money. Second of all, getting more precise results is more within reach than ever. Let’s identify some key areas where imprecision has a negative impact, and then explore solutions for keeping the guesswork out of your ROI.
Why Guessing Happens– and Why It Hurts Your Dealership
Customers interact with your dealership across many touchpoints. One major reason it’s so hard to assess the value of marketing efforts is that there are so many of them– even customers don’t always know which ones really influenced them. Attributing a sale to a Google ad, a Facebook post, a third-party listing, or a recommendation from a friend is tempting, but nearly impossible. What’s more, a fragmented view of your customers’ path to sale, where each step is viewed as distinct rather than part of a whole, leads to inaccuracy.
Here’s an example. Your customer, Sarah, clicks a Facebook ad and arrives on your VDP, which she returns to numerous times before converting on a trade-in tool and eventually making a purchase. Credit might be given to the ad, or to the trade-in tool, or split between the two, without taking into account the VDP views. And yet, this page likely had a major impact on Sarah’s decision to buy– and thus deserves some investment of time and budget. Not taking all the touchpoints into account leads to misallocating marketing dollars.
Gathering Data Is Difficult
If you’ve ever had to wait way too long for reports to pull from your CRM, or spent hours trying to comb through and connect data from different dashboards, you are not alone. Studies show that people spend more time finding and organizing data than they do actually using it to guide strategy. With data access so difficult, many marketers are left with unanswered questions– and that kind of guessing about your KPIs means you can’t strategize properly.
Ad Data Doesn’t Connect to Sales Data
Most marketers can and do track which ads were clicked, but most can’t see who clicked them, or when. That’s because usually, ad data is presented in aggregate, which means it can’t be connected to actual customers– or actual sales. Guessing about the profitability of your ads means you can’t maximize the best ones, or cut the worst ones.
Your Metrics Aren’t Complete
Whether it’s Google ads, Facebook ads, or LinkedIn posts, setting meaningful metrics is something a lot of people overlook. For example: you might be tempted to measure only impressions and clicks without paying attention to the value of those clicks. Consider this scenario: you see an uptick in clicks for your dealership’s Google ad, but you don’t know that many of those clicks came from poor-quality traffic that never translated to sales. If you aren’t measuring outcomes that matter to you, you are guessing as to the usefulness of your efforts. And that means leaving money on the table.
All of these factors lead to inaccurate ROI, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some steps your dealership can take to improve clarity in your marketing efforts and optimize your spend.
Getting Higher ROI Accuracy
Measure KPIs that are actually relevant for you. When it comes to increasing ROI accuracy, one major step is setting clear goals for your dealership and measuring the outcomes that actually matter to you. Is getting more leads the most important outcome for your dealership right now? Then track that carefully. Are you aiming for brand awareness? If so, go ahead and celebrate those Facebook impressions. But if you’re setting up a Google ad campaign to get more sales, tracking clicks won’t help– you must measure the sales that are connected to those clicks. Figure out your goals and align your metrics with them, and you’ll have far more clarity.
Look for solutions to connect your data
If your data connects across different channels, you’ll see not only impressions, leads, and sales, but also how each of your campaigns connects to others. More and more platforms are arriving on the automotive marketing scene that streamlines data, making the full sales journey clearer and identifying the most important, actionable data points. This means saved time pulling, connecting, and analyzing reports, so you spend more time actually acting on your data. Here too, identifying your most important goals for streamlining will help you decide what tools are right for you.
Understand the entire customer journey
If there is one overarching goal to aim for when it comes to reducing the guesswork, it’s to understand your customers’ entire journey as a whole. Following the whole process from start to finish means understanding what helps shoppers along the path to sale, and what isn’t. Let’s go back to Sarah from above. If I understand how important VDPs were to her process, and if I start to note that my VDPs are important for other customers’ process, I can allocate appropriate resources to building and maintaining VDPs. Or, if I recognize not only that my videos are getting more views, but also that customers who view a particular video are more likely to click the special for that vehicle, I can see the true impact of my video campaign. If I understand the context of my ads clicks–who is clicking them, why, and when– then I can see whether that campaign is worth time and resources. Knowing not only what your customers did at each step, but also the relative importance of each of those steps in their overall process means actually understanding the impact of your campaigns.
When it comes to marketing ROI, there are so many points where clarity can be lost. Keep your goals top of mind and prioritize connecting the dots, and you’ll eliminate a lot of guesswork and make sure your marketing dollars are actually working for you.