It should come as no surprise that sales are down this year, per sales reporting from the manufacturers like the “Detroit 3”, Toyota, and Nissan. This makes an efficient, lean marketing budget more important than ever. If your marketing cost per car sold is at or above the industry average of $629 for mass-market vehicles and over $700 for luxury vehicles, ask yourself a few questions.
Question #1: Am I spending investing in programmatic media?
Programmatic media are channels — such as Pandora, video pre-roll, and social media — where bids are automatically adjusted as a campaign runs to create the most effective spend possible. That isn’t the only advantage: these channels have targeting capabilities that other channels cannot match. In addition to demographic and specific geographic data, you can also leverage behavioral and contextual signals that help you truly understand your audience.
When you use programmatic media, you’re selecting the exact car buyers that you want to reach instead of also paying for people outside of your primary marketing area and outside of your demographics, which is an unfortunate reality of traditional media like television and radio.
Furthermore, you can already see the evolution of television to becoming a programmatic channel (e.g. HBO Now, AMC Premiere). By investing in programmatic, you're creating a better return on investment for today's channels, as well as preparing yourself for tomorrow's.
Question #2: Has my internal team or agency partner created an effective paid media strategy?
If you're not prepared for responsive search ads, you have fallen behind the curve. Google's AI selects from among 15 headlines and 4 descriptions (43,680 combinations) that you craft, with some automation, to deliver ads that have 3 headlines and 2 90-character descriptions that best match search intent.
The more granular that you create your ad groups, based on hundreds or even thousands of keywords, the better you can align ads with car shoppers’ search intent. By doing so, you’re also helping to boost your Quality Score, which can help save money on every single click by requiring a lower bid price to be competitive for the top spots in paid SERPs.
Also, are you deep linking on those ads to take consumers to highly relevant landing pages that satisfy the expectations they had when they clicked on the ad?
Question #3: Am I implementing a data-driven strategy to drive highly qualified organic traffic to my site?
By leveraging tools within Google Analytics, you can cut your dependency on third-party sites that cost you money for traffic you can earn yourself. Google Analytics provides insights to understand what people are shopping for and how they’re shopping for it.
This information will allow you to examine content across all your digital assets, starting with your website, to ensure that you’re ranking for low-funnel searches that have intent modifiers like “near me” and “for sale.” This helps you take up organic SERPs at the top of page one for the types of searches most vital to your digital strategy.
When you start analyzing the right channels and strategies to implement within them, you can start chipping away at that marketing cost per car sold to combat those falling gross profit margins and weaker market demand.