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First, a mini-rant. It will make sense why I'm starting with a rant before getting to the meat of the issue.
I was on the phone with a social client and their prospective search marketing provider the other day when I was blindsided by ignorance. It wasn't what I expected from a company that came highly recommended for their search prowess, so I called later on to talk to someone other than a salesperson to confirm that I heard properly.
They selected their keywords straight from a template. The dealer would tell them the cities and then they would plug in those cities into their keyword template and, VOILA, they had a keyword list to plug into their campaigns.
This is the type of treatment I would expect from an OEM-level provider, but to see it coming from a boutique shop really turned me sideways. The whole idea of being small and nimble is the ability to give the personal touch; heck, that's why we built our company in the first place!
That experience prompted me to talk about data. Never before have we had access to so much of it. We know pretty much everything we need to know in order to guide our marketing and advertising decisions. That's the beauty of the digital age and it's often what separates the great dealers from the good ones.
Here are some of the things you should look for to let the data guide your decisions:
Where are you selling? Where are you missing? Where are the buyers in or near your market? These are questions that most dealers can answer based upon their sales sheets and the information that the OEMs provide but all too often dealers are working from gut feeling rather than letting the data drive their decisions.
In most cases when we see dealers exploring the data, they get surprised. I say "most" because it happens regularly and I don't recall a time when some bit of location-based buyer data didn't surprise the dealer, but I can't know for sure that it's all of them. It's a lot. We'll leave it at that.
Depending on what part of a metro, county, or state someone lives in, there are tendencies that can be determined by the data. Some places are better for new SUVs. Others are better for used cars. It doesn't always correlate directly to the income levels within an area, either. We've seen occasions when a high-income area offers a lower opportunity for dealers to sell expensive vehicles than a mid-level income area.
In the expensive world of automotive advertising, seeing where the people are and what they're buying is so important when trying to hyper-target them with email, mobile, direct mail, television, and search campaigns. Then, there's social media - you don't want to get me started on how important this data is for social media.
Who doesn't love to conquest? Unfortunately, we often see dealers that are targeting a competitors immediate area when that is usually not the low-hanging fruit.
Market sales data combined with proper analytics is the key to finding the greatest areas of opportunity for conquest sales, whether you're targeting another brand or a direct competitor. This data is readily available and isn't very expensive, yet we still see so many dealers targeting a radius around the competitors.
Google Analytics combined with buyer data is the key to success. Many dealers have their own internal mechanisms for this. For others, there are companies like String Automotive that combine the data and present it to dealers in ways that are meaningful for them to take action.
Regardless of whether you do it yourself or hire a company, it has to be done. We don't currently offer it, but by golly we'd love to someday.