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Targeting is the name of the game. Most dealers (and even some vendors) are really starting to embrace this concept. Gone are the days of illogically spent marketing budgets and shotgun techniques...
...at least we wish those days were gone. Unfortunately, they're not. Many vendors still promote bulk marketing practices and many dealers are still buying into it. Producing favorable numbers is easy. Taking qualified buyers and getting them to engage in a meaningful way with your dealership is harder, but there's a silver lining: you have tools available to you to target the right people and get them to the right venues.
First and foremost, the best venue for producing more sales is your website. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with AutoTrader, Cars.com, or any of the other places where your inventory can be seen. However, any opportunity you have to take them to your website will yield more favorable results.
Between social media advertising, search engine marketing, LotLinx, and display advertising, you can take prospective car shoppers to your website where they're more likely to convert and buy. In most cases, you can take them directly into your inventory, specials pages, or specific landing pages.
You don't have to drive everyone to your website. That's a mistake that some dealers are making that's taking the concept of "1st party leads" to the extreme. Some people simply won't visit your website no matter what you do and they may still buy a car from you if they see your listings elsewhere. However, it's important to keep it to a minimum. Only use the services that actually work.
The amount of data available about car buyers is exceptional. That may not be a good thing in certain arenas (yes, I'm talking about you, NSA), but when it comes to helping people buy a car, there's no better way to do it than to target real buyers who are in the market today.
Facebook has the data that they get from Polk. You can also plug in data from your DMS, Experian, and other data services.
Google Analytics can track most of it, so plugging in the data you receive from these data services or even you OEM can guide where and how to do your marketing. It's creating a cottage industry within the data arena for companies like String Automotive or ZMOTAuto to utilize for assisting dealers.
We are firm believers in the idea of letting the data guide your actions.
I'll admit that there's a little self-serving happening in this article. No, we're not promoting our products. We want dealers to become aware of the importance of bringing peope to your website. I cannot stress enough that there are plenty of good expenditures that have nothing to do with website traffic, but our opinion is firm that the primary focus of any digital marketing campaign should be to drive shoppers to the place where they're most likely to turn into a valid car shopper pulling into your dealership.
When you're looking at a marketing option, ask yourself one important question: will this put buyers on my website? It's not about bulk traffic. It's about quality traffic. It's not about leads, though some may argue that point. To us, it's about sales.
Sell more cars. That's the goal, right? The easiest way is by driving the shoppers to you directly so they're more likely to drive away in one of your vehicles.