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We recently conducted a survey in which we asked Internet department personnel to share some key metrics. In one question, we asked:
How much total gross does your Internet department generate for every $1,000 spent on Internet leads from all sources (SEM, independent and third-party leads, classified site subscriptions, etc.) ?
Of the 183 responses, the answers broke down:
3X or less: 33%
7X-10X or greater: 20%
Don’t Know: 29%
These answers reveal there is quite a large disparity between auto dealers’ return on investment (ROI) on Internet spending, as well as a surprisingly large percentage that don’t even know their ROI. So I wanted to know: what should a dealership target for a reasonable Internet marketing ROI?
One of the experts we consulted for measuring this metric was David Kain, President of Kain Automotive. He suggested that 5X ROI was the absolute minimum that a dealership should strive for, and ideally Internet departments should be seeing 7X ROI on their Internet spend.
But how do you calculate your ROI? Basically, ROI is what you get for what you spend. Here is a simple formula:
(Gross Profit – Marketing Investment) / Marketing Investment = ROI
This formula represents three steps.
Why is it important to know your ROI? Any time you spend money on anything, whether on Internet leads or a marketing campaign, it is an investment. Like any investment, it should be measured, monitored and compared to other investments so you know where you should be spending your money.
Also, knowing the ROI for all your lead sources gives you leverage. How many Internet marketing budgets were slashed in 2009 and 2010? Perhaps some cuts were deserved, but do you know which ones? Cutting back on a lead source that returns a high ROI is only going to hurt the bottom line.
Of course, our question focused on the overall Internet marketing spend, not on the ROI of various lead sources. But applying this formula to your separate lead sources is highly recommended and gives a better measurement of success than just closing percentage or other metrics. After all, ROI is what goes to the bottom line.
I’d love to hear some feedback: how do you calculate your dealership’s ROI on your Internet leads spend? What do you consider a good ROI? In my next blog, I’m going to give some tips on how to drive your team to improve ROI.