The economy and the auto industry are in turmoil and dealerships are jumping on any cost-savings strategies they can. I often hear dealerships talking about taking their advertising in-house as a way to save money, but does this strategy really save money? Or could you end up spending even more than with an agency? Well, it depends.
If you're considering bringing your Internet marketing in-house, first you'll want to make sure these characteristics fit you :
- You have staff with time to spare. Lots of time. Managing online marketing campaigns takes time and planning to ensure success. If you don’t have the time to manage budgets and tweak ad copy, don’t bother. You’ll end up costing yourself more in the long run.
- You (or your staff) have experience running campaigns. Dealerships aren’t in the position to be guinea pigs for trial campaigns. You need experience working with the major search engines and writing effective ad copy to run a solid campaign; otherwise valuable time and money could be wasted.
- You know your business. I know this seems like a given, but in order to build a list of keywords that will convert for your dealership you must know what people are searching for to find you. Of course “manufacturer + DMA” is a start, but what other keywords drive traffic to your site? Professionally run campaigns typically begin with hundreds (or even thousands) of keywords, and are narrowed down over time to keep the best converting terms.
- You have measurements and goals set to keep the campaign accountable and on-track. Clear metrics defining campaign success are imperative. If analytics aren’t in place and conversion rates aren’t tracked then there is no way to see if bringing the advertising in-house actually saved money. This is a key point for all advertising, whether in house or out.
If you agree with the above points, great! This can be a good option for dealerships with experienced staff that makes in-house advertising a priority. But for many dealerships just hoping to save a few bucks bringing it in-house generally isn’t a real cost-saving option. Be sure you know what you're in for before you make the transition.