July 5, 2018

Why Digital Marketing Should Be a Priority at Your Dealership

Clarivoy CEO Steve White discusses the importance of a dedicated employee at dealerships to handle digital marketing who is not focused on personal sales.

Why Digital Marketing Should Be a Priority at Your Dealership

As time goes by, digital marketing is increasingly integrated into car dealerships’ ad budgets. Because of that, many options have developed which allow dealerships to create exposure and deliver ads in a more direct and targeted way — more than was ever possible with traditional media.

Even some forms of traditional media have become digital, such as radio, which in its digital form allows you to target a specific demographic and interests, which certainly wasn’t possible before. Because of this explosion of digital marketing options dealers can be hard-pressed to keep up with the choices and any ROI, which they may, or may not, get from their advertising budget.

Historically, the dealer or general manager would meet with their ad agency regularly to discuss creative, budget and frequency. The ad agency would then make the appropriate media buys and the dealership would hope for the best. With digital marketing, so many channels are available to utilize that it’s harder than ever to be on top of your game for every channel.

According to a recent blog on Digitally Cognizant,  digital marketing spending will be close to $120 billion by 2021. And, bringing it closer to home, a recent article in Automotive News states that, according to 2017 NADA data, Internet ad spend has eclipsed all other advertising spend combined. Therefore, your dealership would be wise to consider having someone in-house on your staff to oversee your digital marketing and ad spend.

For most dealerships, the person in charge of digital marketing inevitably ends up being the Internet manager, or Internet director (by title), whose pay plan is centered around sales commissions. Because of this, those staff members are more interested in selling cars than managing digital ads, the website or, at the very least, paying attention and analyzing where that budget is going and how it’s performing.

Many dealerships look to sales performance and expect an Internet department to pump up unit volume – and rightfully so. But that stud Internet department which pumps out units and profit can suddenly grind to a dreadful halt if someone isn’t paying attention to – and optimizing – where the digital budget is going and how it’s performing.

Having someone whose sole job is to manage, analyze and optimize that ad spend could, in fact, INCREASE sales performance; simply because budgets can be dynamic and shifted to better performing channels. Yes, dealers are used to designing pay plans around sales. It’s safe. But it may be costing you money in wasted ad spend and missed opportunities.

Who should you look for when (not if) you end up choosing to create a position like this? The Digitally Cognizant blog suggests that you may not want to look at experience as a hiring factor; rather someone with education and knowledge in current digital marketing platforms – like a recent graduate.

Why? Because, the article states, “it’s not years of experience that matters but finding someone who’s worked with digital marketing tools and techniques on actual campaigns and can point to tangible results.”

My thoughts are that most successful dealerships and groups have someone in place whose sole job is to ensure their digital marketing spend and channels are performing. This person identifies those which are performing or failing to perform, optimizes the ones which are and cuts the ones which are not.

Many dealers will consider this an extra fixed expense but, in all actuality, it’s necessary. As Internet spend budgets continue to increase as a percentage of dealership budgets, it will only become more important and necessary to have someone with the knowledge, skill set and focus on what will become, if it is not already, most of your advertising budget.

And, by optimizing your digital marketing ad spend, that employee is helping you sell more cars. Which is what every dealer wants.