Digital tracking shows which ideas are hot, which are not
Neil E. Boudette
March 14, 2016 – 12:01 am ETDealerships’ ad budgets today are split among social media, paid search, third-party lead generators and online video, plus traditional media such as TV, radio and print. That makes it harder than ever to know which ads produce the best results.
At Andy Mohr Automotive Group, which has 11 rooftops in Indiana, Lisa Masariu-McCoy has been working for the past couple of years to determine just that.
Moreover, because of instant digital communications, “the sales funnel has become a cyclone,” she said. Consumers close to a buying decision “are bombarded with ads. It’s hard to tell what influences them.”
Andy Mohr, which sells about 20,000 new and used vehicles a year, is trying to tame the cyclone with help of a digital advertising and marketing technology company, Clarivoy, in Columbus, Ohio, that tags most of Andy Mohr’s online and digital marketing content.
She’s learned, for example, to steer away from paying to post ads connected to generic vehicle searches on Google. A person in the Indianapolis area who searches for “Ford F-150 specs” may not be close to buying a truck. And it would probably be costly to have an Andy Mohr link appear in the Google results page because so many companies — possibly including Ford — would be competing to win the coveted spot. Something like that could cost $4 or $5 for a click.
But Masariu-McCoy has also seen that a search for “Ford F-150 Andy Mohr” indicates a much more serious prospect. And if a consumer visits an Andy Mohr site from a third-party lead generator such as Cars.com or Edmunds.com, the prospect is red-hot.
“That’s someone who’s really done their homework, and what we are seeing is those people buy within one or two days,” she said.
Using the tools, Masariu-McCoy says, Andy Mohr has cut the cost of drawing visitors to its websites by 64 percent.
Feedback from Clarivoy also helps Andy Mohr dealerships quickly learn if something isn’t working. In January, for example, using Clarivoy data as a guide, Andy Mohr Chevrolet doubled its digital advertising spending for the month. That included video pre-roll clips that run as commercials before videos on YouTube, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram promotions.
By the end of the month, the Chevrolet store had sold about 70 percent more cars than a year earlier, Masariu-McCoy said.
At the same time, the group’s Ford store kicked off an online video and email campaign geared toward winter weather — a topic that normally resonates in the first month of the year. But temperatures this year were mild, and customers mostly ignored the campaign, which cost about $30 per click.
Seeing the tepid response from data Clarivoy provided, Masariu-McCoy shifted tack. New videos and emails emphasizing Ford truck promotions replaced the winter weather-related ads in the middle of the month, and leads and prospects quickly perked up. The store finished with a solid month at a much lower cost per click.
Sputtering Prius promos
Andy Mohr spends about $100,000 a month with Clarivoy, including online advertising services, for all 11 stores, Masariu-McCoy said. The “sales attribution” service that tracks consumers’ digital footprints costs about $7,000 a month. The Clarivoy data, she said, are “like a focus group on steroids.”
Steve White, Clarivoy founder, said his company uses identifiers such as the Internet Protocol address of a consumer’s computer, email address, phone number and other proprietary methods to build the digital path. Cookies, small bits of software that websites leave on a person’s computer, also are used.
“A lot of dealers waste a lot of money on paid searches” that don’t convert into sales, he said. His company tries to track the data that show “what aspects of a campaign are working and what paths brought in purchasers.”
Masariu-McCoy said she thinks Andy Mohr is just scratching the surface of what can be learned from examining the digital journeys of its customers. At this point, she is able to see a beginning-to-end journey for about 30 percent of sales at the Andy Mohr stores using Clarivoy’s services.
That will rise, and fine-tuning will make her campaign more effective over time, she said. “The real work is yet to be done.”
You can reach Neal E. Boudette at NBoudette@crain.com.