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Clicks Don’t Sell Cars; Marketing Should Aim For the Return on Investment

By Gino Cipperoni

How many cars did my digital marketing sell me?

That’s the Big Question. Every month, dealers call up their paid search vendors and ask this question, and every month they get a variety of different answers. Their PPC vendor (Pay Per Click) will begin the standard speech of how “your website got a ton of clicks,” or “your impression share was as high as it’s ever been,” or, “you got a good amount of ‘conversions’” but none of this tells us anything about selling cars.

If you want to have the conversation about Return on Investment (ROI), you can’t just look at how many clicks you got and call the campaign a success. You didn’t invest thousands of marketing dollars just to get clicks; you did it to sell cars. The problem is that your PPC vendor can’t tell you whether or not all the money you spent on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or wherever else actually sold you any cars.

Why is this? Why can’t dealers know that if they spend $10,000 per month on Google AdWords that it will result in an extra 35 cars sold, and an overall increase in front-end and back-end profit per vehicle? Why can’t budget decisions be made based on the average VALUE of a click, rather than the average COST? That’s how all other e-commerce businesses operate, and a car dealership is every bit an e-commerce business as Amazon or eBay.

What’s the Big Question?

The inability to answer the Big Question – how many sales came from digital marketing – has caused dealers to rely on budgeting decisions and marketing strategies that are not optimized the way other e-commerce businesses optimize their budgets. In the world of e-commerce, marketing decisions are actually made based on the potential return in real dollars that can be expected from that campaign.

Take Amazon, for example. When Amazon has a product to sell, they go about marketing that product very much the same way any car dealer would market their inventory. They define the demographics of the customer base that best match the product they’re selling. They create a strategy using multiple different campaign types and marketing channels, then they drive customers to their website and, ultimately, to a purchase. The budget they spend to run this campaign is based on the expected profits of the sales that this campaign will generate. As long as profit remains positive on this product, the budget to advertise it will be infinite. To determine whether or not a campaign is effective, they look at sales!

Now, I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but I’m here to tell you the truth. When it comes to measuring the actual cars sold and dollars earned from your digital marketing, few, if any, PPC vendor or website company in the industry can give you a straight answer. And if we ever want to be able to market as efficiently as Amazon or any other successful e-commerce business, then we need to change the way we do things; we need to be better, and we need to be able to answer the Big Question!PPC vendor

The good news is that the answer is to the Big Question is out there, and it lives within your DMS. Thanks to developments in marketing and website technologies, we now have the ability to tie digital marketing leads to actual sales by connecting your website and marketing systems to your Dealership Management System (DMS). Using that connection, we’ll finally be able to answer the Big Question!

Make Decisions to Drive Sales, Not Leads

By connecting the DMS to the marketing data, we can now look at automotive digital marketing in a whole new light. Now decisions can be made that actually are geared towards driving sales, not just leads. This data allows us to completely change the digital marketing conversation. Consider the following example:

It’s the end of the month and you’re on the phone with your PPC Vendor for your regular account review. Your vendor points out to you that there are two campaigns he’s been keeping an eye on and wants to run through with you. There’s Campaign A, which received 50 leads over the last month and has had some fairly decent exposure across the search networks. Then there’s Campaign B, which received over 100 leads and dominated search positioning over the last 30 days. Based on this data, you and your vendor would both agree that the best course of action is to take some budget and shift it to Campaign B, since it is by far producing better results than Campaign A. In this scenario, this is probably the correct course of action.

Let’s take this same example, and incorporate DMS data. What we now find is that although Campaign A produced fewer overall leads, it actually resulted in 16 car sales, where Campaign B only resulted in 3. This data now changes our perspective entirely, and we would do everything we could to add more funding to Campaign A since we know that’s where SALES area coming from.

Having this data in hand now makes us like Amazon! We can know exactly how much money we stand to make from certain campaigns, and can make budgeting decisions and marketing strategies designed to increase sales and revenue. You’ll never be in the dark again.

CAROI Matches Marketing and Website Leads to Sales

The great thing about all of this is that this technology is here today! After years of building all of the pieces necessary for this to work, we’re now finally able to link paid search leads, and in fact all website leads, straight to the DMS. We’re now finally able to answer the Big Question!

We call this system CAROI (pronounced Car-O-I), and we’re proud to be the only company in the industry who can tell you how many sales resulted from your digital marketing. With this system, you’ll no longer be in the dark. You’ll know exactly how many cars your marketing is selling you, what campaigns are producing the most sales, and exactly how much money all of this digital marketing is making you! We’ll be able to make much more informed decisions with your money in order to increase your true ROI month over month.

The days of clamoring for clicks, impressions, and traffic are over. You’re not in business to get clicks, you’re in business to sell cars. So now that the Big Question has been answered, the only question left to ask is, “What’s your CAROI?”

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