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Dealer Marketing: Going Loco for Local Campaigns

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There's a good reason that car dealers should be going mad over local campaigns: the results. Now, let's get something straight first. There are so many variables that influence digital marketing -- your local market conditions, budget, tactics, creativity -- that no dealership will see the same numbers.  You can, however, expect to fall within a range set by our dealer partners whose strategy we have adequately executed and monitored: $4 - $6 Cost per Lead $0.50 - $1.50 Cost per Click 10,000 - 30,000 Interactions These dealerships also met a recommended monthly budget of no less than $300 and up to $1,000. If cost-efficiencies that deliver high-quality leads is your jam, let's define local campaigns to give you a better perspective on the  what  and  where . What are local campaigns? They are part of Google's continual innovation on advertising products and are tied to your dealership's Google My Business (GMB) listings. As more search results don't yield a click to a website property, it's more important than ever to have a robust strategy around local search engine optimization. Local ads leverage your GMB to deliver targeted ads in brand new placements. Local campaigns use the Merchant Center for inventory feed integration and Google's machine learning to populate highly relevant, hyper-local advertisements that are more likely to resonate with consumers and generate foot traffic and local actions or phone calls. Google is, in fact, so confident in the results local campaigns can produce that these ads are highlighted in the Dealer Guidebook 2.5 edition. Launching this type of campaign is relatively easy, tasking you to fulfill just a few requisites: Verified GMB Linked to Google Ads Minimum of 1 YouTube Video Link Images (1200x1200 & 1200x628) Where are local campaigns new placements? Local campaigns are delivered across all of Google's properties, including the Display Network and YouTube. These are now the most interesting placements, though.  You linked your GMB listing to your Google Ads account so your dealership's ads can also be placed on ...  Google Maps , where shoppers can identify the quickest route to the dealership thanks to the ad highlighting your location as the top destination. GMB Listing Profile , where shoppers can see the latest offers and promotions (for variable and fixed operations). Google Search Network , where shoppers will see the advertisement at the top of the local search pack. New placements bring new methods of optimization. These local campaigns aren't optimized by using historical search network mechanics, such as analyzing query and keyword data. Instead, advertisers will be tasked with analyzing and iterating on the actual content of the ad. Dealers Will Win on the Local Level If you haven't embraced the power of Google My Business, which is the crux of your local search strategy, you're likely to miss out on other opportunities that arise -- like local campaigns. The notion of "going local" isn't exactly new; it's just now getting the proper attention that it deserves. In a digital ecosystem where your real competition is third-party and aftermarketing websites, building localized content and ads have become the backbone of maintaining and growing your market share. There's no better place to start than your own backyard, for which local campaigns have been specifically built.  Start winning, my friends.
Now Is Not the Time to Pause Marketing Spend

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Reject every instinct in your body that's telling you otherwise. Now is not the time to pause your marketing spend. Yes, we're in a totally new normal and chaotic time in history. COVID-19 is changing the way we shop for groceries, plan weddings, and sell.  But as we assess the investments we're making and cut back to play it safe, stopping marketing efforts all together will put your dealership at a disadvantage.  Here's why: Stay Relevant Q2 2020 put all dealerships to the test: which ones will still sell during an unprecedented government-mandated lockdown and the first wave of the Coronavirus? And as we witnessed, the dealerships that were able to stay above water were the ones that had the marketing machine in place to do so-- the dealers that were set up for digital success to change, update, and optimize messaging across all platforms way before the COVID-19 wake up call.  So ask yourself, how long did it take your dealership to offer home deliveries, solo test drives, and extra hygiene at the showroom? If you answered more than one minute, you're simply not as relevant as dealers that were able to deploy marketing messaging instantly.  "You, as a company, either have world-class digital capabilities or you are falling behind."  says  Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation. And it's never been more true. This is the time for your dealership to stay on the map. It's time for your dealership to show up first to the in-market shopper who is stuck at home with a glass of wine and the power of Google. If you want to stay relevant, you need to continue your marketing efforts, even if you have to reduce or move around the budget in response to the market.  Stay Ahead  But it's not just about what happened and how we responded-- it's about staying ahead of the curve. Pausing your marketing ads and campaigns means losing your audience tracking, falling behind on brand recognition and targeting, and not having the means to bounce back with new messaging as the ever-changing market surprises us once again. Even if your budget is cut to a minimum, keeping your marketing afloat means that your dealership can be more flexible with its messaging to react faster to opportunities. It gives your dealership the ability to accumulate audiences for retargeting and enables you to capture the low hanging fruit that you can "afford" with a lean budget. The moment you pause your marketing spend altogether, you're not only irrelevant as shoppers search and find your competition instead, but you'll be slower to come back once you're ready to turn up the heat.  Turn Gaps in the Market Into Opportunities  Lastly, there is always opportunity in a downturn. If we've learned anything from iconic brands like Airbnb and Netflix, who crushed it during a downturn, it's to leverage gaps in the market as an opportunity for revenue. People still need cars. In fact, private transportation seems to be a hot commodity as a result of the pandemic. Public transportation is "risky," unsanitary, and poses the threat of exposure. It's clear that the automotive industry rebound is stemming from strong emerging markets:  millennials, one-car suburban families, and commuters .  People are still searching, debatably now more than ever. As consumers stayed inside month after month, the  shift to online  buying behavior was catapulted into reality. Social media consumption increased from 20.8% of total app usage (Jan 1) to 24.1% (Apr 12). Combined with a 21% increase in total global usage, social media advertising had become overall more cost-efficient for dealerships. Your dealership needs to capitalize on this opportunity- leverage marketing to target these buyers with the right message at the right time. If you stop your marketing spend, you will not reach these shoppers that are in the market for the very same reason you're thinking of pausing spend.  So while your gut instinct may be to pause spend through 2020, I'd argue that it's actually time to re-evaluate and make sure your spend, while perhaps lean, is accomplishing everything you need to stay ahead and relevant coming out of COVID-19. Because when you're already prepped for any outcome, you win.
Reducing Wasted Ad Spend: The Key to Thriving in the New Normal

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At the beginning of COVID-19, people would throw around the term "the new normal." At the time, it was hard to understand precisely what that meant, and realistically, it still is; our landscape is still unfolding. But we can't wait for the "new normal" to settle in. We need to continue to navigate and adapt, which means assessing and controlling what the new normal looks like for your dealership.  And honestly, it's going to look different for every dealership. Vehicle sales dropped at the onset of the pandemic, but the industry appears to be moving toward recovery. However, despite vehicle sales rebounding, the same can't be said for other areas of the business that were impacted by COVID-19. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average dealership decreased advertising spend in July by 21.3% compared to the same period last year.  The root causes for the decline can all be attributed to the pandemic, though the reasoning can differ. Some dealers reduced ad spend due to inventory shortages. Others perceived a diminished return, particularly with vehicle sales increasing amid a pullback on ad spend. But did you know that you can still be efficient and improve your return on ad spend? To do this, you need to eliminate the waste — and you can do that by leaning on data.  Start with local analysis  In order to reach potential in-market buyers, you first need a good grasp of the activity within your local market. This requires understanding the sales performance of your core makes and models not only at your dealership but also at your competitors. Looking at sales trends by zip code can be especially telling. Consumers have always explored what options are available to fit their needs when in-market for a vehicle. Now, more than ever, consumers seek to maximize their budget without compromising on features.  Ultimately, you need to understand what your consumer is looking for — whether it's fuel efficiency or more legroom — and create marketing messages accordingly. Addressing their needs in your messages will ensure that they resonate and have a higher likelihood of bringing them into your showroom.  Start toward the bottom of the funnel Bear in mind that COVID-19 is still a fluid situation for many Americans. Some will have a newfound need for a vehicle, while others may put their purchase intent on hold. Because of this, you need to make sure you're reaching consumers who truly  are  in-market. To refine your audience, working with a third-party can help you focus on specific groups, such as those with positive equity on their current vehicle, those who had a recent vehicle incident, or those who have an expiring lease, to name a few.  Leveraging both sales data and focused audience segments will give you the opportunity to start your marketing efforts closer to the bottom of the sales funnel, rather than the more generalized top portion, where the "spray and pray" method is often used. While that method has historically been effective for awareness, today's savvy dealers realize that marketing isn't about awareness — it's about driving the bottom-line while being efficient.  Use data to define success It's important to decide what metrics matter the most to your dealership in the current environment, measure your results regularly, and adjust strategies according to what the data tells you.  At Experian, one of the most telling metrics is what we call High-Value Users, which helps us identify which consumers are truly the most likely to purchase. These consumers have exhibited behaviors that show a higher propensity toward a vehicle purchase, such as spending a certain amount of time on a website or visiting it multiple times.  Once you identify the High-Value Users, you can continue to refine your strategies and create even more focused campaigns. Becoming hyper-focused on these High-Value Users has shown strong results. According to Experian dealership research, High-Value Users deliver an average of 68% more web traffic, an 8% lift in sales, and 10% lift in market share.  Revitalizing and updating your marketing strategies isn't a one-time deal. To ensure efficiency, it needs to be done regularly. Correlating high-value user metrics with your audiences can help you measure campaigns' success and optimize them for the future. Understand how many sales a campaign is actually driving and what channels are most effective, then update accordingly. Oftentimes, working with a third-party is especially helpful in this area, as they can offer outside insights and insights specific to your dealership.  Marketing and advertising play a critical role in bringing people into the showroom, whether in-person or online. The perception of diminished returns is just that — a perception. There's still the opportunity to reach the in-market shopper. You just need to rethink your strategies. Focusing on using every marketing dollar to its full potential will help you not only navigate the recovery but thrive by consistently bringing people into the showroom.  
Precision Targeting Capabilities: A Dealerships Guide to OTT Advertising

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Audience Growth, Advances in Features, Targeting, and Data; Support Increased ROAS Roughly half of US adults over 18 use at least one OTT service¹, which translates into about 182 million OTT subscription video service users². OTT ad spending has seen double-digit increases in recent years, with +54% YoY growth in 2018, 41% in 2019, and 32% in 2020³. There is no going back; cord-cutting is here to stay, and this presents new and exciting opportunities for local and regional dealers.   ¹ (OpenX), ² (eMarketer), ³(MagnaGlobal) Before diving in, let's take a minute to review three key terms that are used interchangeably and sometimes incorrectly. "OTT" refers to the delivery mechanism for TV content online, usually through streaming or video on demand served "over the top" of traditional providers. CTV stands for 'connected TV's" which access programs through a DEVICE, like a smart TV, ROKU stick, or gaming console, to watch TV content online. Lastly, "Programmatic" is a METHOD of purchasing video ads from various networks and providers.  Improved Targeting OTT ads can be targeted by geography (typically zip codes or cable zones if you are buying it from a cable provider), demographics (age, sex). For automotive advertisers, you can select things like 'in-market for an SUV,' or "in-market for a Toyota." Using a combination of POLK and Experian data, you can both include and exclude certain buying segments (want an SUV buyer, but don't want a Nissan buyer, for example). The more you narrow the segments, the more you pay, and you want to be careful not to narrow the segments to the point that you are working with too small of a data set. Typically a good rule of thumb is to look at the budget you want to spend (3k to 5k per month is a good place to start), look at the fact that you want to reach each viewer with a reasonable frequency (say 5x monthly), and see what size population and targeting that leaves you with- and adjust accordingly from there. Responsive Content Whereas a basic OTT campaign can run as a mix of connected TV (big screen) or adding other devices (laptop, tablet, mobile), there is also an opportunity for dealers to generate additional content that can be served alongside the video ad while the ad is on-screen. This is referred to as "responsive" or right-rail content (since it often sits to the video's right on screen). This information is pulled directly from the dealer's website and will usually be monthly offers (leases, payments, etc.) customized by vehicle. They are not statically embedded in the ad but rather dynamic to change on TV as the offers on your website change. The obvious advantage is that consumers are served up to the minute information relating specifically to the vehicle(s) with which they have shown purchase intention. There is also the additional benefit of reducing the time and production cost to update the video content whenever the offers change. Reporting and Attribution This is an area where I see the most difference between providers. A basic, bare-bones report should include at least: A list of the networks or websites where the ads played. The number of impressions delivered. Video completion rate. A higher reporting level may include attribution to show you. How many people that viewed your OTT ad visited your website (website lift). How many in-market shoppers that saw your ad visited "A" Dealership, How many in-market shoppers that saw your ad visited YOUR dealership in the form of a cost per arrival.  Additionally, you can also see which ad creative and offers generated the most engagement allowing a/b testing of different messaging to improve campaign effectiveness over time. Finding the Best Program and Value for You OTT ads are typically delivered on a variety of devices within the household, including TVs, desktop or laptop computers, tablets, or mobile phones. Running an ad on the largest screen in the house in a long-form TV show is a much different environment than running the same ad on a laptop or cell phone. Ads watched on the 'big screen' are fully watched nearly 98% of the time. Contrast that to YouTube or Facebook, where most ads are viewed for under five seconds.   Ads are most typically sold on a CPM basis (CPM stands for Cost Per Impression). The cost per impression for the big screen can be as much as 5x that of other positions. Knowing this will help you to compare different offers more accurately. Since novice buyers may just blindly compare CPM's looking for the cheapest deal, some providers will include things like an in-banner video (think video display ad) and other delivery pieces to make the overall CPM look more attractive.  Beware of making a decision based solely on price. Ask the provider what portion of the campaign will deliver on smart TV's on LFP (long format programming) as opposed to other devices. Pricing varies across vendors and platforms and is also sold at auction, meaning it fluctuates depending on daily market conditions. As of today, a reasonable planning rate for a blended CPM would start around $18 per thousand, with automotive-specific packages incorporating purchase intention data, responsive formatting, and full attribution costing more. With precision targeting capabilities, new messaging options, enhanced tracking, and a lower cost relative to traditional TV, OTT is well-positioned to drive a higher ROAS for your dealership. The time is now to take advantage of this exciting new opportunity to promote your store.
Want New Revenue Opportunities for Your Dealership? They’re in the Data

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I can’t stress enough the importance of a clean, up-to-date marketing database. Data inaccuracy harms your efficiency and effectiveness and makes you look like an amateur– no trait any potential customer is looking for. This problem isn’t unique to dealerships, but as other industries adapt and change with consumer expectations, automotive retailers are falling behind. Adapt and Attract Take online retail, for example. Amazon adapted to contemporary consumer expectations of convenience and transparency by offering all the info a customer might want on one page: customer reviews, costs and discounts, product details and images, and more. By offering this information upfront, customers don’t need to leave the site to learn about the product. What does that mean for your dealership? Within your dealership management system (DMS) and customer relationship management system (CRM), your customer and vehicle information are continuously updated. That information should be unified so it is the same no matter where you or your customer access it. As a simple example, your digital ads (Google, Facebook, etc.) should showcase exactly what’s on the lot. Additionally, leverage that unified information by allowing customers to create a profile or account on your website to customize their experience. You can suggest recommended vehicles or services (think Amazon’s “additional items you might like” feature) while echoing messaging you’ve delivered via other channels, keeping your brand presentation consistent. However, just having a firm foundation to work from is barely scratching the surface of what accurate data means for your business. It’s possible, via predictive analytics, to take a proactive approach and create brand-new revenue opportunities. Consider the well-known case from several years ago in which Target inadvertently outed a pregnant teenager to her parents with marketing derived from her buying history. This is an unfortunate (for her) but effective example. Target was able to identify a potential buyer based on past behavior, using predictive analytics to correlate hundreds of more variables than any one person ever could. In short, that’s the power to nudge potential buyers in the right direction before they even know they’re in-market. For your dealership, predictive analytics helps you identify customer needs before even they are aware of them, disrupting the usual buying cycle to put customers back into the sales funnel quicker and keep your dealership top of mind. Of course, much of this hinges on your ability to engage and convert at a meaningful rate online. Walmart and other retail giants often achieve conversion rates of over 40 percent thanks to their mobile-first web mentality and their strength in transitioning customers from online to in-store. To that effect, here are a few best practices to keep in mind: Always optimize for mobile, both to maximize your Google search result ranking and to capture customers using their phones. Keep customers engaged on your website, such as with prepopulated lead forms and relevant content. Keep in mind that, in an age where customers visit the minimum number of dealerships possible to buy their vehicle, your job is to stand out from the competition by offering something unique, advertising it clearly and effectively, and meeting customer needs. Clean up Your Data – Then Act on What It’s Telling You Maintaining clean and accurate data puts your dealership in a great position to succeed day in and day out, from meeting customer expectations to creating brand-new revenue opportunities by implementing predictive analytics. Back this strategy up with engaging web optimization choices to make sure you can convert those potential customers you do attract, and you’ll have built an operation that competes aggressively for every last revenue opportunity.
Facebook Ads for Your Dealership: 10 Ideas To Get You Started

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In my last article, the message was focused on running more Facebook Ads campaigns , and to put your focus on targeting: the right message, the right audience, with the right goal. The goal was not to create just one ad campaign that would appeal to absolutely everyone. The logical follow-up question then would be: “So how many campaigns are you saying I should run?” Let’s work through some ideas. Promote all inventory (with a value-based message: price, inventory, etc.) – we will consider this targeting “Near Market Prospects,” which is people likely to buy within the next 12 months. Promote current OEM incentive(s) – Here we are targeting “In-Market Buyers,” prospects looking to buy within the next 90 days. How do In Market prospects differ from Near Market? The In Market prospect is most likely actively searching for their next purchase. They have narrowed down the vehicle choices, and are now focusing on factors such as pricing, incentives, and which dealer to buy from. With Near Market shoppers, they have not started searching yet, or if they have, they could still be trying to narrow down which car to buy. If you really want to be ambitious, break incentive ads into separate campaigns for each model. This allows for better optimization of the campaign, and you can be more specific with your offers and targeting, instead of adjusting the language of the offer to apply to all the models you sell. Promote pre-owned vehicles - use different price segments, under $10K, $10K-$20K, $20K+) – Again for each price range of pre-owned vehicles, consider separate campaigns that target different consumer groups: by age, income, lifestyle, etc. The buyer looking for a $5,000 - $7,000 vehicle is very different from the buyer looking for a $15,000 - $17,000 car. Promote trade-in or buyback program – Sometimes the best way to get a new car buyer on your lot is by buying the car they currently own. Using Oracle data, you can target vehicles by make, model, age, and purchase price so you are building your pre-owned inventory with vehicles you know you can sell. Target Lease owners and lease expires – in theory, these are similar to the “In-Market Buyers” we referenced above. What makes lease expires different? They have a deadline, and therefore a greater sense of urgency. Using your CRM list, you know exactly when that lease expires, so you can control the timing of when you reach them. Promote Service specials – as with new vehicle incentives, more specific offers broken up into separate campaigns can perform better than one ad with all service offers. For example, an offer for brakes or tires won’t be relevant for vehicles less than 2 or 3 years old. If you create a separate campaign for tires, you can target vehicles of a specific age, while with oil changes and other services you want to reach buyers with vehicles of any age. Promote your people – focus on their expertise and experience, or the level of customer service they offer. You can do this by sharing testimonials or reviews. Most dealerships focus their ad budget on what a consumer is buying (the vehicle), and very little advertising spend is invested in who a consumer is buying from. The reason online reviews get so much traffic is because buyers care about the “Who.” Take advantage of that and promote how awesome your customer experience is. Promote the Service Center as a whole – use ads to inform customers of your convenient hours, pick up and drop off services, extra free service you include, coffee and donuts, anything that sets you apart from the low-cost service centers. Customer Appreciation – Again, using your CRM you can create a small, targeted list of your customers and offer them something unique and special. They have purchased from you before, let them know you want the relationship to continue. Parts & Service Conquest – Using Oracle data, you can target people who spend a lot or are frequent customers at Auto Parts or Auto Service businesses, such as Napa, AutoZone, Jiffy Lube, Pep Boys, Goodyear, Firestone, etc. Create an offer compelling enough to get them to switch. If you are using an agency to run your Facebook Ads, running this many campaigns has the potential to get expensive. One answer is to find an agency that will run multiple campaigns for a flat fee vs. a per campaign fee. Another option is to find providers that offer options to let you run additional campaigns on your own. Some of your campaigns will be short-run or very small budget, and it could make sense to create them yourself and save on fees. Using an agency platform to run ads on your own will allow you to take advantage of more sophisticated tools, such as using Oracle data for targeting, and inventory feeds for dynamic inventory ads, especially valuable when used in re-targeting your website traffic. These ten ideas are just aplace to start. Creative minds could come up with even more ideas to matchspecific ads to specific audiences.