Though it feels hard to believe, 2021 is rapidly drawing to a close. In a year marked by a post-pandemic recovery meshed with adapting to a new normal, 2021 has been a time to remember. For dealerships, this has meant navigating a unique landscape. As people’s pocketbooks opened back up, the demand for new and used vehicles surged. Simultaneously, recent supply chain issues made it difficult to meet these demands.
Throughout the year, one thing has remained true — to stay ahead of the competition, dealerships have had to make calculated decisions regarding how they market their business and how they increase the efficacy of their sales funnels.
As the year winds down and we look to the new year ahead, there are six key actions that your dealership can take today to set your business up for success in 2022.
1. Pull End-of-the-Year Reporting on All Marketing Tactics
With the close of a year, most dealerships will be running the numbers, assessing profits and losses. But too often, the money spent on marketing is simply lumped into a single line item, and the return on the investment is murky at best.
This year, before you head into 2022, take time to pull end-of-the-year reporting on all marketing tactics. This should include digital marketing and any traditional marketing tactics employed.
When it comes to your online marketing strategy, ask your marketing team or agency for reporting around:
- Total campaign spending — including spend on Google Ads, social media, retargeting, and other paid strategies broken out by campaign.
- Total sales contributed to these campaigns — the more detailed you can get on these reports, the better. For example, work with your marketing team to attribute sales that converted in-person or via another channel but started as a lead in a digital campaign.
- Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) — calculate this based on campaign spend divided by conversions.
- Cost Per Lead (CPL) — while not every lead will convert to a sale, you will want to understand how much new leads are costing you by dividing your campaign spend by total new leads.
- Campaign click-through rates — this will help you analyze how persuasive your ad copy is.
- Customer engagement metrics — how often were customers interacting with posts, social channels, chatbots, website forms, etc.
- Number of new Google reviews — and metrics around your star rating.
These are just a few of the numerous metrics you can pull at the end of the year to help gain a better picture of what marketing tactics in 2021 were effective and which ones were not.
Too often, teams push forward into the new year, launching new marketing campaigns, without first taking the time to pour over this reporting.
We recommend you block off at least one to two solid days on your calendar before the end of the year to dive into these reports. Look for trends, areas where money was wasted, and tactics you might be able to double down on in the year ahead.
2. Analyze Your Customer Journey
After the rollercoaster of a year that 2020 turned out to be, most dealerships were left entering 2021 with much uncertainty. As the vaccine rolled out, would customers return to in-person shopping? Would the digital preferences used during COVID-19 stick around? And, would customers feel confident enough again to make major purchases?
As 2021 progressed, dealerships saw how their own local market would play out. This year has been a unique year, making it important for dealerships to analyze their customer buying journeys before starting the new year.
As you look back over 2021, ask some key questions about your customer’s new normal:
- Did you see an increase in in-person visits? Or did your customer base continue to prefer digital interactions?
- How effective were your in-person sales events versus your virtual events?
- How smooth was your omnichannel experience? Were customers able to communicate with your sales team across channels without issue? Are there any areas where you need to improve?
- What negative feedback did you receive from customers during the year?
- What positive feedback did customers leave your team?
Gather all this information and put together a list of things you need to change and improve, as well as a list of what your team did well. This can help you prepare for 2022, which looks to mimic a lot of the buying habits of the second half of 2021.
3. Outline Major Marketing Initiatives for 2022
After analyzing data from your 2021 marketing strategies and detailing your expected customer journeys, it is time to outline a few key marketing initiatives for 2022.
While there will be campaigns that arise out of organic need during the next year, it can help to hone in on at least four major initiatives before entering the new year.
These quarterly initiatives might include:
- A virtual sales event
- An in-person sales event
- A specific digital ad campaign
- A social media campaign
- A recall event
As you brainstorm a few key marketing initiatives for 2022, work through the details of each one.
- What will be your allotted spend for each initiative?
- Which channels will you use for promotions?
- Which internal teams will be involved in the initiative?
- Which external stakeholders will need to be involved?
- Which internal stakeholders will need to sign off on the project?
4. Start Building a Marketing Budget for the Year Ahead
With a few key initiatives outlined, it is time to build a marketing budget for the year ahead. Try to outline a proposed dollar amount for each of these categories:
- Events: This budget should break down the costs of hosting and promoting an event.
- Social media marketing: Consider how much you will budget for ad promotion, page promotion, and any external agency costs for engagement with customers on social channels.
- Google Ad spend: Roughly outline how much you wish to spend on ad campaigns, including Google Display Ads and retargeting campaigns.
- Promotional materials: If you plan to use flyers, mailers, or other physical marketing materials, create an estimate for this marketing segment.
- Agency budget: If you plan to partner with a marketing agency, create a rough estimate of how much you are willing to pay for services.
Creating a budget ahead of 2022 not only provides you with time to garner necessary approvals, but it can help you create a more strategic and focused marketing strategy for 2022. This can help you reduce wasted spending, ensuring that teams across the business are aligned on goals and strategies.
5. Assign Leads for Large Initiatives
Many dealerships head into the new year strong. They are fueled by the energy of end-of-year sales and brainstorming sessions.
But, as the year progresses, great ideas are lost in the day-to-day grind, and proposed marketing strategies are forgotten.
Before the hectic start to 2022, make sure that every proposed initiative has a specific lead assigned to that initiative. This can help ensure that plans put into motion today are executed in the year ahead.
You can also pre-set meetings for 2022 where key stakeholders will check in on the status of marketing initiatives, and the assigned leads will provide reports on the progress being made.
6. Vet a Marketing Agency for Increased Reach
For many dealerships, 2022 will be a tough year of battling expected supply chain shortages. But, it also looks to be a year of opportunity. Dealerships that can use their marketing spend wisely can outpace their competition at a critical time.
At the same time, for many dealerships, the attention and focus that effective marketing strategies require are stretching their teams too thin.
In this case, one of the best things to do before the end of the year is to spend some time vetting a marketing agency to assist your dealership with increased reach in 2022. An agency that specializes in dealership marketing can actually help you reach more customers while simultaneously reducing spend.
When looking for a marketing agency, pay attention to the following:
- Do they have experience in the dealership space? Dealership marketing is unique, and not all agencies have the industry knowledge needed to make a marketing campaign work.
- Will they offer you reporting? Be wary of an agency that wants to run your marketing campaigns without offering any insights into where they spend your dollars.
- Can they help you with a holistic strategy? Often, marketing agencies will only assist you with one portion of your marketing strategy. And, while there is a time and a place for piecemeal consulting and other one-time lifts, it is highly beneficial to work with an agency that can build a robust marketing strategy that encompasses all channels. This can help ensure that you keep your marketing cohesive and helps cut down on overlap in marketing spend.
- Do they communicate clearly and often? Nothing is worse than discussing your needs with a sales team member at a marketing agency, only to be passed on to an inattentive marketing representative after the sale’s been closed. Ask upfront about the cadence of communication. How often will they touch base with you? If you have questions, will there be an easy way to reach out?
Schedule a Consultation With J&L Marketing Today
If you are building your marketing strategy for 2022, our team at J&L Marketing is here to help. We specialize in assisting dealerships with a myriad of marketing tactics, including the following:
- Designing a website with a digital showroom that drives more leads through your doors
- Building specialized landing pages for specific ad campaigns
- Running Google Ads, social media, and retargeting campaigns
- Delivering detailed reporting on all marketing strategies
- Analyzing existing campaigns to look for areas of improvement
- Constantly monitoring ad spend, adjusting spend in real time based on key indicating metrics throughout the lifetime of a campaign
- Hosting virtual and in-person sales events
- Providing an event coordinator for recall events
- Using multi-channel marketing strategies to increase reach, including direct mailers, phone calls, texting, and chatbots
- And more! If you have a marketing strategy you want to test out, our team will be more than happy to see if we can help
As you prepare for 2022, we invite you to reach out to our team for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to begin by looking at what you accomplished in 2021 and using your past year’s marketing history to help create benchmarks for the year ahead. From here, we’ll walk you through some of the key strategies we believe will help dealerships stand out in 2022.