According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans go online every day. Of those polled, 28% are online frequently, 45% go online several times a day, and 9% only once a day.

Your dealership can reach these online consumers if you have the right digital marketing strategy across all of your channels – websites, social media, email, mobile applications, and search engines.

There has been a huge explosion in the digital market over the past 5-10 years. Companies have shifted their marketing strategy from traditional to digital ad channels. Digital ad spending is projected to double in the next five years, worldwide.

As more consumers shift their buying behavior into the digital marketplace, more competitors will modify their marketing strategies, and ad costs will rise. So, it is important to implement a sound strategy for your dealership.

Incorporate the following must-have secrets into your digital marketing strategy:

  • How to maximize your budget across core digital channels
  • How to run geo-target campaigns more effectively
  • How to analyze and combat competitor market share
  • How to reach your DMS online

Core Digital Channels

It is important to identify core digital channels and understand what budget you should allow for each of them. Budgeting efficiently enables you to optimize your strategy to maximize your ROI.

The marketing funnel starts with the broadest audience of that first touchpoint of awareness of your brand. Consumers then move further down the funnel as they begin to take an interest in your products or services.

The funnel narrows as the consumer moves further towards a decision to purchase and then takes that action step and buys a product or service from you.

The primary core digital channels include:

  • Paid Search – This channel produces the highest level of intent of your entire audience. These consumers visit your site through paid searches and are primarily ready to buy. They will be closer to the bottom of the funnel.

You need to bid on the right keyword, write enticing ad copy, and get the best position to reach your goals effectively.

  • Display – This channel is basically an online billboard. These are the banner ads that consumers will see on websites that they visit.
  • Video – YouTube is a primary driver of video ads. It easily integrates with Google and streamlines the process for uploading television ads.
  • Social – The primary social networks are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, with Facebook as the top-performing platform.
  • Gmail – This channel is inexpensive and is on the Google platform. You can potentially reach their one billion monthly active users worldwide, and use the DMS audience to contact them.

Make sure you line up your channels in order of importance regarding the funnel and level of intent. Allocate a significant portion of your budget towards the bottom of the channel. That’s where there are more transactional opportunities than customers in the awareness stage.

Having some television ads and billboards is good for generating brand awareness. However, it is crucial to have paid search ads appear when consumers are searching for a dealership near them – and they are ready to visit your location.

Consider the following when allocating your budget:

  • Allocate the highest amount for paid search because of intent and ROI. There is a lot of competition, and you pay per click. So it’s important to bid on the right keywords, have the right keywords and landing pages – and have a cohesive strategy for a high relevance score.
  • Social network ads will likely provide a high ROI because of the high number of users, and you can use DMS targeting as well.
  • If you have a larger budget, consider allocating some to video advertising on YouTube, as well.

If you have the budget for an omnichannel approach, your messaging will be more cohesive, and the ROI will likely be higher.

Geo-Targeting Campaigns More Effectively

According to Google, “50 percent of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within a day.”

Their research showed that consumers completed more purchases after local searches rather than non-local searches.

Consumer data showed that 4 in 5 people want to see ads personalized for their zip code, city, or current location. That means your dealership should use geo-targeting effectively and learn how to optimize those campaigns.

Using zip codes is the most important factor to remember with your geo-targeting campaign. Dealership-level marketing usually deals with zip codes within your Primary Market Area (PMA) and Area of Responsibility (AOR).

You can be data-driven with your marketing strategy and have more control at the zip code level. Without using zip codes and instead focusing on a twenty-mile radius, you have less control because there may be unprofitable pockets.

You can make bid adjustments at the zip code level if there are areas you would like to emphasize over others for more flexibility and control. Zip code data can provide your dealership with the following:

  • Census data
  • Demographic
  • Income data

Exclusion criteria can be helpful if you want to target a specific region within a zip code and exclude others. Inclusion criteria ensure that you target each area that makes sense for your dealership.

Take your geo-targeting to the next level by combining your zip code efforts with offline and sales data, and Justice Map to find invaluable demographic information. Justice Map functions as a heat map, showcasing the various hot and cold pockets based on income.

For example, luxury car dealerships can analyze the various pockets to ascertain if people located there can afford these vehicles. This information can help optimize advertising efforts and increase your ROI.

Use geo data to analyze and align it with the areas that your sales are coming from to maximize your advertising efforts. Zeroing in on target areas is especially important for dealerships that don’t have a high advertising budget. 

Analyzing and Combating Competitor Market Share

With advertising costs and competition levels rising in the digital market, it can be more difficult for your dealership to rise above the competition. It’s even more crucial that you optimize your efforts and offer the best packages to minimize your ad costs.

Having a sound strategy and following the best practices can set your dealership up for success.

Reviewing the Auction Insights Report from Google can provide you with insights on your auction performance compared to other advertisers participating in the same auctions. You can identify competitors who are bidding in your space with similar keywords and showing ads simultaneously with the same terms.

Key auction insights you can find include the following:

  • Market share for your dealership for those terms
  • Competitor’s market share for those terms
  • Dealership average position
  • Competitor’s overlap rate

You can determine whether your dealership is successful in those specific areas by reviewing this data accurately. You can make the necessary adjustments and then check back for further review after a few weeks.

Another report from Google identifies the following factors:

  • Impression share
  • Online market share
  • Lost impression share due to budget
  • Lost impression share due to rank

If you are losing impression share due to budgetary constraints, you could decrease the budget from one campaign and use it for another. An alternative option is to increase your budget; however, that should be a last resort.

Where your ad shows up for a specific term in that auction will be your average position and will identify your ranking. The ad ranking is the bid times the quality score.

You can improve impression share due to rank by getting your ad rank up using the following methods:

  • Increasing your bid will give you a higher ad rank. But it will increase the cost and deliver less traffic for the same budget. This should be a last resort.
  • A better way is to try to improve your quality score to get a higher ad rank. You need the relevant keyword in your ad copy, to use the right ad extensions, and to drive them to the right page.

Using Google Analytics, you can identify what the consumer is doing once they land on your page. You may not be sending people to the right landing page, which could negatively impact your quality score.

You need to pay attention to your quality score because that is crucial to increasing your ad rank. When your quality score is up, you will pay less per click and get more traffic with the same budget – and more leads.

Find the right third-party analysis tool to review keywords at the zip code level and see real-time data for all of your competitors. You can run this type of analysis several times a day to receive vital, real-time data for your daily market.

Identify important competitor data, such as the following:

  • Competitor keyword bidding 
  • Competitor ad copy
  • Overlap Rate

You might have a better market share, but your competitors are consistently outperforming your dealership. Reviewing this data can show you how they are doing this and if they are using keywords that you could be using.

Before you start a new ad campaign, you can run an offline analysis with this third-party tool to take your strategy to the next level to identify the following:

  • What to expect
  • Competitors
  • Relevant keywords
  • Ad copy you can create to set you apart

Ad copy is the most crucial part of this process. It may seem tedious, but it’s worth it because you’ll see a better ROI. Remember to structure your ad properly and use the right keywords so that they align with the headline, description line, and URL.

Ad extensions are free but can be time-consuming. If you take the time to set your ad up the right way, maintaining it will be easier and will add to your campaign’s success.  

Reaching Your DMS Customers Online

Your DMS is the best asset you have to reach customers online. Using offline data and matching it online is so invaluable to reaching your DMS customers and making sure you are staying in front of those customers in their buying cycle.

It’s straightforward to reach your customers through direct mail or one to one. However, reaching customers online through various channels like paid search, display, video, social media, and Gmail is more involved.

Social networks have customer-matched audiences where you can upload data such as first name, last name, email address, and phone number. Google, Gmail, and Facebook usually match up data better than Twitter.

The key is retaining that audience by uploading data in your DMS, sending them specific messaging, and persuading them to visit your website and dealership. You can utilize this data and include or exclude various groups, depending on the audience you want to reach – such as new leads or existing customers. 

Separate your dealership from the competition by uploading the DMS audience. You can match against people in your DMS and then bid on broad keywords to retain that subset of customers. 

Putting Together a Winning Digital Strategy

Since 95% of online consumers complete online research before visiting a dealership, it’s vital to have a winning digital strategy in place.

Make sure you have maximized your budget across core digital channels. It’s important to have learned the secrets of effective geo-targeting campaigns.

Your winning digital strategy must contain an accurate analysis of and how to combat competitor market share. Stay in front of your customers during their buying cycle with the right digital marketing system.

Start Your Winning Digital Strategy Today

J&L Marketing has been in the automotive space for nearly 30 years. We help dealers across tier 1, 2, and 3 levels for digital and direct marketing solutions. We are proud Google, Facebook, and Bing Partners and have recently become digital vendors for both Shell and Mopar. Let J&L Marketing help your dealership dominate your digital marketing today!