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Jay Friedman
<p>Jay Friedman</p>

Make Digital Marketing Work Better Than Ever

Clicks don’t buy cars. Website visits don’t buy cars. People buy cars.

The consumer doesn’t wait for us to catch up with their media consumption habits. They simply consume media. It’s our job to keep pace with them.

If I’m a dealer, I’m spending no less than 50% of my budget on digital. Let’s look at why, and how to make the most of it.

In big metro areas, digital can get neighborly.

I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth market. It’s a 90-minute drive from one end to the other without traffic. Even for a dealer dead in the middle, it’s 45 minutes to the outer edges of the market.

Advertising on broadcast TV and radio may cover the entire market, but digital is a big winner here. Being able to target down to the neighborhood or household is the stuff of direct mail, but direct mail cost per thousand is $500. Online, it’s $5-50, with the upper end being high-quality video placement.

In single or dual dealer markets, mass media can make more sense, but dealers in larger markets should consider narrowing their spend geographically and using digital to do that.

Embrace the measurability without being driven crazy by it.

Digital is the most measurable medium we’ve ever had. With this degree of measurability though, we’ve realized we’re trying to measure human behavioral change. That is hard.

First, the only thing that matters is whether a car is sold. Clicks don’t buy cars. Website visits don’t buy cars. People buy cars, and people get exposed to advertising. Set your standards high.

You’re probably spending too much time on your website.

Like them or not, the websites provided to you by the OEM are usually mandatory. And since you’re paying for them, you might as well use them. In addition to getting what you pay for, using these sites to the fullest enables better benchmarking, measurement and targeting.

Avoid the temptation to tinker with the website. Instead, ask for data to guide your decisions within the corporate template. I know, I have an independent streak in me that wants to build my own awesome website too. It’s usually just not worth it, even for multi-brand dealer groups.

Look to your service department to understand complexity

The best master certified technician from the 1970s would be absolutely lost working on today’s vehicles. Last year’s world record is this year’s qualifying time.

This applies to advertising and marketing too. The pace of innovation in digital is possibly even more rapid than the pace of technological innovation in the vehicles we sell. If we’re still approaching marketing on the same level we did five or10 years ago, we’re behind.

Today’s automotive marketer onboards the dealer’s customer data into the digital media environment to get a holistic view of the devices their customers own, where they consume media and understands how their non-automotive purchases create clusters of likely-to-buy prospects.

Today’s marketer separates out the dealer’s most valuable customers to ensure a messaging cadence that best maintains that relationship with the customer, and models these best customers to find more like them. All on digital, all trackable to the sale, and optimized between search, social and programmatic.

As telematics became central to the vehicles being sold in our showrooms and maintained and repaired in our service bays, we didn’t bemoan the complexity and do everything we could to avoid keeping up with the times.

Rather, we realized this was make-or-break stuff and we needed to be the best there is in an emerging aspect of our business.

Think the same way about marketing.

Jay Friedman is the chief operating officer of the Goodway Group. His Twitter handle is @jaymfriedman


TAGS: Dealers
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