When faced with adverse times, we get smarter. In 2008, we transitioned to digital marketing and began looking at our marketing analytics much closer. In 2020, digital retailing was forced upon the industry and we had to use new data to determine how effective the online shopper’s experience was.
Modern analytics now serve as the continuous heart rate monitor for a dealership — keeping not only a pulse on traffic at all times, but also the quality of that pulse. In the pre-digital era, dealers watched the daily foot traffic for their pulse with a newspaper ad sitting in the trade as a signal of the quality of advertising. Trends were difficult to point to marketing successes or failures because they failed to analyze every customer and required waiting for a broader analysis at the end of the month or year. Digital analytics not only serve as a continuous monitor for dealerships, but they enable a precise triage of marketing strategies — pinpointing issues impacting the bottom line or tactics showing positive improvements.
Here are four ways digital analytics can properly diagnose your dealership marketing strategies:
1. Exact Attribution
Emotion has been the driver of most sales attribution reports to date. Because a vendor just visited, a sale may have been attributed to a mailer that was actually trashed simply because the address of the buyer matched an address on a list from the last six months. This is the equivalent of attributing exactly where you picked up a cough during flu season after you spent a weekend navigating public transportation in New York City — next to impossible. This meant precious marketing dollars were being gambled every month. Today’s dealers can be smarter and much more strategic. Tracking the VIN a customer owns and how that VIN came into service, if the owner of that VIN received a text or email, and how that VIN became a trade on a sale later is exact attribution. Technology is sophisticated enough to utilize a VIN tracking system any time a customer is known. This applies to outbound communications, pixel tracking and clicks from emails and texts. Technology has grown to track customers who move from their phone to a desktop. This makes precise and accurate attribution possible, so dealers know exactly what led a customer into a dealership and what did not.
2. Accurate Customer Relationship Management
With data tracking a customer through every step in their customer journey, dealers can know exactly how many customers they have in each phase of their sales funnel — no more questioning where customers are or if they’ve even responded to your first marketing message. This means dealers can opt to push the gas with customers who have shown interest in a car they need to move when needed, and they can identify where exactly customers are dropping off.
3. Real-Time Analytics
Modern analytics aren’t reliant on end of month or quarterly reports — most software has dashboards that enable dealers to pull up analytics at any time with updates in real-time. Marketing strategies — whether digital or physical — are impacted from time to time by outages. A failure with the postal service might not be identified for weeks, but a glitch with social media ads or other digital marketing strategies will appear in real-time analytics immediately. When something is showing great success, dealers can move more marketing dollars toward that strategy. Or when another seems to be lagging in a particular month, dealers can take a look and make changes then — without wasting weeks of marketing spend.
4. Necessary Pivots
In February 2020, no one anticipated the lengths society would have to go to over the next two years. Normal today looks nothing like what normal looked like nearly three years ago, and most industries have accepted this as fact and pivoted accordingly. The automotive industry is no different. More and more brands are opting for reservations and orders for new vehicles. Inventory is still unpredictable and corresponding incentives are announced with little-to-no notice. Digital marketing coupled with real-time, precise analytics enable dealers to perform the emergent, on-a-dime pivots when needed.
Now as we begin 2023 when economists are predicting every scenario under the sun, dealers can use real-time analytics to evaluate consistently and diagnose challenges within their digital marketing strategy. No longer waiting for the worst or the best to occur, dealers can own the outcome of their dealership by keeping a constant pulse and properly diagnosing in real-time.