by Taylor Loethen | Oct 7, 2023

featured image of TAKE THE HELM PODCAST | Ep. 3 blog

EP3. Digital Marketing ROI: Are you getting your greatest return?

Recently, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Star Performance Marketing VP, Thomas Manning, to better understand digital marketing and help dealers determine if they are achieving the greatest return. 

I’ve summarized some highlights below. However, to get the full education, tune in now! In just 30 minutes, you’ll understand the difference between digital and traditional marketing, how to take demand off the table and create demand from customers not currently shopping, define the cost per lead in today’s market and learn Thomas’ top five digital marketing best practices on how  you can get the biggest return on your digital marketing efforts. Let’s dig in! 



TL: What is digital marketing and how is it different from traditional marketing? 

TM: “Digital marketing in its purest sense is simply someone engaging in a product or a company is promoting a product through some type of digital channel. It’s the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using the internet and other digital channels. Digital media focuses more on the customer as they enter the buying cycle whereas traditional marketing and media is everything that happens offline. 

Because of media segmentation, we've seen a much smaller percentage of clients efforts and advertising budgets be allocated to traditional sources. Dealers are evolving digitally through their marketing and we want them to continue to carry that through their digital sales process.

Traditional media casts a big net and focuses on conveying features and benefits of a product or service. Digital media focuses more on the customer as they enter into the buying cycle.”

TL: We know that 90% of customers shop online before ever entering a showroom. Define the digital customer.

TM: “In today's world, most people start their journey in the digital space. You pull out a cell phone, you jump on a tablet or a PC, and you type in a keyword. In response to that keyword, a lot of information shows up - ads at the top of the page that dealers are, again, seeking to bid on certain keywords based on how customers search.

The digital customer is seeking some sense of immediacy. They are very communicative, they are looking for information, but they are looking for snackable content that they can make an immediate decision on.” 

TL: What’s the difference between taking demand off the table and creating demand from people not in the market shopping?

TM: “When it comes to digital marketing, there are two differences a dealer must understand - taking demand off the table and creating demand for those not in the market shopping - yet. 

Taking demand off the table is my way of saying capture the customer base that is currently in market shopping. They are already searching. Leverage digital channels such as Google, Facebook, etc. Create the biggest share of voice you can and target your ideal customer.

Those not in the market yet haven’t decided they want to buy what you sell at the moment. Identify the customer base that have owned their vehicle over three years, have a big service coming up, an expiring lease. Find those in equity positions and meet them where they’re at. Create the demand. 

In the environment we're in right now, we really have to pay attention to what we spend our money on. I'm going to make a bold statement. If you can't afford anything else, have a robust share of voice for people who are in market shopping. Do whatever you do with search terms or AdWords would be my recommendation to you.”

TL: What does “cost per lead” mean and what are you seeing with today’s market? 

TM: “By definition, cost per lead is the amount of money it takes to generate a new prospective customer for your sales team from a current marketing budget. The cost per lead varies per market based on competitive environment, dealer brand maturity, and cost of media and use of proper media mix to hyper-target the audience that has the highest propensity to buy what you sell. Today’s cost per lead ranges between $350 - $550 but could be as high as $750.”

TL: What are the top 5 digital marketing best practices that dealers should focus on today? 

TM: “Let me sum this up:

  1. Determine your geographical footprint. Market in the area that comprises 80% of your new and use vehicle registrations
  2. Identify Your Ideal Customer. One that has the highest propensity to buy what you sell as your core target audience.
  3. Establish a message of “attainability” so as the content direction
  4. Define Media Channels. Comprise advertising mix with focus on taking demand off the table first; this can be done mostly with Google AdWords or digital search campaigns.  Then utilize Display, YouTube and Facebook/Instagram for remarketing and targeting in-market shoppers that have not been to your website.
  5. Establish KPIs. Set up KPI’s for determine what success looks like and track everything.”

TL: How can dealers maximize their digital marketing investment to drive more leads? 

TM: Allocate 60%-70% of digital budget on in-market shoppers. Concentrate on building a robust share of voice in your backyard to capture demand that you are not getting from Organic or Direct traffic. And, be mindful that frequency of messaging is very important. Drive home your attainability messaging on all platforms.  Don’t get ‘cute’ and make your messaging too event focused.”

To learn more about Star Performance Marketing and how Thomas and his team can help you maximize your digital marketing ROI, click here

To learn more about LeadHelm and how we can help your dealership drive more appointments with your digital leads, visit LeadHelm.com.

Be sure to subscribe to our monthly podcast and tune in to all our conversations with industry leaders, friends and dealers! Share with a friend in the industry.

Additional Reading