By Brian Pasch
If you ask any business owner if they have a clear formula that determines the ROI of their marketing budget, most will admit that they don’t have all the pieces to complete the equation. In fact, when I speak with car dealers many will also admit that they are overloaded with vendor reports and do not know the true Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to inspect each month. Can you identify with that feeling?
The average car dealer in the United States has 15 different monthly reports and/or reporting logins from their marketing partners to inspect. Each vendor partner has designed their monthly report to showcase the “success” of their product, which is expected.
However, buried in each report are key metrics that can be adjusted to increase success. Few companies are helping dealers dive into these monthly reports to show what metrics are truly important to selling more cars each month.
Are you really using these monthly reports to make decisions?
To help dealers move toward a more focused set of monthly reports and KPIs in order to sell more cars at a lower cost, I thought it best to set the record straight regarding data transparency and availability. Dealers can not calculate the ROI of their marketing investments unless they have access to unfiltered, original data from their key marketing partners. More specifically, dealers need access to the Analytics and metrics from their website platform as well as the clicks, calls, and chats generated by their marketing partners.
Not all vendors want data transparency; there are many reasons behind their arguments. I believe that the dealer has earned the right to get a complete picture of their marketing investments: websites, AdWords, chat, leads, phone calls, and social media advertising to name a few. Vendors should have readily available Application Program Interfaces (API) which allow direct access to summary reports and analytics.
ROI-BOT™ is evangelizing the automotive vendor community with a call-to-action to provide open data reporting for the benefit of dealers. We are very pleased with the number of companies that have pledged to provide open reporting standards; you can view the current list here.
Data Collection Foundations – The Google Trifecta
Dealers who are making a commitment to focus on a smaller set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will need to make sure that their data collection fundamentals are in place. The foundational elements of good reporting are provided free by Google:
- 1. Google Analytics
- 2. Google Adwords
- 3. Google Webmaster Tools
All three of these software tools need to be connected to get an accurate picture of marketing metrics. I estimate that less than 30% of all franchise dealers in the United States have connected access to these three tools for their primary website. It takes less than one minute to connect these three software tools!
When you connect these three Google software tools, dealers can leverage the data warehouse and insights of ROI-BOT™ more fluidly, but even without ROI-BOT™, the connection is critical for data analysis. For the record, Google specifically recommends that their three software tools are connected to improve reporting insights. Operating without these accounts connected is like flying a plane without the use of the cockpit computer system.
Dealers need to demand from their vendor partners that these three tools are connected. This will require cooperation with your website vendor and your Google AdWords management company. The website vendor should be responsible for setting up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. The dealer’s Google AdWords partner can connect their AdWords account with their Analytics account. It is very simple to complete however it is a political battle that dealers face. Stop the insanity and demand cooperation.
Moving Past Google Tools
Once these three tools are configured and connected, the work does not stop there. With phone calls on the INCREASE from mobile car shoppers, dealers need to have the ability to associate phone calls to advertising investments. The above graphic, published by Dealer.com, shows just how many MORE calls are being generated when compared to lead forms.
Companies that include CallRevu, Century Interactive, and Response Tap all have software to associate phone calls to website referral sources to increase the accuracy of conversion attribution. Some companies directly integrate phone call conversions with Google Analytics so that conversions from website forms and phone calls can be viewed from within the Analytics reports.
Website and CRM vendors also have to work more closely to associate referral traffic to lead submissions. For example, if a consumer clicks on a Facebook promotion and submits a lead form, this information should be passed to the CRM. Unfortunately, since many CRMs utilize the basic ADF lead format this data is lost. Dealers must demand referral source information be passed from their website provider to their CRM platform.
Master Marketing Data Is Not Hard
Dealers who want to MASTER their digital marketing data and stop being a slave to 15-20 different vendor reports a month, need to gain access to unfiltered, raw data which can be used to create an executive dashboard for decision making. Regardless of how a management dashboard is created, dealers need to demand access to their data and encourage their vendors to provide APIs or direct data feeds for smarter analysis.
The days of proprietary data reporting are numbered! The vendors that refuse to provide open data standards will find their customer base will shrink.
Dealers who are reading this article should start by getting the Google software “trifecta” configured. Then consider starting a project to identify the vendor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that should be reviewed each month. I encourage dealers to stop focusing on hundreds of data points every month provided by your vendor partners and focus on the KPIs that will help you sell more cars.
I believe that ROI-BOT™ is an ideal solution but dealers can also create a manual spreadsheet system as well. The key takeaway is that something has to be done, and it starts with gaining FULL access to your marketing data.
In a related note, I am very excited to co-host a workshop with JD Rucker at the 2014 Digital Marketing Strategies Conference (DMSC) to discuss the KPIs that dealers should be inspecting each month to increase the effectiveness of their marketing dollars. This will be a packed workshop for sure!
If you are not registered for DMSC, visit: DMSC Website . This year the conference is being held in the Napa Valley, March 16-18th.
Brian Pasch, CEO