After 10+ years working with auto dealerships, I think I’ve figured out what they want—to cut the BS and get better results from digital advertising campaigns.
It should be simple right? You need to sell cars and people want to buy them. You pay for online ads to generate leads, and want to be able to report on the success of those ads by the number of leads they generated.
It seems like it should be easy, but issues with reporting and lead attribution can prevent dealers from confidently understanding their return on investment for paid search. To help you save time, money, and do just that, over a three-part series I’ll be breaking down the exact steps dealers can take to optimize their digital advertising campaigns for real ROI.
Determine whether you’re getting enough low-funnel leads
If you want to get better results from your digital advertising campaigns, there’s quite a bit of groundwork and data collection that you should do first. Your goal in this process is to determine whether or not you’re getting enough high-quality, low-funnel leads from your advertising efforts.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. What counts as a conversion?
Too often leads and conversions are considered interchangeable. But a sales lead and a conversion are not the same thing. A conversion can be a sales lead, but oftentimes conversions are defined as many other things as well. I’ve seen conversions include specific page views, requests to “get directions,” and even time-on-site thresholds. Make sure you understand what is being counted as a conversion within your digital advertising efforts before you move on to the next step.
2. How many leads are you getting?
Include phone calls, form submissions, and chats. Do not include VDP page views, pages per session, or time on site goals as leads.
3. How many of these leads are quality leads?
Qualify the leads that are actually considering a purchase. Separate sales and customer service leads, filter out wrong numbers, and remove duplicates due to repeat calls or filling out several forms. This quick clean-up will clarify the total number of unique sales leads you’re getting.
4. What percentage of your leads are coming in through branded efforts?
Advertising on branded terms creates a better user experience and helps you take up more real estate in search results for your own brand name, but no more than 15-25% of your marketing budget should be spent on branded terms. Make sure you’re focusing most of your ad spend on campaigns that will help you reach and capture net new leads who didn’t know about your dealership before.
5. What percentage of your overall website leads are coming from paid?
A good rule of thumb for a healthy, mature lead generation site is that you want roughly 25% of website leads coming from paid search; this ratio should be mirrored in your lead volume percentage as well. That means that if paid search is responsible for 30% of your website traffic, paid efforts should be responsible for 30% of your website leads. Ideally, I like to see the percentage of leads generated by paid search higher than the percentage of paid search traffic, so I know that our ads are bringing in high-quality traffic and really pulling their weight. This is the first thing I look at to assess the success of an account, and something you should look at on a regular basis with your digital advertising provider.
Track your low-funnel leads
It’s worth noting that identifying paid lead percentages may be difficult to accomplish depending on your reporting capabilities. If you look in your CRM, you probably won’t see many leads attributed to paid search. But that doesn’t mean you’re not getting leads from paid search; it’s just a problem with how they’re being reported. For example, if a user comes to your website from a search ad and submits a form, many CRMs will report that lead as a “website” lead leaving you with no idea if it was a paid search website lead, an organic website lead, or one of many other traffic sources bringing users to your website. This is a problem many companies run into that limits their ability to understand where their leads are really coming from.
To prevent this issue, partner with your digital advertising provider to clarify your attribution reports. Make sure your analytics and reporting are set up correctly, and leverage a user-level tracking software like Foureyes to clearly see how many leads you’re getting and where they’re coming from.
Once you've captured this information, ideally for at least three months, take a critical look at the numbers. Multiply the number of leads that you're currently producing by your lead-to-sale conversion percentage. Is the lead volume high enough to hit your sales targets? Looking critically at this number can really help you to benchmark where you’re at vs. where you need to be.
If you would like help determining whether you’re getting enough low-funnel leads, reach out anytime to request a free consultation in the form of a digital analysis.