Tracking & The Science of Automotive Marketing

Since the basic premise of a science project is to discover “what happens if,” the key element is to track the results so you can make such a determination.Missy Jensen - DMEautomotive

Automotive marketing is no really different.  Every month automotive dealers (and marketing vendors) spend a considerable amount of time, effort and money manipulating various messages, calls to actions and incentives in their automotive marketing pieces…all with the intention to push traffic to the lot and service drive!  Though many dealerships spend hundreds of thousands on advertising and direct marketing, most marginally know the effectiveness of it.

The best way to understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts – to ascertain what form, message, incentive (and heck, even the best target audience) – is to implement tracking.   By tracking the results, you can determine whether your marketing message is reaching your target audience and encouraging them to take action.  In other words, you can better understand your “what happens if.” What happens if I offer a $19.95 Oil Change to customers who haven’t been in for x number of months? What happens if I send a targeted direct mail piece that is followed up by live calls?  What happens if I communicate with my lost customers via multiple communication channels?

At this time, how do you know if and what ads are driving traffic to your dealership?  Are you requiring sales people to source where a customer is coming from?  Does your F&I department ask the customer?  And how many times do you see “Drive By” and “Paper” as the answer?  You and I both know there are better ways of doing this!

If you’re not doing it already, you must employ 800 phone numbers on every form of advertising.  But don’t stop there…use specific 800 numbers on each specific advertising piece.  In other words, for every newspaper ad, email piece, and targeted direct mail piece, you must have a different 800 number for each.  If you have 5 different mailers going out, use 5 different 800 numbers.  Other dealers are using QR codes, PURLS and barcodes.  By using such tracking components, your dealership is able to assess which ad is effectively causing your register to ring.

Determine ROI by cross-referencing your customer data with the targeted list used for that particular campaign.  Is it by coincidence that Ms. Smith was in your service department 5 days ago or did you send her a mailer to promote a $29.95 lube, oil filter and tire rotation a few weeks ago? Are you reviewing the click-through-rates of your emails?  Additionally if you use a third-party marketing vendor, force them to perform ROI reports to show response rates.  If you’ve never done so, I also strongly recommend an advertising audit on a quarterly basis to know what is working in your advertising efforts.  You have to require that your vendors (and even internal marketing staff) show how their products and services are working by driving revenue to your dealership.  Perhaps the ROI isn’t as high as you’d like it to be and by no means am I suggesting you fire that vendor on the spot. However, you may find that it’s not the form of advertising that is the problem, it’s the messaging that needs a little tweaking.

Lastly, a great way to track your marketing and advertising is by requiring your sales and service staff to accurately source customers to see where they came from.  A dealership group in Colorado required that each and every customer had a source code (advertising), which was tied into the bonus plan for the F&I department.  Within a short time, the dealership was able to source 75% of where the customers came from.

No one, and I mean no one, wants to invest a great deal of money into marketing and advertising that doesn’t work.  But if you don’t investigate and monitor what is working how can you determine if it’s the medium that you’re using, the message/incentive you’ve sent or a combination of both?  It’s critical to track the results by utilizing unique 800 numbers, requiring ROI reports and mandating that your staff precisely and truthfully report customer source information.

How is your dealership tracking marketing efforts to ascertain what is working and what is not?

~ Missy Jensen, Social Media Manager at DMEautomotive

Missy designs, deploys and maintains the social media initiatives for DMEautomotive in an effort to increase brand awareness, distribute company and industry news, provide updates on products and services and promote consumer engagement. Missy enjoys the process of learning; researching and watching projects come to fruition!

Prior to her transformation into a web specialist and work with DMEautomotive, she has 10 years of experience in the marketing and communications industry. Missy served as the Director, Handicapping & Communications for a regional golf association and helped successfully launch and maintain a cutting edge technology-based ticket resale program on behalf of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Missy attended St. Lawrence University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s Degree from Miami University in Oxford, OH. She can be reached at and check her out on LinkedIn.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.