Research for my upcoming book “Who Sold It?” included asking Marketing Managers and General Managers how they evaluate the success of their marketing investments. While total sales opportunities and units sold per month is the ultimate KPI, many dealers have flat to declining sales. My new book is dedicated to educating business managers on how to retool their techniques to inspect marketing investments and how to get closer to the optimal marketing mix.
In these times, many automotive managers have been told to cut expenses. So they often use their gut or CRM reports, not accurate data, to decide which marketing channels to cut. When I asked what tool(s) they use to determine marketing effectiveness, many managers said that they use their CRM lead performance reports to inspect marketing ROI.
If dealership managers want to optimize their marketing mix they must stop using CRM lead performance reports to inspect the impact of marketing investments
Automotive CRM platforms were never designed to inspect Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). They were designed to create an ordered process to communicate with consumers who were interested in doing business with the dealership or who were existing customers.
The design of CRM platforms and the usage of CRM lead performance reports have created myths that I want to debunk. This is not an attack on CRM platform providers but rather a challenge to dealership managers to stop using the CRM as a marketing inspection tool.
CRM Lead Sourcing Is Misleading Managers
Most automotive CRM platforms assign the lead “source” based on which platform is sending the lead in the ADF/XML file. For many auto dealers, all leads from their website forms, come into the CRM labeled “Website Leads” or some variant that includes the form type, like “Website Leads: Get ePrice.”
A very small percentage of dealers have their CRM platforms configured to show the referral source of the shopper session that generated the lead form submission. For example, a Facebook ad, that generated a website lead, would come into their CRM as “Facebook Website Lead”.
Statements like “My website produces the highest quality leads”, “My website generates first-party leads”, or “Organic Traffic is my best traffic source” is based on reporting myths. CRM lead performance reports, in most cases, are only based on “Last-Click-Attribution” (LCA) which hides the multiple marketing channels that influenced the lead or connected the consumer to the dealership’s inventory.
CRM lead performance reports hide the path by which consumers took to eventually convert into a lead.
CRM Reports Hide Marketing Influence
When dealers properly configure Google Analytics, they can upgrade their reporting to show a more accurate picture of which marketing channels produce: 1) the most hard leads and 2) the most engaged shoppers. The report below is tracking only conversions from lead forms, phone calls, chat, and text messages generated from a website visit.
When you record all conversion channels in GA (lead forms, calls, chats, and text messages) you can produce a multi-channel funnels report that shows all sources of website traffic (assisted and last-click) that produced a lead. If the dealer had their CRM configured properly to see referral source (most do not), the dealer would have received a report from the CRM that said:
- Tier 2 advertising (line6) produced 8 leads but the truth is that 253 leads had a Tier 2 visit before converting.
- YouTube traffic sucks (line 9) because it produced zero leads in the CRM. The truth for this dealer is that YouTube was involved with 251 conversions.
- TECOBI social media engagement only produced 24 leads but 251 other consumers they touched converted into a lead.
- Facebook is a poor performer (line 10) because it only generated 8 leads in the CRM. The truth is that Facebook referral traffic from paid campaigns were involved in 250 conversions.
In all four cases, the number of LCA leads is small when compared to the wider influence the dealer’s MIX had to produce conversions. Tier 2, Facebook, and YouTube are working very well to get consumers to identify themselves through one of four channels.
Once exposed to effective marketing channels, consumers will often come back via a direct or organic search, which skews CRM reports and creates myths about the value of organic traffic.
Generating Better Reports: GA Is Just a Start
The Assisted Conversion report in GA can also be generated to show which channels are bringing the most engaged shoppers, that did not have a hard conversion. The combination of these two reports (lead channels and engaged channels) gives dealers a competitive edge and produces a picture that is far more accurate than their CRM would show.
What GA cannot show dealers is how many consumers engaged with their brand on marketing portals like Cars.com, Edmunds, or Autotrader and generated a showroom visit, without a visit to the dealer’s website. The influence of traditional marketing channels (radio, broadcast, and cable) is also a challenge to map to website traffic or sales. The good news is that solutions are coming to market that address onsite and offsite marketing influence.
I’m also pleased to announce that VistaDash now integrates and overlays traditional media advertising (radio, broadcast, and cable) on the dealer’s website traffic with a partnership with Media Monitors. VistaDash will also be adding offsite marketing insights to give dealers a more accurate view of the influence of their marketing mix on sales.
Start By Cleaning up GA
Most dealers need to clean up their Google Analytics, start recording all conversion channels, start measuring website engagement, and upgrade their marketing reports to show multi-touch, cross-device sales attribution. PCG Companies is leading the charge and has set standards for GA events and goals that the automotive MarTech industry is supporting.
Marketing Managers that are responsible to 10+ stores know that their group is spending millions of dollars a year on marketing, yet have limited insights to what is working. It’s time for the auto industry to move away from Last-Click-Attribution (LCA) and embrace more competent strategies to sell more cars in a digital age.
Author: Brian Pasch
Brian Pasch is the founder of PCG Companies and is a popular author, conference speaker, and educator. Brian wrote the book on automotive digital marketing called “Mastering Automotive Digital Marketing” and is the host of Auto Marketing Now, a popular weekly show on automotive marketing.