Is Your Dealership Using Marketing Solutions That Work?

At Lifesight we are proud of the fact that Lifesight data and measurement solutions are used by Auto brands in every market we operate in. Location insights and online to offline attribution help both OEMs and dealers to deploy marketing budgets more efficiently and measure return on ad spend.

Based on our work with both Auto brands and their agencies in ANZ we have set out to answer the questions below and inspire dealerships to test and learn new things in this challenging time of changing consumer behaviours and declining sales.

Are dealerships using the best technology to measure the effectiveness of their advertising? Do they have the right tools to make the most of their marketing budgets? How do they know if they’re using the right channels to reach and influence buyers now and in the future? Are customers and profits being left on the table?

Today’s marketing tools are sophisticated, accurate and comprehensive. They put actionable consumer data at marketers fingertips and provide useful metrics that allow dealerships to make key marketing decisions with confidence. The auto industry has seen remarkable technological progress on the product side. Assisted parking, GPS tracking, anti-collision warning systems, mobile connectivity, and more, add up to an optimum and individualised experience for customers.

Yet, when it comes to marketing tech, it appears that some dealerships aren’t bringing themselves up to speed and taking advantage of the latest tools that are on offer. There have been many reasons for this such as limited budgets, lack of expertise internally compared to the larger players and a fear of the unknown.

A changing and challenging landscape for dealerships.

According to a 2019 KPMG study that looked into customer value, ​“The retail landscape is in the middle of a fundamental transformation phase: almost half of all execs are highly confident that the number of physical retail outlets, as we know them today, will experience a reduction of 30 – 50% already by 2025. This being the case, the question is less about the decrease in the number of retail outlets, but rather about how to reinvent, reimagine and eventually rebuild and reorganise existing structures and how to identify new revenue streams for retailers.”

VFACTS data released this month including December sales numbers reveals that in 2019 new car sales were down 7.8% on 2018.  Sales have been declining for almost 2 years now, with little relief in sight. Even the SUV category which holds the largest share of market at 45.5%, declined in 2019 by 2.4% in 2019 compared to 2018. To say it’s a challenging environment for Australian dealerships at the moment is quite an understatement. All the more reason to think about better methods of optimising ROI and doing some homework about what’s available.

The industry accepts that today’s automotive consumer is smart, educated, tech-savvy and informed. Their media consumption trends are changing and they come equipped with sophisticated tools and the means to conduct unlimited research anywhere and anytime thanks to their trusty smartphone. But what has the industry done to keep pace?  Are we using tools to measure the effectiveness of marketing investment when we are engaging with them?

How can local auto businesses predict the impact of future co-funded marketing initiatives on the bottom line? Only by better understanding what has gone before can we predict the future and minimise the risk of bad marketing investments.

Globally, OEM’s are already working towards owning the direct customer relationship, particularly in the online space, where they are implementing customer profiling techniques with expensive marketing tech stacks and partnerships with vendors like Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle, Google and Facebook.

So, the challenge is there for dealerships to be on top of their game. Importantly though, dealerships have a key advantage. The Global Auto Executive Survey for 2019 notes that ​“Automotive customers feel that it’s the dealers that have a better understanding of who they are and what their preferences are.”

How can dealers build on this existing goodwill and deepen the relationship that dealerships already have with their customers through data and technology?

Understanding foot traffic. Game-changing tools are now bringing data to life.

Using data and understanding who has been in your dealership and when, where else they’ve been and which of your marketing efforts they’ve seen and responded to, is a potential game-changer.

Dealerships already know that Google drives clicks and auto classifieds portals generate online leads. However, accurately measuring the way your advertising impacts physical behaviour and what each dealership visitor contributes in terms of revenue puts vital information at your fingertips. Are dealership visits a reliable proxy for a sale? Not every dealership visitor buys a vehicle but experienced sales managers will know what their walk-in to test-drive to sale ratio is.

Until recently, independently and transparently attributing footfall to local ad spend across different channels, platforms and publishers hasn’t been available. It’s now possible to analyse footfall at dealerships using mobile data and wifi technology. Plus, it’s cost-effective, so it’s no longer exclusively the domain of OEM’s with sizeable budgets.

This is the age of analytics and data. Dealers now have the opportunity to build detailed profiles of who is visiting their dealerships, what’s brought them in and test what’s working, what isn’t, and why.

In the global marketplace, BMW is one of many brands making the step change to measuring campaign effectiveness with footfall. Using Lifesight’s location intelligence platform which has the capability to measure which digital, OOH and CTV campaigns result in dealership visits, BMW was able to see a return on ad spend in terms of footfall to their dealers. They were also able to identify which ad campaign strategy performed the best.

Changing up to a better vehicle.

​How do you go about finding the right tools then? You can do your own research, and there is a wealth of information available, but the key to accessing the latest marketing tech can often be through the OEM’s and your marketing agency partners. Ask questions, get in the conversation, get a seat at the table, attend trade events and expos. The point is to find a better solution. Unless of course, you’re comfortable with the marketing equivalent of a reliable but well-loved 1975 Volvo.