By Kristen Judd


This is the second installment in our series about common holes we see in even the most progressive automotive groups’ and dealerships’ marketing strategies. It’s important to note that we don’t think these “holes” are blind spots or that dealers, marketing directors, e-commerce directors, marketing teams and so forth are necessarily unaware of some of the gaps that we’re writing about in this series. To the contrary. We meet with smart marketers working in dealerships and groups every day who express frustration that they are unable to function at the level they want to and know they can and should but they feel that they don’t have the tools or the time to get there. In fact, we just met with a top group recently and the very seasoned marketing director and digital marketing manager were lamenting the fact that they felt like they were spending so much time doing necessary but time-consuming tasks like updating specials on all of their dealerships’ websites, that there was never enough time to be as analytical and strategic as they’d like (if they had a way of easily bringing all of their data together for deeper analysis in the first place) before it was time to update the specials again the next month!

As we noted in the initial article of this series, we’re well aware that there are many challenges in our industry. This series should not be viewed as criticism, rather as presenting ideas and strategies for getting to the level where we all want to go. Now on to the second common “hole” we see: putting all of your eggs in one basket instead of taking a diversified AND integrated approach.
Traditional and digital. Paid search and organic SEO. Third-party leads and first-party leads. Conquest and database. Outbound and inbound. Bulk and targeted. The list goes on and on. I’m still surprised when I cross paths with dealers who view these pairings as binary, “either or” options as opposed to trying to strike the correct balance between the two, but my surprise is likely misplaced given the proliferation of vendors who claim to have the latest shiny object that will singlehandedly sell more cars, service, extended warranties, pre-paid maintenance plans, accessories or [fill in the blank] than ever before and that those who persistently advocate for more and more of the marketing budget to be redirected to that one category they do. As much as we all hold out hope, intellectually we know that there is no silver bullet. It takes work and diversification. 

The following are a couple of examples of the advantages of a diversified approach:

Paid search is not a substitute for good organic SEO. Quality content on the website not only drives organic search results which produce website traffic and supplies what today’s consumers are craving, it creates an ecosystem to drive paid search traffic to more relevant pages creating a better online experience for consumers unfamiliar with the dealership, lowers the bounce rate, and increases conversions. Investing in an organic infrastructure will produce more organic website traffic and first-party leads and also improve the return on the investment in SEM. 

Database marketing and conquesting can and should also be complementary. Even though there is a ton of untapped opportunity and unrealized revenue that lives in every dealership’s database, even the best database mining and customer marketing program can benefit from smart, strategic conquesting. Better understanding current customers, especially the highest value customers, allows for more targeted conquesting geared toward attracting and gaining consideration from prospects like your best customers instead of your lowest value customers.

There is no silver bullet. It’s not black or white. As in life, we spend the vast majority of our time in the gray area. The trick is to take a diversified approach to dealership marketing and advertising. By continually analyzing, testing, iterating, and striving to strike the right balance, dealerships will allocate their spend more effectively to produce better returns, reduce waste and leave less money on the table every month.

This is how we like to work with our clients at 3 Birds and we have built the tools and technology that enable exactly this type of strategic thinking. Schedule a strategy session with us today. 

Kristen Judd