Automotive Digital Marketing Managers Need New Tools and Education

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By Brian Pasch

The automotive industry is going through a number of changes worldwide and franchise dealers are trying their best to keep up with those changes. In the United States, the role of Digital Marketing Manager (DMM), whether it is a full time position or a shared role, is becoming a recognized “asset” for franchise dealers to remaining competitive.

“Until the customer steps into the showroom, car dealers are in the e-commerce business. Whether franchise dealers want to accept this reality or not, their decision will impact the future viability of their family business.”

In countries outside the US, the role of Digital Marketing Manager (DMM) would be something of a novelty today; limited only to very large dealer groups.

As I have been traveling this year in the EU, it is clear that OEMs and franchise dealers have some catching up to do with the US, in regards to the sophistication and detailed execution of their digital strategy.

A Digital Marketing Revolution In The EU Is Needed

shutterstock_147965891There is no use to have a position called “Digital Marketing Manager” in the EU if the franchise dealership “culture” has not embraced the need for comprehensive digital marketing strategy. The DMM role is overkill if the dealership culture is such that 30-50% of Internet leads are never contacted by the franchise dealer.

Why would there be a DMM if the dealership website is an after-thought by the management team?  Why would franchise dealers create another salary if merchandising their vehicles online, with 15-20 photos and a unique product description, requires way too much effort?

I hope my sarcasm does not diminish my point;  there is a digital marketing revolution coming to the automotive industry worldwide. The auto industry needs a cultural shift, with a bias toward digital education, that has to start with the OEMs and filter through the franchise network.

Doesn’t this sound like the US retail automotive marketplace 5 years ago? The US franchise network went through these digital growing pains, but now we have a new challenge to tackle; data overload.

Is The United States A Leading Indicator?

It is my belief that the EU can learn from the US by looking at the many digital marketing vendors and strategies that are currently deployed to sell cars in the US.  Car shoppers, located in the US or in the EU, are using the Internet to gain the information they need to make an educated purchase.

In fact, some of the key auto shopping metrics are very similar! The average new car buyer in Italy is in the market 3.3 months, according to research presented by Google, very much like the US.

The average US franchise dealer is leveraging multiple marketing channels and marketing vendors to accomplish their sales objectives. In fact, research from PCG has found that the average car dealer in the United States, is dealing with no less than 12 digital marketing partners/platforms and up to as many as 25 marketing partners/platforms.

Each one of these vendors delivers their monthly report, summarizing the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of their product. A Digital Marketing Manager who is responsible for 10 franchise rooftops could easily have 120-250 separate reports a month to review.  How much times that that take?  Are we defining what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) they should be looking at on each report?

Do you see what I mean by “data overload?”

Don’t forget that the DMM has the Sales Manager yelling for more leads and the Dealer Principal asking to prove the ROI of their marketing budget!  This is not a job for everyone.

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How Many Monthly Reports Do Dealers Receive?

Each franchise dealer in the US will have a unique set of vendor partners and marketing technology. Listed below are the marketing vendors and technology platforms that a successful PCG client leverages each month. Each one of the products listed has its own monthly report. The report comes either via email as a PDF and/or is available through a web-based client interface login.

1) Dealer.com Website
2) Dealer.com Advertising
3) ADP DMS
4) ELEAD1ONE CRM
5) ELEAD1ONE Call Center
6) Contact-At-Once!
7) Century Interactive
8) Dealer Specialties
9) LotLinx
10) Autotrader.com
11) Cars.com
12) Edmunds.com
13) KBB.com
14) CarGurus.com
15) TrueCar.com
16) PCG Consulting
17) Google Analytics
18) Google Webmaster Tools
19) Google Adwords
20) Facebook
21) Twitter
22) YouTube
23) TheNextUp
24) DME Automotive
25) Google+/Places
26) DealerRater.com
27) Yelp.com

So, the Digital Marketing Manager of this store, and the General Manager, have 27 different reports to review that he beginning of each month.

Digital Marketing Managers who are responsible for 10 stores have 270 reports to review each month! Is this feasible?

This is not an isolated example to prove a point. I have clients that have even more marketing partners!

In this example, I am not including any traditional media partners.  This dealer could also have separate vendors for equity mining software, video SEO platforms, vehicle merchandising tools, lead nurturing software, and promotional marketing.

The Case For A Unified Digital Dashboard

Today dealers in the United States need a person who is looking over their digital investments.  This role needs better guidelines, a clear set of job responsibilities, a competitive pay plan, and advanced training.  The good news is that my next book, “Mastering Automotive Digital Marketing“, will contain over 300 pages of specific training for today’s automotive digital marketing professionals.  The book will be published this summer and part of worldwide training programs this Fall.

unified-dashboardSupporting that effort will be a renewed focus on educating dealers on the power of  ROI-BOT™ software, which is the “Switzerland” of data reporting tools.  Of the 27 vendors listed above, ROI-BOT™ supports all but three companies which means this dealer can have ONE login to view 24 of their monthly vendor reports.

This saves HOURS of time each month, which can be put to work on making better marketing decisions.

The ROI-BOT team is adding new vendors integrations every month and the automotive executive dashboard is being embraced by the largest automotive groups in the country as well as single point stores that want to master their data; a slave to dozens of reports no longer.

The power of ROI-BOT™ is that it gives back TIME to automotive Digital Marketing Managers.  It allows a unified “scorecard” to be created for each franchise so that inspecting their vendor investments takes ONE MINUTE not a full day!  Lastly, ROI-BOT proactively will send email alerts Digital Marketing Managers when any of the vendor KPIs go out of range.

 

Time To Act

The auto industry and auto manufacturers must more clearly define and encourage the development of a Digital Marketing Manager role in the franchise model.  Our industry has changed and the level of data analysis needed at the dealership level is significant.

A new curriculum must be created to master the digital KPIs that our industry needs to understand.  I’m doing my part with my upcoming book, but others will need to step-up educational efforts as well.  If dealers understand the new digital KPIs they will sell more cars.

Lastly, the franchise dealers need tools to collect and analyze vendor data so that they can execute better marketing strategies.

If you would like to be notified when my book “Mastering Automotive Digital Marketing” is available, please connect with me on LinkedIn.

If you would like to see a demo of ROI-BOT software, contact Carrie Hemphill at 908-601-6475 or by email: carrie@roi-bot.com.

 

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Brian

Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Consulting

732.672.2356

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