Best PracticesIndustry News & Trends

Multichannel Marketing Increases Sales and Retention – Study

Marketing & Communication Channels

Since the dawn of time, dealers believed that automotive marketing vendors are trying to push more point products on them in order to upsell and increase their commissions:

Search Marketing
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media

Dealers are absolutely right. We are. But are we taking you down the garden path?

A new study proves that multi-channel marketing (use of five or more marketing channels such as email, social media, advertising, website, etc. used in a coordinated campaign) is actually far more effective than buying any individual channel in getting the real business growth metrics we all live for.

According to Aberdeen’s “July 2012 Customer Experience Management: Using the Power of Analytics to Optimize Customer Delight” research, businesses who engaged in multichannel marketing saw growth in key performance improvements across the board, such as: a 6.8% increase in customer retention, a 5.1% increase in customer lifetime value, and a 4.0% increase in customer satisfaction.

These findings grow even starker when compared to those businesses not engaged in multichannel marketing. Multichannel companies improve customer retention far more than all others on a year-over-year basis. They also double the year-over-year improvement in customer satisfaction results, compared to companies without multichannel account management.

To get even more granular, multichannel marketing also improves campaign participation and conversion rates of digital marketing programs. Another Aberdeen study reported that businesses that use three or more channels achieved 48% better year-over-year result in terms of unique website visitors.

This makes sense. In an environment where your buyers interact with a rapidly changing mix of media: content sites, email, social, OEM & dealer sites, etc., you need to be present throughout their entire journey and cater to their preferred media mix.   You can fail to win their hearts by either not being present where they are, or by having inconsistent messaging as they weave an unpredictable path through the web.

Now, needless to say, organization is the difference between an army and a mob. You can’t just throw more channels in the mix and expect to instantly improve results. But, if done strategically, when it comes to marketing, it’s better to leave no stone unturned. The challenge has been that this is hard, sophisticated, marketing that has required a level of marketing expertise and technology access previously only available to top tier advertising agencies.  The good news, however, is that several vendors are now offering multichannel automotive marketing solutions designed for dealers that don’t require a PhD or expensive agency.  It’s never been easier for you to get involved with multichannel marketing.

Does that mean you should abandon “point” solutions like premium SEO, SEM or Reputation Management services?  Of course not, these can be an important foundation for all of your marketing execution.  Just evaluate multichannel marketing programs and make sure they are high up on your budget priority list.  They work.


Is the tide turning in Automotive from focusing on independently managing a set of discrete digital media toward more integrated multi-channel marketing?

What is reasonable for the marketing manager in the store to do vs. one’s marketing vendor or agency?


  • A
  • August 18, 2012
Your post comes at a perfect time as our industry is realizing that they have to connect with consumers on a variety of devices and platforms.  It is getting harder for a single rooftop marketing manager to handle the digital marketing channels internally.  The speed of change in digital marketing and the fine tuning of online campaigns is best managed through a combination of software automation tools and hands on experts.
I often ask dealers to take out their cell phones and type in a search related to their OEM brand, like "Ford Service Center" , "Ford Dealers", "Ford F150 Sales" , or if they have a body shop "Collision Center"  and see if their business is showing in paid search.  8 out of 10 times the answer is no because they are not running mobile ads.
As device specific campaign targeting and advanced paid search ad formats increase, dealers will need to trust a multi-channel marketing partner that can simplify the execution while still giving them transparent reporting on how their funds are being spent.
The combination of traditional SEM, Retargeting, Video Pre-Roll, Display Advertising, and Social Media Marketing is very powerful indeed.  We have been using a combination of those strategies for AutoCon 2012, just in case you missed the campaign.
I will say that I was very impressed with the "deep dive" the Cobalt team gave me on your DAP multi-channel advertising program for GM dealers.  The scope and timeliness of execution was breathtaking. 
  • Z
    Zachary Bennett
  • September 3, 2012
That is a fine article and exactly what people should be doing. You need a competent marketing professional to oversee your website, SEO, content creation, branding, etc because it all needs to be cohesive and have the same goals/strategies behind it. Go with a smaller, more hungry, more knowledgeable firm/agency/person. And if you want someone with an automotive background, give me a call. =) (seo is in the name, but no that's not all we do.)