Dealership Marketing

It’s Enough to be ‘Found’, Right?

In “The $4 billion Taxi Ride: Recognizing When to Influence a Purchase” John Clavadetscher talks about the $3.93  billion automotive advertisers will spend on paid search in 2016. In fact, dealers direct 45.1% of their digital spend towards paid search. I think we can all agree that is a considerable amount of money. What is the outcome? Tens of thousands of dealers, both franchise and independent, all shouting, “look at me, look at me”!

But is being ‘found’ enough?

Even Google, the beneficiary of the vast majority of money spent on paid search, says that doesn’t mirror how consumers shop for a car. In “The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Brand Must Own”, Google discusses the sophisticated shopper journey consumers make and looks at the questions most customers need to have answered before they even walk onto the lot;

  1. Which car is best?
  2. Is it right for me?
  3. Can I afford it?
  4. Where should I buy it?
  5. Am I getting a deal?

The long and short of it is, simply being found is not nearly enough.

The consumer’s goal is not to find you; it is to find answers to those five questions. And, unfortunately, paid search does not help them get the answers they need. Yes, your car and your dealership need to show up on the consumers’ radar at some point on the journey, but paid search doesn’t deliver all of the answers for shoppers and isn’t the answer for your dealership – at least not the only answer.

A better goal for dealers is to spend energy and money to show up in the places consumers are looking for answers to those five questions – places where consumers compare vehicles and pricing as well study dealership reviews. ‘Awareness’ is necessary, but consumers spend the majority of their journey in the ‘consideration’ phase of the process, finding the answers to the five questions above.  Paid search has a place in dealer budgets, but I would suggest that dealers concentrate their energy where buyers are spending the majority of THEIR energy.

Borrell says that U.S. franchise auto dealers will decrease their paid search spend by 62% by 2018 and that may be a very good thing. When dealers devote more attention to the places where they can truly influence consumers and stop shouting, “look at me, look at me,” they win.  Awareness is one small piece of a much larger puzzle. By paying more attention to the places where you can exert influence, rather only ‘being found’, you will sell more cars and make more money.

Are you spending too much on Paid Search? Let’s discuss over on the forums.

All opinions expressed are my own. I entered the automotive space almost 25 years ago, working in a declining sector of a decidedly old school indust...