Whit Norrad is the Director of Demand Generation at FlexDealer, a creative advertising agency that breathes life into dealership marketing. With experience in various industries and verticals and more than a few business degrees, Whit brings a suite of skills and savvy to any marketing conversation, particularly on Twitter, connecting her diverse background to spicy takes and solid advice.
The strategies and tactics marketing a business in one vertical versus another, can seem like a set of transferable skills. But when it comes to the constraints and context of automotive marketing, the idea of transferability takes a back seat, and certain factors need to take the wheel if you really want to drive results.
“There are several factors that make automotive marketing different from marketing a traditional product,” begins Whit. “With typically a 72-day window for conversion and bearing in mind supply constraints, making a one-to-one attribution in automotive marketing very difficult.”
“We use a ton of call tracking and form fills with unique identifiers which makes CRMs essential in order to match existing customers to all the points of engagement. The customer journey in buying a car can be complex. Say a couple buys a car, one of them does all the research and interacts with the ads, but the other is the one doing the purchase. That’s just one example of how attribution can be non-linear and illustrates why marketing data management is critical to proving the value of an agency working with dealerships.”
When asked what barriers Whit sees specifically for automotive marketing, she took a strategic look at the hurdles a dealership might face.
“A lot of times we see dealership owners looking for one single end goal, chiefly being ‘we just want leads,’ but that’s just one aspect of the strategy,” explains Whit. “One of the barriers to this mentality is ignoring long term branding which can help generate conversions in the short term, but most dealers think they’ll handle the lead-gen portion and then switch to long term branding, which is backwards. How will the leads ever show up if consumers lack basic awareness of where your dealership is even located?”
Whit goes on to explain that while a lot of dealerships get mass marketing, like TV and radio spots, and even utilize direct marketing, like mailers, when it comes to digital marketing, the approach is less sure, ironically because the attribution can get so granular and circuitous, the analytics can just seem like gobbledygook.
“When running digital ads, it’s both easy and difficult to get that attribution, for the eagle-eye reasons I stated before, but also because when delivering reports, it’s too easy to overwhelm the clients with too much data.”
“You should take the primary metrics that matter for the specific dealership and their goals, assign the events properly and track and review them, but most importantly condense all of the analytics and information into something useful. This is why human-to-human conversations are so important to delivering reports that address their context and speak to the owners. It’s easy to fill up a deck with numbers, less easy to align the metrics with actionable insights.”
For stories about how dealerships use barrels of pickles and giant teddy bears to sell cars, for more details on how specific brands of vehicles hamper, and help, dealers make more effective advertising, and for insights on how automotive marketing is changing and adapting to new and younger audiences, listen to the full show at the links provided below.