Q4 2018 Auto Digital Marketing: Expectations and Adjustments for Success [Blog Series]

4th Quarter Digital Marketing

The all-important 4th Quarter is upon us. And while every 4th Quarter is unique and presents its own set of challenges, some aspects of each October through December in auto digital marketing and lead-generation are consistent and/or predictable. This creates the opportunity for your dealership to adjust accordingly to make the best use of your budget.

This multi-part blog series will begin with what your dealership can expect across various digital marketing channels, and then provide tips on how you can strategically adjust campaigns to maximize your efforts and budget.

4th Quarter Auto Digital Marketing Expectation #1: Heavy Tier 1 and 2 Support for Seasonal Programs

December to Remember. Season of Audi. The Winter Sales Event. Season of Adventure. The list goes on…

Whatever your authorized franchises’ seasonal Q4 sales events may be named, one expectation is consistent: They’re going to be pouring additional digital funds into your market to support their end of year Brand initiative. Certain brands also conquest in order to drive awareness and reach of their event. So what’s their additional digital support mean? It means you can expect the cost of your media to increase compare to your YTD automotive marketing benchmarks. Why?

Let’s consider two examples that focus on different channels:

  1. SEM: If you’re a Lexus dealership, you’re almost certainly (or certainly should be) buying the term “Lexus dealership.” But guess what? Either Tier 1 or Tier 2 will be too, especially in the spirit of creating maximum awareness and reinforcement for the December to Remember event.
  2. Display: If you’re an Audi dealership, chances are you’re targeting in-market Audi intender audiences through a targeting layer.  Chances are Tier 2 is too, especially given that their job is to generate maximum visibility for the Season of Audi Sales Event in the market area as a whole; doubly so amongst the people who show behavior consistent with purchasing an Audi (ie. the “in-market” targeting label).

In both of these examples, self-competition — eg. you vs. your Tier 1 or 2 — is created, since multiple parties on effectively the same team are all bidding to reach the same audience. So, what can your dealership do to adjust?

Adjusting Dealership SEM and Display Targeting to Reduce Self-Competition

In the case of SEM, you can request a keyword list from your area rep or Tier 2 contact to limit the self-competition as much as possible. This list may show:

  • They’re bidding on terms that your dealership also bids on, but doesn’t convert well
  • You’re both bidding on terms more suited for Tier 2 than Tier 3, such as “Lexus USA” or “Lexus IS vs. Audi A4″
  • How to re-configure your broad, phrase or exact match keyword combinations so that you’re only bidding on very specific variations of their keyword list
    • Manufacturers typically bid on hundreds of combinations of precise long-tail model terms; a dealer can avoid competition on every single one of these terms by only bidding on the top 2 or 3 variations of each of the model terms through broad match configurations — importantly, this adjustment also drives the greatest visibility for the category of model-specifc searches, so you shouldn’t be losing much (if anything) by narrowing your keyword list

All of these cases create the opportunity for you to limit or reduce cost by limiting your direct competition with your manufacturer.

On the other hand, they’re likely bidding on some terms that convert tremendously well for your dealership SEM. These are the terms that should get top budget priority, because they’re the bread and butter of your campaigns. So, you can roll your savings from the above scenarios into supporting these success-driving terms that you absolutely need to succeed during this critical time.

In the case of display, there’s unfortunately not much you can do to limit or reduce self-competition, unless one of you agrees to exclusively conquest with the local display budget. This would create a strong opportunity for a 1-2 punch due to a presence in the both the awareness and consideration levels of the funnel, but will also mean one of you is not bidding to reach in-market shoppers of your particular make with this channel.

You, can, however, review your display costs for the same audience segment last Q4, and assess its success. If KPIs show it was notably successful for your dealership, it’s likely worth some increased cost to stay in the game this year. We typically plan on a material (ie. more than 10%) year over year cost increase for each Q4. Each brand and market is different, though, so it’s important you have a way to benchmark your own costs based upon last year’s Q4, as well as your dealership marketing’s recent 2018 trend.

If your digital marketing KPIs show the opposite and reflect poor previous year Q4 performance, you should consider how important that segment is for your business this Q4. You may be better off conquesting or pursuing another targeting tactic with your display budget this Q4.

Q4 Auto Digital Marketing in 2018: What’s Next to Come

auto digital marketing

Hopefully, you found the above helpful and insightful and are wondering what’s next. In the upcoming posts, we’ll share some thoughts on how you can cost benchmark and project for Q4, adjust your re-targeting windows for maximum impact, and narrow down your Lookalike list targeting for the greatest balance of audience expansion combined with likelihood to convert.

Subscribe or check back soon to read the latest in this series.