Q4 Automotive Digital Marketing in 2018: Expectations and Adjustments for Success, Part II

Review Key Digital Marketing Reports to Learn What Led to Peak Conversion Effectiveness 

In the first post of our Q4 automotive digital marketing series, we established some fundamental expectations you can have of the competitive landscape in 2018, as well as what your dealership can do to adjust for maximum success.

Today, we’ll look at some additional tactical changes you can make to help expand your audience and focus your budget on the most likely buyers.

Expectation: The Past is the Best Predictor of the Present

Regardless of the type of digital campaign, chances are there are certain aspects of it (or ad groups within it) that outperform the rest. So if you look back at your Q4 2017 data, I’m willing to bet that a few ad groups stand out as having strong conversion rates, great costs per conversion, and a noticeable positive impact on total visibility. The same thought process would apply to your best lead months of 2018, as odds are high a few ad groups in each campaign really carried your dealership across the finish line to a strong overall month.

Therefore, given this performance sample you reviewed, you can expect that these the same ad groups (or targeting segments) will be essential to your dealership’s digital marketing success this Q4.

Digital Marketing Adjustment Opportunity: Optimize and Weight Toward Past Winners

Remember, the 4th Quarter is its own animal. There is nothing else in marketing (or sales) like it. So, an important, yet reasonable, assumption we’re making here is that last year’s Q4 campaign performance was stronger than your dealership’s non-Q4 period this year.

Most of our dealer clients had an all-time record Q4 last year, so if your YTD performance is substantially out-performing last year’s Q4, chances are you’re already in great shape and may not need to read-on. But, if your dealership is looking to return to the peak performance of Q4 2017, keep reading.

Here are the steps we recommend for adjusting your campaigns to set up for dealership digital marketing success this Q4:

  1. Review Q4 2017 data and determine which ad groups, keywords, or similar targeting elements were your top performers. Pay special attention to your average CPCs, CPMs, cost/conversion and conv. rate in particular.
  2. Review full year 2018 data and determine which ad groups, keywords, or similar targeting elements have been your top performers YTD. Review CPCs, CPMs, cost/conversion and conv. rate in particular. We consider “top performers” to be the best 2-3 full months of the year.
  3. Isolate these same ad groups, keywords, or targeting elements over the past 30 days, with an eye toward how those same CPCs, CPMs, cost/conversion and conv. rate compare to last Q4.
  4. Adjust current bids per keyword or targeting segment to closely mirror (ie. within 10%) what you had them set to that led to great success last Q4.
  5. If your past 30 days’ campaign performance in these areas is actually better than Q4 last year, then this is where your best 2-3 months of digital marketing performance this year comes into the picture. Another scenario in which this year’s data would be more valuable to this year’s Q4 approach is new points / competitors added that were not open last Q4 — since it makes no sense to benchmark using a time period with a completely different competitive landscape than you’re currently facing.

In the case of both steps #4 and #5, you’re essentially bid targeting for the same (or very similar) cost per conversion or conversion rates that led to your best months out of the past 12. And you want to use the perspectives of both last year and this year to give your most recent 30 days’ performance all the context needed for what your opportunities are, and what your bids should be to replicate your best success.

Next in Our Q4 2018 Automotive Digital Marketing Series

Now that you know how to navigate a tier 1 or tier 2 spend influx in your market, as well as approach this year’s Q4 budget and bid strategy using your most successful performances of the past 12 months as a guide, you’re in a great position to get a little more sophisticated and expand your audience for this Q4.

In the next post, we’ll discuss how to leverage lookalike and re-targeting data from last year’s Q4 in order to build your best audience models of the year, this year. See you back here soon!