We all know it. The landscape of how we market to our car buyers has changed, and is still changing. With consumers increasingly in control, the traditional sales funnel is becoming less and less relevant. Our consumers have the ability to start their purchasing journey at any point along the traditional sales path. Dealers must adapt in this ever-evolving space in order to compete in an already highly-competitive automotive world.
Search ads have always been a proven method of marketing to prospective consumers. What hasn’t always been so clear cut is attributing offline sales to them. Google Think recently posted an article answering what we, as automotive search marketers, have always questioned: Can search ads impact offline sales? The answer they came up with from this study is YES. (Proof That Online Search Ads Can Boost Offline Store Sales” Nov.2013, Kirthi Kalyanam Ph.D.)
Proof is in the pudding…
This study utilized 13 top U.S. retailers across different verticals and found search ads do in fact drive offline sales. Kirthi’s meta-analysis suggests search ads show a clear impact on in-store sales and ROAS. Through these various retailers and verticals, investing in search ads “increased incremental offline stores sales by 1.46%.”
What is even more incredible is that the ROAS was pretty noteworthy, ranging from 2 to 14x. “For example, one participant invested $466K in search ads over a six-week period and saw an in-store sales increase of $5.6 million.”
These top retailers even saw a boost in their category sales, “each retailer chose specific categories to test, and heaved up its spending on key category terms (for example, flooring or flat-screen TVs). Sales lift per category ranged from 1.5% to as high as 16.9%.” What this study was able to uncover is pretty significant for digital automotive marketers.
So what now?
Although the study didn’t include the top automotive OEMs, the insights and data they discovered can be used directionally when strategically planning your next automotive marketing campaign. Selling or servicing a car is still an ‘in-store’ experience. 88% of our consumers that are looking for their next car or even servicing that car begin their research online.
Dealerships need to ensure that their campaigns are aligned across all channels seamlessly. It’s a multi-channel world and integrating all your efforts, messaging, etc. is a must. As automotive marketers we all know that investing in search is a tried and true method to capture leads. However, we now know through other verticals and top retailers that it’s proven. Missing out on being in front of your prospects in search (paid or organic), is greatly hindering the chances you will meet/exceed your marketing goals, short or long term.