When we start a relationship with a new client, something we always like to know is their current digital marketing budget. Sometimes we’ll ask this question and hear that they’re spending $8,000 to $10,000 per month and think to ourselves, “That’s a really great starting investment! We can work with that!” Then the client clarifies that this budget includes $6,000 on third-party lead sites like AutoTrader.com or Cars.com.
I always cringe when I find this out. Not necessarily because all third-party lead sites are bad, but because dealers so rarely understand what they’re getting for this investment. When you ask them how many leads it’s generating for them or how many cars it has sold, they rarely know. One client even told me recently that AutoTrader.com’s message is no longer focused on lead-generation, but rather exposure for inventory. That’s okay; exposure is important. But how do they measure such exposure, and how does a dealer know if they’re getting value from this investment? Furthermore, how does this value compare to what a dealer could get for the same investment on their own website?
The first thing to consider here is how we’re going to establish an apples-to-apples comparison, so to speak. These are the metrics we recommend:
To demonstrate the type of comparison you might see, consider this example from one of our clients:
The dealer website shows a greater number of VPDs, but a lower overall CTR. However, when you consider how many lead were generated during a 60-day period, and further how much each lead cost, it’s clear that the dealer website is a more cost-effective solution.
That’s not to say there’s no place for third-party lead sites, or that the dealer website is more effective in every case. This is just to demonstrate how redirecting some of your digital budget to marketing your own “money” site could prove quite effective.
Take a look at these metrics on your own site. If you find yourself stuck, unable to find this information, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you out, no strings attached. I don’t always know what you’ll find, but I do know that you should be looking.