Digital Wake Up Call: 3 Marketing Myths & How to Overcome Them

by David Metter

I always say the most successful marketers are the ones that look for problems and inefficiencies and implement new ways of thinking to solve them. There are those that follow, blend, and eventually fade, and then there are those that inspire change for the better. Einstein measured human intelligence solely by a person’s ability to change. There has been a trend in our industry that has gained a more than significant following. The time has come to take a step back, reevaluate, and make a change that will eradicate wasted ad spend.

By dispelling the three myths mentioned below and integrating some good old common sense, the auto industry can drastically increase the level of incremental conversions, sales, and new to brand buyers while capitalizing on their paid search and display efforts.

Myth #1: “It’s all about driving traffic to your website.”

HOLD THE PHONE. Yes, driving traffic to your site is very important. I’d even go so far as to say it is paramount to the entire reason your dealership has a website in the first place. Of course you want people to go there. You want to expose people to your brand, the reasons they should buy from you, and what sets your store and your inventory apart. However, due to the epidemic of “followers” that have saturated the market, there is a fundamental element missing from the beginning stages of your search marketing strategy. That element is also known as conversion.

The auto industry as a whole has migrated into this backwards way of thinking that frankly just doesn’t make any sense. More importantly, it wastes ad dollars. For the last few years, the trend has been to focus on “drive, drive, drive.” Driving traffic to your website is step one, right? WRONG. I like to think about it this way...would you throw a pitch to home plate without a catcher in place? The catcher has to be armed and ready BEFORE the pitch is thrown. In this case, conversion is the catcher. If the majority of your digital budget goes into SEM and banner ads that drive shoppers to your website, but you don’t first ensure your site has the ability to convert at a high rate, you are willingly throwing money in the garbage.

If you start with conversion, THEN you will have the ability to drive traffic to a site that is equipped with the ability to transform a website visitor into a satisfied customer. Otherwise, all you’re doing is paying thousands and thousands of dollars for clicks – clicks no one can prove led to sales. Yes, many vendors can prove clicks led to a phone call, a form fill, or a chat interaction. But what about a sale? Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to spend ad dollars on something you know will lead to a sale rather than spending money on clicks and phone calls?

Myth #2: “Most consumers click on search and display ads.”

HubSpot notes the lack of trust that exists among consumers when it comes to display ads. Often people feel these ads are irrelevant, out of context, unhelpful, or flat out irritating. In reality, over half of display ads on mobile are actually clicked by accident. A recent survey from Retale reported, “After accidentally clicking an ad, most respondents said they felt annoyed (68%), frustrated (45%), or angry (22%).”

Consider the Following Stats:

  • Only 16% of users click on ads, and half of those—8%—account for 85% of all clicks on display ads. (AdRoll)
  • The average click-through-rate of display ads across all formats including rich media was only 0.07% from May 2016-June 2016 (Google)
  • 60% of clicks on mobile are accidental (MediaPost)
  • 66% found mobile banner ads to be “useless” or “not very useful” (Retale)

Myth #3: If you do paid search right, you won’t waste ad dollars.”

According to AdRoll, digital advertising is a “technologically advanced, $187 billion industry.” Every company who offers paid search and display promise to show “the right ad, at the right time, to the right customer.” Now who hasn’t heard that before? I can’t tell you how sick and tired I am of hearing that statement. I challenge all who claim to do this to do one little thing: PROVE IT. It’s harder to validate than you think. Yes, everyone’s ultimate goal is to put the “right ad in the right place in front of the right person,” but is this the reality of the digital market?

In addition, Entrepreneur.com says, “PPC can be very costly if the campaign is not set up properly, and it can result in a depleted budget with little to nothing to show from it.” Not to mention, PPC advertising is complicated, time-consuming, and must be constantly tested, adjusted, and optimized in order to actually see some ROI.

If I could reiterate my point in one sentence, it would simply be to spend your money on solutions and vendors that can validate their efforts led to cars sold. It sounds like common sense, yet rookie vendors have a tendency of clouding our judgment with vanity metrics that at the end of the day, really don’t mean much. Obviously advertisers are going push their highest performing KPIs in attempt to show you that your money is being well spent – but that does not necessarily mean they are helping you sell cars…which may I point out, is the whole point of having a marketing strategy in the first place.

Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I’ve always considered myself to be an integrator of common sense. I can’t create something from nothing, but I can step back and look at the industry as a whole and decipher legitimate, honest marketers from myth-creating embellishers. By choosing to continue following what everyone else is doing, you are consciously choosing to create a market with higher competition, higher costs, and lower ROIs. There are those that follow, and then there are those that lead, create a better online experience for their customers, and convert digital actions into incremental sales. I suggest choosing the latter option.