Return on Investment is the Holy Grail of advertising. It does not take an expensive education to know that if you can spend a dollar and get a return of two, which is a good thing. But to spend a dollar only to get fifty cents back is not sustainable. Every form of advertsing has always had a means of measuring their ROI, but none of them can be measured like the Internet can be measured.
Newspapers have always been able to tell you how many readers they have, magazines can tell you how many subsribers they have or issues they printed, and Television could provide estimates of how many viewers they have. However, they could not tell you how many times your ad was actually read, viewed or heard. Furthermore, they could not tell you how many sales you obtained as a result of these views and reads. With the Internet, that has completely changed.
So, the question becomes, “How are you measuring your Internet ROI?” For many the answer is, “I’m not!” If you share this answer, you need to find ways to fix that or you may continue throwing money out the window.
The first thing you want to do is outline all the various parts of your Internet Advertising Campaign. In other words, you want to list all the ways you advertise online that requires an investment, the I in ROI. Investment does not just mean money. You also want to take into account the time that you and/or your staff put in managing these various advertisements. Craiglist, for instance, might be a free classified website but if you are paying someone to post your inventory every day, you have that to factor into the Investment.
If you advertise with other 3rd party classified websites, like www.VAUsedCarDealers.com (VUCD), for instance, start by logging into the Dealer Only area of all these sites. Most will provide several ways for you to see how well your listings on their site are doing. At VUCD, you have three different pages available to you as a participating member. The first page will tell you what is hot and what is not out of all the cars on this site, not just yours. The second page will tell you how well your listings only are doing on VUCD. It will tell you how many times your cars are viewed, clicked on, how many times a 3rd party condition report was requested for each listing as well as a complete tally of all the Calls to Action successfully completed with your car listings. The third statistics page is for those who also have a website hosted and maintained by us. This page is real handy because it will tell you all the same shoppping habits as they occur on your dealership’s website.
The best thing about the Internet is you do not have to take their word for it. If you have more than a templated website, you should have available to you a number of other sources of statistical data available through your website’s counters and server logs. Ask your web provider for access to these counters and be sure you visit them, bookmark them, and continuously review them. Many dealers do not do this but I can tell you the clients we have that are periodically reviewing these stats and others are the same clients who get higher traffic volumes to their site.
These statistics will often not only tell you how many people visited your site and when, they will often also include information such as where does your traffic come from, what search phrases they used to find you if they came from search engines, and they will also tell you all your other sources of traffic that are not search engines. That means if your advertising rep says they sent X number of people to your website, you should be able to confirm that at your very own website’s stats pages. It is not enough to know how many people have visited your site. You want to watch where they are coming from and what they are doing within your website.
Some of the savier site owners have taken this measurement monitoring to another level. With the help of other 3rd party providers they have gotten even deaper into who is visiting their site and the sources of traffic. For instance, some have asked us to add code to their site that would enable their Google Analytics account. Much of the same information they provide can also be found on the statistics pages we provide our website clients, but not all webmasters will go this extra step so Google can be the next best thing. I always caution that when you use any 3rd party provider like this you must remember you will be sharing with them all the secrets about your website’s traffic and there is nothing to say they won’t share that with others now or down the road.
Another neat tool I learned form our Quailty Dealer, Jamie Davis, is crazyad.com. For a fee they will map the exact screen location that your clients perform when they are on certain pages of your site. This is extremely handy to know because if you see a link is not getting followed as much as you like, you can use this tool to see if relocating it to another location on the page will increase clicks.
Internet marketing is unlike any other because it can be measured like never before. A commercial could never lead to a credit application being filled out without you coming into contact with the consumer. Now, you can wake up in the morning, boot up your computer, and find vehicle inquiries, credit applications and even payment notices, all before you even open the doors! Remember, in order to improve, you must first measure where you are at. Work with your provider or call us today to see how we can help you increase Internet ROI, today!