Here’s How Dealerships Can Maximize Profitability from Marketing Campaigns


Car dealerships might have an extensive marketing budget or they could be watching every dollar. No matter if the budget is seemingly bottomless or more constricted; dealerships don’t want to invest money that won’t make them profitable.

Unfortunately, not all marketing campaigns boost sales or provide a good return on investment. Some campaigns are not well received, while others might be poorly targeted or just miss the mark. However, some fail because of lack of follow through. Here’s how dealerships can maximize profitability from marketing campaigns and successfully move inventory.

Why Do Marketing Campaigns Fail?

Marketing encompasses different types of outreach, and each endeavor could be part of a larger campaign or project. For example, the dealership might tie print advertising, online advertising and social media campaigns into an anniversary sale or special promotion.

Day-to-day marketing can encompass social media outreach, advertising, events and more. Each activity could focus on a different audience or might include multiple different messages to reach each audience.

Dealerships might have a designated employee on staff to focus on marketing, or they could outsource their marketing to a larger firm. Some dealerships don’t have a designated marketing staff or a marketing agency.

While dealerships manage their campaigns in different ways, there is one commonality among all dealership marketing endeavors: success is the goal! No dealership invests in marketing expecting it to fail, and, yet, when the dealership starts looking at the data for a campaign, they may realize that it wasn’t successful.

Perhaps those social media ads yielded leads, but somehow vehicles weren’t moving from the lot. Maybe the event or promotion drew lots of attention but didn’t seem to successfully produce more sales or interest.

Why does a marketing campaign fail?

There are a number of reasons why a dealership’s marketing campaign could be unsuccessful. Ads could be unsuccessfully targeted. Maybe ads also didn’t include a call to action. A special event could have coincided with another big event that same weekend.

Dealerships might dissect their campaign and analyze why it failed. What happens, though, if nothing stands out? Maybe the outreach was ideal, the messaging was clearly written, there was a distinct call to action. The message was received, and perhaps there were many, many leads.

Yet, the sales just didn’t happen. Why?

How Dealerships Can Maximize Profitability from Marketing Campaigns

Dealerships Might Need to Dig Deeper

Sometimes the reason why a marketing campaign doesn’t succeed is because of other factors like poor customer experiences, lack of follow through or even an outdated and clunky website.

Lack of Follow Through

An ad can be perfect, the message can be ideal, but what happens next? Even if the customer includes their information and sends it to the dealership via an online form linked to the ad, the next step is up to the dealership.

Are the sales members following through? Who is designated to answer those queries or to reach out to those customers to guide them to the vehicle they need or want?

Without proactive follow-through, the next step of the buying process might not be reached. Lackluster follow-through, though, also could be an issue.

Dealerships need to dig deeper into those customer communications. Get the team on board on how to properly respond and follow up. How can they go the extra mile for the customer? How can the team help that customer find the car of their dreams?

Poor Customer Experiences

Customers might see an ad or announcement about a special event at the dealership or maybe they sent in their information to query about a car on the lot. Now they are planning to stop by the dealership to look at a few options.

That visit, though, didn’t result in the dealership making a sale. In fact, there could be a pattern that customers aren’t driving off the lot in a new car. What’s going on?

The dealership, in this case, might look at its culture and environment. A happy sales team, an excited sales team, will convey this positivity to the customer. When the team is happy, they want to be at work, they might enjoy what they do. The customer feels this.

Unfortunately, a customer also can sense a not-so-positive culture. The sales team might drag; maybe they just don’t give customers the attention they need.

What vibes does the dealership give to customers who walk through the door? When analyzing the culture of the dealership, look around. Is the team happy? Do people want to work at the dealership? How is employee retention? These all indicate a great culture.

If no one seems particularly thrilled to be there, then there might be an issue. The customer might pick up on this, and they may be taking their money elsewhere.

Can a dealership culture be repaired? Leadership might need to lead the charge to change. Are managers showing positivity? Do managers set expectations and enforce them?  Does the dealership simply ignore the negativity? These are the types of questions Garry House recommends that dealerships ask.

How Dealerships Can Maximize Profitability from Marketing Campaigns

A Clunky Outdated Website

The 21st century is wired and online. Buyers are going online to research their cars; in fact, they devoted more than seven hours online to researching and shopping. Typically, the last online destination that many visit is the dealership websites.

What impression is the dealership’s site leaving on the online shopper? Does the site provide the tools that the buyer wants?

An old, outdated website might immediately disinterest a savvy online shopper. Some buyers might even be looking for more immersive tools and resources on the dealership’s site like 360 degree spin photos or even panorama interior photos.

As more buyers go online to search for a new car, they also may be looking for new ways to explore a dealership’s inventory. Even if a buyer is intrigued by an ad or other marketing communiqué, what will they find online when they are researching their options?

In addition to tools and resources, dealership sites also now typically include an online virtual customer service assistant. This allows buyers and shoppers to communicate online at-home about available inventory and ask other questions, too.

Does the dealership provide online customers with helpful communication tools? Convenience could make a difference to the customer who is busy and who prefers only to visit the dealership when they are ready to pursue a purchase.

Yet, if the tools aren’t online and the assistance isn’t available, those savvy marketing campaigns could lead to bland results.

How Dealerships Can Maximize Profitability from Marketing Campaigns

Auditing Marketing Campaigns

Dealerships will likely analyze and audit the success of their marketing campaigns and endeavors to find out which efforts landed and which ones really just missed the mark. However, if engagement isn’t an issue and those communications seem to resonate and even increase leads, the dealership might wonder why the sales don’t reflect the success.

Perhaps it isn’t that the marketing campaign failed but that there were other issues that impacted success. Dealerships can start to dig deeper.

The follow-through from the sales team could have been lackluster. Maybe customers simply weren’t getting the attention that they wanted. Maybe leads began to die out, because no one was following up or communicating efficiently.

Dealership culture also could lead to customers walking away. Even if a marketing campaign was successful, if customers walk into a dealership with a negative atmosphere, those customers may walk out the door and into another dealership.

The dealership’s online presence also could be outdated. Does the website provide the tools that online shoppers need to research their options?

While some marketing campaigns miss the mark, don’t reach the correct audience or maybe just don’t resonate with customers, those that are successfully executed and that result in leads might not result in sales. Dealerships might dig deeper and analyze other factors to find out why customers aren’t buying and why that inventory isn’t moving off the lot.

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