The shift from traditional advertising to digital advertising continues to grow. Today, it’s common for 90 percent of a dealer’s budget to be spent on digital channels. Yet, it’s very difficult for most dealers to directly attribute phone calls, appointments, and sales to that ad spend. Instead, you get metrics that don’t directly correlate to customer action like cost-per-click, bounce rate, and pages per session. As a result, you don’t know which campaigns and keywords are actually working to convert customers, and which are simply sucking money like a black h***.


It’s time to think about implementing Dynamic Number Insertion (DNI) so you can attribute every phone call, appointment, and sale to its original lead source. Only this level of transparency will separate the high-performing campaigns from the weak, and ensure you’re maximizing your ad spend.


DNI is not a new solution. It’s been around for a while as a way to track phone calls from online referral sources and keywords. What is new are advanced capabilities that make DNI even more powerful. Today’s solutions assign every individual consumer accessing your webpage a unique number, so you know exactly the online route they took to find you. This information is funneled through Google Analytics for easy review and follow-up action. The phone tracking capabilities even record calls and capture how a call was handled for training opportunities.


This complete campaign visibility cuts through those metrics that don’t directly correlate to customer action so you can understand what’s truly going on and spend your money where it matters most. For example, I know of a dealership that was spending $10,000 per month on Google campaigns. Over that entire ad spend, Google Analytics showed the dealership received over 5,000 clicks, three pages per session, and a total cost-per-click of under $2. Sounds pretty good, right?


A deeper analysis using DNI unveiled that the metrics that really matter. It turned out that over 86 percent of all conversions happened in the Google Ads Campaign, centered around dealership general terms, like its name and location. This tells us that consumers were already planning to contact the dealership and essentially using Google as a phonebook. Spending on the campaign represented less than 14 percent of that $10,000 total ad spend.


The remaining $8,400 was spent on Google campaigns that ended up returning one phone call, 10 chats, and three completed lead forms. That’s over $600 per conversion! And that doesn’t even include agency fees. With this insight, the dealer shifted its ad spend away from campaigns that were eating money with little return and toward what was working.


Adopting new advertising processes can help you do the same. First, set up goals for all the different ways consumers can convert on your website. Second, set up tracking tools such as DNI through Google Analytics. Finally, regularly review and refine your plan.


I recommend reviewing campaigns at a minimum on a weekly basis. With DNI tied into your Google Analytics, its relatively simple to attribute the numbers that matter – phone calls, appointments, and sales – to specific keywords and campaigns. Then you can drop the campaigns and keywords that aren’t working and re-allocate that money to your top performers. Continual review also opens up opportunities to expand your reach with new keywords that can put your dealership in front of a whole new target market.


In our digital world it makes sense to funnel the majority of advertising dollars to digital channels. But don’t get caught up in the cost-per-click and bounce rate metrics that don’t directly correlate to customer action. Set a goal of attributing every phone call, appointment, and sale to its original lead source, because if you don’t, you may be throwing money away every day.  

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