Making claims of obtaining more dealership leads is easy. Don’t get ripped-off and bound to a partner that makes claims but is a bait and switch organization.
Get More Dealership Leads
There are dealership marketing agencies that unscrupulously claim they will get 30%-40%-50% or even more leads. Well, all things are not equal. The most enticing claim is the one that is never analyzed, measured, challenged, and/or substantiated. After all, it is one thing to make a claim and another to deliver. Unfortunately, unethical agencies have organizational cultures where people believe deceptions or are influenced to believe them. So, buyer beware!
Why is the Lead Claim Bogus?
If you break it down and look at these percentage increase claims they are extremely fake. MANY factors influence HOW one determines lead count. Here are the biggest reasons why these claims are a huge problem.
ONE: What’s a Lead?
What is considered a lead? Most people understand leads as unique. Is that what your vendor is saying too? What about if someone fills out a form 3 times? Is that now 3 leads? Is a call lead and a form fill by the same person a lead? If you already have the lead’s contact information and they take a relevant act (such as click for directions to your dealership) is that considered another new lead?
Inside most organizations it is established that a single contact is a single lead. However, for a deceptive marketing agency or sales person, pumping up lead statistics is just another way to close a sale. Don’t be fooled. Work to identify specifically what is considered a lead and how the lead is acquired.
TWO: What About Quality?
More leads is not such a great mantra….but as they used to say – it sells newspapers. As long as dealerships are moved by saying, “get more leads” then companies – good and bad will repeat the mantra. However, the focus should not be on volume alone. Do you want leads? Easy, create an enticing give away and promote the heck out of it. You’ll have a ton of leads. Are they qualified leads or even shoppers? NO. Are they even interested in or have the capacity to purchase what you are selling? It’s unlikely. So remember – not all leads are created equal but worse than that – bad sources for leads abound, and generating more bad leads is a more of net negative than positive.
Claiming to get 30% more leads while the quality of leads diminishes by a proportional amount means that you are nearly at a net zero in lead growth.
Get over the hype! More leads is not a viable solution and those beating that drum reveal the true nature of any unscrupulous marketer. It isn’t about volume alone.
THREE: How Much Do You Spend?
Buying leads is not an issue. It’s easy to accomplish by setting up more and more paid advertising campaigns to generate leads. However, there are some problems with conversion rates and saturation. At some point the cost and conversation starts to go down the drain. There’s a maximum effectiveness. Also, how much are you comfortable spending without clearly knowing a true return on investment (see below). If your cost side is not watched then you can really have a challenge. After all, right now how much are you willing to pay per lead? Has your agency worked with you to understand that?
One must examine the cost per lead (CPL). CPL focuses upon a realistic examination of inputs and not just outputs. Increasing the expense to generate more leads increases the CPL. Even the expense of refining and developing content increases the overall cost of leads. That is a marketing expense. So focusing on efficient ways to increase leads while keeping CPL low is critical.
Remember, more leads at what cost? If your cost per lead is going up while the number of leads you are acquiring also increases is that a good thing? It could be fine if your original cost of lead acquisition was extremely low. However, what if your cost per lead is unknown or your ROI is unknown? Uh oh!
Claiming to get 30% more leads if your CPL goes up proportionally means you are a net zero. Again, be aware of those who claim you can get more leads – while they avoid the entire issue of cost per lead.
FOUR: Return On Investment (ROI)
To determine ROI you need to know exactly what is considered a lead (see item #1 above). Once that is known you can start to examine things in more depth. One of the most important things to understand is ROI. It typically focuses on a single campaign effort isolating it out from other actions. In that sense it can be highly fictional.
Let’s break this down a little.
What if you are paying $1000 for a lead campaign and end up getting 100 non unique visitors, 70 unique visitors, but 7 form submissions. All the submissions are from a forced form that require someone to fill out the form to get more information about a model. The form submissions are NOT contact me forms. They are required otherwise someone cannot see anything further. Is that good or bad?
Let’s ignore the methodology issue and continue down the ROI analysis path. With that in mind you may concluded that $142.85 per lead is excellent. However, if you realize that the quality of the leads is horrible you may make another determination. To dig further you have to identify how many of those leads moved forward in your process.
Since most dealership’s lead management process is binary – meaning that they either go to sales or go in the garbage bin – you may find that only 5 of those leads are unique and viable. That puts your ROI at $200 per lead. That may still be great. At the end of the day, if only one lead converts to sale, that makes the cost $1000 per lead.
Figuring out what is actually going on is not simplistic. So the idea of more leads is not the end of the story. We need to look under the covers to find out exactly what’s happening and doing so is not simple…and here’s why.
Calculating ROI requires human intervention and systems of management and tracking. Management and tracking specifically refer to how your team tracks and examines every single person who engages with the dealership (physically or virtually). Since a marketing agency or vendor is not involved in your process management, making extraordinary and unsubstantiated claims of ROI should raise serious issues about them.
Here’s a real world example to illustrate this. A couple is looking for an RV and the wife submits her name, email and phone on a form. However, she never engages with sales nor responds to emails. The reason is that she let’s her husband do that. One day they go into your dealership. When they do, your sales person collects their names and his email address and his phone number. The correlation of her contact information and his contact information never take place. This has a direct impact on campaign ROI. One lead or two?
These issues are usually why digital marketing efforts begin and end with the following:
- Campaign cost
- Engagement (visitors)
- Leads generated (aka lead acquisition)
Notice how conversion is avoided? Conveniently many agencies avoids the entire issue of lead quality. This brings us to the next section which is true attribution.
Claiming 30% more leads is irrelevant if it is never measured or cannot be measured.
FIVE: Paid Correlation/Lead Attribution
While ROI is focused on isolating out campaign efforts and tying costs back to that campaign lead attribution is involved in the more realistic messy world. It normally takes multiple forms of engagement and/or channels for someone to convert to a sold customer. This impacts ROI because you cannot apply 100% leads acquired to a specific campaign effort when other channels (that also have costs) need to be factored into results conversion. For example, what if someone did not engage with you because of just one effort but knows about you from driving by your location, hearing about it from a friend, seeing your social ads and posts, visiting your website, reading your blog posts, and seeing your remarketing. This can happen before a prospect engages with a form from a paid PPC advertisement. This is why marketing often needs to be examined in aggregate as well as by campaign. Isolated lead attribution creates a false narrative of marketing success or failure that certainly isn’t even close to reality.
Lead attribution is not just the process of applying costs to marketing efforts it also involves distributing those costs to multiple efforts. Most marketers avoid lead attribution because, in reality, it is an impossible task. However, the idea of lead attribution is critical to understanding how complex the notion of ROI is.
Be careful when an agency talks about lead acquisition. They RARELY to NEVER examine what is being delivered or even provide true ROI reporting (see item 4 above). Why? It is NOT easy and it is NOT cheap to figure out. At best they are merely looking at leads acquired and then attributing them to marketing expense and revenue. When you pull back the covers, it just doesn’t make sense due to the tracking side of things.
Those that claim return on investment (ROI) do not have any good method to attribute leads to sales. This is NOT a simple issue and one that marketers in nearly every industry (except eCommerce and digital sales) struggle with.
The issue of lead attribution is complex and many marketing articles have been written on this subject. Anyone who states they have an easy solution should be seriously examined … BUYER BEWARE!!!!
The problem with lead attribution is technical as well as process and human related. Rarely to never is a single marketing channel responsible for a conversion or sale. To make attribution even trickier is that it can be a very political issue. If someone wants to justify a particular expense – such as a paid marketing campaign effort – they can easily expand attribution of more leads and even sales to leads from a particular lead source.
So there is a cumulative impact where the more you spend, the better results. However, results also become more diffused. This is why a process that involves lead conversion and email nurture help reduce cost and increase conversion.
In Summary: More Dealership Leads – Buyer Beware
Making claims of more leads should cause you to stop and ask a lot of questions. It’s very easy to make claims that are just silly. Think about it. If I do not know how and how well you are doing on leads now how can I say you can get more leads? This does not even consider making up a random percentage. Such claims are made more ridiculous when they are examined closely. After all, 30% more leads could be a random amount depending upon the starting point. If you currently get 30 leads a month, that’s different than if you are getting 100.
The five points above serve as a good guide to understand such claims:
- What is a lead? What about duplicate lead counting?
- What about quality? If you close 50% less leads does it matter if you get 30% more?
- How much are you spending on leads? If your costs go up to acquire a lead, is the lead percentage as relevant? Double cost and 30% more. Is that a good deal?
- Return on Investment. ROI looks at both the cost side as well as the closing rate.
- Lead attribution. Do not be fooled, leads rarely are influenced by a single campaign or marketing channel. If the focus is on acquiring and attributing leads to a single channel expect data distortions.
Consider these points closely and do not be taken in by false claims by deceptive dealership marketing agency organizations.