Automotive Digital Marketing

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What Is The Value Of A Digital Marketing Agency?

Yesterday as I traveled home from Digital Dealer Workshops in Chicago this was the question that was weighing heavy on my mind. I spoke with a lot of Dealers and Internet Managers there and not many had very good things to say about their marketing partners.

The problems were these:

  1. Lack of support – For too many vendors support means someone to turn in a ticket to have something done a week from now that the dealership asked them to do. I’m sorry to disappoint but THAT IS NOT SUPPORT. The support a VALUABLE Digital Marketing Agency would supply is the IDEA and the PROCESS. Good support from VALUABLE Digital Marketing Agency means they bring you the marketing ideas, creative and the process by which to gain approval from your store then they execute that marketing campaign across all channels.  

  2. Lack of knowledge – This stems back to number 1 but too many “Digital Marketing Agencies” are employing entry level people to try and tell a dealer how to spend tens of thousands of marketing dollars. A VALUABLE Digital Marketing Agency would have experienced marketing pro’s who work with your store to establish a digital marketing strategy and most importantly the historical numbers for the strategy to back it up.

  3. Too Much In-Fighting & no focused direction – Marketing is so fragmented today that a Dealer has to have at minimum 5 vendors to get it all done; The PPC company, the Website company, the Email Marketing company, the Direct Mail Marketing company and Behavioral Marketing company. Add to that Listings, Conquest Email Marketing and CRM and you have 5 to 9 vendors who all blame the other guy when things don’t work and are all fighting to get some of the other guy’s budget.

To make the above matters worse all of these guys get paid a flat amount regardless of how they perform. It just seems to me that this is a recipe for inconsistency and confusion.

So here is what I think a VALUABLE Digital Marketing Agency would provide:

  1. A Marketing Performance Manager with digital marketing experience

  2. A Market Evaluation – basically some data to make sense of a strategy

  3. A Marketing Strategy…duh!

  4. The process, message and creative to execute across all channels (Website, Email, PPC, Direct Mail, Conquest Email, Behavioral Marketing, Listings, Social Media Marketing and Marketing Automation)

  5. The analytics to show the campaign as a whole


The question is WHAT is that value? It seems to me the value a Digital Marketing Agency provides is results in the form of Leads and Shows at the dealership so why can’t they be paid on those?

These are my questions to the community:

  1. What in the above is missing a Digital Marketing Agency should provide for your store?

  2. Why would you NOT want to pay them on the value they provide?

Looking forward to seeing some of the answers here, thanks to everyone who posts some feedback.

Views: 154

Tags: Intice, agency, automotive, digital, digitial, entice, hooklogic, marketing, onlinedrive, showroommangnet, More…web


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Comment by Larry Bruce on March 31, 2014 at 12:25pm

Thanks Howard interesting discussion just posted a comment. 

Comment by Howard J Moorey on March 29, 2014 at 7:32am

Think I should link you up with a similar discussion going on here on LinkedIn: - if you take on an agency, it should become a partnership relationship for YOUR benefit. It can't be that if you don't brief the agency fully about the challenge you face, and what you are looking for. You wouldn't take on a Car Salesman and not tell him what he's got to sell, would you? One of the biggest pitfalls is taking on an agency that doesn't have auto industry experience, or specialists. If they don't know you, and can't live & breathe the business like you do, you're most unlikely to get what you're looking for.

Comment by Larry Bruce on March 29, 2014 at 4:54am

Manny there are elements of TrueCar, ATC and that we manage as an agency for our clients, however they have nothing to do with days to market inventory.

That is something we could do as an agency for our clients and I have consulted with some of them given my retail experience but it's not a part of our offering. I personally do no see it as a marketing function except in the choice of cars that might be offered up as leaders if that is something the dealer is into.

Hope that answers your question.

Comment by Larry Bruce on March 28, 2014 at 5:04am

Tim I would call "Service", Support in this case and I agree with you if the Agency is not providing great support then they should be fired. 

It's the definition of support I have a problem with. Support is not just doing what the dealer asks you to do. A great Digital Agency brings the strategy, ideas and campaigns to the dealer.

THEY SHOULD NEVER ASK "So what do you want to do this month?"


That's not support that's an assistant.

However I have to disagree agree the agency shouldn't get paid more when the dealer has a good month, if they are a good agency then they had a hand in that good month.

Think of it this way, when the dealer has a "Good Month" the sales people make more do they not? In reality for an automotive sales person a big % of the sales job is done for them by marketing BEFORE the customer ever gets to the store.... Here is what I mean.

If a customer comes to your dealership today they have a much higher likelihood they are there to buy, in fact that % is 46% now as apposed to 25% 10 years ago. Marketing had a huge hand in that customer choosing to show up at your dealership.

NOW its almost the salespersons "Deal" to lose, they do have to reinforce the sell of the store, sell themselves and finish the financial aspects of the deal ALL extremely important BUT no one can deny that when a dealer gets more leads and more people show up at the store as a result of those leads the dealership sells more cars....


As I have continued to think about this I have come to the conclusion that a Digital Agency today must be paid on the leads and shows they generate. Just as a salesperson is paid on the sales they make. In reality it's the only fair way for the dealer and the agency.

Comment by Timothy Martell on March 27, 2014 at 8:13pm

The only thing I disagree with is the mercenary approach. Dealers should EXPECT value for service. If an agency isn't providing value they should be fired. Similarly, they don't get to make more when the dealer has a good month. There will always be market fluctuations and OEM incentives also play a large role in seasonality to selling success. No Marketing agency can over come those realities. There should be consistently more wins than losses. If an agency can substantiate that, then its time to move on.

I agree with your assessment of the reality of the vendor landscape however. You're expectations are right on the money. These realities are precisely the reason that dealer's choose to partner with a company like Wikimotive and our ability to meet all of the expectations you've laid out as well as many others is why they stay.

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