How to Choose the Best Digital Advertising Agency for the Automotive Industry

SimpSocial has been involved in automotive marketing for over two decades, and we have witnessed the rise and fall of numerous ad agencies and automotive software companies. We’ve been privileged to be ahead of the curve, but over the years we’ve observed certain telltale patterns or errors that dealers make when interviewing and hiring a new digital advertising agency.


When looking for a new digital advertising agency, the following are the most essential factors to consider.


Experience is Important: Years of experience are frequently disregarded. There are numerous organizations with less than three years of experience. Do these companies have sufficient victories and losses to qualify as experts? Do they have access to Google, Facebook, Oracle, and audience-specific information? Experience is important in the ever-evolving digital space.


Ratio of Employee Headcount to Clients:

It is simple to boast about the size of your staff: “We have 20 employees, 200 employees, or even 2,000 employees.” However, what is the agency’s employee-to-client ratio? Often, this will determine how much attention your account receives. Does the account team manage fewer than/greater than twenty clients? The industry standard is approximately forty clients per person. At SimpSocial, we limit the number of accounts per account manager to fifteen to ensure that each client receives the necessary attention.


Technology and Reporting: Anyone can “buy media,” but to what degree? To achieve greatness, you require ROI-tracking instruments. Ask your agency about the tools used to monitor conversions, record phone calls, track conversions by the campaign, and how transparent the reporting is. It is difficult for most general managers to have this conversation because you are not a technologist, so what is the best? In the end, your reporting should plainly indicate how much money is spent per ad and the result of that expenditure (number of clicks, calls, and leads generated). Today, digital advertising is all about targeting, so it is essential to understand which targeting tools are employed. Google Display & Video 360, Search Ads 360, Oracle, and Amazon, for instance, possess the most sophisticated targeting data in the industry.


What is the agency’s automotive expertise, as measured by AutoIQ? Most agencies spend considerable time describing their digital marketing expertise, but are they also automotive specialists? I believe the most important questions for a dealer to ask an agency during the interview process are, “What is your level of automotive knowledge?” and “How knowledgeable is the person assigned to my account?” Ask them which CRMs they prefer, what a “RO” is, and what the average set/show percentages are for lead management. Most dealers consider digital bells and sirens, but neglect to ask the crucial question, “Do you know my business?”


How can an agency administer your account without a comprehensive understanding of your business?


5. Reviews and Certifications: Always verify the reviews and ratings of any potential agency. Your patrons do it each time they make a purchase from you. You rely on evaluations to determine where to have dinner and what to purchase on Amazon. You should employ the same strategy when selecting an agency. For instance, SimpSocial has over 300 5-star Google reviews, over 200 5-star Facebook reviews, and several 5-star Clutch reviews; the majority of these are from dealers. Inquire about the company’s awards and certifications (e.g., Google Premier Partner, Facebook Pro Partner).


Contact Frequency: The most frequently asked query is, “How frequently will I communicate with your team?” The better query to ask is, “I would like to meet at least once per week. What will we talk about?” Unlike traditional budgets, digital budgets are flexible and can change within a given month. Pacing should be a primary focus. It is essential to evaluate month-to-date performance per model, as well as what converts best and what does not so that spending can be reallocated. Yes, this takes time, but this is how industry leaders manage their digital advertising expenditures. Demand frequent communication regarding matters that truly move the needle.


Set and forget: The preceding questions all led to this topic. The majority of very large “OEM providers” must develop campaigns to be deployed and managed for at least one thousand clients. This implies standardization. That indicates automation. Pose the following inquiries: 1) Do you manually create each account? (or is it a simple copy/paste deployment? ), 2) What aspects of my campaigns are automated as opposed to custom-built? 3) Will my monthly budget remain constant? (hint: It ought not to be) 4) Do you anticipate 5-weekend months, surge months, etc.? 5) How frequently are ad copy, creative, ads, bids on keywords, and analytics reviewed? (Is it per day, week, or month?)


A few bonus questions might be:


8.  Who is your largest account and your smallest account, and how do you manage them differently?


9.  Who is your longest-standing account? How do you help them to win every year and keep things exciting?


10.  What is your methodology in regards to 3rd parties, how best to leverage them, and what is the total budget I should allocate towards them?


Do you only specialize in automobiles? Many times agencies that work in other industries are much more balanced and have more innovative solutions because they aren’t one-dimensional.


We trust this list assists you in selecting a new digital advertising agency. If you are looking for a new digital partner, we believe we are an industry leader and invite you to ask us these and any other questions.

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