9 Clouds Automotive Marketing Blog

Where automotive meets digital marketing.


Automotive Digital Marketing Trend 5: Smarketing

If you’ve just happened upon this post, this is the last in a series of five posts exploring five key trends that will drive auto marketing in 2015. These trends are going to be happening over the next year and beyond so if you can understand them and get ahead of them, it will really help your store or your dealership stand out. Read about trend onetrend twotrend three, and trend four before you dive in to this post.

This week brings us to….drum roll…..our fifth and final trend: smarketing.


Most of the time, sales and marketing people don't like each other. You have probably seen this in your dealership. If you work in marketing, the sales team doesn't want to talk to you or they think that you're wasting money and time. If you are the marketing team, you think that the sales team doesn't close your leads, right?

Eighty-seven percent of the time, as one study by the Corporate Executive Board found, sales and marketers describe each other in a negative way. We want to break that trend in 2015.

To accomplish this, we propose Smarketing, which is sales and marketing in alignment. This means you work together with your sales team. I know — this is a novel concept. But it doesn't have to be a complicated one; it's actually quite simple.


If you're a marketer, the very first thing you need to do is sit down with your sales team and set those personas — who are we going after? Is it 50+ year old truck drivers, is it 20 – 30 year old hybrid drivers, is it used buyers trying to move into a new car, or is it new buyers trying to move into a new lease? What are those personas?

If you can agree on the personas, then you can create what's called a service level agreement. This is really powerful. Then comes step 3, measure, and step 4, have some pizza and beer. That can make this whole process a lot more fun and it might even make you some friends in the sales department.

But let's talk about the service level agreement (SLA). So you've created your persona. Say you came up with someone like Corporate Cathy who works at a medical facility looking to buy a car. Now you want to somehow track your success and you can do so with a service level agreement. We want to figure out from the bottom up — how many leads do we need to get to to hit our sales goal?

You could go to your sales people and ask how many cars you are actually trying to move in the current month or year. If you know that you're trying to sell 300 vehicles in 2015, we can work backwards and figure out, based on our conversion rates, how many web visitors we need and how many leads we need. If we can establish process, then we can know monthly, even weekly, if we are ahead of schedule or not.

Smarketing-1024x553Let's look at this example. If you're trying to make $500,000 in revenue and you get $10,000 per customer, you would need 50 customers. If you know that you get about a 2% conversion rate, you can then determine that you would need 2,500 leads to get those 50 customers. Try this for your dealership, but fill it in with your own numbers.

If you're trying to hit 300 cars, how many customers would you need? Probably 300. How many leads would you need to get 300 customers?

When we are able to look at it this way, what we can see is that tweaking the conversion rate just slightly makes a massive difference. When we continue on with this example, if you need 2,500 leads and you know that 3% of people fill out a form, then you know that you would need 83,000 website visitors.

As for myself as a marketer, I know what am I trying achieve in terms of traffic every month. When I report to the sales team, they know why I'm telling them we need this traffic. It actually means something to them. It's giving them sales and we can track that over time, making it look real nice.


We do reports on this automatically for our customers. But then we like to break it down by source. If we know we need 83,000 visitors, and those are going to convert, some come from email, some come from social media, we would actually look and see which one is the most successful. This allows us as marketers to spend time on the most successful channels.

You probably have a CRM system. This data will all plug into your CRM system so the sales person can actually see the leads that are most qualified. We give them a score. In this case, this guy got a 58 because he was looking at certain number of pages and downloading certain content. If you're able to set your sales people up for success by highlighting the best leads, they're going to hit their goals and you are going have a good relationship with them.


That's how we integrate the sales process with our CRMs. When we're working together on a sales lead through the CRM, we can see what the sales person has been doing and we can also send them content from the marketing side based on their conversations. If they're interested in the red truck, the email they're going to get is about that red truck. 

If this three step process is something you want to try out, just think about how many customers you need, how many leads you need to get those customers, and how many website visits you need to get those leads. If you can do that, you'll have your benchmarks for the year.

We get pretty in-depth about it by looking at personas. When we're marketing for ourselves, we're talking about attracting small business, smaller stores, medium-sized dealers, and enterprise-level dealers, and we know the conversion rate of each so we can measure how effective we are. What's really interesting about that is that people who have a bigger budget and who do better in business typically take this approach. So that's why I think this smarketing idea is really going to be growing in 2015.

Next Steps

We explored the five really big trends that all auto marketers should be aware of in 2015. We have adaptive databases, being able to add to the database over time. We have a personalized approach across all media. We have diversified content — content on many different channels. We are hacking our growth by measuring and improving. Then we're going to talk to the sales department because that's really going to help us decide what is working and make sure that we're valued in our organization.

Here at 9 Clouds Auto, we are doing this on a daily basis for clients internationally and within the United States. What we're doing is we're sharing things like free webinars, this blog series, free eBooks — all information for you to take home and use in your own dealership. We subscribe to the theory of inbound marketing, which is if we can give you amazing free content to teach you how to sell more vehicles, there's a good chance when you need a marketer or you have a question that you'll come back to us.

So we're going to give you the best stuff we can on our website. And if you need help, let us know. We have some great case studies of what we've done, and really what we're trying to do is push people into this new year of dynamic information. So be sure to head over to our blog homepage and subscribe via the form that pops up at the bottom.

And stay tuned — more valuable, free content to come!