That question plagued Michael Weiss and Justin Cook, the respective managing partner and vice president of C-4 Analytics, a digital marketing agency and Certified Google Partner operating just north of Boston, MA. Seeing a market need for focused, specialized digital marketing solutions, Weiss and Cook began innovating within industry best practices, using Google's basic toolkit to create robust, custom campaigns.
By building a flexible team equipped to make adjustments on the fly and a platform that allows businesses to monitor marketing in real time, Weiss and Cook have created a solution that easily outpaces its automated competition by delivering superior, measurable results.
Filling the Voids
C-4 Analytics' business model is based on measured success. For generations, advertisers struggled to understand which marketing dollars were working. C-4 Analytics found those answers by using online data to track costs, customer behavior and conversions, so clients could see their strengths and opportunities with clarity. These data then get fed back into campaigns to improve efficiency and return on investment.
Weiss explains that successful digital marketing requires engagement with Google on two fronts: unpaid (organic) search listings and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns. This is especially true in the automotive industry, where C-4 Analytics is a recognized leader.
“It’s not enough to be strong in one area. A business needs both, with a strategy that links PPC and organic search. C-4 Analytics enables organizations to combine and conquer the two fronts with customized campaigns," Weiss says. "Boxed solutions cannot compare to our results, because we are always incrementally better, and that always wins."
What makes these tailored solutions so much more effective? The team at C-4 Analytics starts by mastering organic search.
“Google constantly evolves its organic search algorithm to stamp out gimmicks, so you cannot game the system to stay at the top of search results,” says Weiss. "To truly be SEO-friendly, a website must be easily accessible across devices and complemented with social media, great content and an outreach plan that earns legitimate inbound links."
PPC presents the problem of keywords that are too expensive or competitive to attract customers without breaking a budget. To improve results, the team at C-4 Analytics focuses on actionable data, mining demographics and on-site behavior to maximize the ROI for digital marketing dollars.
“We use advanced web analytics to identify the keywords that have the highest conversion rates relative to cost, so our clients can reallocate their budgets and make them more profitable,” Weiss explains.
Extending Reach with Google My Business
Organic search and PPC are just the start. Google My Business offers businesses a way to expand their online presence beyond their web sites.
"We not only ensure that our clients' Google My Business listings are complete and optimized, but we take extra steps to add a personalized touch to the listings. This can mean crafting a 360-degree showroom tour in Google Maps, or executing an Online Reputation Management (ORM) program that encourages a steady stream of positive Google reviews from happy customers."
Reputation and ROI
C-4 Analytics’ online marketing solution is built from four core concepts: command, captivate, convert and cultivate, all of which contribute to its strategies. These concepts help C-4 Analytics succeed because they are focused on the full spectrum of customer behavior.
“To truly command your market, you need to use behavioral data to target prospects. After that, you need to deliver meaningful content to them and push them toward a conversion," Cook says. "That’s the point where many marketers give up and say, 'Either you get a conversion, or you don’t.' We never stop there.”
If a customer does not convert on a first visit, which Cook says is common, C-4 Analytics re-engages them with retargeting ads. These ads keep the business top-of-mind for the customer and help to lower cost per acquisition, which improves the ROI of PPC campaigns. After a conversion, C-4 Analytics helps its clients cultivate relationships with customers through social media, e-mail and review sites, with an eye toward turning these happy customers into brand champions.
C-4 Analytics also strengthens its clients’ online reputations, a critical component of online marketing success.
“If you come up first in Google and you have a three-star or four-star review, you are hurting yourself,” Cook explains. “Would you rather go to a three-star doctor or a five-star doctor?”
The Coming Shift
C-4 Analytics has transformed digital automotive marketing and helped its clients become sales leaders. Over the next few years, Weiss sees new opportunities that will change the rules of automotive marketing.
“We listen to the customer, and we are not alone,” Weiss says, noting that the rise of single-price dealerships will have a profound impact on new-vehicle sales. “As price competition fades, auto dealers must market their unique qualities to keep their market share.”
Another challenge facing the automotive industry is the decline in network and cable TV viewing. According to Weiss, this will create an opportunity for those who are paying attention to shift to digital, leaving some competitors behind.
“TV viewing has declined by around 15% per quarter in the past year, and people between the ages of 18 and 45 are the ones tuning out. That’s the prime market for auto sales,” Weiss adds. “The auto industry needs to catch up to this reality and understand that the rules really have changed.”