San Francisco native Mollie Schane made her way to Atlanta on a calculated whim after graduating with her MBA at the University of Arizona. A lead from a former internship at AT&T helped her hustle into a marketing and technology-driven position at the telecommunications giant, where she helped launch their e-commerce channel, online chat and an accompanying analytics platform. After a few positions in product and advertising, Schane made her way back into marketing and into digital advertising platform PureCars last August to build out its brand new marketing department.
With offices in Atlanta and Charleston, PureCars has grown its audience and revenue since inception in 2007 to upwards of $20 million in 2014, exiting with a $125 million sale to Raycom Media. The company, which still operates independently, offers auto dealerships a comprehensive suite of paid advertising tools to drive high-probability buyers to their site. To continue scaling the company and its leads, Schane was brought on board to build the marketing department from the ground up.
“I’m rebuilding the marketing department and educating the company on the importance of lead generations,” says Schane. “While we provide digital advertising and tech solutions to automotive dealerships, we actually didn’t do any digital advertising as a company. We’re currently building out a data-driven marketing function and exploring the marketing funnel.”
Almost a year into her tenure at PureCars, Schane is already putting them in place to drive those leads. Here’s why she considers data essential in marketing strategies and why you should consider it for your startup.
When you arrived at PureCars, what was the state of their marketing strategy? What kind of things jumped out at you that needed to be addressed?
The website prior to my arrival did not cover effectively what PureCars was. The name itself, PureCars, people assume it’s B2C. It’s actually a B2B company. We needed to have a website that properly showcases value to our target audience. There was no real lead capture on the site or references to how PureCars differentiate amongst competitors. The first things I needed to address was exploring email marketing and digital advertising programs. Currently, my team is working to build out basic reporting. It’s important when you do lead generation for any company to be able to track what’s working and what’s not working. This includes direct traffic, paid search traffic, email marketing for prospects and more.
If you are a startup or you don’t have a lot of funding, but you have the resources in-house, you can try creating infographics or your own case studies off of your internal client data. And then just test out different customer bases or depending on the products, whether B2B or B2C, trying out different types of content based on the target audience. In general, any type of campaign would be ineffective if you don’t do a deep dive on the target customer internally.
What kind of target audience are you going after right now with these campaigns?
We have a very niche product offering that’s really specific to automotive dealerships: we sell advertising solutions to dealers. For example, PureCars has their own proprietary technology that they created that optimizes when you do a search engine marketing campaign. The pain point for many automotive dealerships is that they don’t have big budgets; we create large-scale hyper-targeted solutions that essentially reduces their advertising fund.
I’m working with leadership to be more specific around the type of dealerships that we sell to. Meaning, there’s franchise dealerships that have dealerships all over the country — they are huge, have more budget and are more tech savvy, versus the mom-and-pop dealership down the street. So understanding our audience — people need to at least have this budget and this level of education or tech savviness to understand the value of our product. And understanding how our products should be, designed for a particular type of automotive dealership, franchise, multi-rooftop.
The goals for the team are really to work together to build programs, build reporting, establish a baseline to see results. You can be told that you’re doing a great job, but you need to compare it to something, right? We don’t really have any historical data to compare anything to. I’m trying to see, without much footwork, how PureCars was historically before the team, and that’s obviously been a challenge because there was no real reporting or tracking in place before I started.
Now that you’ve prioritized setting historical data baseline, how are you implementing the process for future use?
What we’re doing right now is building out our dashboard reporting using Salesforce and linking it to other information so we have access to different data sources and metrics for tracking, to see what tactics are driving leads at a more efficient rate. And of those leads, what leads are eventually funneling into sales. Based on our investment, we can see results and return on investment, which wasn’t consistently tracked for marketing previously. It’s about working with leadership to determine where we should allocate marketing dollars for the highest return.
It’s about showing leadership where they should be spending and how we should be spending money as an organization in the marketing function.