LOS ANGELES — Once upon a time, automotive marketing executives spent lots of money on advertising but had little idea whether they were converting those eyeballs into buyers. The salespeople were generating the revenue.
But the Internet broke that, says Dean Evans, chief marketing officer for Hyundai Motor America. And now he's the revenue chief.
Sitting in his office at Hyundai's Southern California headquarters for an interview, Evans knows this assertion could ruffle some feathers. But he has the numbers to back it up. One example: data that tracks online shoppers from when they click on an ad offering a $50 gift card for a test drive until they sign the paperwork for a new Hyundai.
"It used to be the sales chief," Evans says, "because the sales chief was in charge of when you came in, before the Internet, and he really had the power to convert you. The marketing guy is converting now, not the sales chief."
He pauses. "As much" as the sales chief, he adds. "I'm going to get in trouble."
It's really a tag-team effort, Evans concedes, but the battle starts at his end just to get shoppers to think about a Hyundai in the first place. What dealers have to do better is pull those customers from the virtual world into the showroom and capitalize on the tools Hyundai is giving them.
"You'd better be so charming on that phone and with those email responses that you are spinning everybody in, they can't wait to get into your store," he says of dealers. "Because you're in charge of fishing, too, not just the brand. But at Hyundai, I want to be in charge of fishing, too. That's why 50 bucks is in the mix because that helps out our fishing efficiency."