Dealer Bar's Posts (38)

Gerardi: Measuring Impact

Often the hardest thing for car dealers to do is get a true understanding of their marketing investment. What's working? What's not? Is it worth the money? Is there a return on investment? Ryan Gerardi tackles this concept on Driving Sales:

With more advertising channels comes more ways to reach potential consumers, but also more complicated analysis to determine if your investment is working. Effectively, your ability to attribute sales to specific marketing initiatives has evolved, but so too have the intricacies.

So where should savvy marketers start?

In marketing, attribution means the tracking of your marketing investment through each stage of path-to-purchase from creating awareness to driving traffic to close. Attribution allows you to understand which elements of your marketing mix were involved in the purchase decision process, and ideally, which were the most effective.

Read more…

Glackin: Domain Authority Shouldn't Be Ignored

One of the worst sins committed by vendors in the automotive industry is that they tend to promote the things they're doing well while bashing the things they aren't doing well (or not doing at all). Domain Authority as it contributes to the overall organic rankings of dealer websites has been shown as a very clear indicator of success and should never be ignored, but that's exactly what many are doing. As Jeff Glackin points out on ADM, this is a mistake.

It’s not a metric to be obsessed with, but why would anyone recommend ignoring any metric, particularly one so universally respected, when it comes to your website? That’s a good question. First let’s cover what Domain Authority is and how it is calculated.

Domain Authority is a third party tool created by Moz, used for scoring your site’s credibility as compared to similar sites in your industry. Since, I also believe that a site worth having is a site worth optimizing, I see it as a very credible resource for gauging the overall health, as it pertains to search. You can download the toolbar here. It’s free.

Read more on ADM.

Read more…

AutoNation Drops TrueCar

Clash of the Titans wasn't a very good movie originally and it got even worse when it was remade. Had they gone with this storyline instead of Greek mythology, they may have gotten a better response. It's the big boys in nationwide dealership retail versus the rising juggernaut in consumer price beating as AutoNation starts the war with TrueCar by cancelling the service. Of course, if you listen to TrueCar's story, you'll find that they were the ones who did the cancelling over data-sharing compliance.

It doesn't really matter who did what. The relationship is over and it's going to get ugly from here. TrueCar has been facing heat from dealers across the nation over their business practices while consumer advocacy groups have been heralding their service. Will AutoNation lose out on the 3% of their business that TrueCar was supplying or will a focus on internal marketing make up the difference? We will see. Here's what Automotive News had to say about it.

AutoNation, the country’s largest new-car retailer, informed TrueCar executives Thursday that its dealerships would stop using the Internet vehicle shopping service at the end of July. Today, 226 of AutoNation’s 240 U.S. dealerships use TrueCar’s services.

Read more…

Dealer Technologies Need Discernment

There are plenty of new technologies popping up in the automotive industry every day. It's not just the fancy new gadgets on cars. Even in the retail and servicing components of vehicles and their sales, the technologies that drive dealerships are becoming more advanced. There are also more choices, though, and with more choices comes the possibility of making mistakes.

An article on DealerTrack caught our attention. While it's not the best writing in the world (a company bought for billions shouldn't have grammatical mistakes in their blog posts) and the technologies highlighted aren't exactly cutting edge, it highlights the importance of discernment. When given so many choices, making the right one can be challenging.

As car shoppers continue to prioritize online as the first step in their car shopping experience, it’s more important than ever for dealers to leverage digital retailing in their workflow solutions. Today’s 21st century car shopper demands transparency and consistency, which is why an online showroom is just as critical as an in-store showroom. In 2014, dealers who invested in digital retailing, advertising and mobile technologies achieved new levels of customer engagement and dealership profitability.

Read more…

Automotive Customer Service Helps with Sales

The rise of online reviews has a lot of dealers focused more on customer service than ever before. It may sound self-serving, but here's the thing. Whatever it takes to get any business to pay more attention to their customers should be considered a good thing. Who cares if it's supposed to help with sale? In the car business, it's not just a possibility that good customer service helps increase sales. It's pretty much guaranteed.

AutoSuccess Magazine posted a blog post by Callbright's Jordan Bentley that explains five ways customer service actually helps boost sales:

Your employees should be providing top-notch customer service whether a customer is spending $50,000 for a new car or $50 for an oil change. A high level of customer satisfaction in the sales department will reap benefits in the service department, with customers returning twice a year for routine maintenance. And remember that people don't drive the same vehicle forever — eventually they'll enter the market as buyers again. With good experiences in both the sales and service departments, the customer is much more likely to return to your lot for their next vehicle.

Read more…

In times past, most dealers and their digital advertising providers believed in a bulk, wide-net mentality when it came to venues such as search PPC and banner advertising. That strategy is quickly starting to die down thanks to a more competitive atmosphere driving up prices and emerging technology that makes targeting much easier. Today, dealers don't need to cast a wider net. They need to make sure their nets don't have any holes in them even if that means casting a smaller net.

On DrivingSales, a blog post points to the advantages of making sure that targeting is the most prevalent aspect of advertising spends. It's not about getting in front of everyone. It's about getting in front of buyers who can come by the dealership today. Otherwise, it's better to spend all of the budget on television and radio.

At first glance, it's an easy question with an instant answer. Car dealers want to target everyone within driving distance with their message. As Ripley said in Aliens, "It's the only way to be sure."

Upon closer examination, problems start to pop up. Even if we assume that "everybody" is actually a large portion of the audience (since you can't reach everybody from a literal sense), there are still holes in the strategy. Those who have extremely large marketing budgets could do it, but even then they really shouldn't.

Read more…

The short answer to the question is, "yes, yes it does." The longer answer comes in the blog post link below, but let's dive in a little from our perspective. There are certain things that separate out different chat providers. Many of these things are cosmetic and often come down to dealer preference (though some would say that the psychology behind the choices makes a difference). Other things are strategic such as the difference between scripted chat responses and manual input of replies. The real difference can be seen in the ROI; does a certain type of chat produce better results than others?

In the article by CarChat24, they explore the various things that make different chat providers and services stand out while others are simply there to check off a box:

As more and more dealers embrace chat as an essential part of their websites, there are those who believe that all chat providers are the same. They believe that the software all works the same way, the interfaces are pretty much universal, and the companies themselves have the same basic philosophies. This is very far from the truth. Let’s take a look at some of the things that are differentiators between CarChat24 and many of the alternatives.

Read more…

There are plenty of dealers out there who feel that their current website is not performing up to standards. This is often enhanced by poor customer service, errors, down time, and a "grass is greener" attitude whenever a dealer sees one of their competitors changing to a new platform. We all want what's new. We all want the latest and greatest.

It's possible that a website doesn't necessarily need to be replaced, just improved. This concept is less popular today because of the incredible array of website options available to dealers, but that doesn't mean that fixing or improving a website isn't the right approach. In this article on DrivingSales, we see these perspectives and a third one expounded upon.

The first important point is that almost all dealer websites are either underutilized or incapable of being utilized at a high level. Here on DrivingSales the readership is more aware of this than the general dealership body, but even the people reading this article now have a good chance of falling into this category.

Read more…

Since the dawn of automotive pay-per-click advertising, there has been a question that nobody seems to be able to answer properly. On one hand, you have those who are dead-set on driving everyone who searches for a vehicle to the corresponding inventory pages on the dealership's website, whether it's a search results page or a vehicle details page. On the other side, you have those who are just as adamant about driving visitors to landing pages on or off the website that try to capture a lead or compel a phone call while still giving access to the inventory through a single click. Which is correct?

Perhaps neither is definitively the best practice. Perhaps it's a question of goals and intent and the correct answer depends on multiple factors. Perhaps a diverse methodology is the right approach. In this article on Automotive Digital Marketing, we see this last perspective explained.

Our perspective on the issue adds a third factor that has helped us to come to our own conclusion for clients: visitor intent. The beauty of modern digital advertising is that it allows us to make determinations about website visitors before they even click based upon their source, keywords, and past activity. The key to all of this is following Google's lead based upon their ultimate data set for automotive.

Read more…

The Point has Moved

Anyone who has sold cars is probably familiar with standing on "the point." If someone is hungry for an up (or if their managers tell them to be hungry for an up), they'll go to the places on the lot where they're most likely to find someone interested in buying a vehicle. This often yielded the concept of "drive time" when being out on the lot was an imperative. These high-traffic times drove sales for a long time, but today the point has moved. It's online.

Dealers that want to be dominant must address the concept of being where their customers are online. That means search. That means properly managed websites. That means social media. In this article on DrivingSales, Christine Robertson explores the concept of being on the digital point during a 24-hour drive time period.

The points have moved. There are several locations to post up, and none of them are on the sidewalk. First, you need to be present in search results pages on Google, Yahoo, and Bing, on page one, at the top and/or right hand column, in the sponsored results. Some people click the first result they see. Be that. But that’s not nearly enough. More savvy shoppers look past the paid ads, to the organic listings, these are also your points. You need to back up your paid ad with organic listings because the combination instills confidence in the shopper that you are, in fact, an authority on the matter. Imagine all 10 organic listing on page one are your points, you should be stationed at as many of them as possible during drive time.

Read more on DrivingSales.

Read more…

Do Rich People Buy Car Warranties?

The appeal of F&I products like warranties and gap insurance is in protection from the unforeseen. It's sort of like a bet that if something goes wrong, the car owner won't have to fork over direct cash to fix the situation. This can be appealing to those who do not like big expenses hitting them when they least expect it, but what about those who can afford any expense that a car might generate? The affluent customer has a hard time seeing the value in paying for something that will only benefit them if bad things happen.

In an article on FI Magazine, Ronald Rearhard breaks down the situation and comes up with a solution to selling products to affluent customers.

Jon, affluent customers don’t live paycheck to paycheck, so they can easily pay for that unexpected repair if and when it occurs. Hey, money may not buy happiness, but it definitely makes life easier. When you have plenty of money, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to pay your bills this month, or pay for unexpected car repairs or a deficiency balance if your car is totaled.

Read more on FI Magazine.

Read more…

There's Gold in those Social Media Hills

One of the biggest complaints about automotive social media is that it hasn't yielded ROI in the way that most dealers expected. It was supposed to be a golden nugget of sales and service that could drive more eyeballs to a website and more visitors to the showroom because so many people are on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The results have not been as favorable as expected. In fact, many dealers have given up on the concept of social media being more than a place that they have to watch for the sake of their reputation.

This is apparently an incorrect notion. Social media has ROI for car dealers according to an article on DealerOctane. The concept is that by taking the data that social media offers, dealers can hyper-target individual car buyers in ways not common on other advertising venues:

The time spent on social media is, in essence, money. Any time spent crafting Facebook posts or replying to comments is time that could be spent selling more cars. However, it has become a necessity for aggressive car dealers to take advantage of social media’s power of reach, so at least some effort is put into it. Then, there’s the budget factor. Social media, despite what many are still claiming to the contrary, is pay-to-play. Thankfully, the amount that one needs to spend on social media advertising is minimal compared to just about any other type of marketing.

Read more on DealerOctane.

Read more…

Buying a Car is a Visual Experience

As the internet becomes more and more important in the overall sales experience in the car business, the visual aspect of digital marketing enters more squarely in focus. People love to see cars online. They can easily find the specs and read the reviews, but the point that usually makes them get away from their computer and drive down the road to the dealership is the moment they can visualize themselves driving it.

For this reason, images are still arguably the most important component of digital marketing. It's not just about how many pictures you put; most dealers are starting to plug in images inside and out from every possible angle on their listings. It's also about the quality of the image, the emotion it invokes, and the way that it's positioned on the screen (and therefore in their minds).

In an article we found on AutoRemarketing, LotVantage's Jim Jabaay breaks down the importance of pictures in the modern car-selling strategy.

The good part about improving the way you position images on your website and third-party sites is that it’s really easy. Small changes are usually all that are needed to make your images stand out better to potential customers.

The bad part is that many dealers do not consider it a priority. They don’t know what they’re missing out on because it’s not a glaring hole in their marketing at initial glance.

Read more on AutoRemarketing.

Read more…

Car dealers have no shortage of choices when it comes to how to spend their money. The growing need for "smart dollars" to help dealers achieve the highest ROI is making it necessary for stronger data discernment.

We all have the data available to us. Sometimes, there's too much data. It's important to break it down in a way that is meaningful and allows dealers to take actions based upon where the numbers are pointing. This can be in the form of targeting locations, parsing out individual models to focus on through different channels, and putting dollars towards online and offline venues that reach a particular demographic.

An article we read from String Automotive breaks it all down very nicely. As they put it, there are decisions that are made at the macro level and decisions that are made at the micro level. It's not just about picking out the right vendors or putting more or less dollars to different marketing channels. It's about identifying how best to position every dollar spent so that the maximum return on investment can be achieved.

One of the most important things to consider when you're building and enhancing your strategies is that the data allows for decision making on the macro and micro levels. We see trend reports, analytics, and test cases that can influence decisions on both sides of the spectrum.

Dealer no longer have to be in the dark with their advertising. With the right data and an intelligent engine deciphering it, car dealers can know where and how to spend their budgets to get the most for their bucks.

Read more on String Automotive.

Read more…

Falling Facebook Likes is a Good Thing

In the early days of Facebook marketing, many vendors and dealers focused on the number of likes they could get to their page. This was important because those who liked a page were the most likely to see the posts in their news feed. Today, with organic reach pretty close to being dead, likes have take a backseat to reach and engagement.

Facebook is furthering the call for a lowered focus on likes by going directly after them. They are killing off zombie accounts and this is a very good thing. If you see the likes on your page reduced, you know that it's just Facebook's way of dissolving the fakery that's been happening on the site for a while.

As Willis Williams put it on ADM:

The important thing to remember is that Facebook filters out fake profiles better than anyone else. That’s why it’s always been hard for people to “buy likes” for Facebook in recent years. You will lose likes during the purge but it won’t be catastrophic.

Read more on ADM.

Read more…

The car business has always been one that is very insulated. Many of the promotions that happen at companies are either internal or from other companies in the business. Most dealers promote from within as well and many of the general managers and owners of dealerships started off on the sales floor or in the make-ready department.

There's an exception to this trends. Automotive marketing vendors tend to pull talent from the outside. A lot of companies start as non-automotive marketing vendors and either branch off automotive departments or form entire new companies, filling the talent roster from top to bottom with non-automotive people. This should change.

In an article on Driving Sales by Tyson Madliger, we explore the idea that the majority of talent brought into an automotive vendor should come from the dealership level itself.

Things have changed. A valid argument can be made that the car business is the most savvy industry that's not based in Silicon Valley and that we're trendsetters for digital marketing practices. It's not just the vendors doing the innovating anymore. Anyone who has been to a Driving Sales Executive Summit knows that the best ideas come from dealers.

Read more on Driving Sales.

Read more…

Are Dealers Creating a Bottleneck?

In the car business, most of the problems that happen can be blamed on the manufacturers themselves. They aren't doing it intentionally, but sometimes it seems that they can't get out of their own way to allow dealers to work with customers appropriately.

There's an alternative view, though, from Bill Playford on DealerRefresh:

Let me state, I loved being a commissioned salesperson. Nothing quite beats the rush of selling a (rare) car for more than sticker, or upfitting a truck for snowplow duty. The problem is that it didn’t benefit the manufacturer when I did that. Nor did it benefit the manufacturer when I brokered deals with other dealers so that I could sell other brands of vehicles. The customer and I won, but the manufacturer still lost. That created a bottleneck for the OEM because of my own personal motivations.

Read more on DealerRefresh.

Read more…

Ford Hits Silicon Valley Hard

The move towards improving technology in automotive once resided in Tokyo, Detroit, and Stuttgart. Now, more manufacturers are turning to the San Francisco bay area for their latest innovations. Specifically, they're investing into Silicon Valley where the greatest minds in computers often migrate to for the ease of finding jobs willing to pay well for technological talents.

Ford is the latest to invest heavily into capturing Silicon Valley brilliance. As they put it over at Driving Sales News:

The company already has similar research and innovation centers in Dearborn and Aachen, Germany. The facility in Dearborn focuses primarily on advanced electronics, human-machine interface, materials science, and big data and analytics. The center in Germany is focused on next-generation powertrain research, driver-assist technologies and active safety systems.

Read more on Driving Sales News.

Read more…

How Do You Connect with GenY?

For years, they weren't taken very seriously. The "millennials" have been the generation that doesn't buy cars, doesn't have money, and doesn't really want to participate. That's been the stigma. Today, it simply isn't like that.

Today, members of the infamous "Generation Y" are buying cars and dealers that want to be successful need to get their stuff together. In this article on ADM, Jillian Overmyer gives dealers some tips to help them:

Generation Y- the proclaimed ‘Me Generation’ - is portrayed as a disengaged consumer base, highly uninterested in the automotive world. As a Gen Y’er living in Detroit, The Motor City, I beg to differ. We are interested in cars. But when it comes to buying one our interest level withers. The immediate scapegoat for this behavior is high cost, but new studies refute this claim. J.D Power studies have shown that Gen Y buyers have increased in market share at the greatest rate among all new-vehicle buyers.

Read more on ADM.

Read more…

How Dealerships Should Hire

The car business is a people business. Most industries can say that, but it's even more true in automotive. Hiring the right people can yield incredible results. Hiring the wrong people can be catastrophic.

In a recent article that appeared on DrivingSales, they take a look at 5 signs that it might be time to change the hiring practice at your dealership.

Whether you’re an aging celebrity in Hollywood or the storefront of a 50-year-old mom and pop store, facelifts are sometimes necessary for business. The same can be said about the hiring process at your dealership—if it’s seems outdated, then it’s probably time to restructure your system.

Read more on DrivingSales.

Read more…