Mining Your Data for Equity

by David Metter

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Our industry has a skewed perception of big data and its intended uses. I think that the term “big data,” has been overused and I believe it’s time to replace it with “best data.” Big data will only continue to get bigger, and I don’t think “colossal data” will ever really catch on or be worthy of a hashtag. So let’s open our eyes to what’s been missing from the information age and allow a little common sense to flow through our vantage point, straight into our dealership operations.

So what is the best data? If you asked 50 different people, you’d get 50 different answers. But these are just opinions, and opinions are noise. The best data is science-based, inarguable, and absolute. The best data is something you already have, and it’s located right within your own DMS. The data that matters most, before observing any other KPIs, is sales and service data – that’s it. If you think any other type of information is more important than if people buy cars from you and if they get their vehicles serviced from you…I’d advise you consider a different line of work.

If I were to purchase a dealership this very moment, the first thing I’d put into play is equity mining. I don’t own an equity mining company, and I’m not trying to sell you an equity-mining product. But I do know good common sense solution and execution when I see it. Equity mining takes the sales and service data you already have, and identifies opportunities to drive people actually in-market to purchase into your showroom or to your service department. It’s that simple.

According to Automotive News, “Equity-mining software, sometimes called data-mining software, enables dealerships to spot current customers who are in a good position to get out of the vehicle they have and into a new one for about the same monthly payment.” They also say it's been an absolute “gold mine” for one Honda store that has utilized it to fuel profit in nearly every one of their departments.

Top Equity-Mining Software Providers:

  • AutoAlert
  • CDK Global
  • DealerSocket’s Revenue Radar
  • Dominion Dealer Solutions
  • ELEAD1ONE Xchange
  • VinSolutions

AutoAlert has one of the industry's best data mining tools that uses advanced algorithms and analytics to reveal online trends and consumer behavior in order to provide actionable, in-market consumer intelligence. Their AlertMiner Retention Alerts will inform dealers of any and all profit opportunities as they arise. The software shows dealers when a past or potential customer’s contract is ending on a lease or purchase or if they can get a newer vehicle for the same monthly payment they have now.

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AlertMiner alerts dealerships of relevant consumer shopping behavior and when it is a good time to reach out (or not).

AutoAlertAlertMiner.jpg

DealerSocket’s Revenue Radar continuously scans your DMS in order to highlight customers that are in a favorable position to spend money at your dealership, before they shop your competitors. Their equity mining process is shown below. 

The choice is yours. Go with your gut, or go with the recession-proof combination of science and common sense. Common sense will tell you science has a higher probability of being right – despite your intuition and experience. Equity mining is at your disposal, waiting to help you reach past, present, and future customers when they are in the market to buy. You have the best data already (sales and service data), now it’s time to mine it and work it! It’s the difference between being part of the noise and being the first one to speak up when the moment is right.

Equity mining is exactly how dealerships get their ducks in a row prior to a campaign launch. It is how you avoid wasting money on prospects that are not considering a purchase. I believe in this concept so much is because it’s common sense in its purest form and much less complex than we’ve been led to believe.

Top 12 Auto Marketing Trends of 2016

A YEAR IN REVIEW: a look back at the top automotive marketing trends of 2016...and a sneak peek into 2017

Much like the state of the automotive industry over the last year, AutoHook, powered by Urban Science has withstood and conquered unprecedented change throughout 2016. As experts in digital adaptation, AutoHook is consistently on the forefront of the latest trends in digital marketing and data solutions. Below is our recap of the top 12 headlines from the last 12 months in the automotive space. You'll also get a snapshot of how to "disrupt before you get disrupted" as we kick off 2017.

Google's Senior Vice President, Amit Singhal, announces mobile searches have officially surpassed desktop over the summer of 2015.

1. THE MOBILE TIPPING POINT

We all knew it was coming, but the speed at which mobile usage has overtaken desktop has been exceptionally faster than any other digital shift in our history. As featured in AutoHook's February article conveniently titled, The Mobile Tipping Point, "There’s no denying it. Mobile has forever changed the way marketers interact and reach consumers. We’re all slaves to it. The swiping, the scrolling, the click-to-call-ing, the convenience. In so many ways the mobile experience dictates not only where our marketing should be, but also the entire advancement of communication as we know it."

Epic flooding at the Ford Dealership in Republic Missouri after 24 hours of heavy rain. Video footage courtesy of CarScoops.com

2.  NATURAL DISASTERS STRIKE DEALERSHIPS ACROSS THE U.S.

 

Mississippi River Flooding

The residents of Missouri and Illinois had a rough start to 2016 after the detrimental flooding of the Mississippi River and other waterways spanning the two states. In some areas, more than two feet of rain graced the Midwest with its presence, resulting in over 25 deaths and thousands forced from their homes in freezing temperatures. (As featured in How Dealerships Can Stay Afloat in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters).

Timbrook Kia and Timbrook Buick/GMC in Cumberland, Md., received 28 inches of snow, according to the dealer. Photo credit: DINA WILSON. Originally featured in Automotive News

Timbrook Kia and Timbrook Buick/GMC in Cumberland, Md., received 28 inches of snow, according to the dealer. Photo credit: DINA WILSON. Originally featured in Automotive News

Winter Storm Jonas Hits East Coast

Automotive News reported the “Jonas Effect” forced Toyota to temporarily close 200 of its dealerships. Herb Gordon Volvo, in Silver Spring, Maryland experienced a roof collapse due to the overly dense snow. Forbes noted auto sales were better than expected in January despite the harsh weather conditions. "Sales actually managed a small increase in January according to J.D. Power and LMC Automotive.

“It’s not just hurricanes. Any natural disaster, such as an earthquake, can cripple a dealership. There need to be provisions for natural disasters in areas susceptible to them.”  - Mitch Phillips, Global Director of Data, Urban Science
Image courtesy of ColumbusAgency.com

Image courtesy of ColumbusAgency.com

 

3. GOOGLE'S SERP CHANGE

Google has bulletproof adaptation skills. They seek out disturbances within the digital space and adjust accordingly. Due to the fact that mobile searches have now surpassed desktop, Google altered the layout of their search engine results pages (SERPs) to better align with mobile’s responsive design. In February 2016 they stopped displaying paid ads on the right side of SERPs. (Content originally featured in AutoHook's latest eBook, Adapt or Die: The Auto Dealer's Digital Adaptation Survival Guide).

 

 

4. RISING PAID SEARCH COMPETITION

What does this mean for dealers? For starters, a huge potential for increased SEM costs and more competition for top ad ranking. Search Engine Land analyzed the results of Google’s most recent adaptability demonstration: “Looking at the median change from February 8 through March 16 (2016) for a sample of advertisers year over year, we find that first-page minimum bids continue to increase steadily since the removal of right rail text ads.”

 

5. THE CLICK-TO-CONVERSION SHIFT

"If you start with conversion first and foremost, the thousands of dollars you spend driving traffic to your site each month will actually be validated. eMarketer reported $61.5 billion will be spent on search and display alone in 2016. If the majority of your digital ad budget goes into SEM and banner ads that drive shoppers to your website, but you don’t first ensure your site has the ability to convert at a high rate, you are willingly throwing money in the garbage. It’s like throwing a pitch to home plate without a catcher. It just doesn’t make any sense." - David Metter, President, AutoHook Powered by Urban Science

6. OMNICHANNEL MARKETING BECOMES A MUST-HAVE APPROACH

Omnichannel shoppers are the most valuable to your business. When both your dealership's in-store and digital efforts communicate and work together, it creates an ideal shopping environment resulting in customer loyalty. IBM’s recent whitepaper states, “The most sophisticated retailers are enabling customers to convert on any channel. After all, shoppers who buy in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.”

Google's Kelly McNearney talks video at #DD21. Click to watch.

Google's Kelly McNearney talks video at #DD21. Click to watch.

7. VIDEO, VIDEO, VIDEO...& MORE VIDEO

Scott Empringham, CEO of Flash Point Communications joined AutoHook's panel "The Naked Truth" at Digital Dealer 21 this past August. His advice? Video is the #1 driver of consideration for new vehicles. Scott recommends dealers create 90-second videos just using their iPhone to post on social channels. “If you’re looking for a vehicle, you probably want a good look at the vehicle. Include shots of the vehicle’s exterior, interior, features and benefits.” 90-second videos have been enormously successful for Flash Point and their clients.

Fellow panelist, Kelly McNearney, Google's Senior Automotive Strategist could not agree more! Kelly says, “All I care about is online video. It’s great because you don’t need to customize your content for each individual channel, you can run the same video across platforms.” 

 

8. ONLINE BUYING: ARE WE THERE YET?

The article, 5 Reasons Online Buying is NOT Everyone's Reality highlights the results of DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report. “While there is a segment of car shoppers who want to buy vehicles online in an Amazon-like experience, a new report indicates dealers may be overestimating how strong consumer demand for this capability really is.”

 

 

Lindsay Kwaselow, April Rain, Kevin Frye and Julie Frye at #DD21 Exhibit Hall

Lindsay KwaselowApril Rain, Kevin Frye and Julie Frye at #DD21 Exhibit Hall

9. DEALERS AGREE, PAID SOCIAL ADS DO IN FACT SELL CARS

In 2016, the industry determined that social ads really do sell cars, and we heard it straight from dealers themselves! In Part I of our Naked Truth Exposed series, Alex Jefferson, eCommerce Director of Proctor Dealerships said, "Social media DOES in fact sell cars. Social outlets give us the power to build quality relationships, which then translate into quality website traffic. As long as your website converts, BOOM you can sell cars through social!"

Kevin Frye, eCommerce Director of the Jeff Wyler Automotive Family also presented at #DD21 with his session, Have You Lost Your Mind? The Demise of Common Sense in Automotive. Frye asked the question, “Can you track ROI with social media?” In his DealerRefresh recap he confirmed, "The answer is yes! I excited many dealers a few conferences back when I showed how they could build attribution models and see for themselves how they could track a return for their social media efforts."

Scott Empringham, also reminds dealers to hold their social media companies accountable. In his October blog, Empringham states, "While traditional media offer varying levels of accountability, social media (especially Facebook) is off the charts regarding accountability and transparency. In fact, it’s more accountable than the previous champion, direct mail, with only 20% of the cost."

 

10. DATA SHARING ACROSS ALL AUTOMOTIVE TIERS

* Content featured in the October 2016 edition of AutoSuccess Magazine 

* Content featured in the October 2016 edition of AutoSuccess Magazine 

AutoHook is doing our part to build one, solidified automotive railroad system by opening our API, and the sales validation data that comes with it, to all vendors – free of charge. In an industry where everyone charges to be connected, we want to be the player not to charge so that we can make stronger connections.

By adopting Apple’s open app approach, we can then simplify and unravel a very complicated subject. A subject that is perhaps the one absolute in an industry inundated with ambiguous topics like “big data” and “attribution.” Backed by near-real-time sales data from Urban Science, AutoHook has actually built an attribution engine that validates without a doubt that our solutions led directly to a sale. Sharing this type of knowledge is the one thing that could change this industry for the better. Having access to both accurate and up-to-date sales attribution data will make every decision this industry makes smarter, every solution more efficient, and every dollar we spend go further. Now THAT is something to get excited about!

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11. DMPS TAKE CENTER STAGE

During the Fall of 2016, DMPs gained escalating attention among the automotive marketing elite. In the November blog, What You Need to Know About DMPs, we learned the biggest uses for these data management platforms, including more accurate sales attribution metrics, more opportunities for personalization and one-to-one marketing, and that DMPs are an ideal tool in terms of audience targeting and segmentation. 

12. ATTRIBUTION CLAIMS ITS THRONE

In the August 2016 blog titled, AT LAST: Attribution Claims its Throne, David Metter, President of AutoHook powered by Urban Science writes...

"Mark my words - 2017 is going to be THE YEAR OF ATTRIBUTION. eMarketer admitted companies have been slow to adopt proper attribution methods due to a number of obstacles, however they estimate over 50% of American businesses will make multichannel attribution a priority for their marketing efforts in the year ahead."

FUTURE FOCUS: 2017 Trends

CROSS-CHANNEL ATTRIBUTION

What is the point of marketing if you can't prove it resulted in a sale? There’s no argument that with everything our industry is capable of measuring, it all comes down to physical transactions between customers and dealers, specifically units sold and closed service ROs. That’s what you measure before anything else. That’s the reason the concept of attribution exists in the first place – to help you generate more sales and service revenue. Learn more in David Metter's December blog, VDP Views are the Top KPI...and Other Data Myths.

According to The Marketer's Guide to Cross-Channel Attribution, "Marketers need to be measuring every campaign, regardless of channel, against the same goals they set out to achieve at the start of the year. These tend to sound a lot more like increasing lifetime value and average order value, and driving repeat purchases and customer loyalty, rather than increasing open rates or click rates, reach or visits. But this is only possible through cross-channel and cross-device attribution."

EQUITY MINING

If you're not doing it already, equity mining software should be the first thing dealers put into play in 2017. If you're not familiar with the term, Automotive News explains it as, "Equity-mining software, sometimes called data-mining software, enables dealerships to spot current customers who are in a good position to get out of the vehicle they have and into a new one for about the same monthly payment." AutoAlert has one of the industry's best data mining tools that uses advanced algorithms and analytics to reveal online trends and consumer behavior in order to provide actionable, in-market consumer intelligence. Equity mining could be the difference between being a part of the noise or being the first one to speak up when the time is right. 

ONE-TO-ONE MARKETING

Personalized marketing campaigns based on a consumer's previous actions and their digital footprint are increasingly becoming the most effective, if not the only way to impact buyers at the right time. Custom-built, targeted messages with a personalized touch elicit fiercer engagement rates. People don't just want personalized messages, they now expect them and are most likely to respond to an ad or message exclusively crafted for them.

How else can you break through layers upon layers of digital ads screaming, "Look at me! Look at me!" People want personal. If your marketing initiatives don't take this into consideration, you will fall flat on consumers ears and invisible to their very short (and shrinking) attention spans.

VDP Views are the Top KPI…and Other Data Myths

by David Metter

MYTH #1: VDP views are the metric that matters most. 

Since when did VDP views become more important than sales? This is not an attempt to downplay the importance of driving traffic to your VDPs. Reputable evidence exists around VDPs being one of the last digital destinations car shoppers touch before visiting a showroom. But are vehicle details page views receiving significantly more attention than they deserve? Are dealers working backwards? Are we losing sight of our one true goal…to sell more cars? 

There’s no argument that with everything our industry is capable of measuring, it all comes down to physical transactions between customers and dealers, specifically units sold and closed service ROs. That’s what you measure before anything else. That’s the reason “big data” exists in the first place – to help you generate more sales and service revenue. Dealers have more data at their fingertips than they realize, and it’s easy to get caught up trying to navigate and make sense of it all. Goals become blurred and dealers lose sight of the end game.

Allow me to remind you of the end game. When it comes to dealership operations, NOTHING is more important than increasing salesservice revenue, and customer retention – and I’m happy to take on anyone who’d like to challenge that statement.

I think our industry has completely overcomplicated the idea of big data. The role it plays is actually quite simple. When you break it down, VDP views are #5 on the “what to measure” list. Below is the infrastructure of the order in which you achieve your end game of more sales, closed service ROs, and repeat buyers.

1.    Sales Data: Securing accurate and timely sales match data is paramount. There is nothing more important. Leverage sales match data to see if a customer bought from you or somewhere else? What make and model did they choose? Was it your brand or a competitor’s brand? Monitor your pump in and pump out percent to hold onto sales in your PMA.

2.    Service Data: Measure your closed service repair orders – especially during the critical period from after a sale to the first recommended service appointment. This is where most dealers experience the biggest drop off in retention. Did the customer come to your store for their vehicle’s initial scheduled maintenance or to a competitor? Did they order replacement parts from you or somewhere else? How many people made a service appointment on your website? How many of those people actually showed up? What sales opportunities exist among your service customers?

3.    Showroom & Service Traffic: Next quantify, how many people physically came into your store or entered your service lane? The majority of people don’t have time to browse around multiple dealerships or visit your service center just for a quote. If they came to you, it’s for a reason. So make sure your staff is in the business of closing deals and ROs.

4.    Leads, Phone Calls, & Chats: When potential customers complete an action on your website, whether it’s submitting a lead form or picking up the phone to call you, that opens the door to potential sales. Metrics on your lead, call, and chat volumes are important to analyze, but it’s much more about quality than quantity. Instead of focusing your budget on more leads, calls and chats, focus on the actions that drive showroom visits.

5.    VDP Traffic: VDP views drive awareness, familiarity, and consideration. Although they can influence a customer to take further action, they do not directly result in sales.

MYTH #2: VDP traffic is the foundation for future sales. 

In what world does a VDP view hold more value than an actual human-to-human interaction? VDP views are not the foundation. Showroom traffic is. Correct me if I’m wrong, but last time I checked, getting people in the door and speaking to them face-to-face is the best way to get them in a vehicle so they can touch, see, feel, drive and experience it for themselves. Show rates are infinitely more impactful than any ad or page view could ever be. Our industry has become so brainwashed, people believe more time, energy, and money should be allocated to driving VDP views rather than using those resources to drive showroom traffic. It’s absolutely mind-boggling.

MYTH #3: Big data is very complex and requires experts to turn it into action.

Wrong. All too often, dealers allow outside vendors to come in and tell them what they should be measuring. Social marketers will tell you social metrics are most important. Paid search companies will tell you clicks and website traffic are the secret to more sales. Our industry is stuck in this maze of listening to incessant digital noise. But every dealership is different, and there is no one size fits all solution.  

My friends, it’s time to remove yourself from the maze and turn the volume of the noise ALLLL the way down so that you can actually hear the music. 

You and your staff are the ONLY people that should dictate what you need to measure. Take the data you already have and zero in on the metrics that involve sales, service ROs, and repeat customers. Data is simply a catalyst for determining and reaching your goals. Sales data shows you where you stand against competitors, but more importantly, how you stand against yourself historically. Sales data will tell you exactly where you are, and exactly where you need to go. 

What You Need to Know About DMPs

by David Metter

DMPs are a topic gaining escalating attention as we head into 2017. A dark cloud of big, irrelevant data still lingers above the automotive industry, just waiting to be analyzed. What are DMPs? For those of you that don’t know, the acronym stands for Data Management Platforms. Think of a DMP as a digital warehouse of data, designed to consolidate and organize consumer data from multiple sources all in one place so that it can be put to good use.

eMarketer addressed the need for advertisers to utilize DMPs back in 2013 – a near decade ago in digital time. “If data is digital marketing’s currency, then the DMP is its bank.” So, when it comes down to whether or not to use DMPs either at the dealer or manufacturer level, really dig deep and ask yourself… do you like money?

If the answer is yes, DMPs exist to give you insights that will help you make more and save more (money that is). DMPs consolidate past and real-time consumer purchase and behavioral data across ad exchanges, networks and devices. This allows for granular audience segmentation and targeting that goes far beyond standard demographics.

DMPs aren’t just a place to aggregate and store information. They help us find the most important data points that will actually help our business. And I don’t mean help down the line or months from now, but this very second. DMPs empower us to take action and deploy personalized campaigns with quantifiable conviction. These platforms are the secret to affirming what every advertiser claims they will do, which of course is to “place the right ad, in front of the right consumer, at the right time.” Sound familiar? Without DMPs, these empty promises would remain just that - empty and unproven.

DMPs are the ultimate source of budgetary efficiency for both digital and traditional spending. By illuminating a clean, 360-degree view of a consumer’s online and offline actions, DMPs pinpoint how far along car shoppers are in the buying process. They identify who in the market has already purchased a vehicle and if they bought it from a competitive dealership or brand. On the contrary, they show which consumers are just beginning their research journey, still months away from a buying decision.

Put simply, DMPs hold your campaigns accountable for their performance and help to guide your ongoing efforts to be more relevant, impactful, and efficient with where you spend your money and who you spend your money on. Specifically for the automotive sector, DMPs may be the solution to a lot of our sales attribution problems. Everyone wants to stake claim for a vehicle sold. A DMP may be just what we need to properly assign credit where credit’s due.

When asked about DMPs, Erik Lukas, Retail Operations Manager of Subaru of America said, “If there’s ever any hope of attributing all these touch points along the shopping journey, you’ve got to have some place where all the data rolls up and you can analyze it as one set.” Aside from attribution, another much-needed use for DMP-derived insights would be for one-to-one marketing and campaign personalization. Both are becoming increasingly necessary in order for a message to stand out and resonate with car shoppers.

According to MarTech Today, “A DMP offers a central location for marketers to access and manage data like mobile identifiers and cookie IDs to create targeting segments for their digital advertising campaigns.” This is a tremendous asset for automakers when it comes to eliminating waste. For example, if you are a luxury vehicle manufacturer, DMPs can help you only target individuals or households that you know have a net income of at least $200,000 per year.

In summary, the biggest uses for DMPs in the auto industry include:

  • More accurate sales attribution
  • More opportunities for personalization and one-to-one marketing
  • Ideal audience targeting and segmentation

Data management platforms are about unification – unifying consumer data from one source to the next as their shopping journey becomes more and more complex. Big data fails to hold value unless it can be applied to better influence your most lucrative audience segment. Other industries have been using DMPs for years. Automotive has such a complex business model given our three-tier system and the fact that most transactions happen offline. Therefore, we need DMPs more than anyone.

The opportunities DMPs provide are limitless. But don’t get too wrapped up in all the ways you could use them to your advantage. Remember your one objective at the end of the day is to increase dealership revenue by selling more units and obtaining more ROs. Above all, SALES is the metric that matters and DMPs should be used primarily to generate more sales. Everything else is just noise.  

We’ve Got the Data! Now What? (Top 3 Takeaways from the J.D. Power Data Expert Panel)

by David Metter

If anyone experienced the great misfortune of not being able to attend AutoHook’s J.D. Power AMR panel that had attendees lined up against the walls, I’ve got you covered. Below is a condensed collection of key insights from the session, We’ve Got the Data! Now What?

I know you’re probably all tired of hearing the term “big data.” You may even be a little nauseous from it – thus the critical need for this panel and the recap below.

First, let me formally introduce our superstar lineup. I do have to take a moment to say these leaders are not just auto experts with impressive titles. Each has proven a genuine desire to improve the way our industry operates and the way we share data for the benefit of all – and that’s huge.

It’s funny (and a little ridiculous) how often the solutions to the world’s biggest problems come from plain old common sense. We all have a tendency to overcomplicate even the most evident of concepts. Perhaps the secret to solving all this big data ambiguity is to take a step back and “under-complicate” the idea.

Three overarching themes dominated our big data discussion:

1. The largest obstruction to big data in the automotive industry is the automotive industry itself.

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

I’m not pointing any fingers, but it’s no secret that our three-tier system makes things more difficult. It creates large disconnects in communication from one layer to the next. Dean Evans points out, “We know at Hyundai you can’t do decent business today unless you are connecting those layers.”

We also know it’s rare for what happens at the dealer level to be properly recorded and communicated at the OEM level. That’s just how it is. Allow me to propose an idea. If knowledge is power, then sharing data is power. Imagine the influence we could claim if we all stopped being selfish with our data. A united industry is an unbreakable industry.

Kelly McNearney adds, “The challenge for tier three in this big data game is getting some team spirit going where dealers will actually share with the OE and the OE will share with the dealers, and then you’ve got really powerful stuff you can use. Then you can really start to understand who your consumer even is and what their actions are.”

We’ve completed step one, identifying the problem. Now it’s time to complete step two, taking action to solve the problem. So, who’s taking action? AutoHook already has by opening our API and the attribution data that comes with it to the entire industry free of charge. CDK and Dealer.com are doing it by creating centralized data dashboards so OEMs can have a better view of the consumer sales data collected at the dealership level. So who’s next?

2. More data is not necessarily better.

Pictured: Jenny Watson & David Metter

Pictured: Jenny Watson & David Metter

The secret is not obtaining more data. Sometimes it’s about doing more with what you have at your fingertips. It’s about taking smarter, more efficient actions. What’s the end goal? Jenny Watson says, “At the end of the day it’s really about units sold and the number of repair orders generated,” and she’s right! More is not better. It’s just more. An emphasis on obtaining more data may be the root cause of why the subject has become so complex.

It’s also important to note that each channel has its own specific set of measurable KPIs. Regardless of what they are, if you can’t validate that these channels resulted in a sale or a service order, then don’t waste your money advertising on them. It’s that simple.

3. Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are important to use and understand, but never at the cost of simple, actionable insights.

DMPs have been around in other industries for years. In a lot of ways, they’re starting to replace that “big data” term. Both dealers and OEMs should take advantage of these systems in order to better serve their network. Dean Evans says, “Feeding the dealer network is always paramount.” In addition, because of our three-tier system, the auto industry has the most complicated business model in existence. Therefore more than anyone, we need DMPs. They exist and are designed to help us – so use them.

Erik Lukas shined a lot of light on this subject. “There’s room for both,” he says. “There’s the big insights that come from DMPs that we need to unlock, but you still can’t ignore some of the things that are right in front of your face.” Erik gives the example of Subaru’s highly successful Dog Tested campaign and how it all began. “A key insight for us that we spawned a whole campaign off of was that 2/3 of Subaru owners own pets, and of those, 70% are dogs. Clearly, that’s not a big data or DMP derived result, but we built a whole disruption campaign around this one key insight and it’s really resonated with our customers.”

Kelly McNearney is a big advocate of DMPs especially for the automotive vertical. However, she speculates DMPs are perhaps given too much credit. “Some of the best data we have is actually something quite small, but that we can take action on,” said Kelly. She followed that up with a great example. “In the month of November for the past three years in a row, searches for tires have been at an all time high. That is a useful piece of data and that’s not from a machine, it’s not from a DMP, it’s just a simple Google Trend.”

To conclude, if you’re going to remember anything, remember these three things:

  • The only way for us to overcome barriers across tiers is to knock down the egotistical walls that separate us and work together.

  • Instead of more, more, more, when it comes to big data, remember that the end goal is to increase sales and revenue at the dealership level.

  • And lastly, do your research on DMPs and allow this tool to help you – but never ignore the immense potential of a single statistic such as 67% of Subaru owners are animal lovers.

Click here to watch the complete live recording of the J.D. Power AMR panel, We’ve Got the Data! Now What? 

10 Most Memorable Quotes from the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable

The 11th Annual J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable

AutoHook was honored to attend the 2016 J.D. Power Automotive Marketing routable at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. From Tuesday, October 25th - Thursday, October 27th, we had the privilege of networking with some of the most brilliant leaders in our industry. Things can get a little chaotic between fast-paced sessions and panel discussions, meetings, parties, and catching up with all our friends, clients, and partners.

We've taken the liberty to bring you the 10 very best, most memorable quotes of 2016 - straight from the mouths of automotive's smartest minds themselves. 

1. “Don’t start with the big data, start with the business needs first. Identify them and then work backwards. I hear too much of let’s get big data let’s get DMPs in the room, but we need to start with the business needs first.” 

- Dean Evans | Chief Marketing Officer, Hyundai Motor America

2. “If there’s ever any hope of attributing all these touch points along the shopping journey, you’ve got to have some place where all the data rolls up and you can analyze it as one set.”

- Erik Lukas | Retail Digital Operations Manager, Subaru of America

3. “There’s no silver bullet when it comes to KPIs. Big Data has become a muse for creativity.” 

- Trace Przybylowicz | Autos Lead: Industry Relations, Facebook

4. “The challenge for tier 3 in this big data game is getting some team spirit going where dealers will actually share with the OE and the OE will share with the dealers, and then you’ve got really powerful stuff you can use. Then you can really start to understand who your consumer is and what their actions are.”

Kelly McNearney | Senior Automotive Retail Strategist, Google

5. “A discussion that seems to be both prevalent and imminent is around DMPs. Data management platforms are almost replacing that ‘big data’ term.” 

- David Metter | President, AutoHook powered by Urban Science

6. “A DMP can really give you a full view of who your customer is and how to personalize that experience – that’s the holy grail – making sure your marketing investments are put in the right place.” 

Jenny Watson | Digital & Performance Marketing Expert

7. “Because everyone is online shopping at the dealer’s site, the dealers have a wealth, almost a paralyzing wealth of information. Using that to understand and to empower their marketing - online marketing efforts in particular - can make them much more efficient and vastly more powerful in what they do.”

Jason Knight | COO & Co-Founder, Lotlinx

8. “Unfortunately too many businesses today do focus just on the transaction and not the experience. We assume people don’t want to be there so we treat them that way. The truth is, people don’t come back if it’s not a great experience. If it’s just a transaction, how is that a great experience?”

Beau Boeckmann | President, Galpin Motors

9. “With big data comes big challenges in verifying consumer data. We need free from fraud, viewable consumer content and data.” 

- Mark Pearlstein | Chief Revenue Officer, DoubleVerify

10. “55% of advertisers consider themselves beginners in mobile advertising – that’s alarming.”

Christian Fuller | Chief Relationship Officer, Search Optics

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson

Pictured: Christian Fuller

Pictured: Christian Fuller

Pictured: Beau Boeckmann

Pictured: Beau Boeckmann

Pictured (left to right): Joe Gumm, Bert Boeckmann, Beau Boeckmann, and Bridget Fitzpatrick

Pictured (left to right): Joe Gumm, Bert Boeckmann, Beau Boeckmann, and Bridget Fitzpatrick

Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Anspach, Trace Przybylowicz, Myles Rose, Miran Maric

Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Anspach, Trace Przybylowicz, Myles Rose, Miran Maric

Pictured (left to right): Andy Jacobson, Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, and Mark Pearlstein

Pictured (left to right): Andy Jacobson, Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, and Mark Pearlstein

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Jenny Watson and David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Jenny Watson and David Metter

AutoHook’s Vegas Adventure: DSES & JDPowerAMR Highlights

Brought to you by the AutoHook Marketing Team

Last week, the AutoHook team had the privilege of attending these two back-to-back events at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Our Vegas adventure began with the DrivingSales Executive Summit, or the “perfect storm of awesomeness,” according to DrivingSales Founder & CEO, Jared Hamilton, and ended with the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable – a sophisticated gathering of the smartest minds in data, analytics, and automotive marketing.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23RD - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27TH

AutoHook Limos

Pictured: April Rain

Pictured: April Rain

MONDAY, OCTOBER 24TH

AutoHook Booth & Twitter Board

Thank you to all who stopped by our booth. It was awesome sponsoring the GIANT twitter board in the main ballroom. We were honored to keep the tradition alive!

Pictured: Lindsay Kwaselow, Ani Hagopian, Danny Benites, Andrew Pargoff, Brad Somervell - and can't forget KEVIN FRYE on the twitter board!

Pictured: Lindsay Kwaselow, Ani Hagopian, Danny Benites, Andrew Pargoff, Brad Somervell - and can't forget KEVIN FRYE on the twitter board!

Team Dinner at Yellowtail Sushi (Bellagio)

A little team-bonding with an incredible view and incredible food AND service.

Pictured: Ani Hagopian, Lindsay Kwaselow, Andrew Pargoff

Pictured: Ani Hagopian, Lindsay Kwaselow, Andrew Pargoff

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25TH

Innovation Cup Awards

Congratulations to Steve White of Clarivoy for being the 2016 Innovation Cup Award Winner! Clarivoy came out on top and impressed the judges with their proprietary TV Analytics solution. Their new solution is designed to match advertising spot data with website visitors, providing a transparent snapshot of which TV ads influence sales.

Pictured: Jared Hamilton and Steve White

Pictured: Jared Hamilton and Steve White

The four other Innovation Cup finalists also deserve a special shout out and recognition for their participation in the event. More importantly, we commend these industry leaders for their efforts to change the automotive landscape for the better, through new and groundbreaking technology. Congrats to finalists, Tarry Shebesta, President of DriveItNow & Partner at GoMoto, Tom Gallaher, Co-Founder of AutosOnVideo, Bryan Harwood, CTO of Outsell, and Eric Miltsch, President of DealerTeamwork.

 

DSES ---> J.D. Power AMR

The chaos got real during the transition from the DrivingSales Executive Summit to the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable. Thankfully, AutoHook leveraged some unbreakable teamwork (and a much needed rolling cart) in order to move from the Bellagio Ballroom to the poolside cabanas (in record time of course).

We all got a nice workout during what felt like a six-mile hike down to the pool. Except for our Client Services Manager, Ani…she got a VIP ride with all our swag boxes, courtesy of our Business Development Team Lead, Travis.

Venus-Pool-910419.jpg
Pictured: Ani Hagopian & Travis Laufle

Pictured: Ani Hagopian & Travis Laufle

The J.D. Power AMR Kickoff Gala

Complete with live musical entertainment, delicious hors d’oeuvre stations, a fully stocked bar, a silent auction (…signed Taylor Swift poster anyone?) and only the best of the best were in attendance at the poolside kickoff party.

Pictured: Kelly Carven, Ani Hagopian, Travis Laufle, Andrea Demma, and TAYLOR SWIFT

Pictured: Kelly Carven, Ani Hagopian, Travis Laufle, Andrea Demma, and TAYLOR SWIFT

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26TH

This was definitely the most jam-packed day of the week. So many sessions to see, data insights to absorb, and important connections to be made!

AutoHook’s Big Data Panel - We’ve Got the Data! Now What?

If anyone suffered the unfortunate tragedy of not being able to attend the J.D. power panel that had attendees fighting for seats and lined up against the walls, don't worry. Watch out for the official panel recap coming next week.

Pictured: Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

Pictured: Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

Poolside Meetings at our Bellagio Cabana

AMR Connect

The rooftop of Drai’s nightclub served as the perfect atmosphere to connect with industry peers while overlooking the Las Vegas Strip. Thank you to Deep Root Analytics for sponsoring this great networking event.

A Night at Surrender

The AutoHook team sponsored our very own cabana at Surrender Nightclub Wednesday night at the Wynn. During the party, we met a lot of incredible people, got in some good team-bonding, and networked like we’ve never networked before! 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27TH  

The team attended several content-packed sessions and ended the trip feeling inspired, armed, and ready for 2017.

Pictured: Roman Lesnau, Linda Yaccarino, Edward Erhardt, Steve Lanzano, John Tierney, Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

Pictured: Roman Lesnau, Linda Yaccarino, Edward Erhardt, Steve Lanzano, John Tierney, Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

…Until next time Vegas. 

 

 

NOW OPEN: The Automotive App Store

The Open App Approach to Uniting an Industry

by David Metter

What makes the Apple brand indestructible? There are a million answers to this question, and all are valid. Is Apple’s technology more advanced than Google’s? Not necessarily. Are their smartphones more intelligent than all other smartphones? Probably not. But no one can dispute the fact that they are the simplest devices to navigate for the vast majority of the population. Apple products dominate the market because they’re easy to use, and they integrate flawlessly with one another through Apple’s iCloud.

When we take a step back from the entire culture Apple has created, and strip down every product they’ve reinvented, we start to see the roots of what made them so successful in the first place. We see The App Store, and through that we see unification. We see both integration and alliances. We see the reason people feel naked without their iPhones. The iPhone is so integral to its owner because it makes their lives easier and better. We feel helpless without them. The App Store puts the power in our hands to access tools that improve the way we function on a day-to-day basis. It puts the world at our fingertips, and so many of the best apps out there are free.

Take Waze for example. It is the largest community-based, interactive traffic and navigation app in existence. Its value comes entirely from its users and the information these users provide in real-time. The technology then works by aggregating and building upon its user data to calculate the most efficient route from point A to point B, saving drivers both time and money (again, in real-time). In so many ways (no pun intended), Waze created a more efficient rail system of data that benefits everyone on the road.

What if the automotive industry could create this same type of unified data railroad? What if we knocked down our walls and opened up our own Automotive App Store… free of charge? What if every vendor, dealer, and OEM had faster, more accurate data? What could we accomplish as a community rather than as competitors? CDK Global has already adopted this open app approach when they announced their new Partner Program in September, in efforts to create an ecosystem of approved vendors and applications that can be flawlessly integrated into a CDK dealer website. Could it be? Vendors actually working together to reap the benefits of the bigger picture?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be on both sites of the battle. During my time as CMO at MileOne Automotive, one of our biggest struggles was getting vendors to integrate and work properly together. However, our biggest strength was having the insight to see the unique benefits of two different companies and the means to bring them together in a way that benefitted us and helped us sell more cars. Now that I’m on the vendor side, I’ve seen a need for these types of partnerships to happen now more than ever.

In the short time AutoHook has been in business, we have solidified more partnerships and relationships than anyone else in the space. So, we’re putting our money where our mouth is for the benefit of the entire automotive industry. We know dealers suffer when vendors don’t work together. When dealers and OEMs suffer, vendors also suffer. So let’s change that, shall we?

AutoHook is doing our part to build one, solidified automotive railroad system by opening our API, and the sales validation data that comes with it, to all vendors – free of charge. In an industry where everyone charges to be connected, we want to be the player not to charge so that we can make stronger connections.

By adopting Apple’s open app approach, we can then simplify and unravel a very complicated subject. A subject that is perhaps the one absolute in an industry inundated with ambiguous topics like “big data” and “attribution.” Backed by near-real-time sales data from Urban Science, AutoHook has actually built an attribution engine that validates without a doubt that our solutions led directly to a sale. Sharing this type of knowledge is the one thing that could change this industry for the better. Having access to both accurate and up-to-date sales attribution data will make every decision this industry makes smarter, every solution more efficient, and every dollar we spend go further. Now THAT is something to get excited about.

*As featured in AutoSuccess Magazine | October 2016 edition. 

Your Q4 Reality Check: 5 Reasons Online Buying is NOT Everyone’s Reality

Your Q4 Reality Check (1).png
by David Metter

People buy everything online these days. Or do they? In reality, there are some items people simply prefer to touch, see, feel, taste, smell, or drive before they consider signing on the dotted line or forking over their credit card. Several automotive leaders have recently come out in the media claiming a vehicle is still in so many ways, one of those items.

Online car buying models have been a ubiquitous topic of conversation over the past year – one that has made many in our industry uneasy about what to expect in the future as companies like Carvana, Drive Motors, and Vroom claim their place in the market.

We’re now in the fourth quarter of 2016, the time when we line up our budgets for the year ahead. Which technologies will thrive and which will die? Will the option to offer a complete online buying method for our new and used vehicles become necessary? According to DealerSocket, “There’s a false sense of urgency to take car buying online.” If you were to ask me, I’d say the vast majority of consumers are still not ready for it.

In a recent article from Automotive News, they highlight the results of DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report. “While there is a segment of car shoppers who want to buy vehicles online in an Amazon-like experience, a new report indicates dealers may be overestimating how strong consumer demand for this capability really is.”

Actual responses are shown below:

Without a doubt, there are items consumers prefer to purchase online, things like books, electronics, or your go-to cologne. It’s also true that there is a current market of buyers that want the ability to purchase a vehicle online. However, relatively speaking, that number is still small - small enough that we can all take a big deep breath and let go of worries about completely changing our buying models and the way we market our inventory.

When it comes to big-ticket items, people overwhelmingly still choose to visit actual brick-and-mortar stores. A new eMarketer study revealed it’s not just the large items. When it comes to packaged goods or groceries, the market is not budging despite having the option for online grocery shopping and at home delivery. eMarketer emphasized several valid reasons why 90% of internet users still prefer to do their grocery shopping in-store. These same reasons for opting out of online buying can be directly applied to the car business.

If your dealership is contemplating integrating an online sales platform in 2017, make sure you consider the following five facts before taking on this monster:

1.    When people are ready to buy, the ability to purchase immediately in-store is still very desirable as there is comfort in seeing, touching and testing products (or vehicles) in person.

2.    Completing a lengthy online purchase request may be too time-consuming for customers to follow through with the entire process.

This past August, Alex Jefferson, eCommerce director of Proctor Dealerships said, “Where online buying is going I don’t necessarily know, but I do know that it did personally have an adverse effect on us when we integrated with the tool. I will tell you after a year of testing it, our lead volume went down by about 30-40%.”

3.    Less tech-savvy customers or older generations who have the dealership experience ingrained in their mindset may struggle with the concept or dismiss it altogether.

4.     Consumer income levels largely dictate their level of interest in whether or not they would prefer to buy a vehicle online.

“Half of surveyed consumers earning $100,000 to $149,000 annually would like to bypass the dealership and buy vehicles online, DealerSocket said. In contrast, 29 percent of people making $25,000 to $49,000 said they'd like to buy vehicles online.”

5.    Online buying models may be better suited for luxury or high-end electric vehicles only – one of the reasons Tesla has been successful selling almost exclusively online.

Forbes explained why a direct sales model works for Tesla. “Since electric vehicles do not need as much regular service and the company does not offer financing schemes, a dealership model would put pressure on its margins.”

Marylou Hastert, DealerSocket's Director of Product Marketing advises dealerships, “Stores should prepare for the digitization of car buying, but not at the expense of in-store processes.” Simply put, an online buying model may not be right for your dealership. It could even be harmful to your conversion rates, which dealerships have reported over the last year.

My expert opinion? Get your fundamentals down first before heading full-speed down the click-to-buy road. Online buying has been effective with some of the larger dealer groups, but they have already conquered the essentials. After you have mastered the art of securing a high-converting website and high converting forms across devices, and once your inventory is immaculately merchandised with video walkarounds, photos, and custom comments, THEN and only then should you experiment with an integrated online buying model.

More Data More Problems: 3 Big Data Problems & How to Solve Them

by David Metter

“Just because it can be counted, doesn’t mean it counts,” said Tom O’Regan, CEO of Madison Logic in a recent IAB study. “As you rise up the scale of performance measurement tactics, you find the increasing convergence of both attribution and value.” These are incredibly wise words to live by. There are dozens of performance metrics that we’re capable of tracking. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

We are deep inside the epicenter of the information age. With all this big data comes an overwhelming opportunity to derive knowledge and take action. Nothing, (not even money) is more powerful than knowledge. We have all this information literally at our fingertips, yet automotive marketers still struggle to validate which solutions delivered the highest ROI or led to a sale. Having this knowledge (and knowing what to do with it) will make everything we do moving forward make a lot more sense.

As technologies become smarter, more integrated, and more systematic, automotive marketers face three big data obstacles:

  1. Access to accurate, useful data
  2. Access to faster, more timely data
  3.  The ability to turn big data insights into beneficial, executable actions

Let’s dive into each problem and how we can diminish these issues as we plan for 2017. 

Useful Data: 

First, you need to know what to look for. It’s not just about obtaining more and more data. It’s what we can to do with the knowledge we extract from the data that ultimately matters. So many advertisers still fail to acknowledge that there is life beyond the click. The number of clicks a campaign generated or the number of unique users it sent to your website is a microscopic fraction of the full picture, and frankly, it's an irrelevant metric.

In today’s world, clicks just don’t hold their weight. Clicks don’t prove conversion and clicks don’t move inventory. Furthermore, you could have the highest rate of website traffic in your market, but if your conversion rates are low, that “traffic” is just a number – which at the end of the day, means nothing.

Going into a new year, when you’re considering which technologies and vendors to work into your budget start with the ones that can prove they can consistently deliver the following:

  • A high conversion rate with proof of lead exclusivity
  • An incremental increase in showroom visits
  • (And most importantly) An incremental increase in sales

Access to this type of data is the most beneficial, as it gives dealers the freedom to stop guessing and start knowing what works – and like I said before, nothing is more powerful than knowledge.

Ask the right questions upfront so you can better determine if a vendor and their data will be of use to you. Start with the following:

  • At what rate do their solutions convert?
  • What is their showroom visit rate?
  • How do these rates compare to industry averages?
  • What is their method of tracking sales?
  • Can they link a vehicle sold to a specific user or campaign?

If they don’t have the validation stats to prove these things to you, they are not worth your time or money.

No-nonsense data tells you how many showroom visitors purchased (either from you or a competitor) and what specifically drove them in. It can tell you if your buyers are repeat, loyal customers or if they’re new to your brand. Did they visit your store but end up purchasing somewhere else? What brand did they buy and why? These are the types of questions legitimate reporting should be able to answer.

Faster Data:

IBM’s recent whitepaper, From Data to Insights to Opportunities, points out the clouded view of actionable data due to systems not communicating with each other. “Different platforms in different departments can’t talk to each other, so reporting is slowed. And it’s difficult to take proactive steps when your view of the total customer experience is a little blurry.”

The goal is to spend less time compiling data and more time using it to uncover new growth opportunities. Aim for a single, unified and cohesive structure when it comes to analytics and reporting. Ask vendors if they allow other solutions to integrate with their dashboards or APIs? The more people you can get working together towards a common goal, the better your chances become of achieving that goal. It’s the “two heads are better than one” approach. An industry-wide holistic viewpoint must be adopted for all parties to benefit from both faster and more comprehensive data models.

Also, choose to only work with the players that have near real-time reporting capabilities. With each day that passes after a purchase is made, that sales data becomes less and less valuable. What good are insights that remain unseen? The faster we can access sales data, the more we can do with it to extend our finite budgets.

Actionable Data: 

Integrated, cross-channel and cross-device attribution reporting is essential to following the consumer’s buying path. These capabilities illuminate trends in the purchase cycle and allow dealers to make more lucrative decisions with their ad dollars. Behavior across mobile, desktop, and online and offline channels all need to be considered to get a complete, accurate view of the attribution path.

Knowing which solutions are working for your dealership is the key to correcting all your big data problems. Use attribution data to build predictive models that identify trends or patterns in purchase behavior. Pragmatic data can tell you which vehicles to keep in stock, how many of each model, and in which colors. It can tell you how to better allocate every dollar so you can rest assured your money is being spent in the right places.

Remember that useful automotive data is largely derived from the two most important KPIs: conversions and sales. The focus of your reporting should include data that shows a complete attribution path from an advertising source to a sale.

The Marketer’s Guide to Cross-Channel Attribution states, “When organizations are able to measure marketing’s impact on the metrics that truly matter to the business, then and only then are they in a position to make confident decisions about future marketing investments. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

These roadblocks need to be obliterated in order to reverse the rate in which we’re inundated with useless, irrelevant information. The time has come where we’re capable of maximizing revenue across all marketing initiatives. It’s time to show big data who’s boss! If we work together, we can close gaps in communication and better track consumer actions throughout the purchase cycle for the benefit of all.

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Heading to Vegas for the #JDPowerAMR? Be sure to catch the Big Data problem-solving Panel, We’ve Got the Data! Now What? Moderated by David Metter, featuring digital marketing experts from Hyundai, Subaru, Google, AutoNation & more! Panel starts Wednesday, October 26th @ 11:25 AM (Breakout Room #2)